Fundamentally Freund: Olmert in Peaceland

Peace of the brave, or peace of the knave?

michael freund 88 (photo credit: )
michael freund 88
(photo credit: )
Well, it has been quite a week for the peacemakers. In the 72 hours prior to yesterday's Annapolis conference, Palestinian terrorists in Gaza fired six Kassam rockets and over a dozen mortar shells at Israeli towns and cities throughout the Negev. Jerusalem was placed on high alert on Sunday, with roadblocks and checkpoints set up at the various entrances to the city, after intelligence reports indicated that two terrorists were on their way to the capital to carry out a mass attack. And in Hebron, a young Palestinian armed with a knife was caught at the Tomb of the Patriarchs planning to stab the first Jew he could find. Phew - after all those decades of bloodshed, it sure sounds like reconciliation is finally at hand. But hey, what's a few explosive projectiles, two would-be suicide bombers and a sharpened blade between friends? When US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is determined to throw a party, she isn't going to let pesky little details, such as Palestinian attempts to murder Israelis, get in the way of salvaging her chances at a legacy. Peace of the brave, or peace of the knave, it hardly really seems to matter all that much to Ms. Rice. As long as the lighting is just right for the grand photo-op, and her coiffed hair is oh-so-perfectly in place, the future of the Jewish state will just have to take a back seat to more pressing concerns. INDEED, watching the carnival unfold at Annapolis this week, I was inspired to reach for Lewis Carroll's classic Alice in Wonderland, where the main character falls down a rabbit-hole into a world far removed from our own, one where the rules of logic and common sense simply do not apply. One can easily imagine Secretary Rice in the role of the Queen of Hearts, badgering and threatening Israeli and Arab officials to make sure they show up and smile. Or, to borrow a phrase from the book, "The Queen had only one way of settling all difficulties, great or small. 'Off with his head!' she said, without even looking round." And how about the Mad Tea Party, where the March Hare, the Hatter and the Dormouse crowd together at the table and proceed to lambast and insult Alice to her face? With that image in mind, consider how Israel has been greeted by various Arab participants at the Annapolis gathering. Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal declared that he would not even shake Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's hand, and on Monday, the Saudi embassy in Washington expelled Israeli journalists from its premises for seeking to attend a press conference. The Gulf Arab emirate of Bahrain flatly rejected a proposal to establish diplomatic relations with Israel, while the Palestinians refuse even to recognize the country as a Jewish state. If our Arab foes won't shake hands with us and won't even recognize us, then what are the chances that they will truly wish to live in peace with us? Or, as Alice herself put it, "It's the stupidest tea party I ever was at in all my life!" The outcome of this process, like the trial presided over by the King and Queen of Hearts at the book's end, is a foregone conclusion. In the story, at the very opening of the hearings, before even a word of evidence has been presented, the King turns to the jury and declares, "Consider your verdict." And that, quite sadly, is what Annapolis and the process it is meant to spawn, is all about. For everyone, it seems, including many members of our own government, views Israel as the party which must submit to the other side's demands, regardless of whether truth, justice and morality would dictate otherwise. AND THAT is what makes the parallels between Alice in Wonderland, and Ehud Olmert in Peaceland, so frighteningly real. By plunging down this rabbit-hole, we have placed ourselves in a land of make-believe, only one where the consequences are likely to be far more painful and real than those in the children's story. But if you remember the book well, then you know that all is not truly lost. For Alice's nightmare finally comes to an end when she can stand it no longer. Turning to the Queen and her assembled guests, the newly-assertive young girl realizes the folly of the proceedings around her, before telling them, "Who cares for you? You're nothing but a pack of cards!" "At this," says the narrative, "the whole pack rose up into the air, and came flying down upon her: she gave a little scream, half of fright and half of anger, and tried to beat them off, and found herself lying on the bank, with her head in the lap of her sister, who was gently brushing away some dead leaves that had fluttered down from the trees upon her face." It was, after all, just a bad dream, one which fizzled away as soon as Alice came to her senses and stood up to her would-be aggressors. May Israel and its leaders finally do the same, and realize that fantasy worlds such as Peaceland exist only in their imagination.