Saturday, November 17, 2007
"Just let me do the talking"
One of things that Israelis love to say is, "Rak ten li le-daber" -- 'Just let me do the talking.' Well, Israeli males certainly like to say it. It means something like, if you just let me speak, I will convince you that I am right or reasonable or something to that effect. Ehud Barak was completely convinced that he would succeed as a negotiator -- all he had to do was to put his suggestions on the table at Camp David, and the Palestinians would either be convinced, or would show that they are not serious about peace. It is like your brother-in-law who tries to convince you that he can sell your car at a better price than you can -- just let him do the talking. When one brother-in-law fails, another pops up, or maybe it is a cousin or a neighbor. The latest "brother-in-law" is Ehud Olmert. He says that the Palestnians are partners -- well one or two of them are, and that they will go with his deal. That deal is not as good as the one that they accepted (with reservations) when offered by Pres. Clinton. But no matter...they lost the intifada, they are suffering mightily, Hamas has taken over Gaza -- trust me, I can convince them. Of course, conventional wisdom would say that under those circumstances they will be less likely to cut a deal. After all, it took an initial victory in the October 1973 war to give Egypt the security and national honor it needed to cut a deal with Israel. Why would a battered Palestinian authority agree to terms that it couldn't agree to when it was politically stronger? Ehud Olmert has made a big deal of Muhammed Abbas's reasonableness as a partner. What will he say when Abbas hangs tough on demanding that Israel recognizes its responsibilty for the Arab refugee problem, or rejects Israel's demand for recognizing it as a Jewish state? I suppose he will "pull a Barak" -- he will go around the world saying, "What do you want? I tried. The buyer wasn't serious." Let's hope that he doesn't react that way. Who is ready for another intifada?