Like all religions, the peace process has developed a dogmatic creed, with immutable first principles. Over the last two decades, I wrote them hundreds of times to my bosses in the upper echelons of the State Department and the White House; they were a catechism we all could recite by heart. First, pursuit of a comprehensive peace was a core, if not the core, U.S. interest in the region, and achieving it offered the only sure way to protect U.S. interests; second, peace could be achieved, but only through a serious negotiating process based on trading land for peace; and third, only America could help the Arabs and Israelis bring that peace to fruition. As befitting a religious doctrine, there was little nuance. . . these tenets endured and prospered even while the realities on which they were based had begun to change. If this wasn’t the definition of real faith, one wonders what was.The believers need to re-examine their faith, especially at a moment when America is so stretched and overextended. . .
The United States needs to do what it can, including working with Israelis and Palestinians on negotiating core final-status issues (particularly on borders, where the gaps are narrowest), helping Palestinians develop their institutions, getting the Israelis to assist by allowing Palestinians to breathe economically and expand their authority, and keeping Gaza calm, even as it tries to relieve the desperation and sense of siege through economic assistance. But America should also be aware of what it cannot do, as much as what it can. Alfred, Lord Tennyson, who probably didn’t know much about the Middle East, said it best: “There lives more faith in honest doubt, believe me, then in half the creeds.” And maybe, if that leads to more realistic thinking when it comes to America’s view of Arab-Israeli peacemaking, that’s not such a bad thing.
A long article, but a good one. Israel clearly wants peace, but you can’t have a true peace when only one side is willing. It would be nice if the Chamberlains of the world would recognize that; if they did early enough, we might have averted the next war in the Middle-east.