Tuesday, June 24, 2003


We've got to get out while we're young. Thus, I'm off for a few days to Northern Italy to eat pasta, gelato and have a private and personal meeting with the Boss at San Siro Stadium on Saturday night. It is the last show of Springsteen's European tour and an offer for a ticket from young JP from Edgemont could not be passed up. I already discussed potential set lists for a Springsteen concert in Israel -- of course he would open with "The Promised Land". As for Italy, I would expect that Little Steven (who has the two coolest jobs in the world, playing Silvio on the Soprano's and guitarist in the E Street Band) will offer some sort of Italian touch. I'd like to hear Racing in the Streets and the Detroit Medley. Promise to give a detailed report next week.

Thus, for the next few days, the peacemakers and warmongers should and will somehow get along without my musings. Those of you who want or need to reach me can always use email. They have it there. In the meantime, your homework assignment for the rest of the week is 500 words on how YOU can help Abu Maazen take on his road map responsibilities. If you are a European leader, here is a potential hint.

Monday, June 23, 2003


What is in all of this for the Bush administration? Akiva Eldar's column in today's Haaretz whet my appitite on the subject. For the first two years of the term, they made every possible attempt to distance themselves from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the believe that the sides were not ready to find a way out of the circle of violence and that wanting a solution more then the sides was not a recipe for success. They had watched a hands-on President Clinton invest the full authority of the presidency in Camp David and a last minute Clinton Plan that went nowhere and was thought by some to make the situation worse.

That was then. Since the decision to invade Iraq, it has become clear that they could not only deal with Iraq without addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While it is clearly not appropriate to link the two there is still a strong connection for building credibility both in the Arab world and in Europe (especially with the British) in putting every effort forward to acting here. Thus, GWB agreed to put the White House behind the somewhat problematic Road Map and the meetings in Sharm and Aqaba two weeks ago.

This is now. They are invested. The Road Map and its steps have become "American". Condy Rice is on the way to the region later this week as Powell finishes up his current trip. The responsibility of getting the sides to act and fulfill its mandates is seen by many to be George's. Is it fair? Of course not. Are the UN and EU doing their part to help? Probably not. That doesn't matter now. Hamas and Arafat have every interest in the world to make it fail. Israel's settlers and their supoprters believe that the road map is a disaster for their interests. It seems to me that almost every scenerio is a loser for the President. For example, if it all fails and Israel feels a need to act strongly in the West Bank and Gaza, what does the US do? How can it condemn Israel for fighting Hamas, who both the President and Powell have correctly called "the enemy of peace"? If it all works and Israel starts to close more outposts and even settlements, many in the American Jewish community (and Christians on the far right) who support the settlers will be vocal and critical. And if it is somewhere in the middle, who do you pressure as you continue to get further sunk into the quicksand of Middle East politics...

And the elections of November '04 get closer. They are less then 18 months away. The American economy is still not great, despite the NASDAQ movement over the past few weeks. The questions regarding Iraq regarding unfound WMD, questionable documents and the growing risks to US forces during occupation of Iraq will only get larger. Iraq is only starting to get hard and will get harder... for a long time. Look at the Jerusalem Post editorial attempt to put a smiley face on the situation. The domestic issues, the ones that most Americans really care about, will be brought into focus if only the Democrats can get their act together and find a somewhat worthwhile candidate. And what if, God forbid, there is another terrorist attack in the US?

In many ways, its too late to run. Bush has sold himself internationally as the guy who stays the course. He is the cowboy (in a positive sense) who doesn't back down from a challenge and fights for what (he believes) is right. But what if the sides don't want a solution. This writer does but sometimes watching the players here it seems that many don't. Yesterday, PM Sharon told the cabinet that settlers can keep building as long as they do it quietly. As I discussed yesterday, I am doubtful whether Abu Maazen can or will do what needs to be done.

On another matter, check out Martin Peretz op-ed in today's LA Times criticizing western supporters of the Palestinian "cause". Smart stuff.

Sunday, June 22, 2003


Looks like our team and the Bushies are back on the same page regarding what needs to be done next regarding both the PA and Hamas. On the one hand there seems to be a clear understanding of who the real bad guys are and that Israel can't sit and wait for Abu Maazen to get around to fighting Hamas. This morning's killing of an apparently senior Hamas baddie in Hebron may serve to be a case in point. When it is clear that the person is a terrorist and taking him out is done in a reasonable way. Israel claims that we tried to arrest him first - although the story was certainly not like of the NY police killing of Amadou Diallo (memorialized in the wonderful Springsteen protest song "American Skin (41 Shots)", hear song), although I'm not convinced how hard we tried to arrest him. The real point is that Israel has to carefully choose its time and place to get the bad guys.

The more serious issue is if, how and when the PA will be willing to take on the Hamas. It is so obvious that this is what must come next that even left leaning Haaretz's editors call strongly on the Palestinians to act. Here. I have been dubious about the ability of Abu Maazen to successfully achieve something that Israel couldn't do. Danny Rubinstein argues further (here) that it just won't happen. No matter how "easy" some Israelis (General Amos Gilad said so much on TV the other night) claim it would be, Abu Maazen likely won't be willing to start what could be a civil war in the Palestinian community. This may doom him to failure, in a relatively short time. At the same time, not acting virtually guarantees Israeli actions that will be deemed necessary. Dooming him to failure.

So what to do? Abu Maazen can't (and neednt) do everything right away. He does need to take Israel's offer for resposibility in a limited area (northern Gaza, Bethlehem) and do what needs to be done to bring quiet. Even if it is "only" a ceasefire there the Americans will support him given the demand for ACTION. But he's afraid. I can understand the fear but a leader, a true leader, can't be scared and has to take risks that will serve his people.

Is he that sort of leader? I fear not but hope to be proven wrong.