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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Middle East for Dummies

I am sure that many of you have heard about the 'selfie' above, which was taken at the Miss World pageant, and includes Miss Israel (left) and Miss Lebanon (second from left). I am sure many of you have also heard that the image caused a scandal in Lebanon, leading Miss Lebanon to accuse Miss Israel of 'photobombing' her, and to release a revised image in which Miss Israel is cropped out.

Jonathan Tobin is spot-on in arguing that the entire spat over this image is a 'Middle East for Dummies' moment, and shows why despite all of the efforts of hundreds of diplomats over tens of years, there is no peace in our region.
The exchange encapsulated the essence of why peace in the Middle East has eluded generations of diplomats.
The problem between Israel and Lebanon, which is a more cosmopolitan place than many other Arab countries, isn’t a matter of borders or disputes over settlements. Many Lebanese may hold grudges about Israel’s intervention in their civil war and its occupation of a portion of that country that ended in 2000. But any umbrage about that must be tempered by the knowledge that the dispute was caused by the willingness of the Lebanese to let the southern portion of their country be used as a terrorist base of attack by the Palestinians, who operated a state within a state in the south, for many years. The same is true now of Hezbollah, which embroiled all of Lebanon in a pointless and bloody war against Israel in 2006 because of their cross-border terror raids.
Nor are the Lebanese particularly exercised about Israeli settlement policies or the plight of Palestinians in Hamas-run Gaza. Indeed, the Lebanese are, as a result of their own experiences with armed Palestinian militias and terror cadres during the civil war, even less sympathetic to the Palestinians than Israelis.
The problem is a spirit of intolerance and rejection for the idea of a Jewish state no matter where its borders might be drawn. That is a hatred so deep that it can’t be bridged by creative diplomacy or gestures of goodwill, such as those that infuse international events like the Miss Universe contest.
It is a cliché for contestants at such competitions to say they wish for world peace when asked for their opinions about the issues of the day. But what happened to Miss Lebanon illustrates that the divisions of the Middle East run so deep and are so primal that no amount of global hooey like a beauty contest is enough to make the Arab and Muslim world forget about their antipathy for Israelis.
Read the whole thing.

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