If the definition of insanity is repeating the same mistake over and over again, then U.S. policymakers over several administrations should be institutionalized and relegated to padded cells.
The latest, but certainly not the last example of this craziness, is the pressure the Obama administration is exerting on Israel to stop building settlements in the West Bank. A Nov. 14 New York Times story repeats the fiction accepted over many years by Republican and Democratic administrations. The proposed 90-day freeze, says the newspaper, would "break an impasse in the peace negotiations with the Palestinians."
There can be no "peace negotiations" unless the Palestinian side is prepared to compromise on its demands. But since those demands include the acquisition of all the land -- including those 1949 boundaries that in today's world would be indefensible against Israel's numerous enemies -- the very word "negotiate" is meaningless.
The United States is sending another $150 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority on top of the $400 million President Obama promised to send in June. The Jerusalem Post's Caroline Glick (http://www.jpost.com/) writes about what our money is buying us: "the death penalty for any Palestinian who sells land to Jews, the confiscation of an estimated $1 million in Israeli products, including foods, cosmetics and hardware from Palestinian stores." This is the equivalent of "protection money" in the days of Al Capone, but it protects nothing except the fiction that propping up the mischaracterized "moderate" Palestinian leadership of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is going to magically deliver peaceful co-existence between Israelis and Palestinians.
Before again forcing Israel into concessions, several fundamental questions should be posed to the Palestinians: (1) If your goal is to live in peace with Israel, why does Israel not appear on your maps? (2) In your school textbooks and on TV, why do you continue to denigrate Jews and compare them to pigs and monkeys? (3) Why are young children portrayed in videos as future "martyrs," dressed in suicide garb, guns in hand, with mock bombs strapped to their chests? (4) What agreements have you made with Israel in the past that you have kept (answer: none) and why should any future concessions by Israel be sufficient to cause you to make peace with the Jewish state, which you won't even acknowledge as a Jewish state?
All of this posturing is a fiction and, to borrow a phrase from Ecclesiastes, nothing more than "chasing after the wind." It is not -- nor has it ever been -- what Israel does or doesn't do that threatens peace in the region. It is Israel's existence that riles the Palestinians and every Muslim state. Any negotiation that does not lead to the weakening of Israel on the road to its eventual annihilation is of no interest to the Palestinian leadership. Can anyone prove that statement wrong?
The United States is playing mind games with itself and with Israel's future. This country thinks people who believe their god has ordered them to kill Jews and others they regard as "infidels" (that would be all Americans and anyone else who don't embrace Islam) can somehow be persuaded by infidel diplomats, like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (and previous secretaries of state) and politicians like President Obama (and previous presidents) to act in ways that are opposed to what they believe their god has commanded them to do. One might as well believe staunch Southern Baptists can be persuaded to drink alcohol.
A lot must change before anything approaching "peace" between Palestinians and Israelis occurs. Israel has changed and given enough. It is long past time for serious reciprocity from the Palestinian Authority. If none is forthcoming, Israel should keep building and agree to no new concessions.
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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