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"See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil" Print E-mail

By Jay Bushinsky
March 26, 2007


JERUSALEM -- When I was a little boy growing up in Buffalo, NY, my parents had three little monkeys on the mantel over the fireplace.  One had his hands on his eyes, the other on his ears and the other on his mouth.  That's right: 'see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.'
 
I never forgot them even though they are long gone.  But it seems as if I found them again, here in the ever-more-volatile Middle East, of all places. To me, and I dare say this with all due respect for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her commander-in-chief, President Bush, they seem to epitomize the latest American peace effort in the Middle East.    Here we have the Islamic fanatics of Hamas, constantly being more radicalized by its remote-control, Damascus-based leader, Khaled Mash'al, vowing that it never will forfeit its inherent right to "resistance" against Israeli "occupation" (the former translatable as mindless terrorism and the latter as Israel's military response to this constant threat), insisting that the Palestinian Arabs or their descendants who fled Palestine in 1948 -- now purportedly in the millions -- must be repatriated and demanding that the West Bank, which Israel took in 1967, be evacuated into (as was the Gaza Strip in mid-2005).

Of course, there are those who would deny that his and his followers' aims are not necessarily evils in the sense of what the monkeys presumably did not want to perceive, but from the standpoint of an overwhelming majority of Israelis, they are totally unacceptable.

Shortly after Rice's arrival here from talks with Arab counterparts in Egypt, former Justice Minister Meir Shitreet of the locally-dominant Kadima party declared unequivocally, "Not a single Palestinian refugee will be allowed to return."  Those may sound like rude if not tactless words from a diplomatic standpoint, but that is the contemporary Israeli mindset.
 
Officially, the U.S. sides with Israel on the refugee issue and the secretary of state has made this clear in the appropriate diplomatic language.  But that does not alter the political fact that Hamas follows Mash'al's dictates and Hamas, like it or not, is the dominant faction in the Palestinian Authority's coalition government.
 
Rice, evidently wants to circumvent the Hamas reality by snubbing its elected prime minister, Ismail Haniya, as have the two other international luminaries currently on Middle Eastern treks, UN Secretary-General Ban-ki Moon and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.  The secretary insists on dealing with PA President Mahmoud Abbas of the rival Fatah faction. 

The problem, however, is that Abbas is almost as unpopular in the Palestinian body politic as is Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in his bailiwick.  The latter received only three per cent in a recent popularity poll, a finding that made him confess in a bizarre speech to his Kadima party, "I am an unpopular prime minister!"  If so, how can he be expected to implement the unpopular concessions Rice would seek in her projected series of parallel negotiations with Abbas and him respectively?

All this is being pegged to the so-called Saudi Arabian peace initiative which has won the unstinting support of the Arab League's moderate majority.  Rice apparently has come to the conclusion that Israel-Palestinian peace can best be achieved by bringing the Saudis, Egyptians, Jordanians, Kuwaitis and their pan-Arab ilk into the so-called peace process. If that is the case, she has given up on the natural procedure, bi-lateral talks.

None of this should be surprising in view of the glossary of peculiar euphemisms bandied about by the American would-be peacemakers and their international colleagues: the 'quartet,' meaning the U.S., UN, European Union and Russia, which concocted the outdated 'road map,' a formula for solving the regional dispute, the 'vision,' the term for President Bush's embrace of the two-state solution (Israel and Palestine co-existing side by side in peace) and now, 'an array of states,' Rice's yen for well-meaning Arab negotiating partners.
 
One of Israel's most outspoken columnists, Gideon Levy of Haaretz, an ardent advocate of territorial withdrawal and a journalist who sincerely sympathizes with the Palestinians' sufferings, put Rice, Ban and Merkel in the right context when he wrote"All three have declared that they are coming here to further a solution.  But this whole show, we must tell them, is no more than a ridiculous masked ball.  In their pointless and fruitless visits they only perpetuate and entrench the conflict that most threatens world peace."
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