Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Lost with a Map

By Michelle Nevada

Sometimes I wish I were a cartoonist. The thoughts I have after listening to Bush’s speech about Annapolis are more suited to the clear and graphic three-dimensional nature of cartooning than to the more subtle art of wordsmithing, but I can’t draw. So, here’s a description of the cartoon in my head:

It is a large black-and-white single panel. On the lower right-hand corner of the mostly dark panel would be a too-small sedan crammed full of the Quartet representatives, Rice and Olmert prominent in the front seat. The sedan is stopped on the side of the road with the Quartet members hunched over a dog-eared “Road Map of the Middle East” squinting to read it with a small pen-light. Meanwhile, in a sports-car heading down the same road at a high rate of speed are two terrorists, bomb-belts strapped to their bodies, with a well-lit GPS navigator on the dash instructing them to, “Proceed directly to Jerusalem.”

Under the panel would be the words, “Olmert and the Quartet stick to the Roadmap.”

I don’t own a map. Like most people in the world today, I rely on a constantly updated and extremely reliable Global Positioning System (GPS) in my car. There is a reason I don’t use maps any more. Maps are costly, maps are hard to read, maps are difficult to update, and maps do not contain information about traffic patterns, road blocks, and construction headaches. In a word, maps are obsolete. So, why did Olmert agree to commit Israel to following an outdated “Road Map to Peace”?

The “Road Map” was first outlined by U.S. President Bush in a speech on June 24, 2002, in which he called for an independent Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in peace. The agreement to make a “Road Map for Peace” overseen by the “Quartet” was signed at the Red Sea Summit in Aqaba, Jordan, June 4, 2003.

At that time:

* Sharon was the PM of Israel,

* Yasir Arafat was the head of the P.A.,

* Bush was finishing up his first term in office and set to face Al Gore in the upcoming presidential election,

* Gaza was full of prosperous Jewish citizens,

* Olmert had just left his job as Mayor of Jerusalem for his first cabinet position as Deputy Prime Minister (Likud),

* there was no such thing as “Kadima,”

* U.S. gas prices had surged to $1.81 a gallon,

* Gilad Shalit, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser were still home with their families,

* the Second Lebanon War hadn’t happened, and

* Hamas was a terrorist group, not the democratically elected leader of the Palestinian Authority.

It was a long time ago. At the time that the Road Map was implemented, there were Israelis who thought that giving up Gush Katif would lead to peace. They thought that there could be a way out of the Intifada by making concessions to the arabs. But it didn’t work.

Every attempt made by the Israeli government to follow the roadmap for peace was matched by a greater and more determined attempt at war by the PA. Talk of “peace” brought war. Land concessions brought violence. What some had thought of as a road to peace became a highway to hell. But that didn’t change the map.

So, here we are in 2007, committed to that outdated “Roadmap for Peace” by a washed-up, indicted, and profoundly unpopular PM leading the weak made-up party of “Kadima” whose existence is owed to the Gaza pullout, and whose platform and is still based upon the failed idea of land-for-peace concessions. He is supposed to negotiate peace with an ineffective Palestinian PM who is at war with his own democratically elected Hamas leadership in Gaza and has absolutely no power to influence the terrorists targeting Israel. These “leaders” have been urged into this politically expedient “peace process” as a last-ditch effort by a less-than-popular lame-duck US president who has nothing to gain but a nice framed portrait of himself making “peace” for his presidential library.

Meanwhile, Sderot is under constant rocket fire; Gaza is a nest of terrorism waiting to attack; Abbas is claiming Hevron, Judea, Sumaria, Jerusalem and the Temple Mount as his own; Gilad Shalit, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser are still missing; Iran is going nuclear; and Israel’s military has been so embarrassed by the Second Lebanon War that they have lost much hope of averting an attack from the arab nations surrounding us.

Sadly, politicians feel they can ignore the new realities that exist in Middle East by pulling off onto a shoulder in the road and claiming they have only become disoriented and simply need to find their location on an outdated map in order to proceed. But this is not the case.

Olmert must deal with facts on the ground, not the green lines on an obsolete map. Since the Road Map was written, popular routes have become dead ends, and roads that were thought to lead somewhere have become mired. There is no peace at the end of the Road Map he holds, and unless our leaders are willing to understand new realities, and know there is a new global positioning in the world, they may have made Israel entirely lost.

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