U.S. Officialdom vs. Middle East Reality
By P. David Hornik
FrontPageMagazine.com | April 23, 2007
“U.S. State Department hails
Israel’s geopolitical transformation,” says a recent headline on WorldTribune.com. The article says that “The United States regards the endorsement by
Israel’s major right-wing parties of a unilateral Palestinian state as extremely positive. An outgoing senior Bush administration official said the decision by then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank in 2005 marked the end of the nationalist ideology of the ruling Likud Party.”
The outgoing official—Peter Rodman, assistant defense secretary responsible for Pentagon international security affairs from 2001 until February 2007, now with the Brookings Institutions—added that: “This is an extraordinarily positive evolution in Israeli politics.”
But he lamented: “And the Palestinians elect a Hamas government that wants to go back to the 1946 borders or God knows what their position. This is insane and suicidal, literally and figuratively for the Palestinians. This is their choice. Right now, the diplomacy is frustrated because of who is the interlocutor.”
Rodman appears never to have suspected a causal link between Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza and the northern West Bank in summer 2005—not to mention the previous twelve years of capitulation to and empowerment of Palestinian terror movements—and the election in January 2006 of Hamas, whose main rallying cry was precisely its success in using violence to drive Israel into retreat. Rodman also sees Hamas’s popularity among the Palestinians as a form of baffling insanity instead of connecting it to the obvious growing popularity of jihadism, Islamism, and anti-Israeli hatred and violence in the
Middle East at large.
The article, however, cites another “
U.S. official” as affirming that: “Rodman’s assessment reflected that of most career officers in both the Pentagon and State Department. The official said that during the Bush administration, senior officials urged Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and President George Bush to support
Sharon’s plan for a unilateral withdrawal. . . .”
The official is quoted directly as saying that: “The overriding U.S. assessment continues to be that any Israeli withdrawal is a positive development and bolsters
U.S. influence in the Arab world.”
Returning to Rodman, the article cites him as saying that: “the Bush administration has sought to strengthen Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in an effort to convince Palestinians to recognize
Israel. . . . He said the United States was ready to pressure
Israel to accept any compromise with the Palestinians.”
One wonders if these officials ever bother with a casual reading of the Israeli press to check if these venerable orthodoxies are holding water. Just this weekend, for instance, they could have read “Senior IDF officer confirms Iran training militants in
Gaza” and found out that:
Southern Command Major General Yoav Galant has confirmed that Iranian terror and guerrilla experts are in the Gaza Strip training Palestinian terror organizations. Galant says the Iranians are the source of most of the know-how coming to the West Bank, Lebanon and
Iraq on the use of land mines, explosives and anti-tank missiles.
…Galant said terrorists move freely between the Gaza Strip and Egypt and from there to Syria, Lebanon and
Iran for training. “Iranians also come to
Gaza to inspect the situation and hold training exercises,” he said.
Galant contends that the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, the military wing of [Mahmoud Abbas’s] Fatah, has already become an Iranian organization.….
Galant said he believes a large number of Iranian terror experts are operating in the Gaza Strip, receiving know-how, money and equipment from abroad, mainly from Iran, to carry out attacks on
Galant said Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees are investing major efforts in sending suicide bombers into
Israel. Hamas is not active right now, “but is ready to attack at a moment’s notice.”
He said Hamas smuggled 30 tons of explosives from Sinai to the Gaza Strip last year for use against
Since we know that “any Israeli withdrawal is a positive development and bolsters U.S. influence in the Arab world,” apparently there is nothing here for
U.S. officials to be perturbed about. So probably they also would not be much interested in “Gaza a ‘no-go’ zone for journalists since BBC reporter’s kidnapping,” which reports that: “The foreign press corps has abandoned the Gaza Strip in the five weeks since the kidnapping of BBC reporter Alan Johnston” and that “some of the smaller groups [in Gaza] with suspected ties to al-Qaida, are trying to emulate the kidnapping of foreigners in Baghdad.”
