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Condi’s Middle East Swansong By: P. David Hornik
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, June 17, 2008

On Friday the Israeli Interior Ministry announced plans to build 1300 homes in Ramat Shlomo, a Jerusalem neighborhood in a part of Jerusalem that was occupied by Jordan from 1948 to 1967. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, here for yet another visit, didn’t like it a bit.


As she told reporters on Sunday, “It’s important to have an atmosphere of trust and confidence. Unfortunately I do believe, and the United States believes, that the actions and the announcements taking place are having a negative effect on the atmosphere for negotiations.”


She also complained about slow progress in improving Palestinians’ quality of life in the West Bank—“I recognize that we haven’t made the progress that we would like to in terms of movement and access and removal of barriers. Particularly I am concerned about the outposts, which are illegal, even under Israeli law, and so I would hope to see more movement.”


She put the onus on Israel, in other words. Only one report that I’ve seen—and it’s in the Israeli press—has her also saying, “While the issue of settlement construction may hinder the peace process, we have to bring the attacks on Israeli citizens to a stop. There is a lot we have to discuss.” Oh yes, that little detail.


If Rice’s scolding had any benefit at all, it’s that it evoked a little backbone—almost—even from Ehud Olmert, no one’s idea of Mr. Ramrod-Straight. He told Rice Sunday evening that “We are not confiscating additional Palestinian lands but building in Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem which are expected to remain in Israeli hands.”


Olmert, in other words, invented a nonexistent Israeli sin of “confiscating Palestinian lands” to make up for defending a fundamental Jewish value of living in Jerusalem. His spokesman Mark Regev was a bit more forthright, stating thatIt is clear that the Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem will remain part of Israel. It is not realistic that we freeze the lives of people in Jerusalem”—the closest one can imagine to a little character being shown by the immediate Olmert circle.


One wonders if, while she’s here, Rice bothers reading the Israeli press. On Sunday she could have read in the Jerusalem Post—a mainstream paper that favors a Palestinian, Muslim-Arab state in Judea and Samaria—that

As US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak in Jerusalem on Sunday, top Israeli defense officials and IDF officers slammed two American-backed initiatives to deploy additional Palestinian forces in the West Bank, saying they are allowing terrorism to flourish.

According to the defense officials, since 600 Palestinian Authority soldiers, who were trained by US defense contractors in Jordan, were allowed to deploy in Jenin last month, there has been an increase in terrorist activity in the city. On Sunday morning, a 20-kg. bomb detonated next to an IDF force in Jenin without causing any casualties.

…Terror suspects arrested by the PA forces were usually released in a few days or just hours later, another defense official said….

Weapons provided by the US to the PA are finding their way to Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists in Jenin as well as in Nablus, where 3,000 PA policemen and soldiers have been deployed over the past year, a top officer in the Central Command said.

In addition, defense officials said terrorists have infiltrated the ranks of the PA police and military.…

A certain problem of U.S. blinders when it comes to the Palestinians? No sign that Rice has become cognizant of such a problem or that it has affected her view of the Palestinians at all.

And having managed not to be in Israel since the first week of May, when she made another bold effort to get Israel to take down checkpoints, Rice presumably missed the May 19 story about the

20-year-old Palestinian carrying four pipe bombs [who] was shot dead…at an IDF checkpoint located south of Nablus in the West Bank….


Corporal Michal Ya’akov of the military police recounted the incident: “A young Palestinian who seemed confused arrived at the checkpoint…. I asked him what it was that he had on his body.”


 …the Palestinian responded by saying “nothing” in Arabic while lifting his shirt and exposing the pipe bombs, which were strapped to the right part of his body.


“I identified the explosive devices and yelled ‘explosives in the checkpoint.’… The Palestinian raised his arms up for two seconds, then pulled them down and reached for the explosive device,” she [Ya’akov] said. At this point the checkpoint commander shot the man dead….


The Hawara checkpoint has seen several terror-related incidents in the past. A week-and-a-half ago a Palestinian was caught there with a 6-inch knife.…

The report goes on to recount several more such incidents—and this is only one, albeit a major one, of the many checkpoints, roadblocks, and barriers in Judea and Samaria, which exist for one purpose and one purpose only: to protect Israeli citizens from being stabbed, blown up,
poisoned, and the like.


It’s impossible to know what causes Rice to see the main problems in this corner in the world as Israeli building of homes in places she considers off limits to Jews, and a lack of “movement and access” for Palestinians requiring “removal of barriers.” The best conjecture probably lies in her statement thatI know what it’s like to hear that you can’t use a certain road, or pass through a checkpoint because you are a Palestinian. I know what it is like to feel discriminated against and powerless,” which she followed with a description of her childhood in Birmingham, Alabama.


In other words, her seeing the Palestinians in the image of southern blacks under Jim Crow—a perception so cockeyed that it alone should have disqualified her from holding such an office. (To begin with, nobody had to inspect southern blacks at checkpoints because they didn’t carry knives and bombs, seek to murder anyone, or seek anything but the rights they were denied—but it should be too obvious to need spelling out.)  


Reportedly there’s not much concern in Israel about Rice’s latest round of criticism, and focus on the central Jewish value of Jerusalem, because she’s seen as part of a distinctly lame-duck administration whose days are numbered. She has, though—with the blessing of her boss, President George W. Bush—further eroded the legitimacy of Israel’s security concerns and Jewish essence, and whoever is her successor, if so inclined, will find it all the easier to continue her destructive path.

P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Beersheva. He blogs at http://pdavidhornik.typepad.com/. He can be reached at pdavidh2001@yahoo.com.

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