Thursday, August 2, 2012

Romney And The Death Of Peace

The New York Times profiles Mitt Romney's chief adviser on the Middle East, Dan Senor, who inspired Romney's statements about Israelis' cultural superiority in comparison to Palestinians. Romney has made similar statements about other neighboring peoples, such as Americans and Mexicans.

During Romney's visit to Israel, he failed to mention the Palestinians or the peace process in what was dubbed a major foreign policy address. Senor may have been behind that astonishing development as well. Senor told reporters that if there's to be a two-state deal, Palestinians would have to drop their demand for a right of return. The Bush and Obama administrations favored letting Israel and the Palestinian Authority work the issue out during negotiations.

Obama's peace initiative was prematurely hobbled by his and the Palestinians' insistence that Israel suspend West Bank settlement expansion as a precondition for recommencing direct talks. While the president's tactics left something to be desired, he was at least trying to be an honest broker, putting pressure on both sides in keeping with the policies of his recent predecessors. All in for Israel, Romney has no such instincts and intentions. For today's Republicans, empathy for the underdog Palestinians and the nuances of an ancient struggle with plenty of error on both sides have evidently run their course.

Of course the Romney-Senor position -- at least as politically unsustainable for Palestinians as the settlement demand was for Israel -- may be just another sop to U.S. Jewish voters. Let's hope so. As Romney administration policy, it would probably doom the peace process. In that case, having just so fulsomely praised Israel's commitment to democracy, Romney and Senor would need to have a secret plan for figuring out how Israel could continue to call itself a democracy with two million disenfranchised Arabs living under indefinite military occupation.

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