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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

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Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

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Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

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Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

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Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

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April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

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Jewish World Review May 25, 2007 / 8 Sivan, 5766

Statecraft in the absence of statesmen

By Caroline B. Glick

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Over the past week, Ma'ariv has reported on two separate diplomatic initiatives that seem to be coming into line. First, there is the possibility that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will open negotiations with Syria regarding the surrender of the Golan Heights to Damascus. Second, the Jordanians are now raising the possibility of forming a confederation with the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria.

Any analysis of the reasonableness of these initiatives must begin with two questions. First, do the relevant parties share enough common interests to enable them to reach an agreement that will be mutually beneficial? Second, are do the sides have leaders who are competent to properly identify those interests and work to advance them?

According to Ma'ariv, "The Prime Minister has become convinced that negotiations with Syria and a possible peace agreement will significantly alter the regional strategic situation and facilitate the isolation of Iran and a solution to the problem with Hizbullah. This is especially the case," the newspaper reported, "against the backdrop of the collapse of Fatah and of [Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, a.k.a.] Abu Mazen, and the fact that there is no chance for a diplomatic initiative with the Palestinians in the near future."

The report added that the IDF's high command believes that Israel can avert war with Syria by negotiating the surrender of the Golan Heights to Damascus.

So Olmert then sees three reasons to engage Damascus in negotiations about an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights. He believes that doing so can prevent a war between the two countries. He believes that such negotiations will weaken Syria's protector Iran. And he is interested in negotiations because he feels he needs to do something and he can't negotiate the surrender of Judea and Samaria with Hamas.

Unfortunately, all of Olmert's rationales for opening negotiations with Syria are based on false assumptions. A review of the results of the US's current much less radical bid to appease Syria in Iraq demonstrates this clearly.

The insurgency being waged against US-led coalition forces in Iraq today is directed by Syria and Iran. In an attempt to decrease the dimensions of the war against the US and its allies, last month the Americans opened direct, high-level contacts with Damascus. First, Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi paid a visit to Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.

Pelosi, who supports a US retreat from Iraq, praised the Ba'athist regime and so ended the isolation Damascus has been relegated to since it ordered the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005. Although the Bush administration condemned Pelosi's visit, weeks later it followed her lead. At the beginning of the month, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice held a meeting with her Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem in Sharm e-Sheikh.

The Americans hoped that their direct contacts with Syria would moderate its behavior. Unfortunately, the opposite as occurred. Far from moderating Syria, US moves to mollify it have served to embolden Syria to advance its hostile policies. In the aftermath of Pelosi's visit, the regime cracked down on its internal opposition rounding up dissidents and sentencing them to prolonged prison terms.

Rice's meeting with Muallem failed to put a damper on Syrian sponsorship of the insurgents. On Monday a US official in Iraq said, "Our best estimate is that 85 to 90 percent of all the suicide bombers are foreign. Ninety percent plus come through Syria."

Beyond Iraq and internal dissent in Syria, the legitimacy Washington has conferred on Damascus is emboldening the Syrians to destabilize Lebanon. The Fatah Islam Palestinian jihadist group that is now leading the hostilities in northern Lebanon is a creation of Syrian intelligence. Today the Syrians are keen to destabilize Lebanon in a bid to intimidate Lebanese lawmakers into rejecting the UN tribunal which is set to try Syrian officials for their role in Hariri's assassination.

All of these Syrian actions point to the clear conclusion that the American appeasement efforts have backfired. Were Israel to similarly seek to appease Damascus, and to do so by far more radically offering to surrender the strategically vital Goaln Heights to Syrian control, far from diminishing the prospect of war, Israel would likely exacerbate the likelihood of a Syrian or Syrian-sponsored strike against it.

Similarly, it is doubtful that opening negotiations on an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights would serve to weaken Syria's relations with Iran. Why would Syria consider distancing itself from Teheran when its close alliance with the ayatollahs is what is provoking the US and Israel to mollify it?

So if offering to discuss an Israeli surrender of the Golan Heights to Syria will raise the probability of war and embolden the Syrians to intensify their alliance with Iran, the only remaining rationale for speaking to them is Olmert's desire to have some sort of diplomatic platform to stand on.

Here the issue of a leader's competence to advance his nation's interests through diplomatic initiatives comes into play. By expressing a willingness to imperil the security of the state by opening talks with Syria that will only radicalize Damascus still further, Olmert is demonstrating that he is incapable of responsibly advancing Israel's interests. Indeed, his willingness to engage in surrender talks with Damascus shows that he doesn't even understand what Israel's national interests are.

