July 25, 2014

The eternal refugee problem

Filed under: History,Middle East,Religion — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 08:19

Mark Steyn quotes himself extensively about the Palestinian refugees:

I’m often asked why I don’t write more about the Palestinian situation, and the reason I don’t is because the central fact of the dispute — the Palestinians’ Jew hatred — never changes. So I said what I had to say about it many years ago, and there’s very little to add. For example, in The National Post on April 18th 2002 I quoted an old Colonial Office hand:

    “All British officials tend to become pro-Arab, or, perhaps, more accurately anti-Jew,” wrote Sir John Hope-Simpson in the 1920s wrapping up a stint in the British Mandate of Palestine. “Personally, I can quite well understand this trait. The helplessness of the fellah appeals to the British official. The offensive assertion of the Jewish immigrant is, on the other hand, repellent.” Progressive humanitarianism, as much as old-school colonialism, prefers its clientele “helpless,” and, despite Iranian weaponry and Iraqi money and the human sacrifice of its schoolchildren, the Palestinians have been masters at selling their “helplessness” to the West.

In Europe, colonialism may be over, but colonialist condescension endures as progressive activism, and the Palestinians are the perfect cause. Everywhere else, from Nigeria to Nauru, at some point the natives say to the paternalist Europeans, “Thanks very much, but we’ll take it from here.” But the Palestinians? Can you think of any other “people” who’d be content to live as UN “refugees” for four generations? They’re the only “people” with their own dedicated UN agency, and its regime has lasted almost three times as long as Britain’s Palestine mandate did. To quote again from that 2002 Post column:

    This is only the most extreme example of how the less sense the Arabs make the more the debate is framed in their terms. For all the tedious bleating of the Euroninnies, what Israel is doing is perfectly legal. Even if you sincerely believe that “Chairman” Arafat is entirely blameless when it comes to the suicide bombers, when a neighbouring jurisdiction is the base for hostile incursions, a sovereign state has the right of hot pursuit. Britain has certainly availed herself of this internationally recognized principle: In the 19th century, when the Fenians launched raids on Canada from upstate New York, the British thought nothing of infringing American sovereignty to hit back — and Washington accepted they were entitled to do so. But the rights every other sovereign state takes for granted are denied to Israel. “The Jews are a peculiar people: things permitted to other nations are forbidden to the Jews,” wrote America’s great longshoreman philosopher Eric Hoffer after the 1967 war. “Other nations drive out thousands, even millions of people and there is no refugee problem … But everyone insists that Israel must take back every single Arab … Other nations when victorious on the battlefield dictate peace terms. But when Israel is victorious it must sue for peace. Everyone expects the Jews to be the only real Christians in this world.”

    Thus, the massive population displacements in Europe at the end of the Second World War are forever, but those in Palestine a mere three years later must be corrected and reversed. On the Continent, losing wars comes with a territorial price: The Germans aren’t going to be back in Danzig any time soon. But, in the Middle East, no matter how often the Arabs attack Israel and lose, their claims to their lost territory manage to be both inviolable but endlessly transferable.

And so land won in battle from Jordan and Egypt somehow has to be ceded to Fatah and Hamas.

As I said, this is all the stuff that never changes, and the likelihood that it will change lessens with every passing half-decade. I wrote the above column at the time Jenin and the other Palestinian “refugee camps” were celebrating their Golden Jubilee. That’s to say, the “UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees” is older than most African, Caribbean or Pacific states. What sort of human capital do you wind up with after four generations have been born as “refugees”? If you’ve ever met a charming, urbane Palestinian doctor or lawyer in London or Paris, you’ll know that anyone who isn’t a total idiot — ie, the kind of people you need to build a nation — got out long ago. The nominal control of the land has passed from Jordan and Egypt to Israel to Arafat to Abbas to Hamas, but the UNRWA is forever, runnning its Mister Magoo ground operation and, during the periodic flare-ups, issuing its usual befuddled statements professing complete shock at discovering that Hamas is operating rocket launchers from the local kindergarten.

