Juan Cole makes scathing observations of Bush's trip to Iraq, all of which are valid. Then he adds:
It is hell to be stateless. 200 Palestinian refugees are stuck at a border camp, trying to flee Iraq for Syria. They fear going back to Baghdad. Some 20,000 Palestinians in Baghdad are now in danger; some fear the general violence and insecurity, others fear reprisals. Some Iraqis identify them with the former regime (stateless people are often forced into parlous political compromises). Palestinians were expelled from their country by Zionist settlers in 1948, who refused to let them back in or compensate them for their lost property. Israel continues to insist that millions of Palestinians remain stateless by refusing to recognize the Palestine Authority as a state. In the modern world, there are substantial similarities between statelessness and slavery.
* * * *
By injecting into his critique of Iraq an end paragraph on how Israel enslaves Palestinians, Juan Cole does a very effective job of rendering himself unserious. From his facile description of the events of 1948, to his equation of Israelis as slave masters, Cole's erudition is impotent in positively affecting middle-east conflict resolution. It's one thing to be biased, another thing all together to be ridiculously so and consider yourself an academic. Gross.
Democracy matters require that we keep track of the intimate link between domestic issues and foreign policies. Like the empires of old—especially the Roman and British ones—what we do abroad affects what we can do here and what we do here shapes what we can do abroad. Probably the most difficult challenge facing our democracy, in the near term at any rate, is that of the centrality of Middle East politics for the American empire. If we are to stabilize the world and enrich democracy in the world, we must confront the anti-Semitic hostility of oil-rich autocratic Arab regimes to Israel’s very existence, as well as Israelis’ occupation and subjugation of Palestinian lands and people. We must act more decisively to stop both the barbaric Palestinian suicide bombers’ murdering of innocent Israeli civilians and the inhumane Israeli military attacks on unarmed Palestinian refugees. These explosive issues test the capacity of all Americans to engage in a respectful and candid dialogue; indeed, they may be pivotal in determining the destiny of American democracy.