Where’s the roadmap?

Did anybody else notice that President Bush, in his State of the Union speech, said nary a word about Israel and the Palestinians? The phrase “roadmap to peace” was utterly absent. It was an astonishing omission. There will never be peace in the Middle East nor an end to the terrorism threatening the West until the Arab-Israeli conflict is resolved.

Perhaps the president didn’t mention Israel because he’s doing nothing about the insane situation there. As Palestinian suicide bombers go on blowing up themselves and innocent civilians, the Israelis continue to allow fanatical Jews to build more and more settlements on the West Bank, in the midst of Palestinian areas. It is mutually destructive madness, and it’s getting worse every day and in the process further inflaming the Middle East against the United States, which is widely seen as complicit in Israel’s aggressiveness.

One can have compassion for Israel and understand why it responds as it does. But it’s still wrong—and dangerous. The only possible outcome, if Israel continues expanding into Palestinian territory, is for it to become either an apartheid state, in which an Israeli minority severely represses an Arab majority to maintain order or, more benignly, with Palestinians outnumbering Jews, a non-Jewish democracy. Either way, Israel as we know it would no longer exist.

There is only one viable solution to the impasse: for Israel to withdraw its settlements entirely from the West Bank and Gaza Strip. And only the United States has the authority to compel Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to give up his unjust and dangerous land grab. If President Bush is serious about combating terrorism by bringing democracy to the Middle East, he must start there. Israel is every bit as important as Iraq, perhaps more so. Bush’s failure to mention it in his speech is cause to wonder about his real motives in Iraq and the Middle East.