Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler
Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Tuesday, January 15.
1) Israel's right turn?
It was a throwaway line in a New York Times editorial last week:
There are many threats to a two-state solution, including an Israeli
government that could become even more hard-line after the Jan. 22
No doubt we will continue to see "analyses" (or more accurately, cliches) like this over the next week and coming months.
David Weinberg argues in Israel: Wary not bullheaded that not as much has changed in Israel as the editors of the New York Times (and like-minded people) think.
In fact I would argue that Israelis are pretty much where they have
been since the early Oslo days when it comes to acceptance of
Palestinian statehood, except that the world has never quite understood
what we mean by Palestinian statehood.
In The Israeli Elections and Political Reality Rick Richman summarizes what's convinced Israelis to be wary over the past 19 years:
The Palestinian state that Israelis can support in Judea ,Samaria and
Gaza cannot threaten Israel’s security – meaning that it must be truly
demilitarized, cannot form hostile foreign alliances, will bring Hamas
to heel, renounce terror, agree to Israeli or American monitors on its
borders, and accept a permanent Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley.
The Palestinian state that Israelis can support in Judea, Samaria and
Gaza must be a reasonable neighbor and willing to compromise – meaning
that will not contain any large Israeli settlement blocs, will not have
sovereignty over Jerusalem, and must share its airspace and natural
resources with Israel. The Palestinian state that Israelis can support
in Judea, Samaria and Gaza agrees to a permanent end to all conflict and
claims on Israel – meaning that it renounces the right of return, stops
all incitement, and recognizes Israel as the nation state of the Jewish
Unfortunately, the world community has not bothered to relate to these
outlines for a realistic peace agreement. Instead, the Europeans and
other Western leaders (along with Iran, Syria and now Egypt) have helped
ratchet-up Palestinian expectations to unrealistic, maximalist levels
and have encouraged Palestinian extremism. After all, the world
community is prepared to “recognize” Palestinian statehood on the 1949
lines even in the absence of any Palestinian concessions to reality;
even though Palestinian leadership is unwilling to negotiate directly
with Israel, never mind compromise with it!
The “dramatic imminent shift” is not a shift, but a realization; not
imminent, but rather what happened over many years; and not dramatic,
but rather the slow accumulation of many events: (1) the barbaric terror
war against Israeli civilians, commenced after the first Israeli offer
of a state; (2) the Palestinian rejection of the Clinton Parameters,
after Israel formally accepted them; (3) the Palestinian failure to
carry out even Phase I of the three-phase Roadmap; (4) the
transformation of Gaza into Hamastan after Israel withdrew every settler
and soldier; (5) the election of Hamas in 2006 and the Hamas coup in
2007; (6) two rocket wars from Judenrein Gaza, and the continuing
prospect of more; (7) the year-long negotiation in the Annapolis Process
that produced still another offer of a state, from which Abbas walked
away; (8) Abbas’s announcement in 2009 that he would do nothing without a
construction freeze, followed by his doing nothing after he got one;
(9) the continual “reconciliation” attempts by Abbas with the terrorist
group he promised to dismantle; (10) his failure to give a Bir Zeit
speech to match Netanyahu’s Bar-Ilan one; (11) the inability of the
Palestinians to hold an election, much less build the institutions of a
peaceful democratic state; (12) the violation of their express Oslo
commitments with repeated end-runs at the UN; (13) a Palestinian
society, media and educational system steeped in anti-Semitism; (14) et
But regardless of why Israel's next government is relatively more "right
wing" or "hard line" than the current one, would it really that "right
wing" in absolute terms?
Two years ago Elder of Ziyon linked to one of PM Yitzchak Rabin's final speeches to the Knesset. Elder of Ziyon's observations about some of PM Rabin's ideas are worth recalling:
The hawk that gave this speech was none other than Yitzchak Rabin, weeks before he was assassinated in 1995.
Yes, the sainted, Nobel-peace prize winning Rabin was far more hawkish in his positions than Binyamin Netanyahu is today.
2) The false premises of Middle East peace
Something to think about as people continuously attack Netanyahu for being so intransigent and "hawkish."
And while you are thinking about it, think about how the PLO's policies
have changed between 1995 and today in regards to what they are willing
to do for peace.
The answer is, of course, nothing.
Two of the most common premises about the Arab/Israeli conflict are that
it is central to solving conflict in the Middle East and that
settlements are the primary obstacle to peace. Following from these
premises is the conclusion that Israel must end settlements and offer
enough to convince the Palestinians to give up their grievances.
A number of recent, disparate stories demonstrate how wrong these perceptions are.
Recently, This Ongoing War asked Can salad vegetables tell us something about the Arab/Israeli conflict?
It was discovered that peppers being sold in a Lebanese grocery chain
may have been packaged in Israel. This led to a major investigation as
to how these vegetables got there. The blogger comments:
It would be nice to laugh, or even just to smile knowingly, about the
gravity hinted at in this news item. But let's dwell briefly, before
getting too amused, about how the presence of these packaged peppers
required the forensic interventions of (a) the Lebanese army, (b) its
military intelligence, (b) the Lebanese national police and (d) the
Anyone who shops in European supermarkets knows that quality peppers
increasingly means Israeli peppers. An angry "boycott Israeli goods"
website which we will not quote here (why give them the attention or the
traffic?) resentfully sings the praises of Israeli peppers and their
success in penetrating discerning markets. Such is life. Israeli
agriculture does a really good job of producing winning fruits and
vegetables. But before checking for leaks in the border fence, it would
not be surprising to learn that the peppers that infiltrated Spinneys
originated with a European wholesaler.
