Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler
Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Friday, November 30.
A blank state
The New York Times reports U.N. Assembly, in Blow to U.S., Elevates Status of Palestine:
More than 130 countries voted on Thursday to upgrade Palestine to a
nonmember observer state of the United Nations, a triumph for
Palestinian diplomacy and a sharp rebuke to the United States and
This is irresponsible. By framing the news as a "rebuke" to Israel the
New York Times is simply cheerleading. The second and third paragraphs
show how phony this approach is. First of all as the article
acknowledges, this vote is unlikely to change anything. In the third
paragraph the reporters imply that even after losing a significant
portion of its weaponry, Hamas is more popular than Fatah. This bid at
the UN, like last year's is simply a publicity stunt to keep Fatah (and
But the vote, at least for now, did little to bring either the
Palestinians or the Israelis closer to the goal they claim to seek: two
states living side by side, or increased Palestinian unity. Israel and
the militant group Hamas both responded critically to the day’s events,
though for different reasons.
The new status will give the Palestinians more tools to challenge Israel
in international legal forums for its occupation activities in the West
Bank, including settlement-building, and it helped bolster the
Palestinian Authority, weakened after eight days of battle between its
rival Hamas and Israel.
Still, the General Assembly vote — 138 countries in favor, 9 opposed
and 41 abstaining — showed impressive backing for the Palestinians at a
difficult time. It was taken on the 65th anniversary of the vote to
divide the former British mandate of Palestine into two states, one
Jewish and one Arab, a vote Israel considers the international seal of
approval for its birth.
This is a cute maneuver. It suggests that Israel should have no
objections to this maneuver because its source is the same partition
that gave birth to Israel. What it leaves out is that the Arabs rejected
that partition plan and made war against the nascent state of Israel.
Abbas would rewrite history and the New York Times abets that effort.
The past two years of Arab uprisings have marginalized the
Palestinian cause to some extent as nations that focused their political
aspirations on the Palestinian struggle have turned inward. The vote on
Thursday, coming so soon after the Gaza fighting, put the Palestinians
again — if briefly, perhaps — at the center of international discussion.
Of course the "Arab spring" was about other Arabs rising up against
their dictators, so their focus turned inward. Abbas, though, is
representative of the old order. He's a kleptocrat who became wealthy
off of his own people and is increasingly intolerant of dissent. It's an
irony that goes unmentioned because it would detract from the
celebratory nature of the coverage.
President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, speaking to the
assembly’s member nations, said, “The General Assembly is called upon
today to issue a birth certificate of the reality of the state of
Palestine,” and he condemned what he called Israeli racism and
colonialism. His remarks seemed aimed in part at Israel and in part at
Hamas. But both quickly attacked him for the parts they found offensive.
It would be nice here if the reporters would refute Abbas's charges. But
part of the celebration requires shedding a certain level of
The Israelis also say that the fact that Mr. Abbas is not welcome in
Gaza, the Palestinian coastal enclave run by Hamas, from which he was
ejected five years ago, shows that there is no viable Palestinian
leadership living up to its obligations now.
No qualification is necessary here. Abbas's ban from Gaza and all that it implies are established fact.
A major concern for the Americans is that the Palestinians may use
their new status to try to join the International Criminal Court. That
prospect particularly worries the Israelis, who fear that the
Palestinians may press for an investigation of their practices in the
occupied territories widely viewed as violations of international law.
Funny. Terrorism is a violation of international law, but that doesn't
bother Hamas or even Fatah. But this isn't just a fear, it was a threat made by Abbas himself in the New York Times a year and a half ago.
It's disappointing (though not unexpected) that the New York Times would
treat Abbas's stunt as a historical event with little skepticism.
Consider how it treated Abbas's stunt last year. After his unsuccessful
bid at the Security Council, the Times reported, Palestinians Roll Out Hero’s Welcome for Abbas.
What did Abbas do since then? Did he negotiate with Israel? Did he get
welcomed in Gaza? Did he arrange for new business with the PA? Did he
meet payroll without difficulty?
He did none of that. That's why yesterday's stunt, will just lead to a blank state.
Ron Prosor laid out the case against the vote (via memeorandum):
For more than a year, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
has attempted to bypass peace negotiations with Israel by unilaterally
seeking state recognition at the United Nations. Instead of pulling him
back from this cliff, this week the U.N.'s General Assembly may push him
over the edge.
Barry Rubin writes:
Many countries in the Assembly are taking an approach to Palestinian
statehood that is far more Pavlovian than Washingtonian. Perhaps this
should not come as a surprise. For decades, the body has rubber-stamped
any Palestinian whim no matter how ill-advised, ill-conceived or
The time is right to break this habit. It doesn't take an architect to
recognize how poorly Palestinians have laid the foundations for
statehood in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. U.N. members considering
Palestinian statehood have a duty to inspect these foundations and ask:
Exactly what kind of state are we voting for?
I have just this minute come from an interview with a very nice
journalist who asked me, “But doesn’t Israel want everything and offer
nothing in return.” What was most impressive is the fact that he had no
personal hostility or any political agenda. (You’d understand if I
identified the person and his newspaper but I’m not going to do that.)
This conclusion was simply taken as fact. He was astonished to hear that
another perspective even existed.
Eugene Kontorovich explains what the vote means and what it doesn't mean.
My first response was to point down the street two corners to the place
where a bus was blown up in 1995 and right next to it where a suicide
bomber had killed about a dozen pedestrians around the same time. This
was the result of risks and concessions that Israel had voluntarily
undertaken in trying to achieve peace. And, I added, it was possible to
supply a long list of other examples.
So despite Israel taking risks and making concessions, the Palestinian
Authority rejected peace. Today the same group is going to be recognized
by the UN as a regime governing a state. Moreover, this is a body that
is relentlessly begging Hamas, a group that openly calls for genocide
against both Israel and Jews, to join it.
Labels: Middle East Media Sampler, Palestinian state RIGHT NOW syndrome, Soccer Dad, United Nations General Assembly