Thursday, November 6, 2008

Bush offers Golan to Assad?

Monday Nov 03, 2008

From the moment he succeeded Arafat as president of the Palestinian Authority it was clear that Mahmoud Abbas, one of the Palestinian architects of the Oslo Accords, lacked both the political power and charisma necessary to unite his own Fatah party. His efforts at avoiding civil war by integrating Hamas into the political system proved too successful, casting doubt also on his political judgment. Today, with the Palestinians in a state of political anarchy just short of open civil war, with two Palestinian enclaves, it is clear to even the most optimistic among us that unless and until the Palestinians mature to the point of peace among themselves, expecting them to come to peace with Israel is unrealistic.

It appears that this judgment was also reached by the experts advising both contenders for the US presidency, now recommending to their candidates that Palestine, roadmap or no, should be shelved indefinitely in favor of the Syrian track. And now, according to reports appearing in Israeli media, even President Bush, for whom Syria is a member of his Axis of Evil, understands this and sent President Abbas to Damascus to deliver a personal and secret letter directly to Bashar al-Assad.

The existence and contents of that letter, kept secret not only from Israel but from his ambassador to Syria, reportedly contains nothing less than a pledge to the Syrian president to pressure Israel off the Golan during the few remaining months of his presidency. In return Bush would have Assad break ties with Iran. Israeli leaders expressed concern, and several reasons for that concern will be mentioned below. But dangerous as the impact on Israel's relations with Syria and much of the Arab world are, the letter's implications for the state of the Jews and its "special relationship" with the United States may be even graver.

By its very existence the Bush letter portrays Israel as an expendable ally. In the eyes of Syria and the rest of the Middle East, a forced Israeli withdrawal from the Golan would cast it as puppet of an unreliable protector. Nor is this the first situation in which the present US administration has placed Israel in harm's way according to US interests. Bush encouraged Israel in the run up to the Lebanon war and, when victory was too slow in coming, had Rice order Israel not to cross the Litani River. The effect was to assure that Israel could not defeat Hizbullah, whose leadership and arsenal were well north of the river. A military setback for Israel, to the Arab street not only the first ever victory, but achieved by a mere militia! For Bush the Lebanon loss was a minor failure in the president's cold war with Iran. But Israel is not a safe seven thousand miles distant, and in the Middle East an Israel even appearing to be in decline is an invitation to challenge, and war.

Negotiations between countries represent a period of testing of motives and policy baselines. It provides a period of gradual narrowing of distance between opposing positions, an opportunity to gradually build understanding and trust. An imposed "agreement" such as the one Bush is proposing would be nothing less than another Czechoslovakia, another Munich sellout.

This letter, this Bush initiative, clearly demonstrates the limits of US commitment and reliability to Israel, a red flag to Israel to revisit its emotional and cultural dependence, its so-called "special relationship" with the United States.

Israel today enjoys significant respect and admiration by a majority of Americans and their politicians. But support and commitment are always conditional on present needs and interests, and commitment is never forever. The Bush letter casts a long shadow, a clear warning that Israel must appreciate and respond to.

Should US interests in the Middle East change, which they eventually will, resulting in lessening support for Israel, then the political culture of support will keep pace. At that time popular sympathy and support among the general public for the state of the Jews will also fade.

The Bush letter is a clear warning and harbinger of things to come. Afterword
What I wrote above may be mistaken as a warning of an imminent threat. I do believe the threat real, but not imminent. The Bush presidency is deviant in many ways, the Bush Letter merely the most obvious and recent evidence of how, not when, US interest will move that country to take actions contrary to Israel's interests. Under Bush this has already occurred several times; the invasion of Iraq removed the only significant enemy of Iran, Sadam Hussein, and propelled the Islamic Republic along the path of its hegemonic ambitions; the Palestinian elections, forced by Bush over the advice of Israel and Abbas, propelled Hamas to political and military prominence; Bush encouraged the invasion of Lebanon then ordered Israel to halt when it failed to win decisively within some imaginary Bush time frame.

While the Bush presidency certainly followed its own erratic course, relying on the president's much vaunted intuition and "guidance from above," most American presidents are more open to advice of specialists, more logical and sophisticated in exercising home governance and world affairs, to choose diplomacy over military action.

Bush will soon be replaced by, most likely, a more typical and logical president, so his danger to the "special relationship" will likely recede. And Israel will return to the quiet comfort of its mostly one sided "special relationship." And this is precisely the problem. Israel depends on its relationship with the United States; its partner needs Israel far less. And in time, when the oil runs dry or cheap alternative energy comes of age, its American patron may well need Israel not at all. It is towards that day for which Israel must prepare.


1 Scott USA, Tuesday Nov 04, 2008
As indicated in the Bible, During the time of Jacob's Trouble, Israel will be betrayed and it will be the USA that betrays Israel because we are Israel's only current supporter. If Obama is elected, he is Pro-Arab. Israel must look out for their own interests - no one else will.
2 CiFMmsrm, Tuesday Nov 04, 2008

Perhaps an Obama victory will have a silver lining: Israel will stop being afraid of the US president and start ignoring his orders.

3 Michael Groves Texas United States, Wednesday Nov 05, 2008
There are some of us that support Israel period. Oil in the ground or not some of us believe that Israel right to exsist is worth dieing or killing for. The "letter" sent to Assad sounds more like political propaganda. Not all Americans are oil starved cowboys.

4 Ron - Oshawa - Ontario - Canada, Thursday Nov 06, 2008
Christians in US & Canada have always supported and prayed for Israel. What I don't understand is why the majority of Jewish voters in US voted for Obama and generally vote Democrat. Don't they understand that Chrsitians are conservatives and not liberal or Democrat ? Don't they understand that Consevatives/Christians believe in biblical prohecy ? Don't they realize the future role of Israel and Jerusalem is to be the capital of the world ? The word will go forth from Jerusalem and he shall rule with a rod of iron. WHY THE DISCONNECT ???? PLEASE EXPLAIN !!!!

5 David Turner, Thursday Nov 06, 2008
With understanding and appreciation that many Christians living in the US today are supporters of a Jewish state, to appreciate why Jews tend to vote the way we do it is necessary to take a longer view of Christian-Jewish relations. For nearly two thousand years Jews living in Diaspora have been subjected to discrimination, persecution and mass murder by our neighbors in the west. Antisemitism was rife throughout the west, not just Germany, etc, but also the US. In the years of the Holocaust Jews fleeing death were turned away by our country also.

Our history has helped shape us culturally and politically. Perhaps we are, as a result of long experience, more sensitive than others to unjust suffering of individuals and minorities. It is not that we vote as a bloc; rather we tend towards empathy, and vote conscience. This also goes a way in explaining why Jews are over-represented in the so-called “helping professions,” such as medicine, psychotherapy and social work.

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