Saturday, May 17, 2008


The latest dust-up in the election is our foot-in-his-mouthness's Bush recent pronouncement to the Israeli kinneset equating talks with Hamas to the political appeasement of Hitler.

[Update: when I first heard the story, it was in reference to Hamas...later, Iran...still later, "terrorists nations" like Iran and Syria. I still can't find text of the actual words of the speech and to whom Bush was specifically referring - on tonight's news, the reporter characterized the comments as "Bush comparing Obama to Hitler." It seems that in the current media environment, original meaning is no longer important - anyone can attribute anything to anybody. I've added a few lines here, but I think my sentiment remains basically unchanged.]

These are strong words, fighting words, to say the least - and certainly all the more ferocious for their being said in front of Holocaust survivors and the world's only country founded specifically as a refuge from that terrible tragidy.

Leaving Jimmy Carter's tracking towards the looney left aside for the moment, and even giving Bush (but not McCain) the benefit of the doubt that the comment may not have been a predictable swipe in the coming fall campaign, but a perhaps somewhat understandable bewilderment at the former President's middle-east-meddling shenanigans, the big question this raises is, just how helpful IS IT for an American President to say that talking to Hamas [or Syria] is the equivalent of appeasing Hitler?

Hamas is no nursery school; their charter is founded both on the premis of Israel's distruction and the credulous reading of anti-semitic texts. But Hamas is not Hezballah - a cancer that spreads no only the resentment of the displaced but also on active anti-semitic propaganda. Hamas, quite different, is a further-right-wing (in Palistinian context) nationalist movement, not only largely devoid of the Shiite zeolotry of Hezballah but actively opposed to it, engaged in a fruitless war with its own more moderate factions as well as with Israeli citizens. And Hamas, itself, has realised increasingly that the only way to govern their people is to modify its charter, implicitly recognize Israel's right to exist, and open a dialogue.

On the other side, a majority of Israelis now favor negotiating with Hamas, and in fact, the Israeli government is already talking to them. Meanwhile, the U.S. is helping to sponsor the ongoing talks between Syria and Israel. So it's odd, to say the least, the it's the American Republican party that's taking the public stand that Hamas, Syria, or whomever, must be more than ignored; it must become toxic for any kind of political discusion.

Is there any conceivalbe context in which Bush's comments about "appeasement," taken in the current Middle-East political climate, could be at all of benefit to the Israseli people? Even assuming he was referring to talking to the current nutcase in charge of Iran, no one has suggested that dialogue not be attached to conditions, that terrorists be tolerated, or that anyone should be appeased. One must conclude that had Bush been president during the past peacemaking opportunities to end the "Irish wars," bring down the Berlin wall, or stop the fighting in Bosnia, he would have found ways to torpedo those efforts as well.

We've long since given up that this President could pass Diplomacy 101; but come on: for this one, it's the Jews in America who should be steaming mad at Bush, not Obama.

No comments: