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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Saturday, August 11, 2001

Bush is right: Mideast peace can't be forced

Our hearts must go out to the people of that tortured land so uneasily peopled by Israelis and Palestinians fated to share it.

Imagine the dread and the horror that come from knowing that a suicidal bomber may walk up to you and atomize himself joyously — as long as he takes you and your family along with him.

Imagine the pent-up anger in the Palestinian settlements that allows the parents of that 23-year-old bomber to smile proudly at his ghastly achievement.

There you have the situation as it stands in the wake of the suicide bombing of a Jerusalem pizzeria that killed 15 and wounded nearly 100: near total polarization. If there is any voice for peace in this tortured land, it is drowned out by the uproar from both sides for retribution, fanning the flames of all-out war.

In this atmosphere, President Bush is right to back off. America's good offices will of course be available when the two sides can bring themselves to use them. Until then, it is senseless to continue, as has been the practice of past presidents, to expend enormous amounts of political capital and taxpayers' money in vain.

This tragic, blood-stained region, it appears, may have to taste blood on a grand scale yet again before its people desire peace enough to allow it to happen.