And News From the Road
Greetings from New York. I’ll be speaking tonight at Mechon Hadar on the Upper West Side and on Saturday night at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale. If you’re in the neighborhood, or who have friends who are, I’d love to see you and them. My new book, The Unmaking of Israel, will be in bookstores next Tuesday, but if you come tonight, you can get an early copy.
And in the meantime, my new column is up at The American Prospect:
She killed the lie, I thought, as I read Condoleezza Rice’s semi-revelations about the Israeli-Palestinian peace deal that was really almost nearly reached three years ago.
The lie says that Israel’s then-prime minister, Ehud Olmert, offered everything the Palestinians could possibly expect, and Palestinian Mahmud Abbas said no because he isn’t interested in peace. Rice was secretary of state at the time and seems to have believed in peacemaking, despite serving under George W. Bush. In her new memoir, she confirms an account of why peace slipped away that fits evidence and logic much better than the lie does.
Then I thought again: The lie won’t go away. It provides current prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu with his domestic legitimacy and his overseas defense of his policies—a defense that works poorly outside of the United States, but working there is enough to protect him from any sudden impulse by Barack Obama to renew the peace process. The lie is presented softly by Netanyahu’s good-cop moderate spokesman and his bad-cop hard-line spokesman. Condi can kill the lie, but it will climb right back out of the grave. It’s too useful to stay dead.
As Rice recounts, Olmert deeply wanted to reach a deal. This was a truly awe-inspiring surprise of Israeli history. Olmert, scion of a far-right political family, had spent a lifetime in politics advocating Israeli rule over the Whole Land of Israel. In 2003 he had his first Ehud-on-the-road-to-Ramallah moment: He recognized that Israel could not survive as a Jewish state unless it gave up most of the West Bank. At first he favored a unilateral pullback so Israel could keep whichever settlements it wanted. After the disastrous Lebanon War of 2006, he had a second revelation: Military power couldn’t keep Israel safe if hostile forces controlled territory it gave up. It needed a peace agreement with the Palestinians. …
Read the rest here.