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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

How much does Condi's upbringing matter?

At FrontPage, David Samuels takes issue with an article I blogged three weeks ago in which it was argued that US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice views the 'Palestinians' as being similar to American blacks in the 1950's and 1960's, and Israel's 'security fence' as being similar to the Jim Crow south. Samuels also argues that Condi has no delusions that she is going to produce an agreement at Annapolis, and curiously seems to confirm the view that the Americans are conducting the 'process' for the sake of having a 'process' to which they can point for their Arab allies, but the Americans don't really expect anything to come of it:
Based on my own interviews with Rice, and my analysis of what she has said about the conflict over a long period of time, I have concluded that Rice is an agnostic on the subject of Israeli-Palestinian peace – but she believes very strongly that the appearance of an active effort to cut a deal is important to America’s interests in the Middle East.

The paradox of Rice’s conduct is that she is taking the role of an activist secretary of state while believing very strongly on an intellectual level that events are driven by underlying historical circumstances and currents on which our actions and desires can have only a very limited effect. She has repeatedly stated that the deal cut between East and West Germany and the Soviet Union to end the Cold War would have been impossible even a few years earlier. She told me more than once that it seemed quite possible that historical circumstances may not be ripe for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Rice clearly hopes to use whatever leverage she can get to bring the two sides closer to a deal within the parameters of the 2004 exchange of letters between Dov Weisglass and herself, which should be read very carefully for what they say and what they do not say about subjects like the future of Jerusalem and the settlements in the West Bank. In the current climate, she may well believe that a failure in which America is seen as having pressed the Israelis hard and outlined the parameters for a future deal is better than nothing. Rice’s assumptions are certainly questionable, especially in view of what happened after the Arafat/Barak negotiations fell apart in 2000.

Pressuring Israel to make concessions to active terrorists in the hopes of bringing about a future peace is not a political strategy with a long history of success. Yet it might behoove Rice’s right-wing critics in the American Jewish community to stand back from their rhetorical rocket launchers for a moment and ask themselves whether the greater existential threat to Israel’s existence comes from rag-tag Palestinian militias penned up in the West Bank and Gaza, or from a nuclear-armed Iran – a threat that Israel will most likely have to meet on its own in the same way the IAF took out Saddam’s Osirak reactor. Given the nature of the Iranian threat, Israel may have little choice but to pay whatever price the Americans ask up front – and then strike. [I disagree with this. While in the short term, there is no doubt that Iran is an existential threat and the 'Palestinians' are - at least from a military standpoint - nuisance value or less, in the long run I believe that the 'Palestinians' pose a real danger to Israel in a way that none of the Arab countries do. Terrorism kills, suicide bombers can be used for military missions as well as targeting civilians and if the most pessimistic demographic scenario were to turn out to be true - and you all know I don't believe that it is - we could be facing a choice of democracy or a Jewish state relatively soon. CiJ]

Yet there is still something disturbing about the remarks Rice is reported to have made, however direct or vague they might have been, and however tactically clever they might seem to their author. Offhand analogies between Palestinians and Southern blacks or Israelis and Southern whites make a mockery of real pain and suffering by ignoring the specificity of actual historical experience. Comparisons of Palestinian “freedom fighters” with the American civil rights movement would merely seem ridiculous (imagine the membership of Hamas and Fatah joining hands and singing “We Shall Overcome”) if they were not also part of a bullying assault on historical specificity that has come to characterize much recent political discourse in America. The determination to avoid dealing with historical reality is evident both in the angry, unreasoning assaults of the Left (9/11 was an inside job!) and the grand follies of the Right (let’s remake Iraq!).

It is ironic, or perhaps depressingly inevitable, that we are awash in this kind of 1930’s European-style gutter politics at a moment when the stakes could not be higher. Comparisons of Israelis to history’s most devilish racists and Palestinians to history’s most noble victims are hardly meant to further anyone’s understanding of a complex situation in a part of the world with no shortage of local history. Rather, the point is to shut down discussion before it begins by threatening that anyone who disagrees will be branded as a racist.

