Mahmoud Abbas might as well be considered a dead man; Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak have killed him. Following a brief and angry meeting, they left a cyanide pill for him on the table and exited the room. He still managed to make two or three trans-Atlantic telephone calls and in a moment of despair swallowed the Goldstone report, which he is now trying to regurgitate in Geneva.
To force the chairman of the Palestinian Authority, of all people, to withdraw his demand for a discussion of the report - that is an Israeli-American dictate tantamount to pressuring him to commit hara-kiri. Extortion through the use of threats has paid off, and once again there is no party to speak with, nor will there be in the near future. This is what happens when one turns a partner into a collaborator.
Now efforts are being made to revive Abbas (Abu Mazen) - there's even talk of removing two or three roadblocks to help restore his pulse.
Netanyahu does not merely want to win; he also wants to humiliate. He does not merely want to stab a knife in the back, but also turn it in the stomach. Bibi understands the nature of the beast's soul - that of Israeli public opinion, which cheers on the toreador who places his foot on the bull when it is already dead.
History repeats itself, but does not teach any lessons. It is full of examples of short-sighted stupidity - of how people cannot make do with victory and insist on abusing the bull's body. This arrogant abuse creates a fertile ground for calamity and always ends with a high cost.
Germany was defeated in World War I. At that time, Woodrow Wilson had the insight to call for a "peace without victors and vanquished." But the British leader David Lloyd George, Italy's Vittorio Orlando and especially Georges Clemenceau of France had eyes bigger than their stomachs. They wanted to have their cake and eat it too; and so they broke Germany's arm as they tried to bend it - wanting it not only on its knees, but crawling. That is how the peace and humiliation treaty was signed at Versailles. That is how the ground on the other side of the Rhine was laid for Hitler's rise to power. That is how the seeds were sown for the World War II. And Clemenceau, who in his stupidity thought he could ensure France's security for generations to come, brought on his people a giant disaster just one generation later.
Egypt, too, was defeated in the Six-Day War. A defeat we immortalized in elegant albums which featured barefooted soldiers marching together on faltering legs with their hands raised, alongside embarrassing photographs of the boots discarded along the path of their flight. But their disgrace was not complete - not yet. That is why we ignored Anwar Sadat's peace feelers and threw salt in his wounds. We were determined that "a deep water port" would be set up at Yamit; those Egyptians will still see which way the wind is blowing in the waters of Bardawil, we thought. And that is how the Six-Day War led to the Yom Kippur War, which did not end with photo albums, but with a great deal of books commemorating fallen soldiers.
But it is Abu Mazen who has been humiliated more than anyone else, ever since Ariel Sharon called him "a plucked chicken." Next they'll try to paint leopard's spots on his body, just as the stripes of a zebra were painted on donkeys at the zoo in Gaza. The real zebras that had been there, and who had made the sad children happy, died during the last war along with the camels.
When a successor is found for him - for that reasonable man, that good Palestinian - only then will we once again learn the hard way: "Do not be too good, and do not be too bad." But mainly, do not be too victorious.
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