President Bush, like any politician, has made some good moves and some bad ones. This week's farce of a peace conference in Annapolis, Md., is one of the bad ones.
Israeli and Palestinian leaders pledged yesterday in Annapolis to begin negotiations next month for a possible peace agreement, but their speeches before representatives of 40 countries -- including Arab nations with no diplomatic ties with Israel -- laid bare the deep grievances between them and the tough compromises that will be necessary to forge a lasting deal.
The conference, held at the U.S. Naval Academy, marked the most intensive U.S. effort to restart talks in the seven years since they collapsed at the end of the Clinton administration. President Bush indicated yesterday that pursuing a peace deal that eluded his predecessors will be a central element of the final year of his presidency, and he agreed to a broad U.S. role in overseeing implementation of any agreements.
"I believe now is precisely the right time to begin these negotiations," he told the delegates, arrayed around a U-shaped table in a stately room honoring academy graduates killed in operations or in action. "America will do everything in our power to support their quest for peace, but we cannot achieve it for them."
We've seen this all before when President Bill Clinton tried force a settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians in 2000. All that got anyone was the second intifada.
Nothing has changed for the better. The facts on the ground are actually worse for peace now then they were back in 2000. Today, Hamas controls the entire Gaza strip and the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, has less power and credibility to impose a peace on the Palestinian people than his predecessor, Yasser Arafat did. Likewise, Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, clings to power by his fingernails after Israel's less-than-dominant military victory over Hezbollah in southern Lebanon last year.
But the problem is deeper than the politics and the politicians. The root of the problem is the Palestinian media and educational system. I remember reading a sci-fi book a long time ago -- I believe it was Arthur C. Clarke's "Childhood's End." In the book, humanity is preparing to make an evolutionary leap (an evolution which always gave me the willies) and a technologically advanced race comes to Earth to help with the transition. While this race works to assist in the evolution, they don't show themselves to us for more than two generations. Why? Well, they happened to have the appearance that world culture has identified as devils, with red skin, a tail and horns. They spent those two+ generations of humanity subtly removing that image and association from our culture so that when they finally did show themselves, there wasn't any hysteria.
Today, in Palestinian schools, there is still daily indoctrination of children to anti-Semitism. The maps on the walls show all of Israel as "Palestine" and much worse. The Palestinian "culture" is not ready for peace. The move toward peace must start with the reform of Palestinian schools.
The time for peace, if it ever comes, will be two or three generations after Palestinian children have stopped being taught that Jews are pigs and monkeys and that Israel has no right to exist. They must stop idolizing suicide bombers and rewarding the parents of terrorists.
They haven't even started.
Peace is a long way off.
This conference is a sick joke.
And what do you think of Obadiah Shoher's arguments against the peace process ( samsonblinded.org/blog/we-need-a-respite-from-peace.htm )?