If This Is Friendship to Israel, I’d Hate to See What Contempt Looks Like
Bill Kristol speaks to American Jewry:
As we recited this on Saturday, I couldn’t help but reflect that a distressingly small number of my fellow Jews seem to have given much thought at all to the fact that President Bush is one of the greatest friends the state of Israel — and, yes, the Jewish people — have had in quite a while.
I truly hope no one in the Kristol family suffers from an addiction, because Bill Kristol does not know the difference between being a friend and being an enabler.
A friend tells you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. An enabler goes along with what you want to do at any given time and reinforces your more self-destructive or shortsighted impulses. “For too long our culture has said, ‘If it feels good, do it,’” George W. Bush frequently hectored the American people, imploring them to turn away from that easy and emotive answer. Certainly, when it came to Israel/Palestine, he never followed his own advice.
Eight years ago, the outlines of a sustainable Israeli-Palestinian peace — two states, an end to occupation, compromises on refugees and Jerusalem and borders — came into undeniable relief under a problematic but secular Palestinian leadership. Today, as every diplomat in the region and beyond acknowledges, those outlines provide the only hopeful path to peace. Only now we’re two Israeli-Palestinian wars later; one Israeli-Hezbollah-Lebanon war later; an increased amount of Iranian regional influence later; a new era of Hamas control over half of Palestine later; and a diminished amount of American regional influence later. It’s not the case that every malady suffered in the region is the fault of the United States, or of George W. Bush. But no one can honestly say, without retreating into some fallacious and meaningless counterfactual conditional, that the Bush administration has been a net benefit to either Israelis or Palestinians. We can’t know what the alternatives would have yielded, but we know that there’s no future along this path but endless catastrophe, and so it’s time to explore the road not taken.