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Thursday, October 06, 2011

Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler

I had a study partner when I was in yeshiva who used to say that oversleeping is a good thing, because it means that you needed the sleep and at least you weren't wasting the time. Today, his wife is a prominent Israeli blogger, whose blog I am sure many of you read. I think of his words to salve my guilt every time I oversleep.

The entire week of starting slichoth at 4:15 am (4:05 on Sunday and 4:30 tomorrow) caught up with me this morning, and I crashed and burned after working (real work - not the blog) for a couple of hours this morning.

I will have more later today, but here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Thursday, October 6. I've had the Kristof piece open all day and may have more to say about it later.
1) Ignorance is no excuse

Nicholas Kristof asks Is Israel Its Own Worst Enemy? Given the author and the question you know his answer is "yes." It's hard to imagine a more fact free article than this one.
For decades, Palestinian leaders sometimes seemed to be their own people’s worst enemies. Palestinian radicals antagonized the West, and, when militant leaders turned to hijackings and rockets, they undermined the Palestinian cause around the world. They empowered Israeli settlers and hard-liners, while eviscerating Israeli doves. These days, the world has been turned upside down. Now it is Israel that is endangered most by its leaders and maximalist stance. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is isolating his country, and, to be blunt, his hard line on settlements seems like a national suicide policy.
Kristof is of course parroting Thomas Friedman's "I've never been more worried about Israel's future" plaint. Now of course those Palestinian radicals got their cause on the map. I don't recall folks like Kristof saying, "If they have to turn to terror their cause is illegitimate," the reaction was more like "if they have turn to terror their plight really must be awful." In other words, people like Kristof legitimized Palestinian terror. Netanyahu is, of course, nothing like Kristof's (or Friedman's) ignorant caricature. The man, who in his first term as Prime Minister withdrew from most of Hebron is not, by definition, maximalist. Since the intellectually lazy Kristof simply repeats the idea that Israel is isolated, perhaps it's worth checking out a different view. In Loner, Lee Smith argues that it is the United States that is becoming isolated. After arguing that Israel's position is actually somewhat improved because of the Arab spring, Smith writes:
In Syria, the Obama Administration has disdained to play any hand at all. The administration has hesitated to throw its weight behind the opposition movement, and U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford has warned that if Assad’s opponents take up arms they will lose whatever international support they have. In other words, as Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia all make contingency plans for Syria, the White House announces it is out of the picture. Net American gain: zero. By withdrawing from Iraq, the White House has effectively abandoned a vital U.S. interest to Iran. President Barack Obama sought meaningful engagement with the Iranians, but Tehran rebuffed even the administration’s offer to establish a hotline to prevent some minor event from turning into a major conflagration. The Iranian message is clear: There is no reason to talk, since our intent to drive you from the region couldn’t be clearer. Another zero. The White House has shown it will not take the Iranian nuclear issue seriously. Clandestine operations and cyber-warfare are not serious actions taken by a superpower against a state threatening a nuclear breakout: They are sideshows meant to assuage Israel and distract our Arab allies in the Gulf. Accordingly, the Saudis have warned they will go their own way by building their own coalitions against Iran. Even the Palestinian Authority, which exists solely at the pleasure of the U.S. government, and thanks to the munificence of American taxpayers, has decided to strike out on its own at the United Nations.
Take you pick: Kristof whose analysis consists of cutting and pasting tired cliches, or Lee Smith who actually looks at evidence before drawing conclusions. Then think about this: Which one writes for the publication often called "the paper of record?"

2) Moderate is a relative term

Elliott Abrams writes about Sari Nusseibeh and Palestinian Moderation:
Nusseibeh, the man of “humane understanding,” a philosopher by training, ends by saying that calling Israel a “Jewish State” would necessarily “arouse fears among Palestinians and Arabs about being ethnically cleansed in Palestine.” One may assume that in that phrase he refers to Israeli Arabs as well as those of the West Bank and Gaza, so he is not only warning of “ethnic cleansing” but engaging in some linguistic ethnic cleaning of his own here: he is referring to Israel as part of “Palestine.” Now, one can argue as Nusseibeh does that Israel should not seek to be a “Jewish State” and should call itself a democratic state with a Jewish majority. What is shocking about Nusseibeh’s view is not that conclusion but the arguments he makes to support it, which proceed from polemics and straw men through double standards and finally reach the accusation that a Jewish State would be a murderous state, ethnically cleansing and eliminating its non-Jewish citizens. This is perilously close to the accusation, made by the kind of Palestinian that Nusseibeh is supposed to loathe, that Israel is a Nazi state. Thus the state of the “peace process” in October 2011. A leader of the Palestinian “moderates” writes articles that make him sound like Khaled Meshal, Hassan Nasrallah, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in his description of Israel.
Now that's maximalist. Elder of Ziyon has also critiqued Nusseibeh.

3) Oh to be a nation

The Palestinians are going about getting support for their statehood bid. The New York Times reports, Palestinians Win a Vote on Bid to Join Unesco:
The initial approval came in a vote by Unesco’s 58-nation executive board. Full membership would have to be approved by the 193-nation General Conference, which meets later this month. The Palestinians submitted their bid for full recognition to the United Nations Security Council on Sept. 24, while international political leaders continue work to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. “We need the issue of the state of Palestine to be resolved in the U.N. system,” said Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian envoy to the United Nations. Unesco, Mr. Mansour said, “is one place where we can acquire our rightful place among the community of nations as a full member.” Membership would allow Palestinian officials to seek the protection of Palestinian historical sites by the cultural organization, other officials noted. That would create further conflict with Israel. For instance, some of those sites are in east Jerusalem, which Israel has annexed.
Interesting take on UNESCO, which has been actively denying Jewish historical sites. Asaf Romirowsky argues that the effort may backfire:
Geographically and demographically, the so-called Palestinian state, which includes Gaza and the West Bank, does not exist. It is divided between Fatah and Hamas, Gazans and West Bankers, so the dream of the contiguous Palestinian state is a farce. Pragmatically, Palestinian statehood would force Palestinians to give up the victimhood status they have been carrying as a "badge of honor" for over 60 years. Then, world public opinion would be forced to judge them as a state and not as the "underdog." It remains politically correct to call for a two-state solution, as the very concept sounds idyllic: Two states living side-by-side in peace and harmony with free trade and a free market of ideas. However, in the real world, we are talking about an environment where on the part of one side there is no recognition of the other's right to exist in the region, period. The majority of Palestinian society remains unwilling to accept Israel's right and today openly call for a one-state solution, a de facto final solution for the state of Israel.
Will losing victim status hurt the Palestinian cause? Maybe in the West, but not among the OIC members. Clearly upgrading membership in the UN is another step in the war against Israel, as Mahmoud Abbas himself boasted in an op-ed in the New York Times last May.
I'm not even sure that Romirowsky is right. So long as they don't actually have a state (as opposed to membership in the UN), I believe that the 'Palestinians' will be able to maintain victimhood status everywhere except the Republican side of the United States.

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