May 24, 2006
Ehud Olmert, who replaced Ariel Sharon as Israel's prime minister last month, spoke to a joint session of Congress after paying a visit to the White House. He said Israel wants to engage with the Palestinian authority, supports the aspirations of the Palestinian people, and has no desire to oppress them. President Bush gave implicit backing to Israel's intention to unilaterally impose borders if the Palestinian authority refuses to negotiate. See Washington Post. I think that is an appropriate position, but the United States should keep a low profile in that dispute. Generally speaking, it's not our business how Israel decides to defend itself. Likewise, whether Hamas decides to leave behind its terrorist ways is beyond our ability to influence.
This reminds me of a letter to the editor by James McGrath in the Washington Post that compared the walls being built in Israel and along the southern U.S. border to the Berlin Wall. He seemed to be implying that the walls are similar instruments of oppression, which is utterly absurd. Not seeing the huge difference between a wall built by a dictatorship to keep people locked up, versus a wall built by democracies, defending against unlawful intruders, is an act of willful ignorance. Mr. McGrath has an unduly cynical view of the administration's promotion of freedom, but if Mexico and other Latin American countries adopted policies that encouraged greater economic freedom, their people would not be so desperate to come here. It's much the same thing with Palestinian people, who can't find work in the territories no longer occupied by Israeli forces.