President Sharon’s allusion to the appeasement of Hitler reflects unbelievably poor judgment and bad taste. Poor judgment because, having invoked the specter, the comparison that comes most readily to mind is between Israel’s demand for world acquiescence in its policy of territorial conquest, expulsion, and settlement in Jerusalem and the West Bank and similar German demands with respect to Central Europe in the 1930’s. It is Israel that demands of the United States and the world an increasingly difficult level of tolerance—not the Middle East’s moderate Islamic regimes.
His comments are in hideously poor taste because with 6000-odd Americans gone in a pile of smoking rubble, the one indispensable political circumstance that fomented the atrocity is Israel’s failure or refusal over more than thirty years to find a just resolution to its Palestinian crisis. My assessment of the causal relationship is irrelevant. Ossama bin Laden has informed the world that Palestinian misery is to be paid for with American blood.
I do not suggest that Ossama can, by his crimes, obtain any negotiable position whatsoever. He has irrevocably set in motion his own destruction and further violence against the U.S. will, if anything, make his time shorter still. But Israeli militarists who attempt to invoke a unique security interest by way of justifying their own intransigence in the face the world’s intense need for a Palestinian resolution may find a growing number of Americans unwilling to indulge the claim. As Kissinger would emphasize, alliances are founded and maintained on shared interests. Sharon, by his words and deeds, aggravates a growing divergence in American and Israeli interests.