The eternally recurring peace process
Imagine a nightmarish version of Groundhog Day in which, through the endless repetitions of the same day of his life, the main character never learns from his mistakes, never begins to improve his behavior as he does in the actual movie, but keeps going through exactly the same events in exactly the same way and with exactly the same deluded and self-centered attitudes, over and over, forever. Now expand that minor vision of hell to the international level, encompassing Israel, the United States, and the Palestinian terrorists, and you have the “peace process.”
After years and years of a “peace process” in which nothing had been expected of the Palestinians, in which they had been left entirely free to carry out terror war against Israel and teach their children to be suicide bombers, President Bush seemed momentarily to have broken free of the eternal recurrence. In June 2002 he issued a statement of radical common sense and simple morality in which he said the United States would not deal with the Palestinians any longer or help them achieve a state unless they renounced terrorism, dismantled their terrorist organizations, and ceased the calls for the killings of Israelis. Yet within a year, unable to resist the Zeitgeist (as well as Blair’s demands for “progress” in the Mideast), Bush abandoned those moral and realistic conditions and climbed back up on the eternal merry-go-round, inaugurating the “road map to peace” and even going personally to the Mideast and leading an absurdly doomed “summit” meeting, where, in the imperious tones of a world conqueror, he commanded Israel and the Palestinians to reach an agreement. At that conference he gave the barely installed Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, as the supposed leader of a new, non-terrorist Palestinian nation, the extraordinary honor of a one-on-one meeting. Yet the road map was written in sand, as anyone could see: within a few weeks of his “summit” with the U.S. president, Abbas quickly resigned his office when his fellow Palestinians threatened his life for talking peace. That pretty much put the kabosh on the “road map” for a while.
But now that Arafat is dead, Bush and the whole establishment are acting once again as though the conditions from Bush’s 2002 speech have been met. They’ve rolled out the road map, as though they hadn’t gone through the same scenario—the same hopeful statements that this time the conditions are right, this time we can make the breakthrough to “peace in the Mideast”—many, many, many times before. Stating that the peace process will now be a top priority of his presidency, Bush declares, in the same imperious tone he used at the doomed 2003 summit, that the Palestinians will have their own state by the time he leaves office in four years, as though that result were up to his will that it be so, instead of being up to the Palestinians’ own demonstrated willingness to accept the existence of Israel. Career peace processors such as Warren Christopher (who made 25 trips to the Mideast during his 48 months as Secretary of State) and Dennis Ross (who, after eight years of shepherding the “peace process,” admitted in 2002, a year and a half after the outbreak of the terror intifada, that he had systematically ignored the Palestinians’ non-compliance during all those years) have come out of the woodwork, crying that a new day is at hand, and that an “extraordinary,” “unique” opportunity for peace has appeared in the wake of Arafat’s demise. Even the supposed hardliner Sharon is on board, not only pushing the “peace process” but insisting that thousands of Israelis abandon their beautiful towns (misleadingly called “settlements”) in Gaza.
Meanwhile, back in the world of reality, Palestinian tv still freely preaches violent death to all Jews. Abbas, the leading candidate for Palestinian president, campaigns on the shoulders of terrorists. Powell says he is “disturbed” by this, but quickly adds that it doesn’t reflect Abbas’s “overall approach to governing.” Abbas repeatedly declares his commitment to the “right of return,” meaning that all five million Palestinian worldwide have the right to move to Israel, the very notion of which cancels out the two-state solution which the “peace process” is supposedly pursuing. When Arafat had insisted on the right of return at Camp David in 2000, to the utter shock of Clinton and Barak (since Arafat had not said a word about it in the previous eight years of endless negotations), it was seen as a deal-killer. Yet Abbas, the “moderate” on whose grey head all our renewed hopes for peace rest, calls this deal-killer a non-negotiable position, while our leaders, in this international Groundhog Day without repentance, this vision of hell, keep talking up the great new push for peace.