The Royal Treatment


Could Moroccoís new monarch, King Mohammed VI, have gotten any sweeter coverage from his own state-controlled media as he did from American media on his recent trip to the States?Timeís (June 26) headline crowned him ìThe King of Cool.î After all, heís ìhip. Charming. Mod. Mohammed VI is the Beatles of Arabian royalty.î The Beatles! Heís the Hip One; Bashar Assad is the Quiet One; Jordanís Abdullah is the Cute One, and Arafat still looks like Ringo. A regular Fab Four.Washington Post (June 21) reporters Roxanne Roberts and Kimberly Palmer positively swooned: ìThereís nothing like a handsome bachelor king to bring out a crowd.î The headline? ìMoroccoís King of Hearts.î

Said The Washington Post: ìWhen heís not ruling the country or attending state dinners, he likes golf, Jet Skis and race cars. … Heís so popular the younger generation call him ëM-6,í î said Marc Ginsberg, former U.S. ambassador to Morocco.Time tells us that ìAs he jogged along, scarcely breaking a sweat, the King mused on his devotion to Moroccoís ancient Jewish community.îMaybe the only Jews breaking a sweat were tuned in to omnipresent C-Span (June 20), which broadcast the kingís hard-line remarks upholding Arab claims to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. Of course, when Benjamin Netanyahu was head of state and spoke of his devotion to even a Jewish apartment house in Jerusalemís Har Homa it was widely reported and editorialized against as an obstacle to peace. Not so His Majestyís plans for Jerusalem.

Timeís reporting sounded like a Seinfeld parody of the Peterman catalogue: the king wears ìa metallic gray muscle shirt, navy running shorts, white socks and a pair of emerald Nikes. The thin crescent of a new moon is hanging over the medieval city of Marrakech.îOnly The New Republic (June 26) says the emperor has no clothes. TNR, utilizing two Israeli diplomatic correspondents, Danna Harman (The Jerusalem Post) and Aluf Benn (Haaretz), reports that the king has ìneglected relations with Israel,î and ìis reluctant to take on the general anti-Israel sentiment in his country … and has all but taken Morocco out of the peace process.

îAs for Jordanís King Abdullah, he, too, ìhas allowed his countryís relations with Israel to worsen, partly owing to an effort to improve Jordanís relations with the Arab world.îThe New Republic is solidifying its position as the most astute, best-written, Jewish or non-Jewish, English language publication examining the rocks and hard places within which Israel is squeezed. In the current issue alone (June 26), there are four stellar pieces: A no-nonsense analysis of King Mohammedís visit; a column by Yossi Klein Halevi, who also writes for The Jerusalem Report, on the humbling of Israelís left and right; an editorial on the Syrian situation; and the back-page ìDiarestî column by editor-in-chief Martin Peretz from Jaffa.Halevi, who has become a semi-regular in TNR, observes that the Israeli right and the Israeli left, for too long, ìwere both motivated by an arrogant optimism that placed the future of the Arab-Israeli conflict entirely in Israeli hands. All that was required was Israeli resolve, on the battlefield or at the negotiating table, and a more rational Middle East would emerge.îHalevi writes that ìin a less self-righteous political culture,î left-wingers would be asking themselves ìwhy Barak squandered his precious first year in office pursuing the Assad delusion and why [Barak] undermined his agenda for domestic reform by choosing as his coalition partner the extortionist and theocratic Shas rather than the Zionist and democratic Likud, on the assumption that Shas, unlike Likud, could be bribed into supporting a deal with Syria.îAlso, theyíd ask ìwhat would have happened had Barak actually succeeded in handing over the Golan ó and one-third of Israelís sources of water ó to a totalitarian dynasty that may now face a difficult succession. They didnít ask because Israeli left-wingers share with their right-wing counterparts a contempt for reality and a near-mystical belief in the power of Israeli will to change the Middle East. Even after the intifada and Oslo, the religious right still believes that if only Israel recovers its resolve, the biblical borders can be salvaged … the result is often self-delusion, a reductionist fantasy that ignores the regionís own logic and agenda.îTNR editor-in-chief Martin Peretz spent the better part of four months in Israel, ìand it is only now that I have the confidence to admit that I think the Oslo agreements were a mistake. Looking out from my rooftop apartment, I see the Mediterranean immediately to the west and the hills of Samaria not at all so remotely to the east. … Some day soon, I fear and I expect, mortar and missiles will target old Israel from new Palestine, from those hills to here. Only an idiot can believe that Israel has strategic depth anywhere but on its frontier with Egypt ó and that exception owes to the unique vastness of the Sinai.ì

The fatal flaw of the Oslo process is process [and] the father of this ëwhatís yours is yours and whatís mine is yoursí process is Shimon Peres, the French intellectual who long ago bought into the great contemporary cliche that territory is no longer important in warfare.îFrom his Jaffa apartment, Peretz can see that territory, and the proverbial storm clouds overhead. Israelis, writes Peretz, ìmostly eager for peace, have begun to grasp that their neighbors do not reciprocate the eagerness. Whatever happens to Ehud Barakís government, the popular enthusiasm for the Oslo process is fast unraveling. … In the eyes of many Palestinians, the imperfections of the [final deal] will justify riot or terror or both. … I once asked a dovish Israeli friend what would happen if a post-peace Syria suddenly diverted the waters of the Golan from the Jordan to its own uses. He said that Israel would urgently seek a meeting of the Security Council. Urgently! From my sun-drenched roof I behold the Israeli miracle along the coast and I think: It was not the Security Council that secured this; it was self-reliance. Even people who are not friendless must establish their safety and their felicity for themselves.î