July 18, 2014

The Israeli-Palestinian situation is difficult to solve, but not complex

Filed under: Media,Middle East,Military — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 07:14

David Harsanyi responds to a silly post at Vox by Max Fisher:

    This is the one thing that both Hamas and Israel seem to share: a willingness to adopt military tactics that will put Palestinian civilians at direct risk and that contribute, however unintentionally, to the deaths of Palestinian civilians. Partisans in the Israel-Palestine conflict want to make that an argument over which “side” has greater moral culpability in the continued killings of Palestinian civilians. And there is validity to asking whether Hamas should so ensconce itself among civilians in a way that will invite attacks, just as there is validity to asking why Israel seems to show so little restraint in dropping bombs over Gaza neighborhoods. But even that argument over moral superiority ultimately treats those dying Palestinian families as pawns in the conflict, tokens to be counted for or against, their humanity and suffering so easily disregarded.

A “partisan” writing about a conflict as if he we an honest broker is distracting, but read it again. You might note that one of the institutions he’s talking about is the governing authority of the Palestinian people in Gaza, which, applying even the most basic standards of decency, should task itself with safeguarding the lives of civilians. Instead, it makes martyrs out of children and relies on the compassion of Israelis to protect its weapons. This is a tragedy, of course, but Israel does have to bomb caches of rockets hidden by “militants” in Mosques, schools, and hospitals. Since Hamas’ terrorist complex is deeply embedded in Gaza’s civilian infrastructure there is really no other way. And that only tells us that one of the two organizations mentioned by Fisher has purposely decided to use Palestinian as pawns and put civilians in harm’s way.

It is also preposterous to claim that Israel is showing “little restraint in dropping bombs over Gaza neighborhoods.” Actually, Israel is far more concerned with the wellbeing of Palestinians civilians than Hamas. This week, 13 Hamas fighters used a tunnel into Israel and attempted to murder 150 civilians in Kibbutz Sufa, with Kalashnikovs and anti-tank weapons. On the same day, Israel issued early warnings before attacking Hamas targets – as it often has throughout this conflict in an effort to avoid needless civilian deaths Hamas is hoping for. It was Israel that agreed to a five-hour cease-fire so that UN aid could flow into Gaza last week. It is Israel that sends hundreds of thousands of tons of food to Gaza every year, millions of articles of clothing and medical aid. That’s more than restraint.


I often hear people claim that the Israel-Palestinian situation is complex. It isn’t. It’s difficult to solve, indeed, but it’s not complex. One side refuses to engage in any serious efforts to make peace with modernity and with Jews. So, for those like Andrew Sullivan and some of the folks at The American Conservative, who argue that Israel is the one drifting from Western ideals, I think Douglas Murray has the best retort:

    A gap may well be emerging. But not because Israel has drifted away from the West. Rather because today in much of the West, as we bask in the afterglow of our achievements — eager to enjoy our rights, but unwilling to defend them — it is the West that is, slowly but surely, drifting away from itself.

Update: Charles Krauthammer says this is a rare moment of moral clarity.

Israel accepts an Egyptian-proposed Gaza ceasefire; Hamas keeps firing. Hamas deliberately aims rockets at civilians; Israel painstakingly tries to avoid them, actually telephoning civilians in the area and dropping warning charges, so-called roof knocking.

“Here’s the difference between us,” explains the Israeli prime minister. “We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.”

Rarely does international politics present a moment of such moral clarity. Yet we routinely hear this Israel–Gaza fighting described as a morally equivalent “cycle of violence.” This is absurd. What possible interest can Israel have in cross-border fighting? Everyone knows Hamas set off this mini-war. And everyone knows Hamas’s proudly self-declared raison d’être: the eradication of Israel and its Jews.


Why? The rockets can’t even inflict serious damage, being almost uniformly intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system. Even West Bank leader Mahmoud Abbas has asked: “What are you trying to achieve by sending rockets?”

It makes no sense. Unless you understand, as a Washington Post editorial explained, that the whole point is to draw Israeli counterfire.

This produces dead Palestinians for international television. Which is why Hamas perversely urges its own people not to seek safety when Israel drops leaflets warning of an imminent attack.

To deliberately wage war so that your own people can be telegenically killed is indeed moral and tactical insanity. But it rests on a very rational premise: Given the Orwellian state of the world’s treatment of Israel (see: the U.N.’s grotesque Human Rights Council), fueled by a mix of classic anti-Semitism, near-total historical ignorance, and reflexive sympathy for the ostensible Third World underdog, these eruptions featuring Palestinian casualties ultimately undermine support for Israel’s legitimacy and right to self-defense.

July 14, 2014

Militant wings – “the evil twins of geopolitics”

Filed under: Middle East,Military,Politics — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 09:50

Jim Geraghty from today’s Morning Jolt email:

Ah, the “military wing.” Hamas’ Khaled Meshaal told Al-Jazeera last month, “Hamas is comprised of a political wing and a military wing.”

