Powered by WebAds

Monday, June 04, 2012

Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler

Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Monday, June 4.
1) The Welfare state

What would happen if there were a Palestinian state? Two recent article look at that question from an economic perspective. Barry Rubin asks Where Did All the Billions of Dollars Given to the Palestinian Authority Go?
Foreign donors have learned that no matter how great the humanitarian benefit of any project it will only get done if they pay for it and supervise it directly. One notorious example was the effort to build a better sewer system in the Gaza Strip (before the Hamas takeover) which was delayed for years while the PA did nothing to help its own people.
PA leaders have received more aid money per person than anyone else in history and yet the results have been remarkably unimpressive. The leaders have looted the money and used it as political pay-offs to buy patronage. By patronage I mean paying off the proportionately huge security forces that guard the PA and provide jobs and salaries for its political supporters.
Yet the PA cannot provide jobs for most of its people or build good institutions. Luxury apartments are going up but not hospitals, schools, and infrastructure improvements. Even though the PA economy is doing well--how could it not do so given the tidal wave of aid?--the regime cannot even enforce its own law forbidding Palestinians from working on Jewish settlements on the West Bank. Thousands do.
In, Palestine, it will cost you (h/t Martin Kramer) Adam Levick looks at the Economist's case against Scottish independence and finds an implicit case (not that the Economist would make it) against Palestinian statehood.
In short, there is every reason to believe that the new state of Palestine would be an economic basket case, at the very least, and dependent for years to come on foreign largess.
However, the Economist was only expressing skepticism towards Scottish independence due to such economic factors, not, as in the case of Palestine, fears of a newly sovereign state which could launch deadly terrorist attacks, continue fomenting a culture of antisemitic incitement - a nation which indoctrinates their citizens with the belief that they can never, ever, live at peace with a Jewish state.
“Palestinianism” has never been, for all but a small number of its proponents, a sober reflection of the social, economic, political, and military costs and benefits of creating the 23rd Arab state (next to the world’s only majority Jewish state).
Whenever I read articles like these I am reminded of Daniel Pipes's How Important is the PLO? from 1983.
With this capital, the PLO was able to start large-scale business enterprises. In Lebanon, it ran a conglomerate called Samad ("Steadfast") whose 10,000 employees and estimated $40-million gross revenues in 1980 made it one of the country's largest firms. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), an organizational member of the PLO, achieved a near-monopoly over steel products in South Lebanon during the late 1970s by importing steel from the Soviet bloc at concessionary prices and paying no import duties (the PLO controlled the ports of Sidon and Tyre). Its factory, the Modern Mechanized Establishment near Sidon, undercut competitors and drove them out of business; then it raised prices and reaped huge profits. Many Lebanese believed that predatory pricing was integral to the PLO's plans to retain control over South Lebanon. In addition to its local investments - a hotel in Lebanon, a chicken farm in Syria - the PLO owns a portfolio of investments in the industrial states, including a disco club in Italy and an airline in Belgium.
The PLO also controlled most of the approximately $30 million a year sent by the Arab governments to the West Bank and Gaza, though on some occasions Arab states themselves became directly involved. For example, Mayor Elias Freij of Bethlehem received $600,000 from Kuwait in 1977, reportedly in exchange for refraining from speaking of peaceful coexistence with Israel.
All in all, the PLO's annual budget in recent years has been estimated at about $1 billion, prompting Time to call it "probably the richest, best-financed revolutionary-terrorist organization in history." Its leaders could enjoy an unusually opulent style of life; on one occasion, three PLO directors lost $250,000 of the organization's money at the gambling tables. If Yasir 'Arafat maintained an abstemious way of life, other of the top PLO brass were notorious for high living; Zuhayr Muhsin, head of As-Sa'iqa, was assassinated while residing in a luxury hotel on the Riviera.
How Fatah operates, is exactly as it was originally set up; more as a protection racket than as national liberation movement, where the goal has been the accumulation of the wealth of its leaders rather than the benefit of its constituents.

