Tuesday, June 26, 2007

What Is a Moderate?

I've been amazed over the years by the categorization of groups as moderate or extreme and by the different standards used when categorizing Israeli parties.

Going back a decade and a half, I remember Yitzhak Shamir invariably being called right-wing, when by the standards applied to American politicians he would have been categorized as far-left.

Think about it.

For one thing, he governed what was then a largely socialist economy and did little to change it.

When it came to foreign policy, during the Gulf War he let people in his cities get bombarded by dozens of SCUD missiles and did nothing. Even the most dovish American leader would never have stood by as his people were being attacked.

Yet he was categorized as a hard-line, right-wing hawk.

Meanwhile, Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of a terrorist organization who has steadfastly refused to adhere to the minimal provisions of the road map and refuses any compromise over the Palestinian Arab maximalist demands, is mislabeled a moderate.

The bottom line is that if the so-called moderate Palestinian Arab leaders were even half as accommodating as the most extreme Israelis, it would be easy to come up with a peace agreement.

Of course, it wouldn't be so easy to get the Palestinian Arabs to adhere to it. But that's another story.

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