Really? Because from over here, it looks like a public-relations wing and a convenient-scapegoat wing. “Oh, it wasn’t us that fired those rockets! It was our militant wing!” Militant wings are the evil twins of geopolitics. If your organization has a military wing — as opposed to an actual, declared, uniforms-and-everything-military — you’re probably a troublemaker. You notice the good guys in life rarely have a militant wing. “I’m with a hardline faction of the Red Cross.” “I’m with Mother Theresa’s paramilitary branch.”

These groups really seem to think that the political wing can’t be blamed for what the militant wing does. Guys, you’re two halves of the same chicken. Colonel Sanders just sees one bird.

The Israeli Defense Forces Twitter feed declared this morning that: “Since July 8, 38 rockets fired from Gaza have fallen within Gaza. Hamas fires from civilian areas … and hits its own people.” They’ve also released video of three airstrikes called off because of risk to civilians.

Hamas uses its own people as human shields, in an effort to get international sympathy. How does Hamas continually sell this strategy to the Palestinians? Remember, they’ve won elections! How do you win at the ballot box with the slogan, “To protect ourselves, we’re going to use you and your children as human shields!”? You’re really awful, Fatah; you lost an election to an alternative that promises to get the voters killed!

March 4, 2014

Obama’s Netanyahu media ambush claims one casualty – the peace process

Filed under: Middle East,USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 11:14

Jonathan Tobin identifies the problem with President Obama’s pre-emptive media strike against Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu:

President Obama may have thought he was being very clever ambushing Prime Minister Netanyahu with scathing comments about Israeli policies that would be published just before he arrived in the United States for a meeting at the White House and to speak at the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). By slamming Netanyahu’s policies as the primary, if not the sole obstacle to peace in the Middle East, in the now infamous interview with Bloomberg’s Jeffrey Goldberg, the president put the Israeli on the defensive and undermined his attempts to rally support for his positions with both AIPAC members and Congress. That should also have made it more difficult for Netanyahu to resist American pressure to make concessions to the Palestinians in order to help the negotiations sponsored by Secretary of State John Kerry succeed. But the president’s move had to leave those who have actually been following the talks with the Palestinians scratching their heads.

Kerry’s current objective is to get both parties to agree to a framework for continued talks. As has been widely reported, Netanyahu has already signaled his consent to the framework even though he and his Cabinet have grave misgivings about where the talks may eventually lead. By contrast, the Palestinians have repeatedly and publicly rejected the framework. The Palestinians have angrily rejected the framework’s requirement that they recognize Israel as a Jewish state, which is to say they agree to end the conflict rather than merely pause it. They also reject the West Bank security guarantees included in the framework even though it also contains their basic demands about a Palestinian state whose borders will be based on the 1967 borders while leaving open the possibility of territorial swaps. In other words, the Israelis have already given Kerry what he wanted while the Palestinians have done the opposite. Yet Obama still treats Israel as the truant and lauds Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas as a trustworthy warrior for peace even though his government is a font of incitement for hatred against Jews and Israelis and he has repeatedly rejected every previous offer of statehood because he and his people remain unable or unwilling to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn.

By speaking in this manner about Israel, Obama has pleased the Palestinians, Netanyahu’s Jewish critics and Israel-bashers everywhere. But it will also do something else that perhaps the president never intended. He has killed any chance that Kerry’s peace talks could possibly succeed.

The problem isn’t Israel (although they’ve made the situation tougher to resolve in several ways): the problem is that no Palestinian leader dares to accept any proposal that explicitly accepts Israel’s right to exist. If Abbas agreed to that, Abbas himself would probably cease to exist in short order. Arafat at the height of his power didn’t dare to take that step, and no Palestinian leader since Arafat has had as much control, power, or influence among the factions and groups that loosely form Palestine politically. This is known to the American government — it can hardly be much of a secret — but for political reasons it can’t be stated. If one side cannot possibly agree, then in the looking glass world of diplomacy, you must berate the other side for their intransigence. It doesn’t matter who is President … this is the reality that must be ignored or wished away (because it’s not going away on its own).

