Peace fever is the disease consuming Israel as surely as the Black Death took Europe. If the Dutch traded fortunes for flowers, the Israelis have traded away most of their territory for worthless pieces of paper that last about as long as tulips do. Mostly, like Madoff's investments, after they wither and die it turns out that they were never worth anything to begin with.
Camp David was an illusion, but the Oslo Accords are a delusion. A tulip economy where Israel doles out fortunes in money, land and power in exchange for the promise of peace and an end to the violence... tomorrow, always tomorrow. The most devastating impact of the delusion isn't on the cemeteries where children lie side by side with soldiers, on the broken homes and synagogues of Gaza, or on the tightening circle of terror around Jerusalem. As with all delusions, its most devastating impact is on the mind.
Blaming Israel is the only internally consistent position for a peace advocate because it avoids coming to grips with the futility of negotiating with terrorists.
Blaming the terrorists opens up a hopeless catalog of violence, corruption, incitement and madness. There is no way to catalog all that and still honestly go on believing that peace is possible. To browse MEMRI or PalWatch is to confront the tragedy of life and let the illusions and delusions die as all folly does when exposed to the light. The only way to keep the lie of peace alive is by blaming Israel.
The one thing that sufferers of the peace disease have to believe above all else in order to remain consistent is that Israel is at fault. Any deviation from that is an inconsistency. That inconsistency is why the pro-Peace, pro-Israel side can always win on the facts, while still losing the debate. They can lay out their case against Fatah and Hamas in all its glorious detail, the incontestable facts, the quotes and the documentation, and then they finish with an absurdity that unmakes their position. Israel still wants peace. Yet, if half of what they say is true, then who is there to have peace with?
Sick? Demented? Twisted? All of the above, but also completely logical. If you are going to be delusional, then it is best to be consistently delusional. Why be neurotic, when you can be flat out insane? Why settle for a second rate phobia when you can go for full on schizophrenia? Hope and faith often dance close to the level of madness. Sustaining misdirected hope in the face of reality requires a great deal of faith or delusion.
Delusional does not mean stupid. Highly intelligent people are more likely to be deluded because they have a greater capacity for imagining and then rationalizing the delusion. A stupid person would assume that being shot at marks the end of peace negotiations. It takes a highly intelligent person to rationalize the shots as not an attack on him, but on the negotiations, which are the only way to stop the cycle of violence.
I want peace. I also want to cure all diseases, and universal happiness and immortality for all. The difference between me and virtually every Jewish communal leader is that I know that I can't have those things because they don't exist. And if they did, I couldn't get them by giving money and land to a bunch of grubby socialist and Islamist militias.
That is Israel's peace disease in a nutshell. It is not unique to Israel. It can be found in America and Europe. It can be found anywhere modern enlightened people fail to come to grip with the necessity of violence in the affairs of men and escape into illusion and delusion instead. It is a fatal disease. It does not kill quickly or cleanly, it is an agonizing fevered death filled with hallucinations, peace doves circling the ceiling, amputation after amputation, bloody limbs piled on the altar of peace that burns and burns until everything is consumed and only the ashes remain.
FP: I was watching the panel U.S.-Israel Relations in a Changing Middle East in which one of the participants was Dennis Ross, an American government functionary marinated in the so-called peace process since the Reagan administration. Now, Ross is an intelligent, knowledgeable guy who should know everything and everybody related to the Arab-Israeli conflict. And yet he persists in the belief that peace is still possible while the West gives the Palestinians—who are the only obstacle to peace—every incentive to reject peace. It’s as if he is totally blind to reality.
Ross and the rest of the peace processors suffer from the same delusion as the Israelis: they cannot and will not accept reality, because if they do, the delusion of peace evaporate and they must accept the fact that the price for peace is either withdrawal of foreign support from the Palestinians and pressure on Israel, or their vanquishing in war to such an extent that they give up their real goal. They don’t want either of these options, hence the delusion. Kenneth Levin called the Israeli version of the delusion the Oslo Syndrome.
Israel Matzav: Finally someone who believes that Obama deserves a B+
Remember when President Hussein Obama rated himself a 'solid B+'? Well, there's finally someone who agrees. Unfortunately, that someone is Zbigniew Brzezinski, possibly the worst failure ever as National Security Adviser (Hat Tip: Captain.H).
Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Adviser to President Jimmy Carter, graded Obama’s foreign policy performance “somewhere between B-plus and A-minus,” lauding his achievements with Chinese and Russian relations but criticizing his failure to move forward on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.Oy.... Is there a position awaiting Zbig in an Obama second term? What could go wrong?
