On the Palestinian Crisis

If you’re interested in and alarmed about how the Bush administration and its neo-conservative supporters contributed to the current crisis in the Palestinian Territories, there is probably nothing as clear and concise out there as Friday’s analysis, from which the following excerpt is taken, by M.J. Rosenberg of the Israel Policy Forum.

“Today it is almost amusing to contemplate the professions of horror on the part of right-wing Israelis (and their neocon friends) who scream “bloody murder” about an outcome they helped effect and actually welcome.

“The name of their game was, is, and always will be making sure that Israel has “no partner” with whom to negotiate. Their worst fear is of Palestinians like Mahmoud Abbas who is a credible negotiating partner. They were undoubtedly relieved to hear that, as Roni Shaked reported in today’s Yediot, “the Prime Minister’s advisers [declared] the Palestinian Authority dead, [saying] there is no one to talk to… and that the Bush administration will not put pressure on Olmert at this stage to come up with ideas for renewing the negotiations with Abbas and promoting a diplomatic horizon.”

“I understand that this is a difficult point to assimilate. But the fact is that Israeli (and American) right-wingers are rooting for the Palestinian extremists. And that is why, today, with Hamas fully in control of Gaza, they are as happy as Red Sox fans when the team is eleven games up on the Yankees on Labor Day.”

The entire analysis can be found here.

What Rosenberg is talking about can be found on any number of neo-conservative sites, beginning with the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page. It ran a column entitled “Hamastan,” yesterday by Barry Rubin, that helps set the tone, and again a lead editorial Saturday entitled “Arafat’s Children” .

The lead editorial, “Terror State,” of the National Review Online Friday, which took time off from its extended debate on immigration to seize on the latest Palestinian misfortunes, also points to where the neo-cons are heading, as well as an accompanying piece, entitled “Arafatistan” by syndicated columnist Mona Charen. (Note how “Hamastan,” “Arafatistan” and similar plays on names work to mix a number of discrete phenomena into a big pot that suggests Afghanistan, Taliban, Islam, terror, danger – achieving a kind of verbal echo chamber.)

If you want to see how an influential Likudnik, whose husband David is Vice President Dick Cheney’s top Middle East aide, fingers Syria and Iran as the hidden hands behind all that’s bad in both Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, make sure you check out Meyrav Wurmser’s Friday piece in “The Weekly Standard,” “Up to No Good”. You can be assured that her interpretation is being well represented in the White House.

As for what next, Daniel Levy, a former Israeli peace negotiator and co-drafter of the Geneva Initiative who is based in Washington this year with the New America Foundation, the Center for American Progress, and The Century Foundation, offers important ideas that no doubt are anathema to the neo-cons cited above. Levy, whose new blog, www.prospectsforpeace.com, should be required reading along with Rosenberg’s weekly column for keeping up with Arab-Israeli-U.S. relations at such a fraught moment in the region’s history, also helpfully links Martin Indyk’s op-ed in Friday’s Washington Post which is likely to be embraced by many Democrats and the State Department but which Levy finds but “illusory” and “wrong-headed.”

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Jim Lobe

Jim Lobe served for some 30 years as the Washington DC bureau chief for Inter Press Service and is best known for his coverage of U.S. foreign policy and the influence of the neoconservative movement.