What changed in 1993, is that foreign aid became the source of the lavish style of Palestinian leaders rather than extortion and hijacking. In fact, I suppose it could be argued that they love money, more than they hate Israel.

Barry Rubin's observation about Palestinians working in settlement recalls another report. This was from the Israeli government in August, 1998 - towards the end of Binyamin Netanyahu's first term as Prime Minister. The Israeli-Palestinian Economic Relations report of August, 1998 informed us that:
The number of Palestinians working in Israel is steadily growing. Lawfully employed Palestinians in Israel today number about 60,000, of whom some 13,000 work in industrial zones and in the settlements. All told, more than 100,000 Palestinians are estimated to be employed in Israel approaching the record number employed in 1992.
Two years later, after the failed Camp David talks, Yasser Arafat launched the second intifada, a terror war against Israel. Perhaps one of the factors in his decision to do so was that too many Palestinians were economically independent of the the Palestinian Authority.

In short the interests of the Palestinian Authority have not been the interests of the Palestinians. Rather the aid without significant strings attached has created a culture of dependency on a national scale.

2) Olympic Silence

The Boston Globe argues in An Olympic silence 40 years after Munich (h/t Jeff Jacoby):
So far, the IOC’s position has been that Rogge has previously attended memorial commemorations hosted by Israel’s Olympic committee, so there is no need for the international committee to pay tribute to the murdered athletes at the games themselves. But the Munich 11 weren’t killed at a private Israeli event. The terrorists invaded their dormitory in the Olympic Village, blindfolded and manacled them, and then killed them after a 20-hour standoff intently followed by a worldwide audience watching on television.
“These men were sons, fathers, uncles, brothers, friends, teammates, athletes,” writes Ankie Spitzer, whose husband — fencing coach Andre Spitzer — was among those killed. The massacre was not just a tragedy for Israel; it was an attack on the games and the ideal of global brotherhood they are supposed to represent. The murdered athletes, in fact, were natives of seven countries. Only three of the 11 had been born in Israel; the others came from Poland, Romania, Libya, the Soviet Union, and the United States. (The American was weightlifter David Berger, who grew up in Ohio and attended Tulane University.)
Suggestions that a moment of silence would somehow politicize the Olympics or alienate governments that are hostile to Israel are irrelevant. By definition, silence expresses no statement and takes no position. It would be simply a quiet act of solidarity with innocent victims of terrorism.
In a similar vein, Lee Igel writes in Forbes:
The IOC asserts that part of its purpose is to act “as a catalyst for collaboration between all parties of the Olympic family.” It also avows, through long-standing policy, that the Games are to promote international goodwill and are not to be used as a political tool. This is a credible position. But the meaning of the Games—what they were founded on and what they stand for today—is political. Their distinction is that they do not, however, express a political philosophy; rather, they express politics in the sphere of a social value. They affirm the widespread belief that “sports is a common language.” Interestingly, only three of the 11 members of the Israeli squad who were murdered were born in Israel; the eight others were originally from either Libya, Romania, Poland, the Soviet Union, or the United States.
Moreover, the fundamental principles of the Olympic Charter trumpet the placement of sport “at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.” They also proclaim that “any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise” conflicts with the Olympic Movement. Whatever one’s political convictions, it is hard to argue that these principles (and the case can be made for the inclusion of several others) were not violated the moment the Black September terrorists stormed the Olympic Village apartments in Munich.
That last sentence explains what was wrong with continuing the Olympics in 1972. The principles upon which the games were based had been violated in an unprecedented fashion. The continuation of the games at the insistence of Avery Brundage made a mockery of any Olympic principles.

Igel made the point earlier in his essay that the 1972 games in part served to expunge the shame of 1936 Olympics. Brundage fought to keep the United States participating in 1936 attributing opposition to a "Jewish-Communist conspiracy."

Yet Brundage is still held in high regard. The problem isn't that he held antisemitic views, but that he acted upon them to the detriment of the games. Maybe Brundage should be due for some serious reconsideration.

Labels: , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home