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Condie's Chutzpah Print E-mail

By Jay Bushinsky
Dec. 13, 2007
 
Imagine a Swedish general being called in to monitor American efforts to curtail illicit infiltration along the U.S.-Mexican border.  Imagine a French general supervising compliance of American and Canadian fishermen to their respective countries' maritime rights.
 
Imagine a Dutch general supervising the reservations allocated to native Americans or the integration of American blacks into the social structure of their native land.   What could be more absurd and hence unimaginable?

No self-respecting government that believes in its own political sovereignty would willingly agree to such off-the-wall arrangements.  But Israel, which has fought seven wars in the past 60 years to maintain its independence consented to just this kind of an appointmnt.  A recently-retired American general has been recruited by the State Department to serve as the U.S.-backed peace process' supervisor.
 
His job will be to make sure the Israelis are fulfilling their obligations and commitments as specified in the so-called Road Map to Middle East as recommended at the U.S.-sponsored Annapolis conference on Israeli-Palestinian peace. That means the U.S. Marines' retired Gen. James L. Jones, whose last post was that of NATO's Supreme Allied Commander, will have to blow the whistle on such discordant acts as the expansion of existing Jewish settlements in the West Bank or the establishment of new ones. 

He would have to call international attention to Israeli squatters who try to seize barren hilltops or complain about improper behavior by troops or other security personnel at the roadblocks that disrupt the free flow of Palestinian vehicular traffic.  If it behooves his handlers in the State Department to bear down on his Israeli hosts or curry favor with the Palestinian Authority he will.  By the same token, if it is deemed unnecessary from a diplomatic standpoint or to be a bit more precise, inimical to American interests, reveal that the existing infrastructure for terrorism that still exists in the West Bank (not to mention the underground presence of Hamas and al-Qaeda cells), he will refrain from doing so.

It is rather pretentious if not outright 'hutzpa' for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her underlings to appoint a political umpire on the premise that offical American behavior in foreign lands is consistently objective and bereft of ulterior motives.  The tendency of Rice herself to tilt toward the Palestinian side of the local conflict proves this point. 

She not only compelled the Israelis to give up the strategic Philadelphia Corridor which separates the Gaza Strip from Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, despite the danger of its becoming and even bigger thoroughfare for the smuggling of arms and explosives for use by Palestinian extremists (which it indeed became), but she also expressed emotional solidarity with the Palestinians' grievances against the Israelis because of her personal experiences as a former resident of the American South!
 
Gen. Jones actually is the second high-ranking member of the American military elite to be given an active and potentially-decisive role in the Israeli-Palestinian imbroglio.  The first one was Lt. Gen. Keith Deighton whose mission was and still is to train the Palestinian Authority's police force.  His lessons turned out to have been useless when the force's Gaza Strip branch was crushed and humiliated in less than three days last June by the insurgent gunmen of the Islamic Hamas movement there.
 
Times indeed do change, especially in countries whose historical memory is astonishingly short, like Israel (a surprising characteristic for an assertedly 'Jewish democratic' state).  Today's Israelis, or their contemporary governmental leaders, evidently forgot the late Defense Minister Moshe Dayan's sigh of relief when their stunning victory in the Six-Day War, 60 years ago, resulted in the effective removal of United Nations observers from the then-new armistice lines. 

Dayan was tired of Canadians, Swedes, Americans and officers of other nationalities casting judgment on Israeli military conduct when challenged by Arab infiltrators, including those of the late Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization, sneaking in from Egypt, Jordan, Syria and occasionally Lebanon too, to kill Israelis. 

Now, as then, if it is impolitic for the purportedly neutral outsider to call a spade a spade and pin the blame on the officials responsible for prospective acts of terrorism, even if they include PA President Mahmoud Abbas, he will not.

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