Monday, April 19, 2010

Evidence is mounting that President Obama will unveil a new Middle East peace plan in the coming months. While a desire for peace is indeed admirable, such a move should be welcomed only by the enemies of America.

Not only would such an attempt inevitably fail, but it would directly harm U.S. security by shifting our national focus away from very real - and far more dangerous - threats in the region.

Nearly two weeks ago, the New York Times and The Washington Post reported on the same day about a high-level meeting two weeks beforehand in which National Security Adviser Gen. James L. Jones had lobbied Mr. Obama to craft an American peace plan. Last Monday, J-Street, a left-wing Jewish group with close ties to the White House, ran a full-page ad in the New York Times urging Mr. Obama to impose “concrete plans for a two-state solution.”

Mr. Obama himself further signaled something was in the works by stating at the close of a news conference last Tuesday that resolving the Middle East conflict was “a vital national security interest of the United States.” Likely at the prodding of White House officials, the New York Times ran a front-page story two days later suggesting that an Obama peace plan could be drafted over the next few months and introduced this fall.

But the strongest indicator of an upcoming peace initiative is Mr. Obama’s own track record to date.

Health care became the defining issue for Mr. Obama’s domestic policy, and the Middle East is the logical global corollary. Far from being content to fiddle around the edges, Mr. Obama has an appetite for broad, sweeping change. And the Middle East is quite a tableau. When he encounters resistance, Mr. Obama redoubles his efforts. Witness his resolve after Scott Brown’s stunning Senate victory in Massachusetts.

In other words, if Mr. Obama already has set his mind to achieving transformational change in the Middle East, the odds that he will be dissuaded are quite low.

Should Mr. Obama embark on the quixotic quest of Middle East “peace,” there will be no oxygen left in the national discussion to focus on threats far more insidious to U.S. national security, such as the resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan, teetering democracy in Iraq, an ascendant al Qaeda in Yemen and, most significant, the Iranian mullahs’ nuclear ambitions.

The argument in favor of putting all hands on deck for striking an Israeli-Palestinian deal is that it would be the first domino that would rally the Arab states to prevent Iran from obtaining nukes and somehow pacify our enemies elsewhere by persuading them that they misjudged America.

This is absurd. Arab dictators already want to stop Iran, as they fear the political dominance the mullahs would achieve across the region should they acquire nukes. As for Islamic extremists battling our soldiers, it’s patently naive to think a peace deal would persuade them to lay down their arms.

U.S. support for Israel is mere pretext for calculated flare-ups of violence in the battlefield or on the Arab street, but the underlying reasons for hatred of America have little, if anything, to do with the Jewish state.

Mr. Obama’s Middle East domino theory is also flawed because peace is not possible in the short term. As close as experts now say a deal was during the Clinton administration, the only end result from those negotiations was Palestinian terrorism.

Israel gave ground repeatedly over the course of various negotiations in the Clinton era. Palestinians achieved most of their realistic goals - all of Gaza, 95 percent of the West Bank and half of Jerusalem - yet Yasser Arafat walked away at Camp David in 2000. Months later, he launched an unprecedented terror campaign he called the “second intifada.”

In the intervening decade, matters have become worse. A “two-state” solution seems impossible, simply because it would have to be three states to account for Hamas’ control over Gaza. Some recent media accounts have reported that Hamas would accept Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas negotiating on its behalf. Perhaps, but a four-day blood-soaked coup in Gaza three years ago suggests otherwise.

Hamas is far from the only stumbling block, however. Palestinian society has become increasingly radicalized, not just by Hamas propaganda, but also because of the handiwork of Mr. Abbas’ supposedly moderate Fatah. Mr. Obama would be well-advised to comb through the Web site of the invaluable Palestinian Media Watch, which has documented hundreds of examples of violent Islamic indoctrination from both Hamas and Fatah.

Simply put, ordinary Palestinians are not ready to accept peaceful coexistence with a Jewish state of Israel. Various polls over the years have shown clear majority support for rocket attacks and suicide bombings, and those who disagree publicly do so on strategic - not moral - grounds.

Is a society where no one speaks out against the depravity of brainwashing its children to become mass murderers ready to embrace peace?

Joel Mowbray is an investigative journalist living in New York City.

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