By Schmoel Yitzhak
There are no more realistic people in the world that the betting experts who regularly set odds at Las Vegas casinos.
Whether it's a sporting event such as the World Series or the Kentucky Derby, the professional betting fraternity always must be realistic to remain in business -- and afloat.
That's why it would be fascinating to have a bloc of betting pros examine the Arab-Israeli conflict and then set odds on the war being resolved. My guess is that the most conservative expert on wagering would stake odds of 1000-1 against that peace being attained within the next one-hundred years.
How could it be otherwise?
One side -- Israel -- has desperately sought a permanent agreement on tranquility in the region since the Middle East's only democracy was founded in 1948.
The other faction -- the Arabs -- have been consistent in their position. No, no, a thousand times NO to peace.
That's why the endless attempts by such outfits as Tony Blair's Quartet to inspire an agreement cannot be taken seriously. How could they be when even a supposedly lucid and fair-minded chap such as Blair endlessly sputters
inanities while trying to bring both sides to the negotiating table.
Just the other day, the European Union's prime negotiator condemned Israel for announcing that 2,600 homes will be built in East Jerusalem. "Israel," Blair asserted, "should refrain from such provocative actions."
Sorry, old chap, but building homes is neither a provocative act in East Jerusalem, West London, nor Southern France for that matter. As far as East Jerusalem is concerned, a Jew has every right to build there unless it happens to be what the Arabs would like -- judenrein -- and that is, free of Jews.
Uh-uh. Tony, my fine feathered friend, if you want to know what "provocative actions" really are, just try living in Sderot, or other parts of Israel such as the Negev where thousands of rockets have been blitzing Israel for years.
THAT is a provocative action; multiplied by thousands.
I can forgive Blair for one or two historic blunders but the otherwise likeable Englishman continually misses the point. To wit: Alluding to home construction in East Jerusalem, Tony went on, "We can't have unilateral actions that disrupt the peace process."
Ummm, Tony. When you're talking about "unilateral actions," please, PLEASE, start with Mahmoud Abbas and his attempt to secure United Nations recognition in direct contravention of agreements the Palestinians made out of Oslo and other mediations.
And pray tell, does Blair genuinely believe that Abbas is any more capable of hammering out a peace pact than his terrorist predecessor Yassir Arafat? If Tony does believe it then he's the permanent winner of The Alice In Wonderland Award. Hasn't Blair yet figured out that Abbas does not represent the real Arab-Palestinian power group -- Hamas -- which much be involved in any talks if any realistic peace is to be gained. Who can trust Abbas anyhow?
Israeli Arab journalist, Abu Toameh, who has covered both the Arab and Israeli sides of the conflict for years, puts the PA leader in proper -- that is negative -- perspective.
"Abbas," says Toameh, "is corrupt, discredited, weak and does not have much power. He is reliant on Israel, whose presence in the West Bank is ironically the only reason he has managed to stay in power."
Has Blair or have his EU colleagues considered the possibilities of the reactions if Israel actually withdrew to the 1967 borders, according to the PLO-Abbas' plan? Toameh has -- with the following appraisal
"Abbas would collapse," Toameh points out, "and Hamas would take over the West Bank in less than a day. If I were Israel I would not give Abbas one inch of land in the West Bank -- not for ideological reasons but to avoid a situation where Hamas and others would take over the area."
When Blair naively brings up the subject of "provocative actions" he apparently forgets that Abbas has been provoking hostility for years. Tony, if you want examples, check out the following:
* ISRAEL AS A JEWISH STATE: Abbas and the Palestinian Establishment have reiterated over and over again that they never will accept Israel for what it is; a Jewish state.
* PLO'S AIMS: It varies very little from those of Hamas -- the destruction of Israel.
* APARTHEID STATE: With consummate sincerity, Abbas and his constituency insist that Palestine would be judenrein; not one Jew would be allowed to live in Palestine. If that isn't apartheid, then what is?
English political columnist Melanie Phillips would also be available to enlighten her countryman, Blair, when it comes to defrocking the so-called "moderate," Abbas.
"Abbas," asserts Phillips, "has gone even further in making plain that his bigotry is directed not just at Israel. Considering the possibility that NATO forces might be brought in to police a settlement, Abbas declared, 'I will not accept the presence of Jews in these forces.'
"Such bigotry is hardly surprising since Abbas declared that the gas chambers were never used to murder Jews, and that at most 890,000 Jews were killed by the Nazis."
It behooves Blair and his pals to check out Abbas' words when he's speaking in Arabic -- rather than English -- denying Israel's right to exist at all while glorifying terrorists who kill Jews.
"The fact that Abbas has made no concessions is ignored," concludes Phillips. "The fact that he demands an end to settlement building but nevertheless refused to negotiate while such building was frozen is ignored. The fact that he is a Jew-hater committed to ethnic cleansing and the destruction of a country is ignored."
And that's why any realistic Las Vegas oddsmaker would give you 1000-1 against any peace treaty for the next 100 years!