Sunday, January 25, 2009

Tom Friedman says "This is not a Test." Wow, really?

Aren't we all all so lucky that Tom is there to clue us in? Here's today's wisdom.

Op-Ed Columnist - This Is Not a Test -

As usual though, some of it can't be let by without comment. Says TF:

We’re getting perilously close to closing the window on a two-state solution, because the two chief window-closers — Hamas in Gaza and the fanatical Jewish settlers in the West Bank — have been in the driver’s seats. Hamas is busy making a two-state solution inconceivable, while the settlers have steadily worked to make it impossible.
Well, bless your heart, thanks for that hot tip. Anybody with eyes to read with has been saying this for at least a few years. IMO, that window has already closed, and TF is indeed perceptive enough to note:
No Israeli government has mustered the will to take down even the “illegal,” unauthorized settlements, despite promises to the U.S. to do so, so it’s getting hard to see how the “legal” settlements will ever be removed.

But, "getting hard to see"? After George W. Bush promised Ariel Sharon several years ago that there'd be no need to remove the "legal" settlements?

What is needed from Israel’s Feb. 10 elections is a centrist, national unity government that can resist the blackmail of the settlers, and the rightist parties that protect them, to still implement a two-state solution.

Amen to that, but why not go on to clue us in about the Israeli election polls, which see the right-wing Likud and Mr. Netanyahu well ahead of the second-place Kadima, which is actually not so centrist; it was led by Ariel Sharon, then by Ehud Olmert - he of Operation Cast Lead fame. Meanwhile the party that once led Israeli politics (Labor) is running third, effectively tied with the ultra-right Yisrael Beitenu party of Avigdor Lieberman, who's on the record as favoring forced transfer of Palestinians. Why not mention, TF, that the chances of a centrist government - under Netanyahu, no less - emerging after the elections are about as high as my chances of being chosen in the NFL draft.

Because without a stable two-state solution, what you will have is an Israel hiding behind a high wall, defending itself from a Hamas-run failed state in Gaza, a Hezbollah-run failed state in south Lebanon and a Fatah-run failed state in Ramallah. Have a nice day.

Er, pardon me again, TF, but have you noticed that high wall that Israel has been building to separate Israel from the West Bank the last few years? Or that fence they've built around Gaza? Or that "Iron Wall" that Mr. Jabotinsky wrote about 70 years ago?

So if you believe in the necessity of a Palestinian state or you love Israel, you’d better start paying attention. This is not a test. We’re at a hinge of history.

The Palestinians are so fragmented politically and geographically that half of U.S. diplomacy is going to be about how to make peace between Palestinians, and build their institutions, so there is a coherent, legitimate decision-making body there — before we can make peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Gosh, TF, how'd they get to be so fragmented? Didn't they have democratic elections in 2006? Ooops, but those brought Hamas into power, didn't they? Yes indeed, so Israel rounded up and arrested the Hamas legislators, and the US boycotted the Hamas government and declared that Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas (a creature of Fatah, Hamas's rival) was the real, legitimate political authority, and, what'd that produce, TF? Ah, fragmentation, you say? But wait, didn't the Saudis then broker a national-unity deal between Abbas and Hamas? Gee, yeah, that's right, but what happened to that? Ah, George and Condi wouldn't accept that, and whacked Mahmoud back into line?

Second, Hamas now has a veto over any Palestinian peace deal. It’s true that Hamas just provoked a reckless war that has devastated the people of Gaza. But Hamas is not going away. It is well armed and, despite its suicidal behavior of late, deeply rooted.

Hamas provoked that war, TF? Whose blockade was that around Gaza? Whose forces raided Gaza last November and killed 6 "militants"?

The Palestinian Authority led by Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank will not make any compromise deal with Israel as long as it fears that Hamas, from outside the tent, would denounce it as traitorous. Therefore, Job 2 for the U.S., Israel and the Arab states is to find a way to bring Hamas into a Palestinian national unity government.

Shouldn't you get real now, TF? Are you seriously suggesting that Hamas would join a national-unity government led Abbas, when he's been basically smacked around by Israel and the US ever since Arafat died, has made zero progress in bringing any justice to the Palestinians, and is now viewed by many Palestinians as (to borrow another commentator's expression) the Palestinian Petain?

But bringing Hamas into a Palestinian unity government, without undermining the West Bank moderates now leading the Palestinian Authority, will be tricky. We’ll need Saudi Arabia and Egypt to buy, cajole and pressure Hamas into keeping the cease-fire, supporting peace talks and to give up rockets — while Iran and Syria will be tugging Hamas the other way.

Gee, TF, is there nothing that Israel could kick in here?

OK, thought not.

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