Tuesday, 29 April 2003

About the other road map...

by Gabriel Ash

The White House is preparing to make yet another effort to present Israel with yet another peace plan -- the famous Quartet "roadmap" kept so far in an undisclosed location perhaps so that Rumsfeld cannot nuke it. Let us assume that the effort is genuine. On the face of it, there is much the U.S. can gain today from some advancement of Palestinian interests. Quite a few professional diplomats in the State Department must understand that forcing Israel to end its direct rule over Palestinians is a test and an opportunity for the U.S. to prove that it really wants popular cooperation in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. But can it be done?

The trouble for the Quartet's roadmap for Israel is that Israel has its own roadmap for the future of the United States. What is remarkable about the Israeli roadmap is that it is fairly consistent -- its outlines go back to the roots of Zionism. Another remarkable thing about the Israeli roadmap is how successful it has turned out in practice. The Israeli roadmap is fairly simple. It says that in order to protect Israel's power in the Middle East, the U.S. should be afraid of, and at war with, the Arab masses.

In expectation of the Quartet roadmap's publication, the whole Jewish lobby in and around Congress has already gone ballistic. Even the most remote and unrealistic threat of peace drives the gentlemen from AIPAC into uncontrollable shaking and frothing. In Israel, on the other hand, there is composed calm. The Israeli roadmap for perpetual war is progressing just fine.

The U.S. military takeover of Iraq was a success. Indeed, it went perhaps a little too well. A longer war would have been better for Israel. So far, Israeli comparisons between the U.S. occupation of Iraq and the Israeli occupation of Palestine ring hollow. American soldiers are still playing the "enlightened" occupier, trying to restore electricity and water, and generally accepting their legal responsibility for civilian welfare. Indeed, the current administration has promised Iraqis universal access to basic health care, something it has yet to promise, let alone provide, to Americans.

The U.S. army in Iraq has not yet plunged to the depths of racism and brutality of the IDF. But for Israel, there is still darkness at the end of the tunnel. Iraqi popular opposition to the U.S. occupation can turn violent. Indeed, it would be surprising if it didn't. Israel, for its part, will do its best to make emotions boil sooner rather than later.

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