- The Washington Times - Friday, April 20, 2001

President Bush remembered the Holocaust yesterday from what he called "the safe distance of history."
"A safe distance" is a nice place, even when its a little crowded. Thats where some of Israels friends try to be when theyre being friendly to the Jewish state.
The president appeared to be deeply moved as 34 regimental flags of the U.S. troops who liberated the Nazi death camps were carried into the Rotunda of the Capitol for a ceremony commemorating the final destruction of the perverted science of Hitlers final solution.
"The events we recall today have the safe distance of history," the president said when it was his turn to speak. "And there will come a time when the eyewitnesses are gone, and that is why we are bound by conscience to remember what happened and to whom it happened.
"We strive to be a refuge for the persecuted. We are called by history and by conscience to defend the oppressed. Our country stands on watch for the rise of tyranny.
"The story of the Jews is one of defiance in oppression and patience in tribulation. That story continued in the founding of the state of Israel. That story continues in the defense of the state of Israel."
Lovely words, and the president ought to make sure that someone sends a transcript of his words over to the State Department, where Colin Powell could tack them up on a bulletin board where everyone could read them. Maybe in the executive dining rooms, the conference rooms or other safe places where history is made. The president might even send a copy of the transcript to Jerusalem, where some of the doves who still have unplucked tail feathers could profitably study them. These are redoubts of hard American heads and soft Jewish heads where reality is often an orphan, who cannot get their minds around the hard truth that the Middle East is overflowing with men whose determination to destroy the Jewish state burns unabated.
For a few days after the inauguration it appeared that the new secretary of state might actually "get it." He forbade the use of the very term "peace process," which all but the thickest among us had long since learned has nothing to do with "peace," and is only about "process." Mr. Powells distinguished military career, from the stuff he learned as a shaved-tail lieutenant to the grim lessons learned in the jungled highlands of Vietnam, taught him to look reality hard in the face that sometimes you come up against an enemy that is determined to kill you, and all the orange pekoe and finger sandwiches in the world will not assuage his insatiable appetite.
But this week the old State Department disease blame the Jews first flared anew, and Gen. Powell succumbed to the temptation to invoke the pernicious doctrine of moral equivalence. No sooner had the Israelis moved into Gaza to punish the Palestinians for a mortar attack on a Jewish village than the secretary of state began to assign equal portions of blame.
"The hostilities were precipitated by the provocative Palestinian mortar attacks on Israel," he said. That was the ping. Then came the pong: "The Israeli response was excessive and disproportionate. We call upon both sides to respect the agreements theyve signed. For the Palestinians, this includes implementing their commitment to renounce terrorism and violence, to exercise control over all elements of the PLO and the Palestinian Authority, and to discipline violators. (Ping) For the Israelis, this includes respecting their commitment to withdraw from Gaza according to the terms of the agreements signed by Israel and the Palestinians. (Pong) There can be no military solution to this conflict."
This assessment is born of wishful thinking, sired by false assumption. When have the Palestinians ever renounced terrorism and violence? Exercised control over Yasser Arafats terrorists? Disciplined violators? His solution would have the Israelis respect agreements made with enemies who have never kept agreements and have no intention of ever doing so. We have their word on it. A "military solution" is exactly how they intend to destroy Israel and throw the Jews into the sea.
Judgment is hobbled by naivete not only in Washington, but in Jerusalem. Yossi Beilin, the Israeli justice minister in the Barak government, writes in the New York Times how he met only last week with Yasser Arafat and that "the Palestinian response to the Clinton ideas was acceptance with reservations." (Italics mine.) But of course. The key word is "reservations." The Palestinians will keep on keeping on, counting on Israels "friends" at "the safe distance of history" to finally grow weary of the cries of the Jews, and shut their ears. Why not? It worked once.

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