“It would be higher if he had moved more decisively on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, because he had a chance to do so. But admittedly, he was overwhelmed by domestic problems,” he said on CBS’s Face the Nation.
Brzezinski said Obama had achieved much with his foreign policy, including “a reconnection with Europe,” “a more stable relationship with Russia,” and the draw-down in Afghanistan.
He also said that he feels the Obama administration handled the situation with Chinese dissident Chen Guangchen well. Chen was recently granted permission by the U.S. and China to apply for a fellowship in America, after escaping house arrest and seeking asylum at the United States embassy. The incident threatened to cast a pall over the recent visit of high-ranking U.S. officials to Beijing for diplomatic talks, but both governments were able to ultimately come to an agreement on Chen.
Brzezinski also cautioned that the most pressing national security issue is Iran, and how to prevent a conflict from breaking out in the Middle East.
“We have to do everything we can to avoid a war, and there are ways of avoiding that war that are intelligent and constructive. But a war sets in motion unpredictable consequences,” he said.
“A war with Iran will set ablaze a region of the world from which we're trying to disengage.”
FP: How ridiculous is Zbig? Well, here is one of those in the Carter administration responsible for Iran being taken over by Islamists and turned into the top US enemy advising us now how to avoid a war with very apocalyptic Jihadis. The perfect adviser for Obama.
Alex Pareene: America’s idiot rich
Some unknown but alarming number of ultra-rich Americans are now basically totally delusional and completely divorced from reality. This is now an inescapable fact, confirmed by multiple media accounts of billionaire thought and an entire special issue of the New York Times Magazine.
I’m not sure even that would help, because there is already another presidential candidate who likely believes that. In the same issue of the Times Magazine, we have the story of Edward Conard, a retired Bain Capital executive who is about to release a book (presumably against the wishes of his friend and former colleague Mitt Romney) arguing “aggressively” that massive wealth disparity is an unalloyed Good Thing. In fact, Conard thinks “the wealth concentrated at the top should be twice as large.” (Paul Krugman does not think much of his argument.)
Conard also detests charitable giving and has developed a statistical method for finding a spouse, because he is a sociopath. Because he is very wealthy, he is very used to his ideas being taken seriously — even economists offer him (qualified) praise. He is utterly convinced that his book will convince every serious person that wealthy finance industry titans not only deserve their wealth, but make society a better place for all. He has basically taken what is a gut feeling among his class and turned it into a philosophy and an argument.
They are one of those industries that is used to getting exactly what it always wants from Washington, because they essentially own both parties. (As opposed to say, oil and gas, ally of Republicans, or the entertainment industry, ally of Democrats.) So Dodd-Frank made them very, very mad. But not just mad: Confused, hurt, betrayed. There is a psychosocial element to the response, clearly on display in the story of the rich people who wish for a speech about how they are not evil. They are essentially spoiled children who have just been lightly reprimanded for the first time that they can remember.
The result of their last few decades of job creation has been the decoupling of productivity grown from wage growth and skyrocketing compensation for CEOs and finance industry workers.
FP: The decadence that comes with and accelerates decline.
CAMERA: Ha'aretz, Lost in Translation
There’s Ha’aretz in Hebrew and then there’s Ha’aretz in English, and it’s not just language or circulation which sets them apart. (The Hebrew edition of Ha’aretz has a very low circulation in comparison to other Israeli newspapers; its influential English site is the go-to portal for Western journalists, policymakers, diplomats, and a vast public.)
Close reading of both print editions over the course of years has revealed an ongoing pattern. In preparation for the English edition, the Hebrew articles (most Ha’aretz stories are written first in Hebrew) are not merely translated – they’re often also whitewashed. In sometimes dramatic and sometimes subtle cases, time and again, information appearing in the Hebrew original concerning Palestinian militancy, violence and other Arab wrongdoing is downplayed or omitted entirely. In some instances, the English account is completely at odds with the original Hebrew.
FP: Why expect anything better from NYT when Haaretz is worse? Sometimes I wish Haaretz be subjected just a bit to the activities that they whitewash.
Michael Curtis: Antisemitism on the Rise in Europe
Peter Gordon: Destroyer and Builder
WINSLOW WHEELER: The Jet That Ate the Pentagon
Jon Entine: Jews Are a 'Race,' Genes Reveal
Shlomo Avineri: Karl Marx, the Jews of Jerusalem, and UNESCO