Enabling bad behavior

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a very old one that has been stuck in a remarkably long, stable, stalemate. These days, I actually find myself wondering if the various speeches given by Abbas, Netanyahu, and Obama are part of a secret satire, a little practical joke between friends.

The role each leader takes has become so self-caricatured that it is almost impossible to take seriously. The role of the Israeli president is to bemoan the dire security threat imposed on his country by its terrorist neighbor. The role of the chairman of the PLO is to bemoan the repression of Palestinians by an over-militarized, over-funded juggernaut of a nation. The role of the American President is to give the occasional optimistic, fluff-filled speech about peace, laced with ingratiating promises of allegiance to Israel.

Most important of all (and the key ingredient of deadlock), the two Middle Eastern leaders must always include a promise of generous concessions, to be made only if the other side makes concessions first.

So it goes, round and round and round and round. And no one seems to notice just how silly and juvenile the whole thing is.

So, I have a suggestion for the American President. Quit being the nice guy. Quit making lofty speeches. It’s time to throw away the carrot, and pick up the stick. Tell the Palestinians and Israelis that from now on, you will do no business of any kind with them: you will shun them in every arena, be it socially, politically, or financially, until they stop behaving like spoiled brats and get their acts together. No parent would put up with the sort of incessant nitpicking and squabbling that goes on between the Palestinians and Israel. Insofar as the American President can be seen as a parent in this situation, then, he ought not to put up with it either.

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