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

April 18, 2003

William F. Buckley Jr. weighs in on the Road Map (Ted Belman)

But makes no sense or compelling argument
[...] All this said, what can't be disputed is that Israel is, if not the cause of perpetual friction in the Mideast, an unimaginative agent of it. In analyzing the so-called road map, which is an attempt at strategic deciphering of a plan designed to diminish tension and create a Palestinian state, one has to begin with an absolute given, which is the survival of the Israeli state. But, immediately, one founders on the question: What are the borders of the Israeli state we are determined should survive?

And we bump immediately into the question of the Israeli settlements. Keen students of the conflict, Thomas Friedman of the New York Times an example, have said it quite simply: Unless Israel retreats from the settlements, a coherent Palestinian state cannot evolve to the endurance of enclave states. (Does anyone know what that means?) But the Israeli settlements are a pullulating sore, attracting terrorists, requiring Israeli security, and seeking always, expansion. (He accepts that settlements are a sore which attracts terrorism but latter acknowledges that elimination of Israel is Arafat's goal.So terrorism has the ultimate goal of eliminating israel and are focussed on the settlements as a stage in the process) Israeli leaders are always promising to check increases in the settlements, but only Amram Mitzna, and he was soundly defeated at the last Israeli election, has spoken of the dissolution of some of the settlements. There is too much pride invested in those settlements, and 250,000 settlers directly involved in any proposal to dissolve them. (He's got that right but it is a lot more than protecting our pride)

"But what would the Israelis get in return?" the British historian Alistair Horne commented when the proposal was ventilated at a forum. That isn't easy to answer, because although Israel is well protected against massive military aggression, its fear, today as it was yesterday and will be tomorrow, is of individual terrorists working havoc on Israeli men, women, and children, robbing the state of any wholesome security of life. (Notice, he doesn't answer this question except to say more terror. So why should Israel give up the settlements?)

The new Palestinian prime minister Mahmoud Abbas is struggling to put together an imaginative cabinet, but suffers from the authority of old man Arafat to disband that government, lest it jeopardize Arafat's predilection for terrorism and the implied goal of the elimination of Israel.

But President Bush's road map has to put it this way to Tel Aviv: We cannot promise that the Palestinians will stop their suicide attacks, but we can tell you that the settlements are disruptive of any approach to a strategic arrangement. The settlements are impassable road blocks on the road map. (But why remove the impediment to the Road Map, if the terror will continue? Once again, what's in it for Israel? Nothing.)

Although the liberation of Iraq was not undertaken merely to guarantee Israel's survival ( It is a calumny to suggest that America went to war to guarantee Israel's survival, among other reasons. No way, no how. America didn't do it for Israel although Israel is a beneficiary.), that liberation removes a potential military aggressor and so fortifies Israeli security. The time then comes to establish that the United States government is not a creature of parliamentary coalitions in Israel, which have given to minority parties unbalanced leverage over government policies. (Whoever said it was? Once again, after advising that Mitzna lost office because he proposed dismantling settlements, he ignores that and suggest Israel's policy is dictated by minority parties. The truth is that the present government has the support of a large majority in the country.) The sooner Mr. Bush brings up this point, the sooner we can progress to making policy in that part of the world that earns the respect of the broader community. (This is simply an argument for doing what the world wants rather than the right thing to do. In other words fighting for Israel settlements is hurting our relationships so force Israel to abandon the settlements even knowing that Israel will still be subject to terrorism and other existential threats.)