by Jeff Jacoby
"Whom the gods would destroy," the late Irving Kristol once observed, "they first tempt to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict." Maybe "destroy" was putting it a bit strongly, but there is no denying that American presidents seem irresistibly drawn to the belief that they can succeed where others have failed and conjure a lasting peace between
In his memoirs, former President Bill Clinton describes Yasser Arafat's refusal to accept the extraordinarily generous terms for a permanent settlement offered by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak at
Of course, if
In his first nine months as president, Barack Obama has shown every sign of succumbing to the same temptation. Two days after moving in to the White House, he named George Mitchell, the former Senate majority leader, his special envoy to the region. He pressured Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into endorsing a "two-state solution." He declared that "the moment is now for us to act" to achieve peace in the
Unlike his recent predecessors, Obama has gone out of his way to signal a distinct coolness toward
In fact, there had often been "daylight" between
Still: Obama was right when he said there had been no progress toward Arab-Israeli peace under Bush. Nor had there been any under
Why? Because the "peace process" to which all of them, their sharp differences notwithstanding, have been so committed is not a formula for ending the decades-long war in the
In an important article in the current Middle East Quarterly, Daniel Pipes reviews the terrible failure of the 1993
"Wars end not through goodwill but through victory," Pipes writes, defining victory as one side compelling the other to give up its war goals. Since 1948, the Arabs' goal has been the elimination of
Diplomacy cannot settle the Arab-Israeli conflict until the Palestinians abandon their anti-Israel rejectionism.
So long as American and Israeli leaders remain committed to a fruitless Arab-Israeli "peace process," Arab-Israeli peace will remain unachievable. Let the newest Nobel peace laureate grasp and act upon that insight, and he may do more to genuinely hasten the conflict's end than any of his well-meaning predecessors.
Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist.
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.