Lieberman's bitter pill

Warning: It'll be difficult to swallow for old-style peace processors.

April 23, 2009 22:06
3 minute read.
Lieberman's bitter pill

lieberman 63. (photo credit: )


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The barnstorming Avigdor Lieberman has capitalized on his inauguration as foreign minister to flush away the Annapolis process, the Arab League initiative, Oslo residue and more. He wants the world, wedded to conventional wisdom regarding the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, to lower its expectations of Israeli concessions and imminent breakthroughs. He is dispensing a powerful purgative drug, which we might call the Lieberman laxative. Here is the fine print on the regulatory packaging for this sugarless spoonful of medicine: Therapeutic activity: For stimulating the mind, loosening entrenched thinking and washing out stale diplomatic processes. Shoots the patient with a dose of realism, and shocks the digestive system into readiness to absorb new diplomatic approaches. Composition: Each capsule contains 15 mg of laxative (for catharsis, to clear the mind of hallucinatory solutions to the Arab-Israeli conflict, especially those that demand immediate and far-reaching Israeli withdrawals); 30 mg of amphetamine (fuels feverish diplomatic reassessment); and 200 mg of 70-proof Russian vodka (helps one stomach the drug). When should this preparation be used?: Take after 15 years of Oslo and Annapolis sugar-highs; repeated and unsuccessful attempts to bribe the Palestinians into some semblance of political maturity and willingness to compromise; failed Israeli withdrawals from Lebanon and Gaza that led to the establishment of Iranian missile bases for attacking Israel; the emergence of a radical Islamic government in Gaza and its possible takeover of the West Bank; and the imminent development of a nuclear weapon in Teheran. THIS CLEANSING agent is especially necessary when, despite all the above, global political leaders appear incapable of recognizing the changed landscape and drawing the relevant conclusions. Prescribe for special envoys and statesmen who still believe that a comprehensive solution to Israel's conflict with the Palestinians can be brought about, or forced on Israel, soon. When taken under responsible political supervision, the Lieberman laxative can be a useful precursor drug that empties and neutralizes the regional playing field and paves the way for a more realistic peace process. Like colonic hydrotherapy, it can clear the way for a much-needed "bottom-up" (pun intended) institution- and capacity-building effort in the Palestinian Authority. It can assist in achieving reasonable conflict management in the near-term and in crafting creative final status solutions for the long-term. Some studies have showed that this drug improves political eyesight, and helps overcome lackadaisical attitudes regarding the Iranian nuclear threat. (Apparently, the Egyptians have been taking this drug; they recently threw-off all pretensions of love for their Iranian and Hizbullah brothers.) The medicine may also prevent the patient from taking wild leaps of faith and projecting all his good intentions onto the adversary. (All Westerners negotiating with Teheran should get prescriptions for this drug.) Warnings: This is a bitter pill for die-hard, old-style peace processors to swallow after so many years of Oslo-mania. Some diplomatic tensions are inevitable. Almost all patients will experience a degree of trauma. Side effects may include expressions of diplomatic outrage, condemnation, even boycott and isolation, at least in the short-term. Contact your doctor immediately if rash, inflammation or war develops. Do not drive or make major public policy pronouncements on the Middle East until the initial shock of the drug has worn off. This preparation will not work on the politically blind. Dosage: Start with a full dose for maximum stun effect, then reduce the dosage to allow for dialogue and compromise. If there is no improvement in your condition within a few months or if your condition worsens, repeat and raise the dosage after consulting with cabinet colleagues. How can you contribute to the success of the treatment?: Refrain from panicking about difficult global reaction to the purging. Disregard the partisans - such as Haaretz's Akiva Eldar or The New York Times' Roger Cohen - who warn of (nay, they wish for!) an impending showdown with Washington. At the same time, note that this laxative leaves the body wasted and vulnerable to attack. Treatment should be quickly followed by additional drugs to fortify the constitution and by new policies to fill the diplomatic vacuum. Fruitless talks about grand political horizons with the Palestinians should be replaced by pragmatic Israeli initiatives. Take advantage of the turning point to grab the upper hand and lead regional diplomacy. Avoid poisoning your most important friends, like the US, by engaging in serious consultations shortly after availing yourself of this remedy. Do not induce vomiting by overuse. Prolonged use will lead foes to dismiss you as a provocateur or an obstruction to peace. Limit the foreign minister's access to this medicine. Store it safely in the Prime Minister's Office. The writer is director of public affairs at Bar-Ilan University's Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. Caroline B. Glick is away.

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