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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

March 03, 2003

Dulling the Talons

An editorial in the Baltimore Sun last week, "Sharpening the Talons" was pretty typical of the paper's shrill anti-Israel bias. Several aspects of the article call out for rebuttal. The first paragraph begins:
ARIEL SHARON has finished putting together a governing coalition in Israel that includes an extreme right-wing party and a rabidly extreme right-wing party. This won't do the cause of peace in the Middle East any good at all.
Specifically the problem here is that neither of the "extreme right-wing" parties that joined the Likud's coalition has much power. Shinui, the one leftist party got all the major ministries outside of Defense, Foreign Affairs and Treasury. What's more, Sharon could have formed a coalition of just nationalist and religious parties and left out Shinui. Under the circumstances (i.e. the democratic choice of the Israeli people) the government Sharon formed was arguably the most left wing possible! Maybe the Sun wants to criticize the Israeli people; but its criticism of Sharon is sheer propaganda.

More generally, the problem with the Sun's position is that in the year 2000, Israel 1) offered (through President Clinton) Syria over 90% of the land it wanted to make peace 2) pulled completely - as certified by the UN Security Council - out of Southern Lebanon (even as Syria continues to occupy that country with impunity) and 3) offered Yasser Arafat over 90% of the land he wanted to make peace. In return Israel got 1) Assad's even shriller and more belligerent son after Assad died refusing to make a deal 2) a continued threat from Hezbollah and 3) a renewed intifada overseen by Yasser Arafat. The notion that the composition of Israel's government plays any role in whether Israel makes is nonsense. The continued obstacle to peace is Arab rejectionism.
To Arab eyes, there is no daylight between the White House and Mr. Sharon. It has not gone unnoticed that one of the neoconservative arguments for an American-led regime change in Iraq is that it would be good for Israel. But if Israel is going to be so militant, Iraq's Arab neighbors might well ask, what's in it for them?
So if the Arabs had something to gain, they'd support US efforts? Something to gain, as implied by the editorial, means Israel retreating from the lands it obtained in defensive wars. So then explain, why is it that at the time of the Camp David summit in July, 2000 did Saudi Arabia and Egypt encourage Arafat to reject the American backed deal that Barak offered - as reported by the New York Times? (I sent a letter to the editor with similar substance to the Editor of the Sun.)

Again the answer is that support for Israel is not an obstacle to peace. It's Arab rejectionism of any compromise with Israel.

Cross-posted to IsraPundit and David's Israel Blog.