special thanks to my daughter Michal, a salon.com senior editor, for
helping me circulate these letters.
Robert V. Keeley
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Michal Keeley
To: Bob Keeley
Date: Sun, 26 Feb 2006 18:04:34 -0500
Please stay Retired, Mr Keeley!
I could summarize this article as "if those damn Jews would just move
back to the 1967 borders, then we might have peace", but that would
not really do justice to the naivety shown in this article. What a
wonderful group of people to have met too on your trip - Assad,
Assad's Lebanese puppet and Hamas - up for the higher bidder now -
hear that Syria and Iran? Such a jolly group of imminently reasonable
people to sit down and chew the fat over a warm cup of coffee!
Seriously, diplomacy is always useful to keep contact with folks like
these, but one would be a fool not to insure that it is at the end of
a 10 foot pole. I am certain that individuals like Mr. Keeley feel
that if we just keep taking (like we have for 50 years now) that
something would be accomplished. But in the Middle East, as happens
in the rest of the world, actions tend to speak louder than words and
trust is a commodity that is in precious short supply. Smoke and
mirrors pronouncements such as “They don't recognize Israel as it
exists” just show the level of denial of some people are willing to
go to avoid the nasty fact that none of the groups named in the
article even think Israel should exist – and that includes the Jewish
side of the population in particular.
So, go to an international conference, say all the right words, sell
more snake oil and please stay away from the real area where
decisions are made. Solutions like this are the reason this problem
will never get solved, because they do not recognize the motivations
and goals of the participants. Because frankly, they are nasty,
brutish and up to now (thank goodness) not short.
Of course we need to talk!
I found Kathleen Haley's article basic diplomacy 101. I don't claim
to know much about the entire Arab world but I do know first hand
about the Palestinians and the Israelis. That we even have to talk
about talking to whomsoever the Palestinians elected shows just how
afraid or one could say unimaginative are the Israeli leaders.
You meet the 'enemy' and in that gesture the enemy seems so different
than imagined. If Hamas was elected and if they were "eager to meet
Americans" I surmise that unless they are humiliated, with this new
power will come new relations to Israel, if Israel only allows it.
I remember when it was against Israeli law to talk to the PLO. Then
how Yasser Arafat, a man who was a poor leader, was demonized by
Sharon as if Arafat were a Nazi (as was said) and not just a very odd
guy. Now the Hamas has won this election because they are seen as
less corrupt and more caring about their own people. How do we NOT
respect that as a starting point for talks.
The one thing we now all should know is that the politics of
humiliation must be replaced by the politics of diplomacy. Israeli
lovers will instantly balk at this. But are we really willing,
because of prejudice and cries of terrorists, going to miss the next
decade. As a wise man said: 'What Israel thinks is in her best
interests often is not.' I love Israel maybe more than most here at
Salon. But I also know that enlightened self-interest should dictate
a rapprochement with any Palestinian leaders.
Under our occupation, few Israelis meet Palestinians and vice versa.
Under occupation, both sides were terrorizing the other. Under
Sharon, traveling to the West Bank or Gaza was outlawed. The image of
Hamas and the reality are not written in the past tense but need a
future tense. How to achieve that without talking to each other?
Yes, Hamas was full of terrorist actions, but may I say without being
branded, that Israel did her fair share of stalling and violence
against the Palestinians as well. This pro-Israel stance does no
favors to the many Israelis who lose their kids, their husbands. That
such a tiny area has been the focus of so many great minds and has
not improved is a sign that we have never stepped up and talked
openly and tried to trust, which goes both ways. You call Hamas the
terrorists, the Palestinians call Israel the terrorist state, this is
a sane way to begin dialogue? The only way to peace, and surely it
should be achievable, since Israel/Palestine is NOT Iraq, but is full
of many who once they have power really want a peace accord. Israel
is the bully more often than not. "We have no parters for peace" is a
common refrain, and shows the lack of wilingness to get this
nightmare over with. If ever the Israeli leaders can drop the
rhetoric and brave dialogue, there would be hope. Hamas is less the
issue than Israeli stonewalling. But who is listening. Raving
chauvanists are the problem and not only on Palestinian side.