August 25, 2013

Another (pointless) round of Mideast peace talks

Filed under: Middle East,USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 11:53

Strategy Page on the upcoming “negotiations” over the Israeli-Palestinian situation:

Why are the Palestinians participating in yet another round of American- sponsored peace talks with Israel? It’s mostly about money. This round was forced on the Israelis and Palestinians by the U.S., which threatened to withhold aid (1.3 billion a year to Israel about half as much to the Palestinians) if the two did not at least go through the motions. Many knowledgeable observers see another round of talks as pointless. Arabs and Palestinians have not changed their “kill all Jews” attitudes towards Israel and the Israelis have still not agreed to just disappear. Because of the continued Arab intransigence over Israel, opinion polls show that most Israelis are opposed to any peace deal with the Palestinians that involves withdrawing Jews from the West Bank or Jerusalem and believe the peace talks will fail.

The Americans want the talks for domestic political reasons. The Israelis don’t mind having another opportunity to force the Palestinians to admit all their hypocrisy and anti-Semitism. The Palestinians don’t care about that because they are in big trouble. The current Fatah leadership (Hamas, which runs Gaza, is not participating) is in a desperate situation. Fatah is committed to pushing for “statehood” in the UN, but has been told by the U.S. that such a move will mean withdrawal of $600 million a year in American aid. Israel said it will withhold $100 million a year in customs taxes it collects for Fatah. Backing away from the UN statehood effort would be very embarrassing. The “peace talks” provide a credible excuse to back off.

Given the heat Fatah has been taking from Palestinians over more than a decade of increasing corruption and poverty, losing $700 million a year in aid would put Fatah out of power and probably out of business. So Fatah will go through the motions to calm down the Americans and Israelis while a new strategy is developed and sold to Palestinians. The current one got going in 2000, when Fatah turned down the best peace deal it was probably ever going to get (and would probably accept today) because the Palestinian radicals threatened civil war if Fatah took the Israeli offer. In retrospect that was a hollow threat, but at the time it seemed a good idea to turn down the peace offer and start a terrorist campaign against Israel. That failed, and was largely defeated by 2005. But it all made the Palestinian radicals stronger and too many Palestinians unemployed, broke and angry. It also allowed Islamic radical group Hamas to take control of Gaza, where 40 percent of Palestinians lived. To make matters worse the great Palestinian patron Saddam Hussein lost power, and his life, cutting off another source of cash. Palestinian children are still taught to honor and praise Saddam, which has become something of a media liability. Other Arab allies have become less supportive and more insistent that the Palestinians make peace with Israel and stop being professional victims and career beggars.

February 12, 2013

Palestine as a useful symbol, but Palestinians as inconvenient “guests”

Filed under: History,Middle East,Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:28

Strategy Page on the paradoxical Arab view of Palestine as worth fighting for, but actual living Palestinians as less-than-welcome pests (or worse):

While most Arabs will admit they hate Israel, they will also deny that this has anything to do with anti-Semitism and has everything to do with the Palestinians. This is not true, as Arabs have long demonstrated a hostility towards the Jews, something which is part of their religion. It’s in their scriptures, the stories of how Jews refused to support Mohammed, the founder of Islam. Long held grudges are popular in this part of the world.

Meanwhile, there are many more recent reasons for Arabs to dislike the Palestinians. When the state of Israel was established in 1947 there began a series of bad decisions by Arab governments that are setting records for failure. Although the UN tried to broker the creation of Israel, Arab nations misjudged their own power and told Arabs in Israel to flee their homes, so that the Arab armies could come in and kill all the Jews. When that didn’t work, the Arabs refused to absorb the 600,000 Arab refugees, and continues to treat (actually, mistreat) them as refugees. At the same time, the Arabs expelled 600,000 Jews who had been living among them for centuries. Most of these Jews went to Israel and become Israelis, and prospered.

Thus began decades of hostility between Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world. The Palestinians that fled to Lebanon proceeded to trigger a 15 year long civil war (1975-90) that devastated the country and left in place a Shia militia in the south (Hezbollah) that prevents the country from being truly united. The Palestinians that fled to Jordan eventually (1970) staged an uprising against the king, and were defeated and largely expelled. The Palestinians that went to Kuwait welcomed the Iraqi invasion of 1990 because Saddam Hussein had always been very loud about wanting to destroy Israel. When Arab and Western troops tossed Saddam out of Kuwait five months later, the Palestinians were forced to flee the vengeance of the Kuwaitis. The Palestinians that went to Iraq also had to flee in 2003, because they had helped Saddam terrorize the Shia and Kurdish majority and were, well, you know the story.

