Courtesy NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman:
The Bush team destroyed the Iraqi regime in three weeks and has not persuaded Israel to give up one settlement in three years.
This is Part 4 of Friedman’s five-part series on the “War of Ideas” in the Arab world. In short, Friedman believes the US should “partner with the forces of moderation within these societies to help them fight the war of ideas. Because ultimately this is a struggle within the Arab-Muslim world, and we have to help our allies there, just as we did in World Wars I and II.”
In Part 2 Friedman said the US should support moderate Islamic Turkey, and in Part 3, produce a multi-ethnic Iraqi government. Worthy goals. The dismantling of Israeli settlements is the next stage of Friedman’s plan – no, not the dismantling of Palestinian terrorism, but the removal of settlements in disputed territory. This is what Friedman calls ‘partnering with the forces of moderation’ in the Arab world.
Perhaps the most absurd aspect of Friedman’s argument is this, the ‘first reason’ Israel should evacuate the West Bank and Gaza:
First, because the Arab-Muslim world, which for so long has been on vacation from globalization, modernization and liberalization, is realizing that vacation is over. There is not enough oil wealth anymore to cushion or employ the huge population growth happening in the region. Every Arab country is going to have to make a wrenching adjustment. Israel needs to get out of the way and reduce its nodes of friction with the Muslim world as it goes through this unstable and at times humiliating catch-up.
Israel needs to ‘get out of the way’ so a beautiful transformation can take place in Arab culture…if such a transformation is indeed happening (we’d like to know where), would we have any reason to believe that Palestinians would be part of it? What indication have we ever seen that an Israeli withdrawl to the 1967 lines would engender peaceful acceptance by her Arab neighbors? That is the key question here, a risk Israel was willing to take in 1993. And we know how that turned out…