During his recent trip to Israel, President Bush visited several places that re-affirmed his faith, including Bethlehem and the Sea of Galilee. Then exhibiting far greater faith than believing Jesus could walk on water, he asserted that "peace" could be had between Israel, the Palestinians and her Arab neighbors. One exhibition of faith has some historic roots and witnesses; the other is rooted in fantasy.
Since 1937, there have been 18 formal attempts by commissions, conferences, resolutions, summits and other gatherings to persuade the Jewish lamb to lie down with the Arab lion. All have failed. This latest attempt by President Bush, like those of presidents before him, will also fail, no matter the level of rhetoric or pressure on Israel to "do more." As Hillel Halkin writes in the January issue of Commentary magazine, "When time after time a problem cannot be resolved, it is reasonable to suspect that it may be unresolvable, at least in the manner in which it is conceived."
That manner of false conception is that the Palestinian side, in conjunction with Arab and Muslim states, will stop trying to destroy Israel if a new state is created in the region. From such a state, enhanced by a "right of return" that would flood Israel with enemies of Zionism and encourage those committed to Israel's destruction that the end of the Jewish state is at hand would come the final days of Israel's modern existence.
As the president's visit neared, one might have expected the Palestinians, were they interested in peace, to at least tone down anti-Israel rants. According to Palestinian Media Watch, the government-controlled television station instead "intensified its rhetoric calling for the destruction of Israel by advocating the "liberation" of Haifa, Tiberias, Acre and Tel Aviv," cities that do not figure in the debate over Israeli "occupation" of Palestinian land.
Amidst all of this, President Bush suggested more Israeli concessions to the Palestinians might have to be part of a peace agreement (such as dismantling homes on land claimed by Palestinians), while promising a monitoring process that supposedly would police any agreement. The monitors would not be given enforcement powers. The fallacy of such a monitoring process can be seen in previous agreements, which required the Palestinian side to cease terror, stop using television to insight violence against Jews, reform textbooks that teach hatred of Jews and Christians and respect a ceiling in the number of Palestinian police allowed to carry weapons.
The Palestinian government has failed to comply with a single agreement. Rather than acknowledge they are waist deep in the "Big Muddy," the big fools in the Bush administration say to "push on."
There is not a credible statement, action, sermon or policy utterance by anyone in the Arab-Muslim-Palestinian world that gives any hope for a repeal of their expressed goal to destroy Israel and "liberate" Arab land. Honest enemies will say that includes land "occupied," beginning in 1948, when Israel became a state at the behest of the United Nations.
Instead of a credible plan for countering global jihadists and Palestinian "liberationists" committed to Israel's (and America's) destruction, the Bush administration continues to practice a faith rooted in self-deception. If, after all of Israel's concessions, her enemies have failed to take a single step toward peace, what makes anyone think that more concessions will turn a one-way street into a two-lane thoroughfare?
Even if a deal is concluded, the best that can be expected from the Palestinian side is a temporary lull in the violence followed by the creation of a pretext for more violence and demands for new concessions.
President Bush repeated a familiar line in Israel that he believes God's gift of freedom is to every person, not just Americans. If that is so, why don't those in oppressed Arab and Muslim states overthrow their dictatorial leaders? Why don't these "un-free" people support the freedom in those countries to which some flee instead of seeking to undermine them and separate themselves from culture and national life? Their idea of freedom is to be free of our freedom and impose Sharia law on all.
Instead of stepping into this unresolvable (by America) breach, it may be time to step back, let the parties fight it out and - as in Northern Ireland - reach a peace agreement on their own, after both sides are exhausted and sick of fighting.
This latest Bush push for peace can only bring more war and less stability for America's "friend."
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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