Monday, November 09, 2009

"Inertia and Diplomatic Habit"

In a NYT column this weekend, Thomas Friedman stated that it is time for the United States to get out of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Makes sense to me:

The Israeli-Palestinian peace process has become a bad play. It is obvious that all the parties are just acting out the same old scenes, with the same old tired clich├ęs — and that no one believes any of it anymore. There is no romance, no sex, no excitement, no urgency — not even a sense of importance anymore. The only thing driving the peace process today is inertia and diplomatic habit. Yes, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process has left the realm of diplomacy. It is now more of a calisthenic, like weight-lifting or sit-ups, something diplomats do to stay in shape, but not because they believe anything is going to happen. And yet, as much as we, the audience, know this to be true, we can never quite abandon hope for peace in the Holy Land. It is our habit. Indeed, as I ranted about this to a Jordanian friend the other day, he said it all reminded him of an old story.

“These two guys are watching a cowboy and Indian movie. And in the opening scene, an Indian is hiding behind a rock about to ambush the handsome cowboy,” he explained. “ ‘I bet that Indian is going to kill that cowboy,’ one guy says to the other. ‘Never happen,’ his friend answers. ‘The cowboy is not going to be killed in the opening scene.’ ‘I’ll bet you $10 he gets killed,’ the guy says. ‘I’ll take that bet,’ says his friend.

“Sure enough, a few minutes later, the cowboy is killed and the friend pays the $10. After the movie is over the guy says to his friend, ‘Look, I have to give you back your $10. I’d actually seen this movie before. I knew what was going to happen.’ His friend answers: ‘No, you can keep the $10. I’d seen the movie, too. I just thought it would end differently this time.’ ”

This peace process movie is not going to end differently just because we keep playing the same reel. It is time for a radically new approach. And I mean radical. I mean something no U.S. administration has ever dared to do: Take down our “Peace-Processing-Is-Us” sign and just go home. ...

The photo above is from here.

Caption: "U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Prime Minister-designate Benyamin Netanyahu shake hands before their meeting, March 3, 2009 in Jerusalem, Israel. Clinton is at the start of a two-day visit to the region during which she will hold talks with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Netanyahu before meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmood Abbas." (Photo by Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv via Getty Images)

1 comment:

Fran said...

I did not read the column, so thanks for providing this. Interestingly enough, I spent part of the weekend in DC, with my Jewish cousins. Of the 5 of them - 3 are Israeli citizens at this point and of those 3 is a militant Zionist. The 5 of them are spread across a continuum of thought on the Israeli-Palestinian issue and then there is my contribution to our conversations.

The reality is that things are stuck and stuck badly. I have been to Israel twice now. I would tell you that I think I understand the situation even less after my own direct involvement with Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians. (Jordan matters in all of this.)

It is so complicated, but it is like a chain, so horribly tangled, that maybe it can't be undone at this point. I don't know.