November 23, 2012

Brendan O’Neill: Israel as a “rogue state”

Filed under: Media,Middle East,Politics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 10:23

In the Telegraph, Brendan O’Neill on the branding of Israel as a rogue state by the usual suspects:

Events of the past week have illuminated what Israel has become in Western political circles: a rogue state for the right-on. Where George W Bush had Iraq, and Barack Obama has Iran, Western Leftists have Israel: an allegedly rogue entity, a deviant state, whose lawlessness they can rail against in precisely the same way that American leaders slam states that they judge to be roguish. Today’s fashionable bashing of Israel is not a genuinely anti-imperialist or even particularly anti-war stance — rather, it is motored by the same thirst to discover a faraway embodiment of evil we can all get righteously angry about that has fuelled American foreign policy in recent years.

The most striking thing about the Israel-bashing lobby is how similar its language is to that used by Washington, which is hardly known for its peacenik virtues. Most strikingly, the anti-Israel set promiscuously bandies about the phrase “rogue state”, which was first invented by the Clinton administration in the 1990s in its desperate search for post-Soviet Union foreign wickedness that it might define itself against. As one author has said, the term “rogue state” is used by Western officials as a “certificate of dangerous insanity in the diplomatic world” — that is, it is used to brand certain states as mad, bad and beyond the Pale, as offensive to all right-minded people. A very similar streak of Western chauvinism runs through the Israel-loathing lobby.

So this week, Labour MP Gerald Kaufman said Israel is a “rogue state” and an “aggressor state”. Leaving aside that it is hilariously hypocritical for a man who voted for both the Labour government’s bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 (600 dead) and its bombing of Iraq in 2003 (many thousands dead) to snootily refer to another state as an “aggressor” — what is more striking is Kaufman’s insistence that Israel is “criminal” and that its people are “complicit in [their] government’s war crimes”. This depiction of Israel as deviant, as rogue, as a breaker of international laws, and the burdening of its people with collective guilt for all this criminality, precisely echoes the arguments used by the most war-hungry of today’s Western politicians as they seek to assert their authority over some “bad state” or “bad people” overseas.

November 20, 2012

Hamas rockets versus Iron Dome

Filed under: Middle East,Military — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 09:02

Strategy Page looks at the anti-missile system Israel has been using to combat Hamas rocket attacks:

Israel has bought seven batteries of Iron Dome anti-rocket missiles. Four are in action and a fifth one entered service several weeks early (on November 17) because of the major rocket assault Hamas and other Islamic terror groups in Gaza launched on November 14th. Over 500 rockets were launched during the first two days, but then the number began to decline. On Saturday (the 17th) 230 rockets were fired, with only 156 on Saturday and 121 on Monday. While the Palestinians have fired over a thousand rockets into Israel so far, and killed three Israelis, their effort is faltering and the Israeli response is not. Few of the rockets landed in occupied areas. That’s because Iron Dome has been able to detect and destroy 90 percent of the rockets that were going to land in an area containing people. The Israelis military says they have shot down over 300 rockets so far.

Iron Dome uses two radars to quickly calculate the trajectory of the incoming rocket and do nothing if the rocket trajectory indicates it is going to land in an uninhabited area. But if the computers predict a rocket coming down in an inhabited area, guided missiles are fired to intercept the rocket. This makes the system cost-effective. That’s because Hezbollah fired 4,000 rockets in 2006, and Palestinian terrorists in Gaza have fired over six thousand rockets in the past eight years and the Israelis know where each of them landed. Over 90 percent of these rockets landed in uninhabited areas and few of those that did hit inhabited areas caused casualties. Israel already has a radar system in place that gives some warning of approaching rockets. Iron Dome uses that system, in addition to another, more specialized, radar in southern Israel.

[. . .]

Since Hamas is a big believer in using civilians as human shields (often against their will), a ground campaign would get a lot more Palestinians killed. So the attacks against specific terrorist leaders are seen as the better option. Even this risks civilian casualties, because Hamas puts its government and military facilities in residential neighborhoods. It has also, on the advice of its Hezbollah advisors, built rocket launchers near mosques, schools, hospitals and residences. The Israelis have distributed lots of videos of Palestinian rockets being fired in this way. Still most Arab and some Western media keep maintaining that Israel is at fault for defending itself, or simply existing.

