I don’t know Gideon Levy, but his piece today in Haaretz reads like highly effective paint remover, sheering the shabby veneer of the Bush administration’s absence of strategy in the Middle East. It is one of the most sensible takes on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s trip that I have read — and this ran in Tel Aviv.
While Levy is considered by some to be too close to Palestinian players, it does impress me that his views are being aired in a robust public debate inside Israel.
One wonders if such an article about the state of the Israel-Palestine ulcer could run in Washington. Perhaps soon, but until then — read Gideon Levy’s entire essay.
Here is a teaser:
It happens once every few months. Like a periodic visit by an especially annoying relative from overseas, Condoleezza Rice was here again. The same declarations, the same texts devoid of content, the same sycophancy, the same official aircraft heading back to where it came from. The results were also the same: Israel promised in December, after a stormy night of discussions, to open the “safe passage” between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. This time, in what was considered the “achievement” of the current visit, Israel also promised to open the Karni crossing. Karni will be open, one can assume, only slightly more than the “safe passage,” which never opened following the previous futile visit.
Rice has been here six times in the course of a year and a half, and what has come of it? Has anyone asked her about this? Does she ask herself?
It is hard to understand how the secretary of state allows herself to be so humiliated. It is even harder to understand how the superpower she represents allows itself to act in such a hollow and useless way. The mystery of America remains unsolved: How is it that the United States is doing nothing to advance a solution to the most dangerous and lengthiest conflict in our world? How is it that the world’s only superpower, which has the power to quickly facilitate a solution, does not lift a finger to promote it?
For the record, I’m less critical of Rice’s efforts. I think she knows, to some degree, what needs to be done in the Middle East and does not have the leverage at 1600 Pennsylvania to pull off her own road map.
I think that her trip to the Middle East may have been as much about getting outside petitions for action as anything else — and she may be using these petitions of America-friendly Arab states to try and balance Cheney’s and Elliott Abrams’ reluctance to move forward on any plan.
— Steve Clemons