Mitt Romney has a two-step strategy for dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It’s called kick and hope. He wants to “kick the ball down the field” and “hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it.”
To a $50,000-a-head fundraiser at the Boca Raton home of a fellow private equity manager, Marc Leder, a more candid Romney said, “The idea of pushing on the Israelis to give something up to get the Palestinians to act is the worst idea in the world.”
His comments seemed to reflect the views of his billionaire benefactor, Sheldon Adelson, who has pledged $100 million to elect Romney. Adelson, the self-proclaimed “richest Jew in the world,” is an outspoken foe of Palestinian statehood and sees the peace process as a plot to destroy the Jewish state.
Romney sounded like he was channeling Adelson when he told contributors the Palestinians have "no interest whatsoever in establishing peace, and that the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish." ...
He listed the dangers a Palestinian state would pose, including that “the Iranians would want to bring missiles and armament into the West Bank and potentially threaten Israel.”
Basically, what would happen is like what happened in Gaza three years ago: If Israel pulled out, Palestinians would shoot a lot of rockets at Israel, then Israel would smash them (remember white phosphorus?) until they learned their lesson.
One difference is, as Romney pointed out, that the West Bank is right next to the very pricey real estate of Tel Aviv. The Gaza rockets didn't do all that much damage to the nearest Israeli town because they aren't very accurate. But from the West Bank, you just have to shoot them in the general direction of the west and they are likely to hit something in sprawling Tel Aviv. So, West Bank rockets would do more harm to Israelis and Israel would no doubt hit the West Bank even harder than Gaza.
Personally, I'd like to see a two-state solution with Palestine winding up like Jordan. You may have noticed that Jordanians don't shoot many rockets at Israel. That's because Jordan has a king and an army and they don't like it when the Israelis come and smash up their military hardware in revenge. So, they keep their thumb on anybody who feels like shooting stuff at Israel.
But, how would you get from here to there? The Gaza example isn't encouraging, but maybe it's tolerable. Or maybe not.
Romney suggests kicking the can down the road, pointing to how time has made what was once a scary China-Taiwan stand-off into less of a problem. Israel is developing an anti-missile system, which might make their worries less.
Also, the Israelis don't really want a two-state solution, they want what could be some pretty pleasant real estate as suburbs for Tel Aviv. They think about the West Bank like Rahm Emmanuel thinks about housing projects near the Chicago lakefront. They say they don't want the West Bank, but they've been settling the West Bank for the last 45 years, so I'm starting to notice a pattern. The last President to punish the Israelis for settling the West Bank was the elder President Bush, who rapidly became ex-President Bush.
Since then, Presidents have been known to tut-tut about West Bank settling, depending upon whether their party is aligned with the Israeli ruling party of the moment, but not much happens. They just kick the ball down the field until their term is up. Romney telling the guests of Marc Leder in Boca Raton that he's just going to do what everybody else doesn't seem all that shocking to me, but a lot of people are acting like they are shocked.
The bigger question is not the tiny West Bank, but whether Romney would have the strength of character to not get rolled by his old consulting colleague Bibi into a big war with Iran or some other truly foreign country. Boys will be boys, and they like competition. Israel doesn't have college football, so rich and powerful Israelis obsess over geopolitics while their American counterparts obsess over high school cornerbacks.
At least we know that Obama doesn't like Bibi, personally or politically.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post celebrates David Corn of Mother Jones for getting a scoop on the surreptitious video shot at Leder's Boca Raton place:
Corn said there was no “strategic intent” in the timing of the full video’s release Monday afternoon, but there was one consideration: “We decided not to do it on the morning of Rosh Hashanah,” the Jewish new year, which fell on Monday. “We knew a lot of people in the media would be out of the office then, and we wanted maximum exposure. The morning of a holiday may not be a good time.”
Sounds kind of like what former CNN anchorman Rick Sanchez said two years ago (or Gregg Easterbrook ten years ago). Of course, that was different. It's not what is said, but who says it that counts.
By the way, the brokering of this seemingly illegally obtained videotape was carried out by Jimmy Carter's grandson. I reviewed Old Man Carter's 2009 book Palestine Peace Not Apartheid here (and Part II here).