A Good First Step, But...

Historic news from the Middle East that you probably won't read in the paper: Israel appoints a Muslim Arab to its cabinet. The article doesn't specify what Galeb Magadla will actually do in government, but it certainly represents a positive development in regional relations. He would serve as a useful envoy to the broken Palestinian and Lebanese governments and a capable representative to more established, Israel-friendly Arab states like Egypt and Jordan.

One particularly promising scenario involves using him to broker peace between Israel and Syria (article available on The Economist, subscription required). Apparently Syria has made quiet diplomatic overtures to Israel, only to be rebuffed by Israel's prime minister Ehud Ohlmert for fear of upsetting the Americans. Syria has done terrible things in Iraq, but even the faint hope of peace between Syria and Israel is a great development for the war-torn region. President Bush should not waste this opportunity to help a dependable ally and create a new proxy alliance with a strategic Muslim Arab state.

Unfortunately, this action does not address the root problem of violence in the Middle East. Contrary to Jimmy Carter's fuzzy thinking, Israel is not the impediment to peace and freedom in the Middle East. The problems are poor governance and extremism. The government in Palestine cannot function, and therefore cannot be trusted to deliver on any promises made with the Israelis. It isn't Lebanon's fault their country does not function; blame Hezbollah and their cheerleaders in Iran for last summer's catastrophe. Iraq will someday function, provided America does not lose its courage in the coming storm of casaulties (which will increase substantially thanks to this change in strategy). Where countries do not work properly, terrorists reign. Where terrorists reign, entire groups of people can suffer greatly.

Isreael is far from perfect, but it is not to blame for the suffering in the Middle East.

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