Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Kind of Friend Israel Needs by Yossi Beilin

Knesset member and former deputy foreign minister Yossi Beilin, writing in The Forward, states that President Bush, whose warm feelings for Israel are unmistakable, nevertheless has "inflicted enormous damage on Israel." Among Bush's destructive actions:

• Contrasting himself from Clinton by disengaging from the peace process.
• Conducting a war in Iraq that strengthened Iran.
• Backing the Road Map, a non-starter that was used by both sides to avoid progress and "neutralized other global players" who might have had a positive effect while the U.S. was inactive.
• Supporting Sharon in a unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, which weakened Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and strengthened Hamas and its strategy of armed struggle.
• Demanded that "Sharon allow Hamas to participate in the elections for the Palestinian Parliament," contradicting the Oslo Accords' prohibition of terrorist groups taking part in elections.
• Permitting Israel to continue the war in Lebanon longer than it needed "before pushing for a cease fire..." at a "strategic price."
• Permitting Israel to avoid dealing with core issues at the Annapolis Summit and "failing to advance the Arab Peace Initiative, which promises normal relations between Israel and the Arab world if Jerusalem makes peace with its neighbors."
• Failing to support Israel's ongoing talks with Syria.

The list clearly contradicts Bush's image as a friend of Israel. Indeed, Jimmy Carter clearly was a better friend by advancing the Israeli-Egyptian peace accords and by attempting to communicate honestly in "Palestine Peace Not Apartheid" (see review below) the price both Israelis and Palestinians continue to pay with the occupation. Yet it is Carter who is reviled by some as hostile to Israel.

Beilin concludes, "The next American president will have to work hard to repair the damage done by our faithful friend in the White House... Israel's true friend, in other words, is no Bush. It is, rather, a friend of peace in the Middle East.

Click here to read the article

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