The review is a comprehensive summary of the "peace process" and the prospects for the future, and is essential reading.
Morris writes that the Palestinian rejection of peace at Camp David in July 2000 (and subsequent rejections of the Clinton Parameters of December 23, 2000 and Israeli offers at Taba in January 2001) "will be regarded by future generations as one of the most catastrophic mistakes in this long history of catastrophic mistakes:"
right up there with the Palestinian rejection of the recommendations of the Peel Commission in 1937 (the first internationally proposed partition of Palestine into two states . . .), the Palestinian (and pan-Arab) rejection of the partition resolution of the United Nations General Assembly in November 1947 . . . and the PLO rejection of the Israeli-Egyptian Camp David Accords in September 1978 ([that] provided for Palestinian self-rule . . .)
In the rest of the review, Morris demonstrates these serial "mistakes" were no mistake, and that the failure of the "peace process" is not the result of the personalities involved, or the specifics of the proposals presented.
Instead, they are the inevitable result of the continuing Palestinian opposition to the moral right of a Jewish state to exist, their refusal to give up their victim status, and their embrace of Islamic fundamentalism.
Until that changes, nothing will change.
Morris refers to a recent memoir by Shlomo Ben-Ami -- Ehud Barak's foreign minister and one of Israel’s leading doves -- and notes a fundamental difference about how to approach the future:
Shlomo Ben-Ami ends his book by arguing that the United States, Europe, Russia, and the United Nations must together twist Israeli and Palestinian arms and coerce the two sides to agree to a settlement, because on their own, without such external intervention, there will never be peace.
Dennis Ross argues the opposite: "Imposed decisions will not endure . . . . An imposed solution will . . . be no solution at all." Peace can only be reached if the two sides genuinely agree.
Ben-Ami’s approach is the same as John Kerry’s non-nuanced one.
Bush’s approach is different, as the article in the current Jewish Week by Michael Oren, senior fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, makes clear.
Oren writes that Bush and Kerry have "fundamental differences in their attitudes toward Israel" that "could gravely impact Israel’s future." Bush "has departed substantively from all [the] traditional policies" of past presidents:
On the question of territory for peace, for example, the president has reversed the order -- now the Arabs must first give Israel peace before they can receive any territory, and he has specifically said that Israel will not have to return to the 1967 borders.
Bush is also the first president to go on record in support of the continuing Jewish nature of Israel -- that is, opposing a mass return of Palestinian refugees -- and has stressed his commitment to recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s sovereign capital.
The administration has repeatedly vetoed UN attempts to condemn Israel’s military actions against Palestinian terrorists, and rarely a week passes when it does not declare that Israel has a right to defend itself. . . .
Bush has also stated unequivocally that no progress can be made toward peace without the full cessation of Palestinian terror and the democratization of the Palestinian Authority.
Oren concludes that Bush "has brought Israel-U.S. relations to a level of closeness never before equaled." But Kerry may "pressure Israel to remove its forces from Palestinian cities or to negotiate with Palestinian officials who cannot truly deliver peace." Moreover:
Kerry's equivocations about the wisdom of the Iraq war and its conduct could provide a fillip to the terrorists who seek Israel’s destruction, and potentially expose Israel once again to a military threat from the east.
Kerry's stated intention to act in concert with the United Nations and to consult the international community relating to Middle Eastern security might not bode well for Israel. .
Oren, the author of "Six Days of War: June 1968 and the Making of the Modern Middle East," knows something about how wars in the Middle East begin and end, as does Morris. Both articles are worth reading in their entirety.