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By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 14, 2008


President George Bush is singing his swan song.

There are several verses to that song. One verse has decidedly Middle Eastern overtones. And that explains this American president's trip to the Middle East occasioned by Israel's 60th anniversary.

This trip was motivated by several objectives. One objective is, truly, to celebrate Israel's 60th. There is no doubt that the United States and Israel have a special relationship and special friends share special occasions. There can also be no doubt about the impact that President George Bush has had on that relationship - he has strengthened and deepened and made that relationship more significant and more unabashedly public.

At the same time, another objective of this trip is to apply pressure on Israel to make concession to the Palestinians in the name of advancing the peace process. For the president, that would be the perfect closing stanza of his song.

George Bush wants to create a lasting legacy and he does not want it to involve Iraq or Afghanistan. Condi Rice wants to create a position for herself as the next vice president of the United States. But Israel should not be forced into being the spring board for either of those noble aspirations.

Israel has sacrificed enough in the name of friendship. Asking Israel to totally abandon borders that keep Israeli citizens safe, asking Israel to take down roadblocks that prevent terrorists and tools of terror from entering their country, asking Israel to stop arresting terrorists is asking too much. Asking Israel to abandon the methods that have proven effective in safeguarding the lives and property of Israeli citizens is taking too much advantage of friendship.

The verses missing in this stanza of Bush's song are the lines asking the Palestinians to stop the flow of terror and to, of their own volition, arrest the terrorists. Missing is the US demand to Palestinian leadership to clamp down on Hamas and to issue a cease and desist order on the activities emanating from Gaza. Missing is a plea from the president of the United States to the Palestinian people to place their values and their future on the line by challenging Hamas, the real threat to Palestinian dreams.

If President George Bush succeeds in making the Palestinians realize that the real enemy rises from within and that Israel and the United States are there to help them achieve the lofty goals of statehood he will have succeeded in the Middle East. He will have sown the seeds of peace. But if the Palestinians cannot be made to see what is obvious to the rest of free and democratic world, there can never be peace with Israel.

We don't yet know the words to the Bush Swan Song, they are still to be composed. So let's just sing the song we do know. Happy anniversary to Israel, happy anniversary to you. And many more!

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4 June 2017 12:14 PM in Columns

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