The Spectacle Blog

RE: Baker & Novak

By on 12.20.06 | 8:32AM

I suppose I don't see "Palestinians understanding" any time soon that they had better shape up or ... carry on in the same fashion that's been pathologically institutionalized in the Occ. Terr. for generations. There's a big difference between sovereignty and autonomy -- the first creates a list of formal rights and duties, the second a list of uncertainties and excuses. I wasn't one to cheer for holding democratic elections in Palestine -- it was a "bold move" of the kind, say, Ford has to rely on, but, by nature, elections can't change the character of a people, and the Palestinians, as a people, include some individuals for whom peace shall never be an option. If these individuals wish to form a political party which is also a terrorist organization, we should take advantage of their self-selection and work to isolate them out. Disengagement is one way. But given the pressures posed by Hezbollah and Iraq, I wonder if we have the luxury of waiting for Palestinians to see the light at the end of their own tunnel before ours comes into view.

Israel doesn't "have to" negotiate with the "best partners it has" -- Israel can, with our help, create better partners. I know the lesson of Arafat is that this "never works," but if Fatah gets to choose between statehood and a death-struggle with Hamas, I guess they'd pick the former. And if you're worried about Hamas staging a second coup -- this time seizing the reins of sovereign government -- I suspect as part of a broader effort our Arab friends who so quickly denounced and still dread Hezbollah would remain disinclined to see that happen.

The only failure of the "hold fast" strategy, in my view, is that its positive consequences will never come to pass. Hamas seems to me a terminally slow learner when it comes to responsible government. Palestine can keep this up for a long time, and if there's one thing we don't have in the Middle East it's time.

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