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Jewish World Review Jan. 11, 2001/ 16 Teves, 5761

Suzanne Fields

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Pity Jerusalem in the 'peace' process -- THE ISRAELIS have a slang word to describe Bill Clinton: "frier.'' It translates to "sucker.''

Inelegant as the Hebrew word may be, the Jerusalem Post, no doubt speaking for swelling Israeli sentiment against embracing a phony "peace process,'' insists that "there is no other way to describe the way Yasser Arafat is treating Clinton in the final days of his presidency.''

Many Israelis say the inelegant word applies to Ehud Barak, too. They can't otherwise explain why their prime minister would accept even as a negotiating point the division of Jerusalem, giving full Palestinian sovereignty over the Temple Mount. The last time the Arabs controlled Jerusalem, they prevented Jews from praying at the Wailing Wall.

Until Israel became a state in 1947, the stereotype of the Jew was a man with a brain but no physical toughness. He was the wimp/nerd summa cum laude. The Israeli soldier was no dummy, either, and his battlefield exploits soon added strength to the smarts, courage to the cunning, grit to the guile.

But Barak, under Clinton tutelage, has shown himself to be both naive and weak despite his earlier heroism as a general. Ariel Sharon, a maverick warrior, has soared far ahead in the public-opinion polls. In two recent surveys, Sharon has 50 percent against only 22 percent for Barak in the one, and 50 percent to 32 percent in the other. Israel votes on Feb. 6.

When Ariel Sharon cries "Shalom,'' the Hebrew greeting for "peace,'' Israeli voters hear him saying he will negotiate peace from strength, which means that any deal signed by Ehud Barak and backed by Bill Clinton is no deal.

In a demonstration on Monday in the walled Old City in east Jerusalem, a crowd of more than 100,000 noisily protested division of the Holy City. The fliers and handbills advertising the demonstration quoted from the Book of Psalms: "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its cunning.'' The pamphleteer added a rebuke: "EHUD BARAK FORGOT!''

The biggest gripe among many against Barak is that he continued to negotiate when Palestinians raised ante after ante, backed by an ever-growing intifada. The Palestinians buy time, win sympathy and fill their plates with Israeli concessions pushed by the American president.

In the waning days of his presidency, Bill Clinton is described as a beaver gnawing away at the established order with executive orders, appointing judges by recess nomination, and above all tying up air traffic between Washington and the Middle East. Beavers are dangerous when they start nibbling at saplings with undeveloped roots, and there's nothing more fragile than a sapling trying to survive in the thin, parched soil of a desert. There's rarely even a bush to burn.

The president, who has a reputation for mastering complex details, seems to have lost sight of all this, seeing forests where there are no trees. He has forgotten the famous parable of the scorpion and the frog. The scorpion begs for a ride across the river aboard the frog. "Never,'' the frog replies. "If I let you ride my back you'll sting me.'' The scorpion smiles and says: "But if I do that we'll both drown.''

The frog is persuaded by this, and invites the scorpion to crawl aboard. Once in midstream, the scorpion, being a scorpion, drives his stinger deep into the frog's back. "Why did you do that?'' the dying frog asks. "Now we'll both drown.'' Replies the scorpion: "Welcome to the Middle East.''

The Palestinian negotiating strategy is described by one analyst as "getting to 'no' while saying maybe.'' President Clinton only adds to the incoherence of this peace process, so called, by force-feeding both Israelis and the Palestinians at a time when the Palestinians aren't hungry and the Israelis suffer acute indigestion.

George W. has correctly refrained from criticizing the president's proposals, as awful as they are, because he can't afford to send misleading mixed messages from Washington, further corrupting the process. He can't become a player in this mess until after Jan. 20. But after Jan. 20, arriving with no obsession about carving a legacy out of the Middle East muddle, he can look with a clear focus to see what can be salvaged.

Isaiah offers the promise he must take on faith: "O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up that voice with strength.''


