"Until the Palestinians teach their children to accept Israel; until they actually go out and arrest, and even fight terrorists; and until they drop the right of return, this will remain a flowery path," he said. "And we've been down this path before."
Rather abruptly, it seems, the reluctance to endorse a Palestinian state has become the minority view in the Israeli government. This may also be the case in the United States, where it used to be that any politician who even touched on the statehood concept found himself sparking the third rail of politics. It wasn't so very long ago that Hillary Clinton, for example, who helped funnel grant money to PLO-associated groups in the 1980s, caused a ruckus by calling for a Palestinian state, later going so far as to dig up a Jewish relative (by marriage) to calm a cheek-kissing furor involving Yasser Arafat's wife Suha.
Now, the United States is committed to President Bush's vision of "the state of Palestine and the state of Israel, living at peace with each other and with every nation in the Middle East." Now, Mrs. Clinton would probably let sleeping relatives lie.
What changed? Certainly, American sympathy for Israel continues to run high; and certainly, Palestinians haven't fulfilled the conditions for American support that President Bush laid out last June, such as ending incitement or dismantling the terrorist infrastructure. What is different now, I fear, is that the world sees Palestinian terrorism, including suicide terrorism, in a new light.
In a recent interview in the Atlantic, terrorism expert Bruce Hoffman explained that one strategy of such terrorism is "to provoke the (Israeli) government into undertaking actions that the terrorists feel they can manipulate for propaganda purposes" -- such as crackdowns by the Israeli Defense Forces -- "which will also portray them as victims rather than as perpetrators." He continued: "I think that's where the Palestinian terrorist groups have been remarkably successful, not necessarily with public opinion in the United States, but certainly in Europe." As Mr. Hoffman put it, "terrorists have gotten people to sympathize much more with the perpetrators of the violence than with the victims."
If so gruesome a shift in sympathy is even part of the driving impetus behind the road map, more than the lines in an atlas, or even the destiny of a people may be changing. The moral fundamentals of civilization itself may be in flux, and that leads off the map.