Condoleezza Rice, the political science professor and provost of Stanford University, would likely judge such bullying and divisive rhetoric harshly, as the product of a second-rate mind afraid to engage in reasoned discussion and debate. When she returns to private life, she will feel ashamed of herself.

That said, I don’t see the slightest bit of evidence that the secretary of state actually believes Mahmoud Abbas is Martin Luther King in disguise, or that she has flashbacks to her childhood in Birmingham every time she sees the Separation Fence on her way to Ramallah. But a whisper or two can’t hurt, right?
Read the whole thing.

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At 3:55 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

As a Christian very familiar with the different denominations and their respective approaches to Bible interpretation, my greatest concern about "Condi's upbringing" negatively influencing her view of Israel is with her religious background--she's not just a nominal Christian in a Christian-influenced country, but both her father and grandfather were ministers--Presbyterian ministers--Presbyterian--2 ministers--Presbyterian, Presbyterian! I cannot imagine that she was not influenced by the "Reform theology" of that denomination, which tends to lead to a negative view of the Jewish people and the nation-state of Israel. (And that Bush is Methodist and sometimes attends an Episcopalian church also does not help, both denominations that tend to agree with Presbyterians on interpretive approaches re:Israel, this isn't good.)

At 4:47 AM, Blogger Lydia McGrew said...

It doesn't seem to me to matter much if she really looks at it this way or if this is "just her rhetoric" to go over well with the Palestinians or whatever. It's stupid, moronic, hateful, dangerous rhetoric either way. It is unworthy of a Secretary of State or of any intelligent person who claims to know the facts. It is presumably the way she intends to _act_. It is the PC-speak by which she is charting her course. Whether she believes it deep in her heart or not is largely moot. The fact remains that she may well be going to try to force Israel to give away the farm, or at least offer it yet again, to murderous scumballs who want to kill every non-dhimmi Jew they can find and end the Jewish state forever. This is insanity. And it is playing political symbolism games with the lives of the people in Israel. It is disgraceful and unforgivable, and I am ashamed of my country's leaders. Again. And where are the Israeli leaders who will tell Condi to go pound sand?

At 7:01 AM, Blogger Daniel434 said...

I cannot imagine that she was not influenced by the "Reform theology" of that denomination, which tends to lead to a negative view of the Jewish people and the nation-state of Israel. (And that Bush is Methodist and sometimes attends an Episcopalian church also does not help, both denominations that tend to agree with Presbyterians on interpretive approaches re:Israel, this isn't good.)

This is true, and probably why the Church of England is very anti-semitic. The theology is usually known as "New Covenant" theology and called "Replacement Theology" by its critics like myself. This theology(New Covenant) says Israel is replaced by the Church and all the promises by G-d in the OT to Israel is no more, they have been replaced by the Church. This is the most popular theology or doctrine in todays Christian churches. Most denominations support this theology except for the Baptists, especially the Independent Baptists.

Also, I am not sure if Reform theology is the correct term because I know reformed theology usually means Calvinistic theology but it could as well mean "New Convenant" theology as well I suppose. Am I wrong?

I as a Baptist am a dispensationalist. We are in the minority. We have a strong love for Israel and recognize that G-d is not a liar and has not replaced Israel! I would also like to clear up something... many claim we only support Israel because of "end times" events. This is false. I support Israel because my G-d does, and the closer I grow to G-d the more I love Israel and the Jewish people. I read the Bible literally and I know the great jealous love he has for his people, the Jews. I surely do not wish "end times" events to happen upon them!

That little strip of land is theirs, and you don't mess with the Jew. You just don't. I also would be very careful about telling Jewish jokes, some things are very sacred to G-d .

Now back on topic,
I agree with Carl, but I have been afraid to say anything because it seems like a touchy subject(?). Although it truly seems like reverse racism or that Black Americans relate more with the Arabs than the Jewish people. This is one of of my first thoughts when Condi began her crazy rampage -- going for the Nobel Condi? :P


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