Bush administration wishing upon a star in the Middle East
"When you wish upon a star your dreams come true." That line from Jiminy Cricket in "Pinocchio" seems to sum up the wishful thinking the Bush administration wants to employ after last Sunday's Palestinian election.
"If your heart is in your dreams, no request is too extreme" might describe the false hope being placed in the election of Mahmoud Abbas as the new Palestinian leader. President Bush called Abbas and invited him to Washington. Bush praised the election and the turnout, as if an election held in a dictatorial culture resembles one held in an open society in which political opponents are not murdered.
In a replay of past failed strategies, Secretary of State Colin Powell called on Israel to release Palestinian prisoners, though most were jailed because they tried to violently obliterate the country. He claims their release would be a "confidence-building measure." The Palestinian side has all of the confidence it needs. It is confident it can roll the United States and Israel by continuing to promote the fiction that Israel alone determines the political climate in the region.
Powell told ABC's "This Week" program last Sunday that the Palestinians must also commit to "the end of violence, the end of terror," but that requirement has never been enforced. The Palestinians have paid no price for their failure to abide by the "conditions" set forth by President Bush.
Calling an election free and fair (as monitors did) in a society that continues to support the elimination of Israel, teaches virulent anti-Semitism in its schools, preaches hatred of all things Jewish, Christian and American from its mosques and stereotypes Jews in political cartoons and in editorials redefines "free and fair." Do words and actions have meaning?
Abbas has been a terrorist leader since the 1950s. Elevating him to the equivalent of George Washington does not make him a democrat. As a deputy of Yasser Arafat, with whom President Bush properly refused to meet, Abbas is no more a legitimate leader than are the deputies of the Taliban or Iraq's Baath party.
Abbas has denied the Holocaust happened. He engineered ties between the PLO and ruthless Eastern European and Russian dictators -- all unfriendly to their Jewish citizens and to Israel. What the Bush administration detested in Arafat can be found in the utterances, policies, beliefs and practices of Abbas. Does he become "kosher" simply because he is declared so by the United States?
The major distinction in the Middle East is that Israel's goal is peace, while the single goal of the Palestinian side and Arab states is the elimination of Israel. The Palestinian view of "give and take" is that Israel is to always give, while the Palestinians always take, delivering nothing in return. The more Israel gives, the more terror and death it receives.
This "Palestinian state" to which the Bush administration says it is committed (in furtherance of the myth that such a state will live at peace, side by side with Israel), is to be made up of much of the West Bank and Gaza. Part of the fiction that defines so much of Middle East politics is that the Palestinian-Arab demographic in these areas is the majority.
A study released Jan. 10 by an American and Israeli research team debunks that myth. The study found that the Palestinian-Arab population of the West Bank and Gaza totals 2.4 million, rather than the 3.8 million reported by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. A solid Jewish majority of 60 percent has been sustained -- between the Jordan River and Mediterranean -- since 1967. A solid 80 percent Jewish majority has been maintained within the (pre-1967) "Green Line," according to the study.
The conventional error about Israel is that Palestinian-Arabs are demographically in the majority, while the Jewish population is declining. The study shows the opposite.
Facts and intentions are important if true peace is to be achieved. We can't rely on the Jiminy Cricket line: "Like a bolt out of the blue, fate steps in and sees you through; when you wish upon a star, your dreams come true."
Only in the movies.
Tribune Media Services