Maybe it was that last $50 million that George W. Bush forked over to the Palestinian Authority in May that made the Gaza transfer between Israel and the PA this week so ... What was Condoleezza Rice's word for the lawless Palestinian stampede of looting and desecration that erupted after the Israeli withdrawal?
That is, something must have sweetened the deal to make Israeli-Palestinian coordination on this territorial handover so very ... How did Ms. Rice describe the dynamic that led to the flags of jihad terrorism being hoisted into a sky darkened by burning synagogues?
Successful and effective? Not everyone's first reaction, but maybe it all depends on what Ms. Rice was hoping for. The fact that burning synagogues failed even to singe the Secretary of State's assessment of diplomatic success and effective statecraft is nothing less than chilling. But maybe it reflects our arrival at a cold, new reality that calls into question administration attitudes toward longstanding American motives and goals in the Middle East.
Since the Oslo "peace process" began in 1993, Palestinians have received more than $1.5 billion from the United States -- more aid, as the San Francisco Chronicle pointed out in August, than from any other single country. Not that other countries, mainly European ones, haven't been generous. The Atlantic Monthly's David Samuels tallied up post-Oslo P aid at $7 billion, estimating that as much as half of that money was siphoned off by Yasir Arafat and his cronies. Still the bucks flow. This year alone, the Chronicle reported, the United States will double last year's $275 million PA aid package, paying out $550 million (not including the $50 million handed out in May, as near as I can tell). In July, even as jihadis struck the London Underground, the Group of Eight countries couldn't pile up money for the PA fast enough, agreeing by 2008 to present its government -- which by then could very well include landslide-elected terrorists from Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Al Qaeda, whatever -- with $9 billion.
(According to the Chronicle article, Arab financial support is, alas, rather skimpy, amounting to some Egyptian materiel -- ammunition, trucks and whatnot. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the paper reports, "will seek to rally Arab financial support" in the fall. Maybe the price of Arab oil is too low for Arab aid to flow.)
They say you get what you pay for. But what exactly have we paid for? As recently as Sept. 2, according to Palestinian Media Watch, the PA's "Voice of Palestine" was sermonizing against "heretical" America, exhorting the Muslim faithful to attack Americans in Iraq -- just the latest instance of anti-U.S. propaganda carried on PA-run radio. A few weeks ago, the PA's so-called Ministry of Culture released its "Book of the Month," a collection of poetry honoring murder-bomber Hanadi Jaradat. This "Rose of Palestine" killed 29 Israeli Jews and Arabs at a crowded Haifa eatery in October 2003, back when such carnage was still shocking.
Palestinian Media Watch also noted a PA government newspaper report about female Hamas terrorists -- photographed holding American-made automatic rifles.
All of which should make us wonder: Have we paid for a "peace process," or have we financed holy war (jihad)? Have we supported a "peace partner"? Or have we just helped create a terrorist state? Time, maybe a very short time, will tell what already seems clear -- except to our secretary of state. Or so I wish. That is, I wish it were myopia alone that had brought us to this not-so-pretty pass. It could be, however, that with the rise of Condoleezza Rice, the current Bush administration now reflects the re-ascendance of the old Bush-Baker-Scowcroft school of foreign policy Arabism.
That would explain the distressing symbolism in the State Department's apparent snub of Israeli offers of aid in the early aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, as reported by the news Web site World Tribune.com. Certainly, State Department spokesmen have quite remarkably omitted Israel's name when ticking off countries participating in the relief effort. By now, the United States has received offers of assistance from Israel as well as Arab countries, the latter diplomatically elevated by silence on the former. In the strange, subtle (and not-so-subtle) world of diplomacy, the American cold shoulder "alarmed" Israeli diplomats "concerned that their country was being marginalized," World Tribune.com reported.
But why? Citing unnamed sources, the Web site wrote that "the administration was concerned that (Israeli aid) would deter Arab and Islamic countries from offering assistance." Frankly, if Israeli participation is considered a deal-breaker, then nuts to Arab and Islamic assistance. If we tolerate such bigotry -- like burning synagogues -- our future, I am afraid, does not look very bright.