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A new report by Washington pundit Steve Clemons tells us that a "non-partisan" initiative by the Iraq Study Group Report "realists" and their friends is underway. In a letter to President Bush, the group calls for "engaging" Syria and the Hamas. If the advice is taken, it would have the effect of betraying the peace process, the moderate Palestinians and possibly Israel.

The report states:

In the letter to Bush, beyond calling on the US and the parties to focus on the outlines of a final status settlement, the co-signatories defy the administration's views by calling for an end to the policy of isolating Hamas and for a shift in policy toward Syria -- including both US/Syria engagement and renewal of Syrian/Israeli negotiations.

Colin Powell -- who is not (yet) a signatory -- has also called for communication with Hamas, and the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group called for engaging Syria. This letter makes the point even more strongly.

If the report is accurate, it is a very, very ominous portent. We will know in a few hours, when the letter is due to be released.

No doubt, many of the signatories are among those who fume at the "Israel Lobby." What can be the results of this hare-brained idea? Assuming it is ignored, the letter will just undermine and discourage supporters of the moderate government of Mahmoud Abbas, as well as the Lebanese and Israelis, not to mention moderate Arab states. Many of the signatories are responsible for some of the biggest disasters in US policy in the Middle East. A good cold warrior who is out of his depth elsewhere, Zbigniew Brzezinski will be remembered as the man who lost Iran to the Khomeini revolution. He had no clue that it was coming, didn't understand the implications, did nothing to stop it, and to this day he remains utterly clueless about the Middle East.

We must also recognize that this policy may be implemented - if not by this administration, than by the next one. The "realists" of the "anti-Israel Lobby Lobby" are gaining strength and boldness. Engaging Syria is not bad for Israel necessarily. Bashar Assad doesn't really want a peace deal with Israel., which would get him in trouble with extremists in Syria and remove the excuse for his police state repression. He could probably be cajoled into forgetting about the Golan heights for a while, in return for immunity for prosecution for the murder of Rafiq Hariri and election of a pro-Syrian president in Lebanon. He might even consent to control the Hezbollah and disarm them, as they would become the Lebanese army and would have no need of separate arms supplies. A good deal for Israel, though not so good for Lebanese perhaps. In the world of "realistic" politics, each country must look out for its own interests.

Talking to Hamas, even if nothing comes of it, would cut the ground out from under Mahmoud Abbas and the moderate Palestinians. In the best case, the US would say "Recognize Israel," and the Hamas would say "No way." Hamas will have gained the legitimacy of being a "negotiating partner" and would use it for all it is worth. If the US talks to Hamas, one could hardly blame Russia, France, Britain and others from following suit, and one could hardly blame Gulf countries for backing Hamas over Fatah, since "engagement" would signal that the U.S. has given up on Palestinian moderates.

But what if the Hamas says, "We recognize the right of Israel to exist."? Of course, they would immediately qualify that by saying that they would only make peace with Israel if Israel allowed in several million Palestinian Arab "refugees." In other words, they would recognize an Arab state of Israel. Nonetheless, the way would be open for a deal that would legitimize the Hamas and probably put all Palestinians under the sort of reactionary and repressive regime that exists in Gaza today. It would also open the borders of the Palestinian areas to new and better varieties of missiles. It would mean that Hamas is here to stay, and probably Israel is not.

The people who participated in this letter are either fools or knaves. A few may be so clueless that they don't really understand what Hamas is all about, and think that Hamas can be "converted" into a peaceful movement. Likewise, they believe Bashar Assad is just another politician taking care of business. The rest are "realists" who would have no compunction about assisting in the elimination of Israel, which they believe is an "unviable client state" and a foreign policy liability. In Machiavellian calculations of realpolitik, considerations of morality and sentiment are irrelevant. As The Godfather noted, "business is business."

Israeli policy makers who continue to count on US support and US military assistance and cooperation, urgently need to reassess this policy before it is too late. Israel has built its military, as well as its foreign policy on the U.S.-Israel relationship, but fresh winds are blowing in Washington. Israel has virtually scuttled its own defense industry in favor of acquiring U.S. made weapons for free. This puts Israel in a position where we have no choice but to follow U.S. policy diktats.

Ami Isseroff

Original content is Copyright by the author 2007. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000431.html where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to ZNN-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.

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Replies: 2 Comments

It's all a game. Palestinian Sympathy Fatigue is rampant in America - no one cares if those poor, self created misery lovers EVER have a state.

courtneyme109, Wednesday, October 10th

Will Bin Laden and Nasrallah be attending too?

iIamJoseph, Wednesday, October 10th

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