Masked gunmen on Saturday morning blew up large parts of the American
School in the Gaza Strip after stealing equipment and furniture….
No group claimed responsibility for the predawn attack on the school, but Palestinian Authority security sources said they did not rule out … that it was carried out by a local al-Qaida-linked group….
“This [said the sources] is the only international school in the Gaza Strip and it’s one of the most important academic institutions.”
Last year, unidentified gunmen kidnapped two staff members, one Dutch and the other Australian. The two were later released unharmed. Since then all the teachers have left, leaving the school under exclusive Palestinian control.
No one was injured in the attack, but heavy damage was caused to the building…. The attackers overpowered a number of guards before detonating a series of explosive charges inside the school….
A Fatah spokesman in the
West Bank said the attack was in the context of attempts by “forces of darkness” to turn the Gaza Strip into a Taliban-style country. He added that those behind the attack were also responsible for bombing Internet cafes, theaters and music shops and for assaults on young women in the Gaza Strip.
But, after all, the Likud Party is making progress in abandoning its nationalism, so why worry about details like “Terrorists Launch Seven Rockets at Sderot, Negev”:
Palestinian Authority terrorists in Gaza fired seven rockets into the Negev Saturday evening and Sunday, injuring several people and damaging a home in Sderot. Six members of a family were treated by emergency services for shock after one of the first rockets slammed into their home, causing extensive damage….
In a joint statement, the Islamic Jihad, the Hamas-controlled Popular Committees and Fatah’s Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the Saturday rocket attacks…. They declared that the barrage was retaliation for an Israeli counter-terrorism operation in Jenin earlier Saturday, in which three PA terrorists were killed—two of Fatah and one of Islamic Jihad.
And “Hamas seeks control of security in
West Bank” informs us that the beneficent trend is spreading:
Having failed to establish a military force in the
West Bank parallel to the one it has in the Gaza Strip, Hamas is instead working to infiltrate its operatives into the official [PA] security branches, a high-ranking officer in the IDF Central Command warned on Thursday….
“If this continues they will eventually take over the security forces,” warned a senior Israeli defense official….
The officer … said Hamas was involved in terrorism “at all of its levels” and that its infiltration of a car bomb into Tel Aviv on [Passover] night with the intention of carrying out an attack was supported by Damascus-based Hamas Khaled Mashaal as well as its local West Bank and
Gaza terror chiefs.
The officer said that after the car-bomb attack attempt, the IDF rebuilt roadblocks that it had removed in the Kalkilya area as part of a gesture by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in December.
These are, to repeat, gleanings from a single weekend. They relate to Gaza and the West Bank from which
Israel has withdrawn fully and partially, respectively. Perhaps officials like those mentioned in the World Tribune article can explain why it should automatically be U.S. policy to push for and applaud Israeli land concessions even when these lead to the further political, military, and ideological empowerment of actors like Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Al-Qaida, Fatah, and Iran, to marked destabilization through increased terrorism and combat, to intensified anti-Israeli and anti-American hatred throughout the Arab/Muslim world as images of the violence are beamed far and wide, and to the descent of Palestinian society into poverty, chaos, and Islamism.
Perhaps these officials can also explain how the other major recent Israeli withdrawal—from southern Lebanon in 2000—was a “positive development” and how the boost in Hezbollah’s popularity and power, and the current crisis in Lebanon that largely stems from that boost, serve U.S. interests.
And perhaps they can disclose the calculus of how many Israeli lives are worth sacrificing to “gestures” to Abbas.
Orthodoxies are hard to question even when they fly so blatantly in the face of facts. Notions like the “road map” and the “two-state solution” are recipes for further aggravating the situation graphically evident in this weekend’s Israeli press; they presume an Arab-Muslim moderacy toward
Israel that does not exist to any significant degree. It makes no sense for the United States to keep fighting the jihadists in other places and keep working, in effect, to strengthen them against the
Middle East’s one solidly democratic, pro-Western outpost—while always encouraging trends of appeasement in the outpost itself.
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