01/08/01: Laying the political race card
01/04/01: 'What women want' in the new millennium
01/02/01: This year, looking ahead is sure sweeter than looking back
12/21/00: Black power with a Republican face
12/21/00: First impressions of two First Ladies
12/18/00: Challenge for the 'better angels of our nature'
12/14/00: What we've lost sight of
12/13/00: Hillary in the lion's den
12/08/00: Return of the 'second sex' on campus
12/04/00: Politics as entertainment today
11/30/00: Winner vs. whiner
11/27/00: Measuring against history
11/23/00: Memories of Thanksgiving past
11/17/00: In defense of the Electoral College
11/16/00: More than one way to win an election
11/13/00: Sexual politics squared
11/09/00: A Middle East legacy
11/06/00: Filling in the dots at campaign's end
11/02/00: His own man in full
10/30/00: The Oval Office, through a glass brightly
10/23/00: There'll always be an England. Maybe.
10/19/00: The celebrity candidate
10/16/00: 'Ladies night' at the second debate
10/12/00: Gore vs. Bush: Volvo vs. Maserati
10/10/00: We weep for Rami for he is dead
10/05/00: Looking at Lieberman from inside the 'ghetto'
10/02/00: Campaigns, candidates, and kissy-face
09/28/00: Laughing and crying over Joe Lieberman
09/21/00: Targeting teenagers for money
09/21/00: Sexual politics in New York
09/18/00: Surviving the stereotypes and debates
09/14/00: Gloria Steinem runs cheerfully into captivity
09/12/00: Sex in the eye of the partisan
09/07/00: 'Sex and death' on the college campus
09/05/00: Joe Lieberman as a 'Menorah Man'
08/31/00: Rising suns of the conventions
08/17/00: Changing icons: From Loretta Young to Hillary Clinton
08/14/00: The Creator returns to the public square
08/10/00: Bursting with pride, but caution too
08/07/00: Brains, beauty and beastly politics
08/03/00: A candidate with a superego
07/31/00: The sizzling Lynne Cheney
07/27/00: The party of the aging Playboys
07/24/00 Hillary drives the Jewish wagon into a ditch
07/20/00 Conservatives gone fishin'
07/17/00: Snoop Doggy Dogg was a founding father, wasn't he?
07/13/00: When a teenager doesn't need a prime minister
07/10/00: Abortion as cruel and unusual punishment
07/06/00: Surviving 'survivor' TV
07/03/00: Independence Day with Norman Rockwell
06/29/00: Here comes 'something old'
06/26/00: Waiting too long for the baby
06/22/00: Good teachers, curious students and oxymorons
06/19/00: Wanted: Some ants for Gore's pants
06/15/00: Like father, like daughter
06/12/00: Culture wars and conservative warriors
06/08/00: Return of the housewife
06/05/00: Hillary and Al -- playing against type
05/31/00: The sexual revolution confronts the SUV
05/25/00: Waiting for the movie
05/22/00: Pistol packin' mamas
05/18/00: Journalists and the 'new time' religion
05/15/00: There's nothing like a (military) dame
05/11/00: 'The Human Stain' on campus
05/09/00: We've come a long way, Betty Friedan
05/04/00: From George Washington to Mansa Masu
05/01/00: Gore's ruthless doublespeak
04/28/00: Doing it Castro's way
04/24/00: Women's studies beget narrow minds
04/17/00: The slippery slope of anti-Semitism
04/13/00: A villain larger than life
04/10/00: When mourning becomes an economic tragedy
04/03/00: The last permissible bigotry
03/30/00: Seeking the political Oscar
03/23/00: The gaying of America
03/20/00: Pointy-eared quadrupeds on campus
03/16/00: The shocking art of the establishment
03/13/00: Sawdust on the campaign trail
03/10/00: Campaign rhetoric of manhood
03/06/00: The Amphetamine of the People
03/02/00: Elegy for Amadou
02/29/00: With only a million, what's a poor girl to do?
02/24/00: The changing politics of change
02/16/00: Tip from Hillary: 'Let 'em eat eggs'
02/10/00: No seances with Eleanor
02/07/00: Campaigning like our founding fathers
02/03/00: When neo-Nazis have short memories
01/31/00: George W. -- 'Ladies man' and 'man's man'
01/27/00: Dead white males and live white politicians
01/25/00: Smarting over presidential smarts
01/21/00: A post-modern song for `The Sopranos'
01/19/00: When personality is a long-distance plus
01/13/00: French lessons in amour --- and marriage
01/10/00: Reaching for the Big Golden Apple
01/07/00: Liddy Dole as the face of feminism
01/04/00: Hillary: From victim to victor
12/30/99: 'Dream catchers' for the millennium
12/27/99: In search of a candidate with strength and eloquence
12/21/99: The president as First Lady
12/16/99: Columbine with blurred hindsight
12/09/99: Homeless deserve discriminating attention
12/07/99: Casual censors and deadly know-nothings
12/02/99: Why mom didn't make general: A reality tale
11/30/99: Potholes on the road to the Promised Land
11/25/99: A feast for the spirit and the stomach
11/23/99: Fathers need to say 'I (can) do'
11/18/99: Adventures of a conservative pundit
11/15/99: Traveling with Jefferson on the information highway
11/11/99: Wanted: 'Foliage of forbiddinness' for the oval office
11/09/99: Eggs, art and rotten commerce
11/05/99: Al Gore, 'Alpha Male'. Bow wow.
11/01/99: Gay love
10/28/99: Lose one Dole, lose two
10/26/99: Rebels with a violent cause
10/21/99: Reforming parents, reforming schools
10/19/99: The male mystique -- he shops
10/13/99:The campaign of the Teletubbies
10/08/99: Money is in the eye of the art dealer
10/01/99: Lincoln's 'Almost Chosen People'
09/29/99: Introducing Bill and Hillary Bickerson
09/27/99: Must we wait for the next massacre?
09/24/99: Miss America meets Miss'd America
09/21/99: Princeton's 'professor death'
09/16/99: The Cisneros lesson
09/13/99: No clemency for personal politics
09/08/99: M-M-M is for manhood
08/30/99: Blocking the schoolhouse door
08/27/99: No kick from cocaine
08/23/99: Movies don't kill people
08/19/99: A rude awakening
08/16/99: Dubyah and that 'language' thing
08/09/99: Chauvinist sows -- oink oink

©1999, Suzanne Fields. Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate