I have a dream.
Someday, perhaps not in our lifetimes, but sometime before hell freezes over, there will be a second-term American President who does not make a major initiative in his penultimate year to bring peace between Israel and the Palestinians. He, or maybe she, will not issue blustering — or blistering — pronouncements about how “both sides” need to contribute more to “the process,” will not make a big show of pushing Israel around and pressuring it into making bad decisions. Then, once and for all, we will have seen modern medicine cure the most persistent of all presidential maladies, The Seven-Year Itch.
This fond dream, this phantasmagoric projection, this idyllic chimera, may one day be more than it is now: a cruel mirage. As the reality of our lives is presently constituted, it ain’t happenin’. It does not seem to matter much what is actually happening on the ground, or what makes sense, or what morality dictates, or who is to blame for what. Special envoys must be shuttled, summits must be convened, statements must be issued. The American President [insert name here] has “a vision.” In the vision there are two populations living side by side in bliss and harmony, a model for goodwill among men, all brought about by the avuncular but stern guidance of Uncle Sam.
As we might have predicted, our own President has just announced such a push, along with a little shove. He leaned on Olmert and Abbas to meet, proclaimed Abbas to be interested in peace, said there have been mixed signs from the Palestinian territories in the last five years: “some hopeful, some dispiriting.” It is time to get back to the table. I suppose that means to put down the knife of war alongside the fork of resentment and to pick up the spoon of plenty. If any of the grease of duplicity lingers on the lips, it needs to be dabbed at by the napkin of diplomacy.
Someone is crazy here, and to be honest it might be me. After all, I still stand in front of the mirror periodically, holding an imaginary baseball bat high in the air and fix my implacable gaze on the towering pitcher who looms on the horizon of my imagination. As the ball approaches, I throw all of myself into the swing and produce a mammoth home run that makes The Natural look like a minor leaguer. Within the confines of my admittedly dreamy consciousness, the idea of peace between Israel and “Palestine” looks totally wacky.
With whom is this treaty contracted? Abbas does not even control all the Palestinian turf; there are Hamas goons prancing around in his pajamas at his former Gaza pad. He is old and probably could not deliver his own Fatah guys if he signs a deal not to their liking. He certainly cannot be expected to influence the Hamas element that essentially deposed him from being president of fifty percent of his domain. “I am the king of all I can see, but half of my bifocals are opaque.” “I am an eternal optimist whose glasses are half full.” Yikes!
What does the newly conceived, midwifed and born Palestinian state do for an encore? They have made no attempt at developing industry or commerce. When Israel handed them fully intact greenhouses and machinery from the thriving hydroponics business they had developed in Gaza, the Palestinians destroyed all the structures and equipment immediately, looting all the parts. (Hydroponics is a system of growing vegetables in water, not using the ground. It is said to produce a bug-free version; I used to eat the lettuce and found it crisp and palatable.) Once they have a full country, it would subsist on handouts from abroad and the salaries from providing labor to Israel. Does anyone truly see this as workable?
Do we really believe the citizenry is going to adapt overnight to a new neighborliness as a substitute culture for the current white-hot hatred? True, there are a lot of apolitical Palestinians who just want to go to work and raise a family; I knew quite a few of them myself. If not, Israel would be much less successful in its intelligence operations (although espionage ultimately is a form of shadow politics). But the core of its leadership has consistently been defined by a hostility that tends to outdistance the prettified language they lay on Ted Koppel and CNN.
Not to mention the fact they are still holding Israeli hostages and shooting rockets into civilian areas. These ruffians have thrived for very long in the three-piece-suit world of international outlawry.
For right now, my dream must play second fiddle to the President’s fantasy. Let’s just hope that does not turn out to be a nightmare.
Jay D. Homnick, commentator and humorist, is a frequent contributor to The American Spectator. He also writes for Human Events.
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