If Olmert wishes to prevent the coming war, he should be preparing for it. This he must do by highlighting Syria's radicalism and by neutralizing Syria's terror networks in Gaza which would be used against Israel in any war scenario.

So while there is no possibility of launching a diplomatic effort with Syria or the Palestinians, what about the Jordanian initiative?

According to the Ma'ariv report, the Jordanian plan is based on a recognition that with Hamas in control of the Palestinian Authority Israel has no Palestinian partner to whom it could surrender Judea and Samaria. In light of this, Israel is incapable of adopting the so-called Arab peace initiative which demands that Israel withdraw its citizens and military forces to behind the 1940 armistice lines.

The Jordanians are offering to fill the void by replacing the Palestinians. Israel, they say, should give Jordan Judea and Samaria as part of a Jordanian-Palestinian confederation under Hashemite control. In short, the Jordanians are resuscitating the view that Jordan is Palestine. King Abdullah is using former Jordanian prime minister Abed Salam Majali as his envoy to convince Israelis to accept newest idea.

An assessment of the opportunities and threats inherent in this offer must begin with an analysis of Jordan's interests. Bluntly stated, the Hashemite monarchy finds itself firmly lodged between the Iraqi rock and the Palestinian hard place and so is in danger of being overthrown. The possibility that US forces will withdraw from Iraq without first stabilizing the country constitutes an existential threat to the Hashemites who understand that after defeating the Great Satan, Jordan will be the next target on the Syrian and Iranian sponsored insurgents' list.

As to the Palestinians, since Hamas won the Palestinian Authority elections last year, the jihadist group, and its sister organization the Muslim Brotherhood, have seen a steep rise in their popularity in Jordan where more than 70 percent of the population are Palestinians. The Jordanian offer to take over Judea and Samaria then can be seen as a bid to ride the Palestinian tiger in the hopes of taming the beast before it devours Jordan.

In contrast to the situation with Syria, Israel's national interests overlap those of Jordan. Israel too will be imperiled by a resurgent eastern front in the event of an American pullout from Iraq. Then too, Israel will pay a steep price if the jihadist forces on both sides of the Jordan River unite.

Yet, given the dangers that both countries face, it would be inexcusable for Israel to even consider transferring control over the Jordan Valley to the Jordanian military. At the same time, the societal fragmentation that would ensue from an Israeli withdrawal from its heartland in Judea and Samaria would undermine Israel's ability to rally as a society against external enemies.

While the gulf between what Jordan proposes and what Israel can accept is large, the fact remains that the states' shared interests are significant enough to form the basis for mutually beneficial discussions. As MK Benny Elon has been arguing for years, Israel could offer Jordan functional sovereignty over the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria. At the same time, Israel could assert its sovereignty over what the Oslo accords refer to as Area C. Area C includes all of the Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria, the hinterlands and the Jordan Valley.

The assertion of functional sovereignty by Jordan over the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria would include the return of their Jordanian citizenship which the late King Hussein abrogated in 1988. Such functional sovereignty would undermine the PA's political rationale and could act as a moderating force for Palestinian society as a whole — both in Judea and Samaria and in Jordan.

The assertion of Israeli sovereignty over Area C would preserve Israel's ability to defend itself against a resurgent eastern front. It would also be able to continue to protect the Hashemite kingdom from violent overthrow.

All in all, bearing in mind Israel's shared interests with Jordan, the Jordanian initiative can form the basis for discussions that could lead to the first agreement between Israel and its neighbors that could strengthen Israel, and promote the chances of peaceful coexistence with the Palestinians to the benefit of all.

But here we return to the question of leadership. Israel's ability to advance a confederative arrangement between the Palestinians and Jordan while ensuring Israel's continued control over Area C is wholly dependent on the skill of its leaders. Sadly, it is impossible to believe that Olmert, who is willing to endanger the country by engaging Syria, would be capable of conceptualizing, let alone managing such delicate discussions. Indeed, in all likelihood, were Olmert to begin such discussions, he would do so while running roughshod of Israel's security. And by doing so, he would cancel the possibility of reaching a mutually beneficial arrangement for years to come.

This then points to the greatest failure of the Olmert government. Not only is it incapable of recognizing dangers. It is also blind to opportunities.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East Fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, DC and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post. Comment by clicking here.


© 2007, Caroline B. Glick