David Brooks has a glib op-ed today in the New York Times in which he celebrates a moment of hope in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. He suggests that all the factors analysts have been complaining about– the hegemony of the Likud in Israel, Ariel Sharon as PM, the re-election of George W. Bush, and the Iraq war, have ironically enough contributed to what he claims is an opening in the process. He gets a dig in at me, characterizing me as having said that the Iraq campaign was an elective war on behalf of Tel Aviv. Brooks’s column makes no sense to me.
It was a series of unfortunate events. It was unfortunate that Ariel Sharon, whom tout le monde demonized as a warmonger, was elected prime minister of Israel…It was unfortunate that George W. Bush was elected and then re-elected as president of the United States. After all, here is a man who staffed his administration with what Juan Cole of the University of Michigan called “pro-Likud intellectuals” who went off “fighting elective wars on behalf of Tel Aviv.” Under Bush, the diplomats agreed, the U.S. had inflamed the Arab world and had forfeited its role as an honest broker. It was unfortunate that Bush gave that speech on June 24, 2002, dismissing Yasir Arafat as a man who would never make peace. After all, the Europeans protested, while Arafat might be flawed, he was the embodiment of the Palestinian cause. It was a mistake to build the security fence, which the International Court of Justice called a violation of international law…It was a mistake to assassinate the leaders of Hamas, which took credit for the murders of hundreds of Israelis. France, among many other nations, condemned these attacks and foretold catastrophic consequences. It was unfortunate that President Bush never sent a special envoy to open talks, discuss modalities and fine-tune the road map…It was unfortunate that Bush sided openly with Sharon during their April meetings in Washington, causing the European Union to condemn U.S. policy.
Of course, Brooks sets up these arguments to shoot them down. But in many ways, Brooks has mischaracterized what the critics of Sharon and Bush have said. And if Brooks believes that the tactics of Ariel Sharon has made a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestine issues feasible, I might suggest he fly from the safety of his NYC office and spend some time in Gaza. Of course, Juan Cole refutes Mr. Brooks so much more clearly than I ever could.