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Washington: Bibi’s In, “Peace” Is Dead By: P. David Hornik
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, February 13, 2009

In the wake of the Israeli elections on Tuesday, it’s reported that many U.S. officials have “privately…expressed concern that Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu might preside over a right-wing coalition.” A “Capitol Hill source” is quoted as saying that would cause “great unease.” Dennis Ross is quoted in his book as calling Netanyahu, in his first prime ministerial stint in 1996-1999, “nearly insufferable, lecturing and telling us how to deal with the Arabs.”

Or as the Washington Post reported on Wednesday, “many key [U.S. officials] have long and difficult memories of dealing with…Netanyahu…when he was prime minister during the Clinton administration. It is no secret that U.S. officials would prefer to deal with [Tzipi] Livni”—Netanyahu’s relatively dovish prime-ministerial contestant whose Kadima Party, while narrowly defeating Likud in Tuesday’s elections, will likely play a subordinate role to Likud in the emergent coalition because of the overall strength of the right-wing bloc.

The Post quotes a “senior administration official” saying “The hope is that there is a government that is really committed to peace with the Palestinians”—and veteran peace processor Aaron David Miller as saying, more darkly, that the election outcome is “like hanging a ‘closed for the season’ sign on any peacemaking for the next year or so.”

Yet, if the memories of Netanyahu’s first tenure at the helm are so “difficult,” should memories of the “peace” government that preceded it, led by Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, and their Labor Party, be so pleasant? Many Israelis—if their charred bodies weren’t long ago interred—don’t have such pleasant memories of those years in which 200 Israelis died in terror attacks, a total far beyond any previous comparable period in Israeli history.

But, no doubt, those were heady peace-processing years. President Clinton hosted the famous handshake on the White House lawn between Rabin and PLO leader Yasser Arafat. In December 1994, by which time many of the hapless Israeli terror victims were already dead, bereaved, or trying to recover from injury and trauma, Rabin, Peres, and Arafat received their Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo.

Dennis Ross was Clinton’s point man on the “peace process” and was instrumental in reaching the 1995 Oslo 2 Agreement. Aaron David Miller was hard at work in Ross’s office as Deputy Special Middle East Coordinator. Ross and Miller—like Rabin, Peres, and Clinton—never stood up and said that, with all these innocent people being butchered, something must be wrong, perhaps this process should be stopped and the Israeli army should retake the areas from which Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Arafat’s PLO terrorists were now staging repeated savage attacks.

Nor did they raise any objection when in October 1995 the Oslo 2 agreement was hustled through the Knesset by trickery and bribery against the will of a majority of the Israeli people.

But in 1996 a majority of Israelis did manage to elect Netanyahu as prime minister, and these good years came to an end; instead of pleasant peace processing with ever-pliant Rabin and Peres, it was time for “difficulty” and “nearly insufferable lectures.” But while Clinton, Ross, Miller et al. were suffering, Israelis were suffering a good deal less; during Netanyahu’s three years as head of state the terror fatalities went down drastically to a total of 46 or about 15 per year—the same average as in the years before “peace” when the death toll suddenly exploded. But bipartisan, official Washington, Democrat and Republican, remembers these as terrible years for the peace process.

It is easy to continue in this vein—the security calamities under Netanyahu’s successor, Laborite Ehud Barak; the eventual defeat of West Bank terror under Likudnik prime minister Ariel Sharon; Sharon’s turn to the left in 2005 with the disengagement from Gaza and the creation of the Kadima Party—leading to 6500 rockets and mortars on Israel in three years and a war against Hamas that was used to stoke the worst outbreak of world anti-Semitism since the 1930s. The fact that after all this, Israelis have elected a conservative government arouses only contempt in official Washington.

Never have the blinders to reality been so tight; the fact that Israel’s putative peace partners among the Palestinians—Fatah leaders like Mahmoud Abbas, Salaam Fayad, and Ahmed Qurei—openly negate Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish state and demand its dissolution through a “return” of “refugees,” while educating their children in hatred, is systematically screened out, while an Israeli leader who is cautious and skeptical after seeing his country racked by waves of death is vilified as an obstacle to progress.

Lurking beneath it is the severest-possible calumny against the Israeli people—as if it is they who don’t want peace enough, and don’t know the cost of phony substitutes for it.

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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