Ambrose Bierce 521.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Egypt’s Anwar Sadat was outspoken enough to state the obvious after the Camp
David Accord was sealed: “I got the whole Sinai, but all poor Menachem [Begin]
got was a piece of paper.”
Sadat’s uncommonly candid quip encapsulates
the inbuilt imbalance of the Mideastern equation. In every set of negotiations,
it’s Israel which is required to sacrifice real assets – strategic as well as
the core of its historical heartland. Moreover these assets – small, apart from
the ceded Sinai, and hardly the immense empire that prevalent propaganda
portrays – were all acquired as the result of a defensive war forced upon it by
genocidal enemies in 1967.These enemies’ heirs, seeking explicitly to
weaken Israel as it persists in its self-preservation struggle, are at the very
most expected to supply a piece of paper – and even that doesn’t come easily.
They are blunt enough not to as much as promise to accept our legitimacy in
their vicinity. That, despite the fact that no real risks are demanded of them,
nothing tangible, nothing which cannot be undone by a capricious and erratic
If recent upheavals in the Arab world show us anything, it’s that
all the regimes which surround our lone democracy are volatile and essentially
untrustworthy. Why should we literally risk our lives and the future survival
here of our children for pieces of paper issued by despots who might not be
around tomorrow and whose veracity cannot be taken for granted? No population
anywhere would inflict such perils upon itself, were it encircled by neighbors
like ours with their proven records of mass murder and mendacity. Yet this is
precisely what other democracies, facing nothing like what we face, exhort us to
do – regardless of the mayhem in Arab streets and the demonstrated unreliability
of Arab potentates.
No bother. No skin off their safe noses. Only
The word hypocrisy comes to mind. In his Devil’s Dictionary
(initially published as The Cynic’s Wordbook), now forgotten American author and
satirist Ambrose Bierce (1842- 1913) defined hypocrisy as “prejudice with a
He further defined prejudice as “a vagrant opinion without visible
means of support.”
ONLY RECENTLY various EU leaders hosted Muammar
Gaddafi and feted him. He was lauded for having become the free world’s faithful
chum, for having backtracked from terror and nuclear weapons ambitions. Now the
very same statesmen/women paint him as a madman detached from reality. But
surely no psychosis manifests overnight. If Gaddafi is today deemed monstrous,
he should have been persona non grata everywhere before Beduin tribes slugged it
out for supremacy in the vast oil-soaked Libyan spaces (63 times Israel’s size
for a smaller population.) But the same Mideast Quartet members who now egg
Israel on to put its head in the noose, allowed Gaddafi to hold sway in the UN
Human Rights Council, dictate criteria for equity and pillory Israel’s
self-defense. The injustice robbed no Quartet power of its composure.
from it, condemning Israel became de rigueur, with the likes of Gaddafi leading
the sanctimonious chorus. He accused Israel of everything from assassinating JFK
to carnage in Sudan.
It would be semi-comforting if any Quartet meddler
were to express even belated mild contrition and ponder what Arab marauders
would do (if they could) to the Israelis they abhor, seeing how viciously brutal
they are to their own brethren. If the Quartet were really focused on decency,
this would be uppermost in its discourse.
Instead, however, the Quartet
claims to discern “a new state of urgency,” mandating that the moribund
negotiations with the Palestinians be kicked into high gear. The Quartet’s
envoy, Britain’s erstwhile premier Tony Blair, was dispatched here, doubtlessly
eager to garner another scrap of glory at our expense.
IN SEVERAL days US
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton,
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and UN Secretary-General Ban Kimoon are
due to chinwag in Brussels about our “core issues.”
Not beating around
the bush, the Russians have spelled out what’s in the offing. After meeting with
Ashton in Geneva, Lavrov announced that the Quartet will attempt to “draw border
lines between Israel and a sovereign Palestinian state.”
No less. There
won’t even be a semblance of direct negotiations but a solution imposed from on
high by players who are anything but morally upright.
All this, we’re
told, is done with our best interests in mind – to bless us with peace, even if
not of the sort we hanker for, not of the sort that would allow us to sleep
calmly at night.
The US, Quartet member and still ostensibly leader of
the free world, exudes even greater alacrity to put anyway vulnerable Israelis
even more in harm’s way. While reluctantly denouncing those Mideastern despots
who couldn’t hold on to power, the Obama administration appears inexplicably
intent on appeasing the baddest bad-boy of all – Syria’s Bashar
His Iranian-lackey dictatorship looks sturdier than other Arab
tyrannies. Tehran’s ayatollahs have too much invested in Assad, in his hegemony
over next-door Lebanon and his collaboration in the rearming of
Assad’s army, controlled by his Alawite minority loyalists,
fears bloody vendettas against all Alawites should Assad be
Hence he’s assured of forceful backing. Moreover, ordinary
Syrians likely recall that Bashar’s dad, Hafez, suppressed a rebellion in 1982
by slaughtering 30,000-40,000 residents in the city of Hama. The world stayed
incredibly silent. Different strokes for different butchers.
international community care about recent reports that the Iranian-backed Syrian
nuclear program has been revived at several locations (including near the
reactor Israel is said to have bombed in 2007)? Not really. Assad rejects
International Atomic Energy Agency inspections except for a non-suspect civilian
chemical facility at Homs.
Nonetheless, no murmurs of protest are heard
in the capitals that count. No skin off their noses. Only ours.
Obama, while posing as the antiautocracy bulwark, fondly embraces Assad in the
name of pluralist tolerance for nondemocracies.
Not only has Obama
announced the return of an American ambassador to Damascus (after a five-year
absence), he’s now impatient to restore heretofore barely existent negotiations
between Israel and Syria too.
Israel needn’t even be consulted. It needs
only obey and assume risks.
This is the project entrusted to Senate
Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry, a frequent guest in Damascus
(five visits in two years). A worthy undertaking indeed, especially as it’s no
skin off his nose. Only ours.
Do we want to be left with a piece of paper
signed by Assad and leave Syria holding the Golan? This is no time to allow
ourselves to be bullied, bamboozled or beguiled by international busybodies, to
say nothing of regional strongmen.
This is time to doubt them –
Our lives literally depend on it. To quote the razor-sharp
Bierce: “Where doubt is, there truth is. Doubt is truth’s