ALGIERS, Algeria - This week's gathering of Arab leaders won't open the doors to establishing ties with Israel because of opposition from Syria and other hard-line countries. Still, some Arab nations are moving forward with a more welcoming stance on peace.
Some had predicted the summit, which opens Tuesday, would be "historic" in dealing with rapid changes in the Middle East: huge demonstrations in Lebanon and a Syrian military pullback there, new optimism in the peace process and increasing pressure for democratic change.
In the end, it won't be so daring. Arab League leaders are largely avoiding the issues of Lebanon and democratic reform, and they rejected Jordan's proposal for a new peace strategy that would offer Israel normal relations and drop the traditional demand that it first return Arab lands. Instead, they're likely to pay lip service to Syria's concerns about U.S. pressure and consider reform of the Arab League itself.
The gathering will be attended by only 13 of the 22 leaders. The others are staying away for health reasons or because of personal disputes.
For example, Crown Prince Abdullah, Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, is not participating — apparently because of the presence of Libya's Moammar Gadhafi, whom Saudi officials accuse of involvement in a plot to kill Abdullah.
The pan-Arab, Islamist, jihadist, martrydom-shahid, old-fashioned Bedouin honor-shame Arab culture will never permit the Arab nations to move past the 'terrible twos' in terms of international relations.
If Canada and Mexico were anything like the Arab nations we'd have unlimited parking on two giant glass parking lots. Israel shows remarkable restraint, and receives no credit in the international media.
Then again, look who wrote the article:
By SALAH NASRAWI, Associated Press Writer
Just another Zionist pawn in the Jewish-controlled press.
At least they left this reasonable offer on the table:
Instead, the summit will endorse a text reaffirming a Saudi peace initiative approved in 2002. That initiative said Arab states were prepared to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel in exchange for its full withdrawal from occupied Arab territory, the creation of a Palestinian state and settlement of the Palestinian refugee issue.
"Occupied Arab territory" includes Tel Aviv, Haifa, Nazareth, and Beersheba to most Arabs. But Salah won't tell you that.
When the Arabs stop teaching each new generation to hate Jews and to reconquer Israel, maybe I'll take an article like this seriously. Until then, Israel, keep your powder dry and your F-15's on alert.