I have written at some length against the "meeting" at Annapolis today, but George W. Bush summed up the problem more succinctly when he read to the gathered worthies from some 40 states this sentence from the Palestinian-Israeli "Joint Understanding":
We express our determination to bring an end to bloodshed, suffering and decades of conflict between our peoples; to usher in a new era of peace, based on freedom, security, justice, dignity, respect and mutual recognition; to propagate a culture of peace and nonviolence; to confront terrorism and incitement, whether committed by Palestinians or Israelis.
Comment: Did I hear right? Did the two parties really express a determination to "confront terrorism and incitement, whether committed by Palestinians or Israelis"? The Israelis are no angels, to be sure, but this is preposterous. It's akin to the United Nations secretary-general calling for an end to U.S.-Al-Qaeda conflict on the basis that both sides must stop their terrorism and incitement. Moral equivalence is a deadly mistake and I regret that the U.S. government has fallen into this trap and its Israeli counterpart has gone along with it. (November 27, 2007)
Nov. 28, 2007 update: The Zionist Organization of America nicely ridicules the above passage – and the Israeli government's willingness to sign on to it:
By agreeing to this passage, Israel is acting as if the Speaker of the Knesset had delivered a speech calling for murder of Arabs; or as if the Israeli Chief Rabbi or some other senior rabbinical figure had cited Jewish religious texts calling for the murder of all Muslims; or as if a major Israeli daily newspaper like Haaretz or Maariv contained articles arguing that the utter extermination of all Muslims would be a blessing for humanity; or as if a Jewish educational institution was named after a mass-murderer of Arabs; or as if Prime Minister Olmert shielded terrorists from in his Jerusalem residence.
Nov. 30, 2007 update: Caroline Glick sees this statement as significant:
Although Olmert, [Avigdor] Lieberman and [Eli] Yishai dismiss this Israeli acceptance of moral equivalence with Palestinian jihadists as a meaningless rhetorical concession, the government's move is rife with political and legal implications.
US Ambassador Richard Jones's unprecedented meeting this week with Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch made clear that the US demands that Israeli courts interpret Israeli law in a prejudicial manner in order to demonize Israeli opponents of Palestinian statehood and the ethnic cleansing of the Jews from Judea and Samaria. Their meeting also signaled that the US expects Israel to treat lawful building activities by Jews in Judea and Samaria and even in sections of Jerusalem as criminal acts.
Since the Olmert government accepts that Israel is morally indistinguishable from the Palestinian Authority, it is hard to foresee it preventing the criminalization of its political opponents. From now on, Israelis who oppose the diplomatic moves of the Olmert government can expect to be treated as the moral equivalents of Palestinian terrorists.