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PRUDEN: Deadly peril in a fantasy world
Question of the Day
If only those pesky Jews would shut up and submit, all would be right with the world. Allah could be praised. Such is the emerging Democratic strategy for making peace in the Middle East. Only this week, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the secretary of state, and Leon E. Panetta, the secretary of defense, sent reassurances to the region that they’re eager to see Israel brought to heel.
Mr. Panetta even employed a little mild profanity, undignified as that may be for a Cabinet officer, to attempt to intimidate the Israelis. Get back to “the damn table” and resume negotiations, he told them. He generously concedes the plight of the Jews, surrounded by millions of Muslims sworn to do them terminal harm. But so what?
“I understand the view that this is not the time to pursue peace,” he told an audience at a Washington think tank, “and that the Arab awakening further imperils the dream of a safe and secure, Jewish and democratic Israel. But I disagree with that view.”
Israel must take “risks,” to breathe new life into moribund peace talks with the Palestinians, even if the Palestinians won’t renounce their vow to throw the Jews into the sea. But the growing number of influential Democrats who share his view of who poisoned the peace process, so called, are reasonable enough fellows. If the Palestinians succeed in throwing the Jews into the sea, as they say they will, these Democrats might be willing to send someone to teach them how to swim.
“I believe security is dependent on a strong military,” Mr. Panetta says, “but it is also dependent on strong diplomacy. Unfortunately, over the past year we’ve seen Israel’s isolation from its traditional security partners in the region grow.” He left unsaid where Israel and the rest of us can find such “strong diplomacy.”
This bogus moral equivalence comports neatly with the traditional liberal convenience of blaming the victim. Mr. Panetta wants Israel to “reach out,” to “mend fences,” to walk the second mile, to forgive and forget, and maybe even buy the world a Diet Coke.
Hillary Clinton reduces peril in the Middle East to an infringement of feminist principle. She’s upset that a private bus company in an Orthodox neighborhood in Jerusalem allowed men and women to segregate themselves, with men taking the seats in the front of the bus. Not only that, but a group of Orthodox Jewish soldiers walked out of a military band concert because, in line with religious belief, they wanted to avoid listening to a woman sing. (No Peggy Lee for that regiment.) These prohibitions strike a lot of people as odd, even pernicious, and a senior Israeli official called public segregation of the sexes “totally unacceptable” and said “it must be stopped.” And, indeed, it was.
Hillary, ever willing to strain at a gnat to swallow a sheik’s camel, said nothing about the Saudi prohibition of women driving, or the punishment by lashing if they’re caught at it. You might think she would be moved at least to give a little credit to the Israelis for not pulling women off a Jerusalem bus and flogging them for riding with men.
More perilous than these affronts is the willingness of certain Jews to be complicit with their prominent “friends” in holding contempt for the Jewish state. Two prominent U.S. Cabinet officers would not dare to unload their bile and spleen on an ally without the knowledge, and no doubt the bidding, of President Obama. Nor would an American ambassador to an important European ally dare tell an audience of Jewish lawyers that Islamic anti-Semitism is the fault of the Jews. When the president himself flew off to speak to an audience of Jewish campaign contributors in New York, he encountered not righteous indignation but a rapturous embrace. Just to be in the room with the messiah! The president won cheers and not the appropriate jeers when he told them he was the best presidential friend Israel has ever had.
“I try not to pat myself too much on the back,” the ever modest and humble president told them, “but this administration has done more for the security of the state of Israel than any previous administration.” There wasn’t even bitter laughter when he said, with a straight face, that “we don’t compromise when it comes to Israel’s security.”
The Middle East seems irretrievably sliding toward catastrophe, and Israel is mocked for what Mr. Panetta calls its “defensive crouch.” The president and his men live in a parallel universe, a fantasy world where reality and obstinate Jews are not allowed to intrude. There’s no room there for the real world where the rest of us live.
• Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.
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