One should never underestimate the remarkable power of weakness. By pleading disadvantage and even crippling limitations, it's possible to accrue inordinate advantage and clout.
Sounds implausible? Maybe, but just look at two of the most debilitated protagonists this region ever spawned - Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas. Both turned their very notable deficiencies into wellsprings of endurance. The shakier their position appears, the greater their staying power.
In other words, it's as wrong as wrong can be to write off these seemingly pitiful politicos and dismiss whatever shenanigans they may be up to. Their potential to cause way more harm than even the excessive damage they have already wrought is not to be belittled. Hence when these two confer, and then deny leaks about tacit understandings they have reached, it's time for us to worry most. There's no telling what harebrained schemes could be concocted by desperately teetering headliners attempting to simulate some modicum of balance at any cost.
The cost, of course, would be borne by you and me. The bill would be served after Ehud and Mahmoud are ushered to US President George W. Bush's much-touted fall peace conference. The idea is to reach an accord between the two frantic flunkies, while all along they're anyway united by the strongest of bonds - their abysmal weakness. That is their indissoluble communality of interests.
It's tempting to pooh-pooh the entire GW-Condoleezza initiative as another stage-managed extravaganza which, like previous gala launchings of nonstarter processes, will be no less of a flop. The fact that both the PA and Israeli sides feature figureheads who have patently lost whatever public support they ever possessed, makes it irresistible to scoff at any plan which depends on their authority to propel it.
YET, CONTRARY to healthy logic, the power of weakness renders the two almost invincible. The fact that Abbas was ignominiously booted out of Gaza has loosened the purse strings of the entire free world (including, mind-bogglingly, Israel's). Abbas enjoys cash flow he couldn't even dream about beforehand. He is feted, succored and bolstered to keep his Fatah "good terrorists" from losing out to Hamas's "bad terrorists."
America trains Abbas's henchmen. Israel releases convicted saboteurs and ceases pursuing his most-wanted minions. Jordan offers troops to buttress his failing rule, and that's just the tip of the largesse. The greater the feebleness about which Abbas moans, the fewer the compromises to be required of him by Condi and, concomitantly, the greater the concessions to be demanded of Olmert.
According to common wisdom, Olmert's political insecurity precludes any traumatic compliance to Washingtonian dictates. His ultra-rickety position prevents him from mustering the majority for painful surrenders, it's argued. But the precise opposite is true. Olmert's fatigue, spinelessness and negativity are gallingly disguised as resolve, boldness and optimism. Moreover, Olmert is propped up by dozens of parliamentarians lacking any hint of reelection prospects. They'll do anything to prolong their term - even vote for what no previous legislature in Jerusalem dared remotely countenance. Olmert can ram through the Knesset what few premiers could.
Indeed, previous PMs strenuously defied superpower pressure to cast Israel in the role of a sacrificial offering at a regional/international conference where the sole item on the agenda was stripping Israel of its strategic assets to make it more vulnerable, to put those insufferable Jews in their places, to fortify the Jewish state's genocidal foes, to appease Islamofascism and thereby to deflect threats from the US, EU and assorted at-risk Arab regimes.
The mixed bag of presidents and potentates eager to participate in the all-the-rage projected conference, in fact, subscribe to a mere variant of pre-Columbian Mexico's surefire method of sustaining the sun in its course and keeping the wheels of the universe well greased. The Aztecs offered human tribute to keep their assorted gods sweet.
Prime-deity Huitzilopochtli, for instance, was sated with the blood of victims whose hearts would be ripped out - still beating - from their living chests and lifted skyward to impress the supernal being. The excardiated corpses would then be flung below to the cheering throngs and a true feeding frenzy would ensue, with revelry, feasting and joyous song-and-dance to celebrate the sun god's pacification with another ration of sacrificial flesh.
The laudable cause - to prevent a global cataclysm - was vital enough to rationalize away the horror. So much so that the atrocity was transformed into a festive occasion to which throngs would stream in great anticipation of deliverance from adversity.
THAT'S JUST the anticipation which the State Department/White House "peace" convocation generates, even if the presiding priests no longer deftly carve up the hapless captive atop a bloodstained pyramid. When Israel is led to its own ceremonial execution, there will be no directly discernible gore. Nobody would even acknowledge that any potentially gruesome consequences may arise from the deals devised. The details of which parcels of Jewish patrimony Israel would cede to still-implacable enemies won't necessarily be immediately determined. But the principle will have been proclaimed: The cradle of Jewish nationhood would be wrested from the Jewish state, turned strictly Judenrein and transformed into new terror bases, closer than ever to the densest of Israeli population centers.
All this will be euphemistically described as a "new horizon." The initial sacramental slaughter, at least, will be decorous and the resulting hideousness conveniently disconnected from the ritual.
But the bloodlust remains as overpowering and as atavistic. Just witness the exhilarated keenness of the international who's who ahead of the upcoming thrill. They're tripping over their own feet with excitement, salivating prodigiously at the mouth. They are the ecstatic crowds at the foot of the Mesoamerican mega-altar, hungry for the kill.
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