The difference between a sadist and a dominatrix is not in the force of the blows; it’s that the former wants you to yell “No, no!” but the latter seeks to hear “Yes, yes!” Here I was tolerating Ariel Sharon’s policies, just grumbling and mumbling to myself, moaning and groaning quietly, but now that Charles Krauthammer is having public epiphanies on the road back from Damascus, I need to go on record to counter his “Yes, yes!” with my “No, no!” Or, anyway, “No, no! Not yet!”
Krauthammer lays out the scenario thusly. Israel gives back Gaza plus most of the West Bank, yes, but it also builds a security fence to block off all of this newly ceded territory. Thus it will sit, invulnerable to terrorism, ready to offer a final peace to the Palestinians whenever those worthies are so disposed. Voila! The great General Sharon has fortified his people against attack once and forever. Now bring on the green-eyeshade diplomats to figure out the water issues while we build a monument to the great warrior.
Is Sharon the new David? Or is he the Maginot David? Haven’t we heard this approach before, always in derogatory tones? It hardly seems like a great plan for the long term in this technological age to count on a wall to protect a whole cowering nation. Sure, Israel is bragging about its Dick Tracy wrist videos and loads of shiny new toys that glow in the dark, but once you let a full-blown state pull up alongside with billions in the vested bank, it’s likely to display some gauzy trinkets of its own before very long. I learned long ago from that former ESPN football commentator, Rush Limbaugh, that the Prevent Defense never works.
In the meantime, the Israelis who are most willing to sacrifice for their people, whether fanned by nationalistic or religious fervor, will have been called in by Mommy and told not to play outside in the dark again. Their settlements will be unsettled. But good news: they will receive compensation! A new apartment in Tel Aviv, right near the falafel stand; you know, the one with that secret Yemenite spice that gives off the great aroma. It reminds me of that powerful short story by Truman Capote about the girl who is so poor that she has to sell her dreams to a darkly mysterious man, and she dwindles day by day into oblivion.
The part that I found most disturbing is the notion that some kind of rational negotiation can begin after Israel has given away all of this turf. One thing that I learned from watching Moses negotiate at the beginning of the Book of Exodus is that every time the balance of power shifts a little bit in your favor, it’s time to up the ante in your demands. What possible advantage can the Palestinians have from being malleable in talks that are conducted at a time that they have the entire West Bank and Gaza already under their control?
Don’t forget, these folks are seasoned purveyors of victimhood, cashing in their martyr chips for power, pity, international standing, and cold hard currency. As a clangorous clan of the flagellated and displaced, they are a huge international cause. If they accept the role of a banana republic living in Israel’s capacious shadow, they will shrink overnight into nonentity status. It’s like Ron Goldman’s father taking a check for $100,000 to have his son’s death certificate amended to read “accidental.”
And what goodies would Israel have left to offer? It can’t give Jerusalem, it can’t give citizenship to millions of Palestinians who demand the right to return to Israel proper. Does anyone believe that a peace treaty can be acquired with jobs or financial incentives? There is simply not enough left in the kitty to appease the hawks; inevitably, they will up the anti. They are the ranking pros in the anti business, and it ain’t easy to con a pro.
So the Jews will sit behind a wall surrounded by implacable enemies, with nothing to offer them as a proxy for blood. They will have good weapons and good intelligence and whatever is left of their national confidence. Sharon will be feted as the great conqueror, although they forgot to hire anyone to clean up after the party. And apparently Krauthammer, tired after a heroic lifetime of grappling for survival, himself a living mirror of the plucky State, has volunteered to be the disc jockey.
And what will he play as an encore for “I Love You, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah…”? There it is: it sounds so darned familiar, I feel as if I’ve heard it a thousand times. One second, now, it’s on the tip of my tongue. Oh, yes, that’s it: “In The Ghetto…”!
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