Wednesday, July 18, 2007

NYTimes Op-ed Praises Begin-Sadat Peace

Mark Helprin, a fellow at the Claremont Institute, author of, among other works, “A Soldier of the Great War”, published an op-ed in today's New York Times.

Unfortunately, it minimizes the part played by Menachem Begin in the 1977-79 peace process with Egypt.

Here are the relevant excerpts:-

July 19, 2007
Op-Ed Contributor
Forced to Get Along
Charlottesville, Va.

WHEN considering President Bush’s new plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, it would be wise to bear in mind that because political initiatives in the Middle East are cursed with such a high failure rate analysts sometimes use the odds as a substitute for craft. After Anwar Sadat’s spectacular trip to Jerusalem in November 1977, the press, mistaking cynicism for wisdom, was skeptical. After all, in the first 25 years of its existence, Israel had had to fight Egypt four times. But the past was no guide to the future, for in the last 30 years the peace of Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat has been unbroken.

Yet, at the time, few people were able to see the way ahead even as it was clearly illuminated by the facts. Educated opinion was attentive to the vicissitudes of negotiation rather than to the structural imperatives that would eventually prevail. Nearly bankrupt, its population swelling, recently divorced from the Soviet Union, irrelevant to the third world and having reclaimed its honor by partial success in the 1973 war, Egypt was predictable. So were its rivals: a front of radical Arab states and the Palestinians.

Israel and Egypt, knowing their interests and set upon their course, formed, as it were, the innermost of three concentric circles. Surrounding them was a second circle, the Arab rejectionists, which were divided, militarily weak, geographically separated and economically impotent. Except for the Soviet bloc, which did not have the agility to make up for its lack of position, the major powers that formed the outer circle were overwhelmingly in favor of rapprochement. And in the end, they used their combined strengths to break the middle circle of rejectionists against the solid center formed by the principals. A similar metaphysics has now emerged in the Middle East...

...If Israel and the Palestinian Authority can pursue a strategy of limited aims, concentrating on bilateral agreements rather than a single work of fallible grandeur, they may accomplish something on the scale of Sadat’s extraordinary démarche of 30 years ago. The odds are perhaps the best they have been since, and responsible governments should recognize them as the spur for appropriate action and risk.