George W. Bush makes his first presidential visit to Israel this week, but no one is expecting that his presence in Jerusalem and Ramallah will bring about a diplomatic miracle and accelerate progress toward Israeli-Palestinian peace.
But there are some Israelis who are hoping that either Bush or Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will use these meetings or subsequent conclaves to "rape" their country, and force it to submit to an American dictate that would mandate more far-reaching concessions than even those that were already agreed to in the past.
Not to David Landau, the editor of Ha'aretz, the newspaper that bills itself as The New York Times of Israel.
Landau, whose byline is familiar to readers of American Jewish newspapers due to his many years as the Israeli bureau chief of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, earned a peculiar sort of notoriety recently due to his reportedly asking Rice to "rape" his nation via intervention in the peace process.
Landau's 'Wet Dream'
According to The New York Jewish Week, this bizarre request took place at an informal gathering of "military, academic and media elites" at the residence of the U.S. ambassador to Israel on Sept. 10.
Though Landau told the Week that he disputed the way his vulgar comments had been interpreted, he did confirm that he used the word "rape," and that he told Rice that it was his "wet dream" to have the opportunity to make the request in person to an American Secretary of State.
Landau, who made aliyah from Britain, is, by definition, something of an anomaly in Israeli society, as he is a religious kipah-wearer whose political views place him on the left, along with most of his newspaper's readers.
But while his tasteless comments have earned him an avalanche of justified criticism, he is right when he claims to speak for others who would also have used their chance to talk to Rice to put in a request for rape.
The alliance with the United States has bred in many Israelis a sense of dependence that is far from healthy. Some on both the left and the right in Israel have acquired the nasty habit of looking to Washington to win political battles for them that they can't manage on their own.
In the case of Landau and those who share his feelings, they are frustrated with the fact that, even though Israelis have elected a number of governments dedicated to achieving peace via territorial withdrawal, none of them has succeeded.
It does little good to point out that the blame for this does not rest with the willingness of the governments of Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, but with the refusal of the Palestinians to have ever taken "yes" for an answer.
Landau surely knows the current round of peace talks initiated at the Annapolis summit a few weeks ago is doomed to failure because the P.A. and its supposedly moderate leadership haven't the ability to stop Palestinian terrorism, even if they wanted to.
But rather than face facts, the Israeli left and their supporters still cling to the notion that if only Washington was not restrained by Israel's supporters, it could compel a reluctant yet grateful Israel to do what is in its best interests.
This is, of course, pretty much the same argument we are hearing these days from the team of John Walt and Stephen Mearsheimer, the academics who have slandered their way to best-seller status by falsely claiming that the Jewish lobby has manipulated American foreign policy. Their thesis, shared by some in the Jewish community, is that if only Jews and other Americans who care about Israel would stop trying so hard to support it, hard-headed "realists" could force Jerusalem to pull back to the 1967 borders and magically make peace.
In other words, to follow Landau's disgusting analogy to its logical conclusion, though the Israelis may have been saying "no" to pressure, what they really mean is "yes."
I'll leave it to psychiatrists to delve further into the troubled psyches of those whose political fantasies bear a disturbing resemblance to the rationalizations of sexist abusers who can't have their way.
But while their mode of expression speaks to the basest of human motivations, it must be understood that most of those who agree with Landau don't hate their country. They just believe that Israel's presence in the territories is, by definition, a sin that corrupts the nation and will lead inevitably to disaster.
The fact that handing over military control of these territories to Palestinian terror factions such as Hamas — which now reigns in Gaza following Israel's unilateral withdrawal from that place in 2005 — would lead to another more immediate sort of disaster doesn't seem to influence their opinion.
This blind belief in withdrawal and the willingness of the Palestinians to make peace despite all evidence to the contrary, is similar in a sense to their counterparts on the right who believe that the Jewish presence in the territories is a Zionist and religious mitzvah. They believe holding on to the Land of Israel transcends the obvious consequences of trying to incorporate localities whose Arab inhabitants undermine the demographics of the Jewish state.
But the fact that either set of true believers is sure that they know what's best for their country does not give them the right to attempt to dictate to their government.
Nor is it appropriate for them to use their contacts with American leaders to urge them to strong-arm the democratically elected leaders of Israel, as Landau tried to do.
As it happens, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been making it clear lately that he may be willing to exceed the previous generous offers of withdrawals and recognition of a Palestinian state. But it is also true that if he does that, his government may collapse because the majority of the Knesset won't go along with it.
Yet even if Israel went along with every conceivable American request, it is even less likely that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has any intention of risking his life by making compromises on refugees and the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.
Understanding this should remind us that just as it is inappropriate for right-wing American Jews to attempt to dictate policy to Israel from afar, left-wingers who long for the United States to solve their problems by force are also wandering into dangerous territory where their country's dignity as much as its sovereignty is undermined.
Facing the truth about an intractable conflict that can, at best, be managed rather than solved is better than living in a fantasy world. What Israelis and their supporters on these shores who think this can be transformed by a "rape" need is "intervention" of a far different kind. Not to mention a good therapist.