By Jonathan Greenberg, Originally published in the New York Observer
Last week, Israelis commemorated the 20th anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. To most Westerners, the prevailing wisdom is that Mr. Rabin’s murder by a Jewish extremist ruined the prospects for the Oslo Accords to work. This belief is widely held regardless of how many Israelis and others in a position to know better shovel dirt on the theory.
Despite all the evidence that Oslo has been a total failure and, for Israel, a strategic disaster of the first order, there was Bill Clinton at a rally in Tel Aviv last week (the accompanying rally in Ramallah must have been cancelled?) urging Israelis to pretend that the last 20 years of terror and intransigence hadn’t happened. “The next step will be determined by whether you decide that Rabin was right, that you have to share your future with your neighbors; that you have to stand for peace, that the risk for peace isn’t as severe as the risk of walking away from it. We are praying that you will make the right decision.”
Not to be outdone, President Obama appeared at the rally by video. The attendees at the rally likely included all seven residents of the Middle East who still take anything he says seriously. “Peace,” the president said, “is necessary if both sides are willing to make compromises and take risks for the only real solution—two states for two peoples.”
And, in a statement marking the day, Secretary of State John Kerry—who has been on a roll of terrible Middle East decisions of late—said, “Recent events and violence in the region underscore the urgency of advancing Rabin’s vision: a two-state solution that provides the security for Israelis and Palestinians to live their lives in peace, dignity and prosperity. Today, with the viability of that vision increasingly at risk, it is more important than ever that we remember his legacy. It compels us to keep trying.”
These are, in some sense, all noble sentiments. And in the world these people occupy—a world in which Palestinians are non-actors in their own lives—nobody listens to or cares much about what they say, and everyone keeps doing the same thing they’ve been doing for decades regardless of how dreadful the outcomes have been. Nobility and sentimentality replace eyesight and its rational application.