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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler

Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Wednesday, September 12.
1) Embassy riots

In reaction to an anti-Islamic film, protesters in Benghazi, Libya and Cairo, Egypt attacked the American diplomatic compounds in both cities. Al Ahram reports:
Egyptian protesters on Tuesday took down the American flag from the walls of the US embassy in Cairo during a thousands-strong demonstration held to condemn a short film produced by California-based American-Israeli Sam Bacile, which critics say demeans Islam and the Prophet Mohammed.
The film was initially thought to have been produced by members of the Coptic Diaspora. Maurice Sadek, a conservative Coptic Christian living in the US, and controversial Pastor Terry Jones, who is known for his burning of the Quran, are believed to have been promoting the film but were not involved in its production, according to reports in the Wall Street Journal.
Many of the more Islamist-leaning protesters had answered calls by Salafist leader Wesam Abdel-Wareth – who is also the president of Egypt's ultra-conservative Al-Hekma television channel – to protest the film 'Mohammed's trial' at 5pm outside the US embassy in Cairo's Garden City district.
In addition Mohamed al-Zawahiri (Ayman's brother) called for the protests too. (h/t Challah Hu Akbar)

The New York Times reports:
Bracing for trouble before the start of the protests here and in Libya, the American Embassy released a statement shortly after noon that appeared to refer to Mr. Jones: “The United States Embassy in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims — as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.” It later denounced the “unjustified breach of our embassy.”
Apparently unaware of the timing of the first embassy statement, the Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, put out a statement just before midnight Tuesday saying, “It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.” Mr. Romney also said he was “outraged” at the attacks on the embassy and consulate.
Of course, the Obama campaign condemned Romney's criticism. Regardless of the timing, why was the first American response to the threat of the protests to condemn the film? Apparently, though, someone in the administration thought that the apology was a bad idea and disavowed it. Whether it was a disavowal of the apology or that the apology was deemed politically damaging is unclear. Instapundit has advice for the President.

Last week the administration pledge more aid to Egypt, and the Egyptian security forces didn't prevent the attack.

In Libya, the results were worse as the American ambassador to Libya was killed along with three others.
In a statement confirming the four fatalities, President Obama said he strongly condemned the killing — the first death of an American envoy abroad in more than two decades — and had ordered increased security at American diplomatic posts around the world.
“While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants,” Mr. Obama said, calling Mr. Stevens “a courageous and exemplary representative of the United States” who had “selflessly served our country and the Libyan people at our mission in Benghazi” and, as ambassador, “supported Libya’s transition to democracy.”
The killings threatened to upset Washington’s relations with the new Libyan government that took over after the ouster of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi and sour American public opinion about the prospects of the democratic opening of the Arab Spring.
2) Englishman condemns Israel in American newspaper; no rioting in Israel

Daniel Levy one of the founders of J-Street bolsters his anti-Israel credentials with an op-ed in the New York Times, Seven Lean Years of Peacemaking.
One thing is clear: The years from 2005 to 2012 have been seven decidedly lean ones for peacemaking and withdrawal and seven gluttonously fat ones for entrenching Israel’s occupation and settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In these areas, almost 94,000 new settlers have been added since 2005, some settler outposts have been legalized and thousands of Palestinians have been displaced.
In the Book of Genesis, Joseph is called on to interpret Pharaoh’s dream of seven fat cattle followed by seven emaciated cattle emerging from the river. He tells Pharaoh that seven years of plenty will be followed by seven years of famine — and to gather the necessary grain to see Egypt through the lean years.
But in interpreting the seven lean years of peacemaking, we can forget dreams and dream-readers. One need only look at how the Gaza withdrawal has reshaped debate within Israel’s dominant political bloc, the right-nationalist-religious camp — call it the rise of Israel’s 1.5 percent doctrine.
Levy explains that there's now less urgency in Israel for the peace process.
New dividing lines have emerged within Israel’s ruling elites, and the disagreements do not revolve around the details or timing of cutting a peace deal with Mahmoud Abbas. There are three competing tendencies within Israel’s ruling coalition: annexationists (who want to formally take over the West Bank), status quo merchants (who wink at the notion of two states while expanding settlements), and Bantustan two-staters (who want the Palestinians to accept 50 percent of the West Bank as constituting a state).
For the most part, I believe that most Israelis are "status quo merchants," in that they see a Palestinian leadership unwilling to make peace with Israel.

The term, "Bantustan" is ugly. The full implication of the term is that Israel would be the equivalent of the apartheid state of South Africa. When he was offered nearly everything he demanded at Camp David in 2000, Yasser Arafat rejected the offer:
At the close of July 2000, however, the Israelis felt that their generosity had been rebuffed. And the Palestinians felt that they were being offered a state that would not be viable -- ''less than a bantustan, for your information,'' Mr. Arafat said in a recent interview.
''They have to control the Jordan Valley, with five early warning stations there,'' Mr. Arafat said. ''They have to control the air above, the water aquifers below, the sea and the borders. They have to divide the West Bank in three cantons. They keep 10 percent of it for settlements and roads and their forces. No sovereignty over Haram al Sharif. And refugees, we didn't have a serious discussion about.''
The usage of "Bantustan" in the context of peace making then means that if Israel's offers don't satisfy Palestinian demands, Israel is culpable for the lack of peace and is thus illegitimate. By making it known that the Palestinians have no obligation to compromise, Levy, and like-minded Israel bashers, make the possibility of peace more remote.

But there's one aspect to this op-ed that deserves a bit more scrutiny:
Maybe this is all just a bad dream and there is no such thing as a 1.5 percent doctrine. Perhaps leadership changes, security escalations and recent upheavals in the Arab world are to blame. The post-withdrawal rocket fire from Gaza onto civilian areas in southern Israel is a frequent explanation for the lack of progress. And it’s true that these occasional attacks are inexcusable and a violation of international law (as are many of Israel’s responses and its own military provocations).
Note how Levy first dismisses rocket attacks as "occasional" then equates them to Israeli self-defense! In the 7 years since the disengagement, Israel has been attacked by more than 8000 rockets. That comes out to more than three a day. If that's how Levy defines "occasional," how would he define "frequent?"

In order to explain why there's no peace process, Levy ignores Abbas's obstructionism and downplays Hamas sponsored terror and blames Israeli ideology! If he believes that there should have been peace by now, Levy's dreaming.

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