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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 23, 2007 / 8 Menachem-Av, 5767

Just another fool's errand

By Jonathan Tobin



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Bush speech on peace says a lot that's right but founders on reliance on Abbas


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | In the long run, history may take a kinder view of George W. Bush's presidency than that of the majority of the American people who now see him as a failure. But anyone in Washington who thinks that he can boost his poll ratings or score a foreign-policy triumph on the heels of the Arab-Israeli conflict to divert attention away from Iraq is just dreaming.


Bush's latest major statement on the Middle East — timed to coincide with a meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas — is seen by many as an attempt by the administration to change the subject from Iraq.


That isn't likely.


But for all of the abuse that he and his team have taken about their inability to state their case on Iraq or the war on Islamist terror, and in spite of the fact that he may well be the most inarticulate man to be president of the United States since the invention of sound recordings, Bush has said some very sensible things about the Mideast during his presidency.

OFFER OF STATEHOOD
This week's speech is another example of the ability of the president and his writers to state some plain facts about the Palestinians and the ongoing war on Israel.


Coming five years after his clarion call for statehood for the Palestinians — provided they renounced terror and adopted democratic norms — Bush tried to sound some of the same themes again:


"The Palestinian people must decide that they want a future of decency and hope — not a future of terror and death. They must match their words denouncing terror with action to combat terror," the president proclaimed.


Speaking of stopping attacks on Israel, he quite properly declared that doing so is the "only way to end the conflict, and nothing else is acceptable.


This demonstrates a degree of realism that was never found in the Clinton administration, which was so busy whitewashing Yasser Arafat in the name of advancing peace that neither the president nor his diplomatic team ever realized the fact that Arafat had no real interest in peace.


Bush departed from decades of pro-Arabist policy, an achievement for which he got little credit. But this is not a moment to dwell too much on his virtues. Unfortunately, the administration appears to be headed for a more certain failure on this issue than even its highly unpopular policies in Iraq.


The reason for this is that just as Clinton once wagered his chance for a Nobel Peace Prize on the integrity of Yasser Arafat, Bush is resting his hopes on the slender shoulders of Arafat's successor, Abbas. And for all the outward differences between the two, Abbas is an even worse bet than Arafat.


Arafat was an incorrigible liar and a terrorist, but had he ever taken it into his head to actually try to build peace, he may have had the power — and the firepower — to make it stick.


As Abbas has demonstrated in the years he has been in command of the P.A., he does not have that same power. And whatever influence he might have once had, as even the denizens of the State Department have noticed, he no longer controls Gaza, which is in the hands of Hamas.


Bush rightly won't deal with Hamas in the same way he avoided Arafat, but the fact that he is not a member of this popular Islamist movement doesn't make Abbas a peacemaker. Nor, despite his more presentable image, has he shown any greater willingness to do so than his deceased longtime chief.


That's not the line being taken by senior administration officials, who have been made available to talk up the latest initiative. When asked why anyone should think the Abbas' government will actually do what the president has asked him to do about incitement and terror after he never did so before, they respond as if someone has made a rude or ignorant remark.

WASHINGTON DOUBLE-TALK
Instead, they point to "a lot of positive factors on the ground" which, they say, demonstrates the "types of dynamics we're hoping to reinforce." These officials are honest enough to admit that these "dynamics" are "incipient, very incipient," but that's just Washington double-talk for faith in unrealistic Palestinian promises.


In exchange for these "incipient" measures, Bush is prepared to hand over almost half a billion dollars in U.S. taxpayer cash.


Abbas' appointment of Salim Fayyad as his prime minister to replace the Hamas member who was elected to that position by the Palestinian people is seen by Washington as a guarantee of honesty. But even though Fayyad might be honest, it's impossible to argue that this is true of Abbas and Fatah, whose legendary thievery made the Islamist murderers of Hamas look like a band of Abraham Lincolns.


Nor is there any reason to imagine that the Fatah Party's own armed contingents will give up terror when it is their own Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade that has committed the majority of terrorist acts against Israel in the period that Abbas has been in power.


The problem here is not just that the Palestinians won't easily change their ways. It is that this U.S. aid and the Israeli concessions on security and prisoner releases will, inevitably, be portrayed as insufficient.


No matter how much help he is given, Abbas' weakness and character flaws will be blamed on Israel and the United States, not himself.


The notion that the presence of a U.S. military "security coordinator" that administration officials boast is a big difference between now and the situation in 2002 when Bush first promised the Palestinians a state is another fallacy.


It was Fatah operatives — often armed and trained by Western agencies (including the City of Philadelphia's Police Department) — who launched the terror attacks of the second intifada, which started in the fall of 2000.


Given that Gaza is now the moral equivalent of Afghanistan before the overthrow of the Taliban — an Islamist terror state — it's understandable that Washington is prepared to do anything, even backing a sure loser such as Abbas, to fight it.


Bush deserves credit for going farther than any American president has ever gone to state that Israel's survival as a Jewish state (which is an implicit rejection of the Palestinians so-called "right of return") is a principle of U.S. foreign policy. And the terms he has set for Palestinian statehood are, in theory, entirely appropriate.


But wishing for a viable alternative to Hamas is not the same thing as actually having one.


For its own reasons, Israel's government wishes to prop up Abbas as much as possible.


But American friends of Israel, mindful of the potentially disastrous costs of American diplomatic and military failures elsewhere in the region, have an obligation to point out that a refusal to accept reality isn't good for Israel, the United States or any chances for peace.


What's needed now is honesty about the bankruptcy of Palestinian political culture, not faith in a government that deserves none.

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JWR contributor Jonathan S. Tobin is executive editor of the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent. Let him know what you think by clicking here.

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