Wednesday, May 26, 2004


Nicholas Kristof, in today's Op-Ed column, has done a fine job of describing just how dire the situation is in Israel, and how this is undermining our efforts in Iraq, in the Middle East and in our war against the spread of radical anti-American Islam.

As Kristof puts it, "Our embrace of Mr. Sharon hobbles us in Iraq even more than those photos from Abu Ghraib. Iraqis (in contrast with, say, Kuwaitis) genuinely sympathize with the Palestinians, and everywhere I've been in Iraq ordinary people have asked me why Americans provide the weapons Mr. Sharon uses to kill Palestinians."

He also points out that both Kerry and Bush have refused to criticize Sharon despite the open letter to the Bush administration penned by 50 former U.S. diplomats composed of bi-partisan policymakers. Of course, given the fact that Howard Dean was excoriated by both parties and the media when he had the temerity to suggest that the U.S. should be "even-handed" with Israel and the Palestinians during the Democratic primaries, is it any wonder why neither Kerry nor Bush has taken a tougher stance with Sharon. Kristof quotes the letter as saying:

"You have proved that the United States is not an evenhanded peace partner. . . . Your unqualified support of Sharon's extrajudicial assassinations, Israel's Berlin Wall-like barrier, its harsh military measures in occupied territories, and now your endorsement of Sharon's unilateral plan are costing our country its credibility, prestige and friends. This endorsement is not even in the best interests of Israel."

Following up on the point that Sharon's policies have actually been bad for Israel, he states, "Indeed, my guess is that Mr. Sharon has done more to undermine Israel's long-term security than Yasir Arafat ever did. Mr. Sharon's actions have knocked the legs out from under Palestinian moderates and have bolstered Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Mr. Sharon means well 'he wants to stop terrorism' but his policies have led Palestinians to turn to Islamic extremists rather than secular nationalists. Now even the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a Marxist group, has found God and quotes from the Koran.

Particularly in a new age when terrorist attacks could use W.M.D. to kill perhaps thousands at a time, Israel can achieve safety only through a peace agreement with the Palestinians. A model is the unofficial Geneva accord of last October, reached between courageous Israelis and Palestinians "the very people we should be supporting."

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