Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bush in Jerusalem : An Intellectual and Moral Travesty

Prof . Paul Eidelberg

The government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has assigned some 10,000 police and security personnel to protect President George W . Bush, who has come to Israel to promote peace between Jews and Arab Palestinians . What an absurdity!

The Olmert government has ordered Israeli security forces to close all entries from Judea, Samaria , and Gaza to prevent Palestinian terrorists in these areas from killing the American President, who is committed to establishing in these same areas a Palestinian state . Can anything be more absurd? Apart from those living in the world of make-believe, no one really expects genuine peace between Jews and Arabs in the Middle East . Even Middle East expert Dr, Daniel Pipes, who supported the Israel-Egypt peace treaty of March 1979, has admitted the treaty has been a failure . Let me review his November 21, 2006 article "Time to Recognize Failure of Israel-Egypt Treaty".

To begin with: Ninety-two percent of respondents in a recent poll of one thousand Egyptians over 18 years of age called Israel an enemy state . In contrast, a meager 2% saw Israel as a friend to Egypt. [Meanwhile, their Palestinian brethren are openly committed to Israel's annihilation, in evidence of which, enough to mention the election of Hamas leader Ismail Haniya as the Palestinian Authority's prime minister two years ago . ]

In Egypt , hostile sentiments express themselves in many ways, including a popular song titled I Hate Israel , venomously antisemitic political cartoons and terrorist attacks against visiting Israelis . Egypt's leading democracy movement, Kifaya, recently launched an initiative to collect a million signatures on a petition demanding the annulment of the March 1979 Egypt-Israel peace treaty!

Moreover, the Egyptian government has permitted large quantities of weapons to be smuggled into Gaza to use against Israeli border towns . Yuval Steinitz, an Israeli legislator specializing in Egypt-Israel relations, estimates that fully 90% of PLO and Hamas explosives come from Egypt .

Cairo may have no apparent enemies,says Pipes, but the impoverished Egyptian state sinks massive resources into a military build up . According to the Congressional Research Service, it purchased $6 . 5 billion worth of foreign weapons in the years 2001-2004, more than any other state in the Middle East . [In fact] Egypt has the tenth largest standing army in the world, well over twice the size of Israel's!

Dr . Pipes avows that the Israel-Egypt treaty harmed Israel in two ways . First, it made sophisticated American arms available to Egypt . Second, it intensified anti-Zionism . Pipes lived nearly three years in Egypt in the 1970s, before Anwar Sadat's dramatic trip to Jerusalem in late 1977 . He notes that although Israel was plastered all over the news, anti-Zionism hardly figured in conversations. Egyptians seemed happy to delegate this issue to their government. Only after the treaty, which many Egyptians saw as a betrayal, did they themselves take direct interest . The result was the emergence of a more personal, intense, and bitter form of anti-Zionism.

Pipes then points out that the same pattern of hostility was replicated in Jordan, where the 1994 treaty with Israel soured popular attitudes . To a lesser extent, the 1993 [PLO-] Palestinian accords [with Israel ] and even the aborted 1983 Lebanon treaty prompted similar responses . In all four of these cases, diplomatic agreements prompted a surge in hostility toward Israel.

Defenders of the peace process, answer that, however hostile Egyptians' attitudes and however large their arsenal, the treaty has held; Cairo has in fact not made war on Israel since 1979 . However frigid the peace, peace it has been.

To this Pipes replies: "If the mere absence of active warfare counts as peace, then peace has also prevailed between Syria and Israel for decades, despite their formal state of war, Damascus lacks a treaty with Jerusalem, but it also lacks modern American weaponry." Does an antique signature on a piece of paper offset Egypt's Abrams tanks, F-16 fighter jets, and Apache attack helicopters?

"I think not", says Pipes . In retrospect, it becomes apparent that multiple fallacies and wishful predictions fueled Arab-Israeli diplomacy:

* Once signed, agreements signed by unelected Arab leaders would convince the masses to give up their ambitions to eliminate Israel .

* These agreements would be permanent, with no backsliding, much less duplicity .

* Other Arab states would inevitably follow suit .

* War can be concluded through negotiations rather than by one side giving up .

"The time has come", says Pipes, to recognize the Egypt-Israel treaty usually portrayed as the glory and ornament of Arab-Israel diplomacy ­as the failure it has been, and to draw the appropriate lessons in order not to repeat its mistakes.

No wonder Dr . Pipes is no longer a member to the Institute of Peace to which he was appointed by President Bush a few years ago . His assessment of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty makes utter nonsense of the President's current peace mission to Israel . This mission may secure Ehud Olmert's job as prime minister despite the Winograd Report. Most assuredly, it will not bring peace to Israel .

To the contrary, the intellectual dishonesty and moral cowardice underlying the collaboration of the Mr . Bush and Mr . Olmert can only endanger Israel's existence .

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