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Friday, December 09, 2011

Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler

Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Friday, December 9.
1) The enigma of Jeffrey Goldberg

The other day, Jeffrey Goldberg asked a few questions and demonstrated that Max Blumenthal made up a slander against Israel.

The next day, Goldberg quoted Peter Beinart and agreed with Beinart's slander.
I think we're only a few years away, at most, from a total South-Africanization of this issue. And if Israelis believe that the vast majority of American Jews -- their most important supporters in the entire world -- are going to sit idly by and watch Israel permanently disenfranchise a permanently-occupied minority population, they're deluding themselves. A non-democratic Israel will not survive in this world. It's an impossibility. So Israel has a choice -- find a way to reverse the settlement process and bring about the conditions necessary to see the birth of a Palestinian state (I'm for unilateral closure of settlements but the military occupation's end will have to be negotiated with the Palestinians) or simply grant the Palestinians on the West Bank the right to vote in Israeli elections. Gaza is an entirely separate problem, but one not solvable so long as Hamas is in charge, but even without Gaza's Arabs, Israel would cease to be a Jewish state if West Bank Arabs became citizens.

It will be extremely difficult for any number of reasons for Israel to leave the West Bank, but it will be impossible for Israel to survive over the long-term if it remains an occupier of a group of people who don't want to be occupied. I understand the security consequences of an Israeli departure from most of the West Bank, but I also understand that there is ultimately no choice. I don't believe a one-state solution is any sort of solution at all; Israel/Palestine will devolve quickly into civil war. The only solution is a two-state solution.
I don't get it. What occupation is he referring to?

In December, 1995 the Los Angeles Times reported:
In the last seven weeks Israel has handed over six West Bank towns and more than 400 villages to the Palestinian Authority. The authority now controls about 90% of the West Bank's more than 1 million Arabs, and about one-third of the land in the Delaware-size territory.
Efraim Karsh has expanded on this (h/t Daled Amos):
On September 28, 1995, despite Arafat's abysmal failure to clamp down on terrorist activities in the territories now under his control, the two parties signed an interim agreement, and by the end of the year Israeli forces had been withdrawn from the West Bank's populated areas, with the exception of Hebron (where redeployment was completed in early 1997). On January 20, 1996, elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council were held, and shortly afterward, both the Israeli civil administration and the military government were dissolved.
The geographical scope of these withdrawals was relatively limited; the surrendered land amounted to some 30 percent of the West Bank's overall territory. But its impact on the Palestinian population was nothing short of revolutionary. In one fell swoop, Israel relinquished control over virtually all of the West Bank's 1.4 million residents. Since that time, nearly 60% of them – in the Jericho area and in the seven main cities of Jenin, Nablus, Tulkarm, Kalkilya, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Hebron – have lived entirely under Palestinian jurisdiction. Another 40% live in towns, villages, refugee camps and hamlets where the Palestinian Authority exercises civil authority but where, in line with the Oslo accords, Israel has maintained "overriding responsibility for security."
In short, since the beginning of 1996, and certainly following the completion of the Hebron redeployment in January 1997, 99% of the Palestinian residents of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have not lived under Israeli occupation; rather, they have been under the jurisdiction of the Arafat-led PA.
(Emphasis mine)

Recently Sa'eb Erekat said something incredible:
In an interview with the Arabic radio station As-Shams two weeks ago, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat​ said that based on an aerial photograph provided by European sources, the settlements cover only 1.1 percent of the West Bank.
So if settlements cover only 1.1 percent of the West Bank, why does the entire West deem them the main obstacle to peace? Because admitting that settlements aren’t the main obstacle to peace would force it to confront an unpalatable truth: that the real obstacle to peace is Palestinian unwillingness to accept a Jewish state in any borders.
So a vast majority of Palestinians do not live under Israeli jurisdiction and the percent of the West Bank on which Jewish communities exist, is miniscule. How exactly do these data demonstrate an ongoing "occupation?"

The only possible explanation is that Goldberg subscribes to the Palestinian Authorities belief that it is the only party that can declare the occupation over. If so, Goldberg gives the PA the power to determine Israel's legitimacy. If so, what incentive does the PA to compromise or ever agree to terms? At some point, according to Goldberg, Israel will lose its legitimacy and the Palestinians will have won.

And this also means that the Palestinians are never held accountable for their incitement and their refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state. By Goldberg's calculus only Israel has legitimacy issues and the Palestinians are absolved from any responsibility towards advancing or even, maintaining peace.

So one day after demolishing one libel against Israel, Jeffrey Goldberg perpetuated another.

2) The progressives regress

Recently a Ben Smith wrote about the disturbing trend among Democrats to be hostile to Israel.
Two of the Democratic Party’s core institutions are challenging a bipartisan consensus on Israel and Palestine that has dominated American foreign policy for more than a decade.
The Center for American Progress, the party’s key hub of ideas and strategy, and Media Matters, a central messaging organization, have emerged as vocal critics of their party’s staunchly pro-Israel congressional leadership and have been at odds, at times, with Barack Obama’s White House, which has acted as a reluctant ally to Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israeli government.
The differences are ones of tone – but also of bright lines of principle – and while they have haven’t yet made any visible impact on Democratic policy, they’ve shaken up the Washington foreign policy conversation and broadened the space for discussing a heretical and often critical stance on Israel heretofore confined to the political margins.
James Taranto observed that the claims of these organizations sound familiar:
We can't recall if it was somebody from CAP or MediaMutters who said: "There are only two groups that are beating the drums for war in The Middle East--the Israeli Defense Ministry and its amen corner in the United States."
Oh wait, that was Pat Buchanan in 1990. That year he also observed: "If it comes to war, it will not be the 'civilized world' humping up that bloody road to Baghdad; it will be American kids with names like McAllister, Murphy, Gonzales, and Leroy Brown."
So how is it that two decades later Buchanan's themes--widely and not unreasonably described as anti-Semitic at the time--are being picked up by American lefties with names like Rosenberg, Duss and Alterman? Left-wing antipathy to Israel is not especially new. The academic left in particular has long glorified "Third World" political movements, including Arab ones.
Jennifer Rubin notes something else about this controversy:
This is frankly bizarre. Block is a self-identified Democratic activist whose pro-Israel credentials are well known. He’s actively worked for years to elect scores of Democrats. Of course he wants the anti-Israel left to be exposed. Of course he wants pro-Israel Democrats on record as distancing themselves from the CAP-housed bloggers who peddle in anti-Israel attacks and out-and-out anti-Semitic hate speech.

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