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The Importance of Being Earnest Redux

JINSA Report #: 

June 4, 2008

The waning months of the Bush Administration sound more and more like the waning months of the Clinton Administration. The minions believe they represent the right people at the right moment, this moment and no other moment, to "solve" the "Palestinian problem" and provide lasting "peace" for Israel. Baloney. But consider Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's remarks at the AIPAC conference this week and Dennis Ross and Sandy Berger precisely eight years ago. Plus ca change...

Secretary Rice:

The expansion of violent extremism in the Middle East makes the creation of a peaceful, effective Palestinian state more urgent, not less... The present opportunity is not perfect by any means, but it is better than any other in several years, and we need to seize it. We need to take this chance to advance the historic and long-held aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians. Israelis have waited too long for the security they desire and deserve. And Palestinians have waited too long, amid daily humiliations, for the dignity of an independent state."

JINSA Report #144 (20 May 2000):

"I believe there is not a single issue - not the most complex, not the most sensitive, that cannot be resolved. It can be done and it should be done, now define in words and deeds how the 100 year conflict will end, and it must happen soon." NSC Advisor Samuel Berger in Tel Aviv.

"[Successful negotiations take] both sides looking at the other as a serious partner having serious needs, taking each other seriously. It takes both sides understanding that no one gets 100 percent. What's needed now is earnestness and a profoundly serious approach because we have a hundred years of conflict to resolve and it's no easy matterá there is an historic moment now and to lose it will impose a very heavy responsibility on everybody. Now, we all have a heavy responsibility to try to seize this moment and ensure that in fact we do forge an agreement that ends the conflict, at least between Israelis and Palestinians. And that is possible." Amb. Dennis Ross at AIPAC.

We wrote in 2000: It is generally a good thing that people who are transparently American in attitude represent America in international negotiations. Mr. Berger and Ambassador Ross are the soul of "can do" American optimism with their belief that all conflicts yield to their idea of negotiated settlement based on compromise. All we have to do is be "earnest and profoundly serious" and decide that now is the moment. No doubt the two of them are profoundly earnest; they are also profoundly wrong.

We add in 2008: No doubt Dr. Rice is profoundly earnest; she is also profoundly wrong.

We wrote in 2000: The core of the conflict is Arab refusal to accept the legitimacy of Israel (recognizing the fact of Israel as a fait accompli is not enough). And the core of the Palestinian tragedy is the refusal of the Arabs in 1948 to establish the Arab Palestinian State that the UN Partition Plan envisioned alongside the Jewish Palestinian State that was declared as Israel.

We add in 2008: Well, nothing actually.

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