“Strange Game Joshua, the only way to win is not to play”
From the Movie War Games (1983)
Here we go with the same old routine Israel saying that the will give up their children for peace (literally) and the Palestinians saying that they will not change their positions, in fact increasing their demands as the negotiation dates near. We have played this game before, in Oslo, Madrid, Camp David, and Taba, its like that old saying, “fool me once, shame on you—fool me twice you are as dumb as Olmert.
Now the warnings have started, threats of a third intifada if this conference at the US Naval academy doesn’t work. Ladies and Gentleman, even if an agreement is made at this conference the peace won’t work. The Palestinians still have it as their stated goal the destruction of Israel, they are still teaching their kids HATE. God, willing the talks will break off and Olmert will be replaced by a PM that believes in a negotiate peace not a series of one-sided concessions. Israel cannot play that game and survive.
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By JOHN PODHORETZ
October 12, 2007 — AND so, here we are again, on the verge of another Middle East peace conference – this one in Annapolis, starting Nov. 1.
And so, again, here we are, with Israeli politicians leaking possible territorial concessions and Palestinian politicians loudly insisting they won’t change their position – the position that Israel must give while they need only take.
And yet again, we are here, with the State Department imagining that because so-called “moderate Arab states” say some reasonable things about Israel’s existence to American diplomats behind the scenes, those same principalities will come out from behind the curtain, take the Palestinians by the hand – and openly seek the cessation of hostilities between Jew and Arab.
It’s Madrid in 1991 all over again. It’s Camp David and Taba in 2000 all over again. It’s the 1983 Shultz plan from the Reagan administration all over again. It’s the 1969 Rogers plan from the Nixon administration all over again.
In broad outline: America tries to mediate between Israel and Arabs when there’s absolutely no reason to think that most Arabs have any real interest in making peace with Israel.
Just as in 1969, U.S. diplomats in Annapolis will try to anchor the discussion in two U.N. resolutions that Israel accepts but whose implicit assertion of Israel’s right to exist is rejected by at least some of the states that will attend the conference.
Just as in 1982, U.S. diplomats will seek to place areas of the Old City of Jerusalem under Jordanian control. Just as in 1991, proposals for multi-nation negotiations on sticky regional issues like the use of water will be hailed as breakthroughs in regional cooperation.
And just as in 2000, U.S. diplomats will encourage Israel to draw the lines for a new Palestinian state – lines that, no matter how favorable, are almost certain to be rejected by the Palestinian side.
Or let us say they are accepted by the Palestinian side. Which Palestinian side? Right now there are effectively two governing bodies in the Palestinian territories. The regime led by Mahmoud Abbas controls the West Bank; Hamas controls Gaza.
And the two are at war. Acceptance by the Abbas regime won’t constitute acceptance by the entirety of the Palestinians in governing positions. And so a deal will do nothing to provide Israel with security – it might, as it did at Camp David in 2000, achieve the opposite.
Israel is encouraged to surrender land and security. In exchange, it is to receive words. The words: Israel has the right to exist. And its adversaries will surrender a claim: “the right of return,” according to which Palestinians own the land on which Israelis live.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice believes the time is right for a major regional initiative because a deeply worried Saudi Arabia understands the need to counter Iran. That gives the Saudis a powerful reason to back Abbas as a counterweight to Hamas, which is an Iranian client and wholly paid subsidiary.
Perhaps Saudi Arabia does believe this. But it doesn’t stand to reason that either the Saudis or Abbas will be best served by making a deal with Israel, since that might give Hamas just the populist fuel it needs to step up its war with Abbas on the grounds that he’s a Zionist puppet and sellout.
As for Israel, once again its government seems to have determined that it is best to be accommodating, perhaps – again – on the grounds that its position will be strengthened if and when the Palestinians – again – fail to do anything that will actually help bring about a state of their own.
Again, again, again.
The absurdity of trying the same remedies over and over and over when they have failed to work in the past brings to mind Friedrich Nietzsche’s parable of “eternal recurrence” – the odd but haunting idea that we might all be living in a time loop in which we go through eternity endlessly repeating our lives.
“What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you,” Nietzsche wrote, “and say to you: ‘This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence.’ “
Nietzsche then asked: “Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus?”
Most of us certainly would.
But then he went on to suggest that some of us would achieve a kind of transcendent fatalism about the whole thing: “How well disposed would you have to become to yourself and to life to crave nothing more fervently than this ultimate eternal confirmation and seal?”
Perhaps this is what has happened to Secretary Rice: She has determined that it is the fate of every secretary of state to “crave nothing more fervently” than the endless recapitulation of failed past Mideast policies.