Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler
Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Thursday, December 27.
1) "You can't handle the truth"
Yesterday's obnoxious and offensive op-ed by Thomas Friedman, Give Chuck a Chance had the following sentence (that a number of his Twitter fans promoted):
The only thing standing between Israel and national suicide any more is America and its willingness to tell Israel the truth.
What's the truth?
Jonathan Schanzer wrote in After Abbas (h/t Challah Hu Akbar)
Abbas's potential challengers cannot carve out a niche for themselves
at the ballot box either. Owing to the bitter rift between Hamas and
Fatah, Abbas refuses to hold new national elections. And Washington --
fearful that Hamas might win again at the polls -- has his back on this.
Palestinian Media Watch reported European-funded Palestinian NGO glorifies plane hijackings, terror, and hatred of Israel and the US:
In other words, Abbas has solidified his position as the unquestioned
leader of the Palestinians, and he will continue in that position either
until a time of his own choosing or until his demise.
To put it mildly, this is not a viable strategy for maintaining a
partner for peace in the West Bank. Nor is supporting a bureaucratic
maneuver at the United Nations, which merely granted Abbas a temporary
boost in approval. Such moves, in fact, only exacerbate the brewing
Palestinian succession crisis because they bolster the current
leadership without pushing for much-needed reform.
Two teenage hosts on the Palestinian Authority TV program for youth
Speak Up, which is co-produced with the Palestinian NGO PYALARA, chose
to read aloud a poem that glorified plane hijackings and threatened
Israel and the United States...
Two weeks ago, Suha Arafat told Dubai TV (h/t Elder of Ziyon, Israelly Cool):
I asked him why, and he said: “Because I am going to start an
Intifada. They want me to betray the Palestinian cause. They want me to
give up on our principles, and I will not do so. I do not want Zahwa’s
friends in the future to say that Yasser Arafat abandoned the
Palestinian cause and principles. I might be martyred, but I shall
bequeath our historical heritage to Zahwa and to the children of
Some of Suha Arafat's comments are consistent with an interview Saeb Erakat gave to Al Jazeera in 2009:
On July 23, 200, in his meeting with President Arafat in Camp David,
President Clinton said: “You will be the first president of a
Palestinian state, within the 1967 borders – give or take, considering
the land swap – and East Jerusalem will be the capital of the
Palestinian state, but we want you, as a religious man, to acknowledge
that the Temple of Solomon is located underneath the Haram Al-Sharif.”
Yasser Arafat said to Clinton defiantly: “I will not be a traitor.
Someone will come to liberate it after 10, 50, or 100 years. Jerusalem
will be nothing but the capital of the Palestinian state, and there is
nothing underneath or above the Haram Al-Sharif except for Allah.” That
is why Yasser Arafat was besieged, and that is why he was killed
Aside from that paranoid last sentence the sentiment that Arafat would
not compromise in 2000 is clear from both interviews. Making any
compromise was an anathema to Arafat.
The "truth" is much different from what Thomas Friedman or his
cheerleaders allege. Israel has made offers to the Palestinians
leadership only to have them rebuffed. Concessions by Israel are
pocketed by the Palestinians then universally and promptly forgotten.
But many of these concessions are material and then terror groups then
use their new position to launch attacks against Israel.
Barry Rubin recently outlined the process in Israel Has No Other Alternative But the Alternative it Has is a Good One:
There is, for example, no standing for any claim that the Palestinian
side has recognized—much less accepted—Israel’s existence. Indeed, a
“one-state solution” is daily advocated by Palestinian leaders.
But what about the destructive "settlements?" Here's Yaacov Lozowick in Keeping Track:
Yet the world’s outrage is reserved for Israel’s announcement that 3000
apartments will be constructed on land claimed by Israel on the West
Bank, all built on settlements whose existence until a bilateral
agreement was reached was accepted by the PLO and the Palestinian
Authority. Incidentally, repeatedly decisions of Israeli zoning boards
that permit construction in future provoke global hysteria about the
bulldozers moving in next week. Perhaps if the Palestinian Authority
would make peace those buildings would never get built in a few years.
Whether or not the announcement of this construction was a good idea,
the fact is that it is hardly the biggest outrage in what has just
happened. The decision is a signal that if the Palestinian side, or
indeed the world, isn’t going to recognize what was in effect a
treaty—contrary to international practice—and in favor of the side that
violated the treaty—even more contrary to international practice—Israel
is not going to be bound by the interpretation of that document by those
who have torn it up.
