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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 Nov. 19, 2004 / 6 Kislev, 5765

Conventional wisdom rides again

By Jonathan Tobin


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Arafat is buried, but the usual foolish policies rise from the dead



http://www.jewishworldreview.com |
In much of what we laughingly call the "civilized world," the death of archterrorist and murderer Yasser Arafat was mourned with the usual solemnity given to a distinguished head of state.


Indeed, much of the international media gave Arafat's send-off the "Princess Di" treatment, with lengthy biographies in which platitudes about his symbolic value as the leader of the Palestinian cause were augmented by euphemisms about the tactics employed by his henchmen.


Even many of those who didn't buy into the nonsense about this Egyptian-born former Soviet satellite being a heroic revolutionary leader were still liable to treat him as a major celebrity. In contemporary American pop culture, no higher compliment can be paid.


In the Palestinian territories, the solemn rites for Arafat were celebrated with the usual pomp and circumstance of that violence-besotted culture: riots and uncontrolled bursts of gunfire, which accounted for numerous casualties. But in the corridors of the American foreign-policy establishment were no tearful eulogies, such as were heard on the BBC. Nor was there any gunfire — at least, none that was reported.


But the policy wonks at the State Department, the Council on Foreign Relations and the "Middle East experts" at major American newspapers (The New York Times' Thomas L. Friedman, The Philadelphia Inquirer's Trudy Rubin, the Boston Globe's Thomas Oliphant, the Los Angeles Times' Robert Scheer, etc.) are commemorating Arafat's passing in the way they have reacted to virtually every piece of news that comes out of the region: calling for more U.S. pressure on Israel to revive the peace process.

FAITH-BASED POLICY
In these quarters, the belief that the only way to Middle East peace lies in American strong-arming of the only democracy in the region is something akin to a religious faith. No matter how many times it has been employed — and subsequently failed — the same "wise" men and women who are anointed as the "experts" on the conflict refuse to acknowledge that they may have been mistaken, or that theories may be based more on wishful thinking than reality.


It is true that the death of Arafat removes one of the principle obstacles to peace. As Barry Rubin, the author of one the best books about Arafat in print — Yasser Arafat: A Political Biography — has said, the old terrorist's greatest fear was that he would go down in Arab historians as the man who sold Palestine to the Jews. No danger of that happening now, is there?


There remains a glimmer of hope that Mahmoud Abbas, his apparent successor, will try and transform the Palestinian Authority into something a bit more presentable to the American public. How exactly it will cease to be a kleptocracy that subsidizes terror both by paying its own killers (the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade) and by condoning the actions of its Islamic rivals has yet to be determined.

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And you can bet that Israel will go a long way to avoid being blamed for any of Abbas' failures.


In his previous incarnation as the prime minister of the P.A., Abbas achieved nothing. That was because Arafat never had any intention of allowing himself to be superceded, even by one of his old buddies (albeit one that in the past few years has been at pains to be portrayed in the Western press as a critic of Arafat's tactics and continued terrorism).


Israel was roundly condemned for failing to make concessions to make Abbas look good, even though he had zero chance of outmaneuvering Arafat. Sharon won't make the same mistake again, and will probably release terror suspects and close down security roadblocks in order to be seen as being supportive of Abbas, even if it results in Israeli casualties.


But the experts are dead wrong, as they always have been, when they say that Bush must reverse course in his second term and emphasize bludgeoning Israel into concessions to get a peace deal, rather than putting the emphasis on the need for Palestinian reform.


There is no more risible piece of conventional wisdom than the one that tells us that the primary roadblock to peace is the refusal of Bush to force Israel to give more territory and to refrain from acts of self-defense against Palestinian terror.


A decade of Oslo negotiations should have amply illustrated — even for those dimwitted experts — that all American pressure on Israel does is to whet the Palestinians appetite for more. The Israelis, desperate for a respite from terror and willing to go a long way to get it, can't buy peace if the Palestinians aren't selling. And the absence of a Palestinian will for peace is what has always been lacking.

CAN ABBAS DO IT?
But doesn't Arafat's death mean all that has changed? Maybe, but you don't have to be an expert to figure out that if Arafat felt he didn't have the clout to give up on the so-called "right of return" for Palestinian refugees, why would a comparative weakling like Abbas or any of his rivals do better, assuming they even wanted to?


If, as more level-headed skeptics suspect,the conflict is still not about borders but about the existence of Israel itself (as the Palestinians with the guns and bombs continue to tell us), then all the U.S. pressure in the world won't do anything but undermine Israel's ability to defend itself. But Arafat's death has given Israel's critics license to resurrect the same patent nostrums they peddled before.


Will they succeed?


Bush and his new Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, have rightly held that progress toward a Palestinian state must be prefaced by an end to terrorism and genuine reform of the P.A. That emphasis — and the refusal of Bush to engage with Arafat until it happened — has frustrated the experts to no end. They hope that Bush's need to help his primary European ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, will cause him to reverse the revolution in American foreign policy that they effectuated in his first term.


Bush and Rice are being asked a simple question: What do they believe — the facts about the Palestinians, or the worn-out theories of Friedman and Rubin and company? Here's hoping that Condi Rice is too smart — and Bush too stubborn — to get that one wrong.

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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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© 2004, Jonathan Tobin