Jonah, you make good points, and I don’t like Beilin’s politics any more than you do. This is what I would say in response, and I’ll go in order:
1) A couple of things. (a) I think private citizens do work on environmental accords, etc. I mean, isn’t that what NGOs do? (b) You make it sound as though Beilin has cut an actual peace agreement, when actually all he has done is issued a glorified – granted, very glorified – press release. (c) I too can understand the Israeli government’s rage. This whole thing is very inconvenient for them. Living in a democracy sucks. (d) You and Krauthammer say that Beilin would have violated the Logan act if he were an American citizen doing this. But he’s not an American citizen. If he has violated some Israeli law, fine, let’s slap him in leg irons right away.
2) Good point.
3) You may well be right about the Israeli public. In which case, there is nothing to fear from Beilin.
4) This is an excellent point. And this is why the roadmap is the way to go. But I have more faith in Israeli society ultimately being interested in peace than Ariel Sharon. That’s why I think it’s important that he get pressured from his Left. And it’s very easy to imagine a time when U.S. and Israeli interests will diverge in the search for a negotiated settlement. For instance, Sharon will have an interest in preserving Israeli settlements in the West Bank, when the U.S. will have none. So it makes sense for the U.S. to provide some gentle encouragement for Beilin’s work. This is exactly what Colin Powell did. He patted Beilin on the head, then said we have to stick to the roadmap. Seems reasonable to me, and not “scandalous,” as Krauthammer puts it.
5) I think for the Jane Fonda analogy to work, Beilin would have to be pictured in a suicide bomber’s belt.