Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler
Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Tuesday, November 6.
1) No return?
Recently, as Dan Williams reported for Reuters, Mahmoud Abbas apparently gave up his "right of return."
Speaking to the top-rated Israeli television newscast, Abbas was
asked whether he wanted to live in Safed, his boyhood town in the
Galilee region of what had been British-ruled Palestine and is now
Elder of Ziyon noted that Abbas was quick to correct himself.
"I visited Safed before once. But I want to see Safed. It's my right to
see it, but not to live there," Abbas told Channel 2, speaking in
English from the West Bank city of Ramallah.
"Palestine now for me is '67 borders, with East Jerusalem as its
capital. This is now and forever ... This is Palestine for me. I am (a)
refugee, but I am living in Ramallah. I believe that (the) West Bank and
Gaza is Palestine and the other parts (are) Israel."
That hasn't stopped Joel Greenberg from reporting, Israel’s Netanyahu cool to Abbas’s hint at waiving Palestinian ‘right of return’:
Remarks by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas suggesting
that he was conceding the “right of return” of Palestinian refugees, a
core issue in dispute with Israel, drew a wary response Sunday from
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after setting off a storm of
controversy in the Palestinian territories.
Note how Greenberg frames this. Abbas made a significant concession and Netanyahu was "wary" of responding to it.
“Only in direct negotiations can the real positions be clarified,”
Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting. “If Abu Mazen
is really serious and intends to promote peace, as far as I’m concerned
we can sit down together immediately.” Abu Mazen is Abbas’s nickname.
Netanyahu’s reaction contrasted with that of Israeli President Shimon
Peres, who on Saturday praised Abbas’s comments to an Israeli television
station as a “brave and important public declaration” by a “real
partner for peace.” Some Israeli newspaper commentators also called the
Palestinian leader’s remarks a significant development.
Israel Matzav believes that Abbas simply misspoke.
Jonathan D. Halevi writes in No Change in the Palestinian Position on the Right of Return:
According to the Palestinian consensus, the nonimplementation of the
right of return will leave the doors of the conflict with Israel open,
implying a justification to continue the armed struggle even after a
Palestinian state is created.
Nadav Shragai adds in Don't get burned twice:
Any Palestinian leader who dares challenge this consensus and gives up
the right of return in negotiations with Israel stands, at best, to be
ostracized and removed from the stage or, worse, executed. The
Palestinian arena’s harsh reactions to Abbas’ remarks to Channel 2
indicate the inability of the Palestinian leadership, even if it so
desired, to present a compromise position on the refugee issue.
In sum, Abbas did not deviate from the established, familiar, basic
Palestinian positions on the refugee issue, and he continues to regard
the refugees’ return as a “sacred right” that is in the hands of the
refugees themselves, with no one authorized to concede it in their name.
There was no real reason to wait between Abbas' Channel 2 interview
and the quick-to-follow clarification he made on Egyptian television, in
which he defined the right of return — which no one can deny the
Palestinians — as "holy."
Even if Abbas meant his statement, there was no real change in his
position, as evidenced by his followup denials. Yet even after those
denial, the Washington Post's correspondent still framed the story as
being about Israel's lack of receptiveness rather than Abbas's
There was no real need for this because Abbas and his colleagues, just
like Arafat who led the architects of the Oslo Accords astray back in
his day, are experts at doublespeak and half-truths: One language is for
Israel and the West and another language, completely the opposite, is
for his people.
Whoever follows reports by organizations such as Palestinian Media Watch
and the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) can easily see
that the Palestinian Authority is not educating its people toward mutual
existence and peace with Israel, but rather is denying Israel's right
to exist, presenting the conflict as a religious struggle in the name of
Islam, and through the visual and textual content it propagates,
eternalizes a Middle East devoid of Israel.
2) Turkey vs. Israel
Not only, as Michael Rubin writes, is Turkey putting Israeli military leaders on trial for the raid on the Mavi Marmara:
For anyone who, despite the last decade of Turkish foreign policy,
believes that the Turkish government is more interested in peace than
in inciting hatred toward Israel, Turkey’s decision to host a puppet
trial of Israeli leaders should put such notions to a rest.
... in addition, Prime Minister Erdogan is planning a trip to Gaza to boost Hamas.
And Hurriyet reports (h/t Omri Ceren) :
Additionally, five PKK militants were killed by the Turkish army
in clashes during another operation on Cudi Mountain on Saturday.
3) Echoing Egypt?
The PKK is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU.
Jonathan Spyer writes of his recent time traveling through Syria in Anatomy of a Revolt:
The absence of a clear political strategy and of unity was also
plainly apparent. Saumar, commander of the Ahfad al Rasul battalion in
the Mashad district, a big and very calm man, slow of speech, surrounded
by his fighters, told me “I’m a field commander, and I belong to the
Aleppo military council. But not to any external or political group.”
While the revolt against Assad is much bloodier than the revolt against
Mubarak had been, this element is an echo of the "Arab spring" in Egypt.
Those who have the clearest vision for the future are the Islamists. In
politics it is often not enough to be against something, having a
positive vision is important to gain support.
These improvised rebel battalions, consisting overwhelmingly of Sunni
fighters from poor rural families, are the backbone of the rebellion
against Bashar Assad. They are determined and courageous. But the revolt
suffers from an absence of any clear political goal beyond the bringing
down of Assad.
The absence of strategic vision is not without exception. And
unsurprisingly it is the Islamist forces who have the clearest svision
and set of goals. Haji al-Bab, an intense, blue eyed commander of the
powerful Tawhid Brigade, was concise and clear when I asked him
regarding the goal of his unit’s struggle. “An Islamic state,” he said,
“with protection for minorities.”
Labels: Abu Mazen, Arab spring, Middle East Media Sampler, right of return, Soccer Dad, Syrian uprising, Turkey