If I had big money I would bet that if Israel talks to the Hamas the
Hamas will transform. It's elementary; it's politically obvious; it's
Israel course 101.
It's tragic how the most sensible of positions - and, I dare say,
even the truth - can sound almost banal after decades of endless
obfuscation and intractable conflict.
I remember the Saudi proposal and I never quite understood why the
Israelis and Americans were so quick to dismiss it. It would seem at
first glance that such a proposal would be a gift to the peace-loving
Israeli government (as often depicted), but then they are usually
deathly afraid of any sort of just deal other than one on their own
I think Hamas was the government Likud wanted, as unilateralism is
best justified by declaring the other side a terrorist and therefore
unnegotiable with. When Arafat was alive, they did all they could to
marginalize the PA. I especially remember the targeting and
destruction of PA security forces for every attack, regardless of
perpetrator, until there was hardly any security force left.
All this doesn't mean that Israeli government will never talk to
Hamas, and I think it all boils down to Iraq and Iran. If
circumstances in Iraq stabilizes in favor of Iran (unlikely as it
will probably be followed by an all-out civil war and a secession of
Kurdistan), or if the Iranian nuke becomes inevitable, you will
probably see Israel at the negotiating table, and propitiously just
before the occurence of the conditions.
Though in the short term, they are most likely to continue their
security sweeps, withering away Hamas's hold to the truce, accredit
all reprisals to Hamas and then decimate them a la Palestinian
Hamas's charter still calls for wiping out Israel and expelling are
killing all the Jews.
I guess in a sane world Israel would insist they change that before
talking to them.
But now we reasonably know Israel should just... you know... try
giving them what they want first, 'cause then Hamas and the
Palestinians will magically be transformed into Jew-loving good
Just like Hitler became a wonderful neighbor after Europe gave him
Czechoslovakia. So let's go, Neville Chamberlain!
Keeley is right on the money. The problem is that the Bush PNAC neo-
cons - and their Israeli counterparts - have no interest in
negotiating or in diplomacy. In their minds, diplomacy is a sign of
weakness and a mandate to compromise. These people don't know the
meaning of the word "compromise". Sadly, it seems that anytime
someone criticies Israel, they're immediately branded as being anti-
Semitic. That's so much rubbish!
Until the PNAC/neo-con crowd in the U.S. and in Israel either changes
its collective tune (unlikely) or is otherwise removed from power, no
significant diplomatic progress will be realized. I firmly believe
that the U.S. needs to be much more even-handed in helping to reach
compromise between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Unfortunately, too many elements attached to the U.S. government are
far too deep into the pockets of Israeli agents to do the right
thing. Instead, they continue to do what's politically expedient for
the Israelis. And the many unethical and illegal ties between these
U.S. government elements and organizations such as AIPAC continue to
undermine any hope for a peaceful - and equitable - resolution.
More anti-Israel blabber
At least Salon had the decency to print a disclaimer at the beginning
of this article stating that The Council for the National Interest
was "highly critical of US policy... in particular... America's
unbalanced support of Israel."
When one reads that America's support of Israel is "unbalanced" then
you need to wonder why that imbalance exists to begin with. Israel
has always been a supportive US ally in the Middle East and is the
only functioning democracy in the region. Israel is exactly the kind
of nation the US should be supporting more of, and not its enemies in
the region, like Syria or Saudi Arabia, both corrupt, hateful
dictatorships with populations that loath the United States.
Ambassador Keeley flies to the region and meets with leaders of Hamas
who are sworn to the destruction of both Israel and the United
States, with the Syrian-installed puppet president of Lebanon and the
unelected murderous dictator Bashar Al-Assad, and from this he feels
qualified to make judgements concerning he future of the Jewish state?
Ambassador Keeley feels the US should be doing more talking and less
saber-rattling, I agree to a point. However his trip was not a fact-
finding mission but instead an anti-Israel jaunt where he listened to
enemies of Israel confirm his already-formed opinions and judgements.
He may feel more "balance" is needed in US policy and that is
certainly his right. But I feel he needs more "balance" in his fact-
finding missions, and meeting with Jewish refugees expelled from Arab
nations, ordinary Israelis and elected Israeli government officials
would go a long way towards showing him the other side of the issues
he supposedly cares so much about.