A Startling About-face

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THE SPINE MAY 23, 2008

A Startling About-face

Imagine you wake up one Sunday morning and find in the Times that Frank Rich has written a column in which he has apologized to George Bush and endorsed the Iraq war.  Or that Maureen Dowd has gotten down on her knees and begged pardon from Hillary Clinton.  Or that Postmen Charles Krauthammer and George Will have endorsed Barack Obama.  Or, for that matter, that yours truly in this very space has seen the justice of the whole Palestinian cause, from 1917 on till today.You would now be in the world of the unimaginable, and that's where Bradley Burston who in his column "A Special Place in Hell" has written a letter to his "Palestinian friends, with sadness" has now put his readers.  Burston is  one of those relentlessly fair-minded, even annoyingly fair-minded Israeli commentators on the Palestinian question.  He's also a wonderful writer, so you can at once know his position and how he has come to it.  He is telling the Palestinians, his Palestinian friends, that they have run out of time, run out of sympathy,  have not yet persuaded anyone that they have the essentials of a nation, let alone the institutions of a state in becoming.  What does Burston think the Palestinians do have? Fantasies.  They believe their own propaganda about the Jews, that the other Arabs really care for the Palestinian plight, that international institutions will really help them.  The Palestinians, Burston argues, have exhausted themselves and their allies (putative, mostly, not real.)  They have alienated the Israel left, the Israeli peace camp, which is now a shard of what wasn't much in the first place.  And worst of all, according to Burston, they have proven correct every malicious intuition of the settler movement:  give the Palestinians land and they will use it against you.

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