But more seriously, think about what this tells us about Lebanon and the
Arab world, and about the ongoing conflict. How good are the chances
for a better understanding on both sides of the dispute when the
presence of one word on a printed label, whether accurately placed there
or not, triggers the big-time involvement of the military, the police
and the judiciary? And that's just on the day of the "discovery". What
might be coming next? Is the Lebanese government going to fall? Will a
minister resign? Will Lebanon retaliate and if so, what form will that
take? And why is this not already in front of the UN Security Council or
the World Health Organization?
If the word "Israel" printed on a package possibly is a treasonous act,
how can it be that settlements are the cause of conflict? Hating Israel
isn't due to resentment of settlements, which would be - at worst - a
political issue, it is something that must be much deeper seated.
To the degree that occupation is the source of conflict, Dore Gold recently observed that Turkey's settlements in Cyprus don't cause much consternation in Europe (h/t Eugene Kontorovich).
Anyone flipping through cable television channels with his or her
remote control has undoubtedly come across programs about British and
other retirees from Northern Europe seeking to escape the harsh climate
where they live by venturing to one of the well-known vacation spots
along the Mediterranean coast. The difficult problem that these buyers
face is the soaring prices of properties over the last decade in places
like Marbella, Spain, the French Riviera, or Italy's Amalfi Coast, which
leads many to look for more economical alternatives. As a result, many
European buyers after 2002 have been flocking to Northern Cyprus, where a
villa with a swimming pool can be bought at discount prices.
The main legal question that is not addressed with this new European
property boom is the legal status of the area where these new homes are
being built. It should be recalled that in 1974 the Turkish army invaded
Cyprus, which had been an independent state since 1960 and took over 37
percent of the island. Tens of thousands of Greek Cypriots were
expelled in this period in what they viewed was a deliberate policy of
ethnic cleansing by the Turkish army. In the aftermath of the invasion,
the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 353 which demanded "an
immediate end to foreign military intervention" and called for "the
withdrawal without delay from the Republic of Cyprus of foreign military
The Turkish Cypriots declared their independence in 1983 by forming the
"Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus," an act that the U.N. condemned as
"null and void." Over the years, an estimated 160,000 "settlers" who
came from Turkey moved into Northern Cyprus. In many cases, properties
that had been left behind by Greek Cypriot refugees were given by the
Northern Cyprus administration to Turkish Cypriots and to the Turkish
settlers, who sold them to European buyers. To date, some 5,000 British
citizens have purchased homes in Northern Cyprus despite it being a
clear-cut case of an "occupied territory." According to a BBC report, as
many as 10,000 foreigners have bought up former Greek Cypriot
properties in Northern Cyprus.
But is the Israeli/Palestinian conflict really the main source of instability in the Middle East? David Weinberg writes in Counting the dead in Syria:
The figure of 60,000 dead is also a historic marker. Because 60,000
dead is double the estimated casualty count of the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict over the past 45 years.
Add them all up over all the years of the “occupation”: combatants,
civilians, and indirect casualties of conflict – on both sides of the
Palestinian-Israeli divide. Add in all Palestinians killed by
intra-Palestinian violence and/or executed by Hamas and Fatah as
“collaborators.” Add in Israeli victims of Palestinian terror. Add them
all up. And still, the total casualty count in Israeli-Palestinian
conflict doesn’t hit half the number of Syrians slaughtered by other
Syrians over the past two years!
Only by inflating the importance of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict
does it become necessary to pressure Israel for ever more unreciprocated
Finally, Elder of Ziyon noted a recent comment by Mahmoud Abbas the overextended President of the Palestinian Authority:
Following a meeting with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, Abbas
said that he had appealed to the UN to intercede on behalf of
Palestinian refugees living in Syria and demand that Israel allow them
to enter the West Bank and Gaza.
Abbas said Ban was told Israel “agreed to the return of those refugees
to Gaza and the West Bank, but on condition that each refugee ... sign a
statement that he doesn’t have the right of return (to Israel).”
“So we rejected that and said it’s better they die in Syria than give up their right of return,” Abbas told the group.
Contrast the bluster of the Palestinian leader with what some Israelis troops recently did. (h/t Meryl Yourish)
Soldiers of the IDF's haredi battalion Netzah Yehuda managed to
rescue three Palestinian men before the fierce currents washed over
them. Ynet obtained a documentation of the rescue.
The IDF troops were called to an area near the Nablus River, where, they
were told, cars were stranded with their drivers trapped in a
constantly intensifying current.
The storm was too severe for helicopters to arrive at the scene, and the
battalion commander resorted to utilizing a Palestinian's tractor that
was passing by.
By paying too much attention to Israeli settlements and hyping the
importance of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict would be do-gooders the
world over likely make peace less likely For one thing, they ignore the
role of antisemitism in the fueling the conflict. It also leads them to
ignore what Israel actually does and the apathy Arabs actually show to
the Palestinians. Most importantly it means that they allow Palestinian
grievances veto power over any possibly peaceful solution.
Labels: Knesset elections 2013, Middle East Media Sampler, Middle East peace process, occupation, right of return, Soccer Dad, Syrian uprising, Turkish occupation of Cyprus