CAN A pantheress turn into a pussycat? Impossible, a zoologist would say. But last week, we saw it happen with our own eyes.
came here to teach Ehud Olmert, once and for all, who
is boss. The President of the
Two days later, nothing of the threat remained. Olmert refused again. And what happened? Nothing happened. The fearful pantheress slunk home, her tail between her legs.
a unique combination of dictator and comedian, complimented the
"dark-skinned African woman", and disclosed that he likes her. She has
but to raise her little finger, he said, and all the security chiefs in the
Arab world, who are the real rulers of their countries, come running. But even Gaddafi
did not argue that she had
JULIUS CAESAR, as is well known, reported to the Roman Senate "I came. I saw. I conquered." Condoleezza could report to the US Senate: "I came. I saw. I capitulated." Who to? To a failing Israeli prime minister, whose popularity rating is approaching zero and who practically nobody expects to survive to the end of the year.
In the ongoing
debate about which is wagging which - the dog its tail or the tail its dog -
the proponents of the tail have won the day. In the round just finished,
started with President Bush deciding, it seems, to clear the decks for action. The
beginning, everything worked just fine. All the leaders of the Arab countries
(except Gaddafi, the inevitable absentee) gathered for a summit meeting in
The united Arab
world breathed new life into King Abdullah's peace plan, which offers
If the Arab world had made us this offer on June 4, 1967, we would have raised our eyes to heaven, lit candles and uttered the old Jewish blessing: "Blessed are you, Lord, our God, king of the world, who has kept us alive, sustained us and enabled us to reach this day."
But this week
nobody lighted candles and blessed the "sovereign of the worlds" for
the Arab peace offer. On the contrary, Olmert &
In short, Nyet!
THAT WAS the moment for the huge American steamroller to get going. After all, vital American interests are at stake.
All the Arab
rulers who depend on the
Condoleezza arranged a showdown with Olmert and was ready to submit an ultimatum. But it seems that at the last moment new instructions came from the White House: Let go and come home.
It appears that
President Bush is even weaker than Olmert. In the two
houses of Congress he has suffered a stinging defeat on
professors, Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, won
this round. In this clash between the national interests of the
The steamroller did not roll. Condoleezza went to Olmert and sat with him for three hours. Her final statement sounds more like the purring of a domestic cat than the snarling of a predator.
AND THE Israeli public? The public that saw another historic opportunity going past and being ignored?
No doubt, the huge majority would have supported Olmert, if he had announced his acceptance of the Arab offer. But only a small minority is ready to rebel against Olmert when he does the opposite.
The silent majority includes the victims of the next wars, their parents and children. Could it be that they don't care? That it does not concern them?
The public does not get excited. Does not complain. Does not raise its voice. Does not demonstrate.
This week, the
Peace Now movement called for a demonstration, to demand that Olmert respond positively to the Arab summit initiative. The
event took place near the residence of the Prime Minister in
How many came? A movement that once called out 400 thousand demonstrators after the Sabra and Shatila massacre, attracted this time (true, on a work day) 250 people. Neither Haaretz nor any other newspaper mentioned the colorful demonstration with one word, no TV channel showed a single picture. Except for Aljazeera.
What is the reason for this indifference? Fatalism? Fatigue? Past disappointments? Distrust of the government and/or the Arabs?
something dramatic is needed to shock this public into action. One commentator
suggested that the Saudi King follow the example of Anwar
Sadat and come to
DID OLMERT respond? You bet. After all, it was impossible to ignore it altogether.
He declared that he was ready to meet with the Saudi king. Naïve people could be favorably impressed. The Prime Minister of Israel was ready to meet with leaders of the Arab states. Nice. Very nice, indeed.
is an old gimmick of Israeli governments, from the days of David Ben-Gurion on.
A meeting with the head of one of the most important Arab states could be
interpreted as normalization, and normalization is the main Israeli demand.
Immediately afterwards, Olmert declared that not a single settlement outpost would be dismantled until the Palestinians "fight terrorism". This also has an historical background: when President Bush agreed to recognize Israeli "population centers" - the large settlements set up beyond the Green Line in total violation of international law and previous American demands - Ariel Sharon undertook to dismantle all the settlements established after his taking office in early 2001. Even under Israeli law, these settlements ("outposts") are illegal.
is also included in the poor old Road Map. According to it,
Amir Peretz, who as Minister of Defense is responsible for this sector, declared again and again that - any minute now - he was going to dismantle the outposts. In practice, not a single one was dismantled. Now Olmert declares that first of all the Palestinians must "fight terrorism", and only then will the government decide what to do about the settlements.
In other words: no outpost will be dismantled.
In such a way, the "window of opportunity" is closing. (To use a rather stupid American expression. After all, a window is an opening through which one views what's happening outside, not one to pass in order to do something. For that there are doors.)
ON THE eve of Passover, Olmert has poured out his thoughts, such as they are, in all the media.
years? In 1993 we signed the
It seems that the "five years" belong to the same world of illusions as Condoleezza's "political horizon": as you go forward, it recedes.