I will tarry for a moment on the single most problematic thing that
folks with clarity can see, while the locals should know better: the
settlements. In spite of my return to blogging this week I'm still a
civil servant, and I'd trying to stick to the Israeli consensus. So I'm
not saying whether settlements are good or bad or irrelevant or the eye
of the storm. I'd just like to remind readers of some dry facts:
Israelis know that their compromises haven't brought peace. When Israeli
leaders were "creative" to use Friedman's term, Palestinian leaders
said "no." When Israel has made substantive territorial concessions it
hasn't been shielded from condemnation, even when it acted in
1. The last time a settlement was set up was in 1997. The last time an
unofficial outpost was set up which then became a settlement was in
2003. Almost a decade.
2. There is no settlement activity in Area A.
3. There is very little settlement activity in Area B, though in a
number of places along the edges of Area B there are some local cases of
overstepping the line. Which means that for all the failure of the Oslo
process, Israel is still respecting its transfer of control to the PA.
This is not to say there's no construction going on in any settlements,
Of course there is, and it's the official policy of the current
government. Yet the stereotypic view from afar, about how the settlers
are gobbling up the West Bank and thereby preventing peace, looks a bit
different when you carefully look from close up. As do many things about
That's the truth about Israel that Thomas Friedman and his acolytes just
can't handle. After Israel withdrew Jews from most of the holy city of
Hebron, Charles Krauthammer concluded in The Road from Hebron:
The Hebron agreement was historic for Israel. It was the first time
that Likud agreed to give up a piece of Eretz Yisrael -- the land of
Israel. Netanyahu not only signed on to Hebron. He got a majority of his
rightist coalition to sign on as well. And he brought the majority of
Parliament along with him.
Much as the pro-Israeli concession crowd ignores it, Netanyahu has done
more for the peace process than any Palestinian leader. Arguably his
maneuvering to keep Oslo cost him a second term in 1999. Friedman and
his fellow travelers ignore what Israel's done for peace and repeat
"settlements" as if that's an argument. They know that their vision
failed but they can't accept that they were wrong. It's much easier to
blame Israel and pretend that there could have been peace if the Israeli
government had just been a little more accommodating.
Netanyahu's Knesset passed the Hebron-Oslo deal by a larger majority
than Camp David received in 1978. And Camp David gave away Egyptian
sand; the Hebron Protocol gave away Judaism's Medina, its second holiest
With Hebron, Netanyahu managed to bring most of the nationalist camp of
Israel to recognize that Oslo is a fact. He made his own promise to
honor it the official policy of a government of the right.
2) Besser for worse
During the 1990's readers of American Jewish weeklies got regular
updates of Israeli-American political news from James Besser. Anyone
familiar with Besser's writing knew his political orientation. In
America he was a Democratic partisan with strong Americans for Peace Now
leanings. While his writing (I hesitate to call it "reporting") was
usually marked by neutral language, you could tell by his sources and
emphases where he stood.
Now Besser is retired from misinforming the the American-Jewish public
on a regular basis and has an op-ed in the New York Times, Don’t Let Pro-Israel Extremists Sink Chuck Hagel. As you can tell from the title, he makes no pretense of objectivity.
Groups like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee were created
to foster strong American-Israeli ties and to promote the idea that a
vibrant, democratic Israel is a critical American ally in an
undemocratic region — a job they have done remarkably well in recent
Of course, Besser mentions nothing of other criticisms of Hagel. And he
doesn't mention that the same criticism of Hagel made now by "pro-Israel
extremists" were once made by his Democratic allies. The problem isn't with the mainstream support of Israel, but with Israel's critics.
But as the debate over the best route to peace for the Jewish state has
become more bitterly polarized, groups like Aipac, the A.D.L. and the
A.J.C. have undercut and obscured that message by refusing to distance
themselves from extremists.
Intimidated by pro-settler zealots, right-wing donors and those who
liken the slightest criticism of Israeli policy to Israel-bashing (or
even anti-Semitism), pro-Israel leaders are increasingly allowing the
fringes of their movement to set the pro-Israel agenda in Washington.
As Israel's efforts at making peace haven't brought the peace they've
envisioned, they've become increasingly hysterical about Israel and its
future. (See my comments about Thomas Friedman above.) Rather than
questioning their own assumptions, they feel that criticizing Israel and
siding with its enemies will somehow convince Israelis that more
concessions are necessary. ("Criticism" is a mild term for what goes on,
recall that Friedman said that Israel was on the path to "national
The New York Times probably wouldn't have a dog in this fight, but given
that Hagel gives its columnists a chance to bash Israel, the
controversy is worth a couple of op-eds. It demonstrates the degree of
anti-Israel fanaticism at the New York Times.
Labels: Chuck Hagel, Judea and Samaria construction, Middle East Media Sampler, New York Times, Palestinian Authority, Soccer Dad, Tom Friedman, Yasser Arafat