In his column today, Robert Novak endorses the Baker-Hamilton commission idea that the road to a stable Iraq runs through Jerusalem. The problem is, he doesn't explain why this is the case. He says that the members of the Iraq Study Group are not "Israel bashers" and cites "one commission member with a long record of support for Israel," but doesn't identify who the member is, so the reader has no way of assessing that it's true—the same is the case when he refers to "Arab allies" and "one Middle Eastern diplomat." Novak also approvingly quotes Chuck Hagel and says the holdup to American-brokered Israeli-Palestinian peace is the "Israeli ruling class and its U.S. outriders." He concludes by arguing that "It would be act of courage for George W. Bush to risk an assault from these forces, and it is a central decision of his last two years."
The problem with Novak's column is that he doesn't address the main reasons why supporters of Israel disagreed with the report's recommendations. Right now, Israel doesn't have a viable peace partner, and the Palestinians themselves have been on the verge of a civil war, which for the time is being averted by a fragile, hastily put together truce. Israel could not negotiate a deal with Mahmoud Abbas, even assuming he's sincere, because Hamas, which controls the parliament, is still committed to Israel's destruction. Whether it's through violence or the political process, Hamas would effectively have veto power over any deal. However, even if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were miraculously resolved, it wouldn't have any effect on Sunni vs. Shiite violence, which is the primary source of instability in Iraq. If Novak is going to use his column to advance paranoia about Israel's influence in the U.S., he should at least attempt to engage the other side's arguments.