Pakistan has never bothered me before. Well, that's not entirely true. They have in fact beaten (in fact destroyed) New Zealand cricket teams time and time again. But otherwise, they have simply been India's Moslem neighbor and another one of those somewhat teasing nuclear playground tough guys.
But then, they had to confuse the Israeli political soul by taking the fairly courageous (and internally criticized) move of setting a meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom in Turkey - neutral ground a must, of course. And the world is talking about it.
It makes me feel uneasy when unfriendly world players start climbing aboard the already slippery Chirac&Co "we love you Arik oh yes we do" train. Right now, the world seems to be sending many cheerleader trains in PM Sharon's direction. Like the Israeli left and the left-leaning Israeli media, it appears that bulldozer, war criminal Sharon is now the mascot and hero for world peace. Oh how the tide has turned...
As I might of expected, a few opinion pieces have started to appear about this little international waltz going on around Mr Disengagement. There are those who are painting a picture of decision making importance for Israelis, and those who set out the dangers of conditional love. They are both right and it leaves Israelis like me in quite a predicament.
I have to admit that it feels good when Chirac, Bush, Blair, Annan, Abdullah, Mubarak, Musharaf and countless other world heavyweights are placing "Israel is almost OK" bumper stickers on their cars. It makes you wonder that maybe if we continued to make 'painful concessions', the world might stop condemning us left, right and center and at every opportunity. The thought of Moslem countries trading with us and voting with us - ahhh so much pleasure. No longer would we be the occupiers. Jewish communities worldwide would be safer. We'd be humans (imagine that!) and peace seekers. Yes!!!! Vote Sharon...
I know I've had these feeling before - not once either. I've spent time trying to convince myself and others (and then myself again) that Israel is strong and can surrender a little bit, land-wise, pride-wise and security-wise, for the benefit of peace. And yet, two words stream back to me time and time again - RECIPROCITY and CONDITIONAL.
I can not say that Bibi's policies will bring security or peace or either. I'm not sure he's ready to be leader - is anyone? Yet he appears to demand something that I think lacks from our region's mountaineous journey towards peace. Bibi does not rule out concessions but he demands reciprocity. We can all read (no links required!) about Palestinian plans for the post-Disengagement period. While Israel builds plans for Disengagement II, what are the Palestinians doing? Educating towards peace? Building infrastructure towards peace?
I trust Sharon in that I know he's a Zionist leader who wants only the best for Israel. I can say the same for almost all Israeli leaders. Simply, I hope that the Prime Minsiter can see through the one-night stand he is being offered by the promiscuous world - citizens and leaders alike. They find Sharon and Israel attractive while we hurt or while we concede. They throw us out of the diplomatic bed, naked and shamed, as soon as we look to defend ourselves or demand Palestinian commitment or world love at a cheaper rate and with less conditions attached.
I am all for peace and for compromise under the right circumstances. Palestinians do suffer and deserve a solution. (So do we!) - Still, over and above our yearning for peace and our desire to help the Palestinians, I am for commitment - from all sides. We are no longer a defenceless nation of the 1930s. We must not be the beaten spouse who returns to those who hurt us and bruise us time and time again.