Israel doesn’t lack problems. Iran’s Ahmadinejad says the Holocaust never happened, but promises to remedy that by razing Israel to the ground. Or relocating her. He then accelerated Iran’s nuclear-weapons program (all unrelated, he assures us).
A Kassam rocket away from Israel’s main population centers, Hamas is preparing to transform itself in the upcoming democratic elections from the de facto leader of the Palestinians to their leader de jure. Washington and Jerusalem had agreed in secret, and for different reasons, to allow the terrorist outfit to take its natural place in Palestinian society. (Abu Mazen would be retained as a figurehead.)
Boobus Bush’s premise: He believes a stake in the Palestinian government will transform Hamas from a terror group into a political party (namely, a legalized band of terrorists). Sharon harbored no such illusions. He was cognizant of history – and of the region’s peculiarities. Did a stake in the Lebanese government do anything to change Hezbollah’s vocation? Hardly. The shrewd Sharon simply surmised that a Hamas victory would prove conclusively that Israel has no genuine partner in peace.
What else? There’s the agreement between the PA, Israel and Egypt concerning the policing of the crossings between the three. Rammed through by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, it has further eroded what remains of Israeli sovereignty, national security and the war on terror. (Blame lies with Israel’s leaders, of course, for acquiescing to all of Rice’s requirements.)
These days the neocons are very into uniformly imposing power transfers – from war-weary American soldiers to hapless Iraqis; from Russians to Chechen assassins; from Israelis to lawless Palestinians. Henceforth, the Palestinians, aided by their E.U. patrons and the Egyptians, will be trusted to prevent the smuggling of weapons, explosives and terrorists from Egypt into Gaza at the Rafah crossing. (Remember, the Muslim Brotherhood is the unofficial representative of the Egyptian people; and Hamas a rib from the Brotherhood’s rib cage). Israel’s security has thus been turned over to the Egyptians and the Palestinians (who now, naturally, revere Rice.)
It gets worse. In the case of a terrorist threat – a daily reality in that country – Israel is not permitted to shut down the crossing from Gaza into Israel, located on its territory. Instead, it must wait for Washington’s authorization. Not even Jack Bauer, hero of “24,” and the Houdini of Counterterrorism, could save the day under such constraints.
The Palestinians will also be performing customs inspections at Israel’s Kerem Shalom terminal. Remember the Middle Eastern airport screeners at Dulles airport who looked the other way as two of the 9-11 hijackers set off the metal detectors? No, I suppose you don’t.
To top it all, the stretch separating Gaza and the West Bank – also Israeli territory – is now terra incognita to Israelis, but not to terrorists. They are allowed to move freely between Gaza and the West bank, because Israel is no longer permitted to stop them, search their vehicles, or arrest them.
How has Israel responded to these developments? Why, by turning the arrows in its quiver on one of its few remaining friends, Pat Robertson. Interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s first act of statesmanship was not a resolution on Iran or Hamas, but a decision to have no truck with the evangelical leader. (Olmert’s Tourism Minister suspended a joint business venture to construct a Christian Heritage Center in the Galilee.)
Robertson, you recall, had said that God “has enmity against those who divide [His] land,” hinting that the moribund Israeli leader’s brain hemorrhage and his evacuation of Jews from Gaza were not random events.
Sharon was burdened by age, weight and worry. I happen to think those realities caught up with him. Robertson disagrees. Like them or not, his theological beliefs include the idea that one will reap God’s wrath if one defies His wishes, as Robertson construes them. So what?
For Israel to have fussed so over the man was hardly an example of savoir-faire or smarts. A perusal of the brutal attacks on Sharon bedecking assorted hard-Left websites confirms just how petty Israel was being.
The Counterpunch cranks, for example, set the tone with an article titled “Stroke of Luck? Political Hemorrhage in Israel.” An expatriate Israeli (far and away the most vicious anti-Israel-cum-anti-Semitic tracts are penned by Jews) exploded in pixelated glee with a column titled “Sharon Meets His Maker.” “The Hole Where the Heart Should Be,” by U.N. correspondent Ian Williams, complemented Juan Cole’s “Sharon as Jailer.” This dog’s-breakfast of an essay calls terrorists who lob rockets into Israel “militants with a bad aim” [my emphasis].
And the list goes on.
The Robertson episode demonstrates that Israel doesn’t respond appropriately to its friends or to its enemies. Against the backdrop of Iranian incitement to genocide, with the hard-Left joining that seething cesspool of a Palestinian Street to rejoice in Sharon’s fate; at the dawn of the Age of Hamas and insecure borders, and in the context of a world that has de-legitimized the Jewish state and defined it in much the same terms as Ahmadinejad has (“criminal Zionist entity, colonial occupier”) – Israel still doesn’t know Shiite from Shinola.