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April 15, 2004


Raymond Bridge

Sadly, there is no hope that Kerry will retrieve this disaster. Unfortunately, Kerry will play the US political card, "I think that [Bush-Sharon coup] could be a positive step. What's important obviously is the security of the state of Israel, and that's what the prime minister and the president, I think, are trying to address."

As Billmon has pointed out, the biggest danger derives from the fact that Bush's move will constrain future presidents to follow the same policies, because of American political realities.

We (and the Palestinians) will still be infinitely better off with a Kerry administration than a Bush one, but this disastrous change in U.S. policy will badly constrain U.S. policy for the foreseeable future.


It is time for the US to recognize one of the major "facts on the ground": we cannot moderate or affect significantly Israeli's policy with respect to the West Bank or the Palestinian people. Bush's rolling over is simply part of the end game that facts on the ground have been orchestrating for some time.

To continue to pretend that we have some role to play as an honest broker only poisons our relationbship with the Arab world, a world of well over a hundred million people and with interests that are important to us. We have subordinated this policy to our Israeli policy for too long and ,unnecesarily, given our desire for the health and survival of Israel.

It is time to step back from Israel and to make clear to the Arab world that we are not responsible for Israeli policy and have little or no control over it. This is not to abandon Israel but to recognize it as a mature state and one that can take care of its own interests which it has amply been doing from its inception. The IDF is one of the more sophisticated militaries of the world and certainly the most sophisticated in that part of the world.

The sincereity of this claim would be manifest by our cutting most or all of the foreign aid to Israel which gets the biggest share of our foreign aid program at present, a manifest irony given the level of development in Israel. Such large blocks of aid have done more to foster the colonialization of the West Bank than our avowals to the contrary have been able to slow it. Money is fungibile.

This disengagement would prove healthy to both us and Israel. The morality of current and future Israeli policy would sit squarely where it belongs, on the state of Israel without the implications that it is US policy because of a "special relationship".

This is simply a formalization of the facts on the gound.

This disengagement will prove healthy all around.

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