This latest war with the Palestinians has been a major test for the Iron Dome system. Each battery has radar and control equipment and four missile launchers. Each battery costs about $37 million, which includes over fifty Tamir missiles (costing $40,000 each). In the two years before this month Iron Dome had intercepted over 100 rockets headed for populated areas. In the last week Iron Dome has intercepted at least another 300 rockets.

November 19, 2012

Victims of state-sponsored violence in Pakistan and Gaza

Filed under: Media,Military,USA — Tags: , , , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:52

Brendan O’Neill wonders why fans of Obama’s re-election (and therefore also of his bloody record of drone strikes in Pakistan) are almost uniformly against Israel’s counter-attacks in Gaza:

All the people who two weeks ago were ecstatically cheering the re-election of Barack Obama are now having paroxysms of fury over Israel. Where the blogs, Twitterfeeds and daily conversations of these caring, Left-leaning folk were packed to bursting point with glowing praise for Obama on 7 November, now they are full of scorn for Israel and its inhuman, bloodthirsty bombing of Gaza. The intensity of these individuals’ delirium over Obama’s second term now finds its match in the intensity of their disgust with Israel’s military antics.

Which is weird, when you consider that Obama, their hero, has already done to the tribal regions of Pakistan what Israel, their nemesis, is now doing to Gaza.

Obama, like Israel, launches bombing raids on foreign militants, and Obama, like Israel, ends up killing innocent people in the process. Indeed, of the 283 drone strikes launched by Obama in rural regions of Pakistan over the past four years, which have killed an estimated 2,600 people, only 13 per cent have successfully killed an al-Qaeda or Taliban militant. Shockingly, this means that around 2,200 non-militant Pakistanis — or what we might call innocents — have been killed by Obama: bombed in their beds, or while herding sheep, or while driving their cars. This death toll dwarfs what has been unleashed by Israel over the past week or during the first Gaza war in 2008, when around 1,400 Palestinians died.

[. . .]

What is behind these mammoth double standards? Is it that Pakistanis are considered less important than Palestinians, and therefore there’s no need to protest when they get killed? Is it that Obama is viewed as so supercool and liberal that he can bomb whom he likes and still his cheerleaders won’t kick up a fuss? Is it because Israel is a Jewish State, and we are more offended by the sight of Jews bombing brown people than we are by the sight of America’s Democratic Party bombing brown people? What is it? There must be some explanation. Perhaps if you are one of those people who cheered Obama’s re-election and is now jeering at Israel’s militarism you might take a few minutes to tell us why some forms of militarism make you see red, and others do not.

September 18, 2011

“One would have to go back to 1973 to find a more perilous time for the Jewish state”

Filed under: Middle East,Politics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 11:58

David Harsanyi on the increasing UN pressure on Israel:

Sure, the United Nations has historically vacillated between deep irrelevance and monumental ineffectiveness. But with all its prevaricating and impotence on genuine threats to human rights across the world, next week it will be actively precipitating violence and endorsing ethnic cleansing.

It is understood that one of the preconditions for the existence of a Palestinian state is the judenrein West Bank. It will be purified of Jews, regardless of their political inclinations, Zionist or not, because effectively speaking no Jew will be able to live in the West Bank or East Jerusalem safely. Palestine Liberation Organization’s ambassador to the United States, Maen Rashid Areikat, has admitted as much.

[. . .]

Another onetime ally the increasingly Islamic Turkey has similarly turned on Israel, kicking out the Israeli ambassador, and ending military ties and trade pacts. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to send warships as escorts to “aid ships” in the next activist-filled flotilla trying to reach the Palestinians. A United Nations failure will only provoke more hostility and put the two nations in a potentially catastrophic position.

Supporters of Israel often speak in perfunctory tones about the existential threat Israel faces. But one would have to go back to 1973 to find a more perilous time for the Jewish state. With this vote, the United Nations is simply giving in to its seemingly pathological need to undermine Israel — no matter the circumstance, no matter the consequence.

There can be no other reason for a vote that is simultaneously so dangerous and so utterly useless.

Then again, that’s the perfect way to describe the United Nations.

September 14, 2011

Palestinians seek “separation” from Jews

Filed under: History,Middle East,Religion — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 12:08

The PLO has a rather draconian solution to the Israel issue:

The Palestine Liberation Organization’s ambassador to the United States said Tuesday that any future Palestinian state it seeks with help from the United Nations and the United States should be free of Jews.

“After the experience of the last 44 years of military occupation and all the conflict and friction, I think it would be in the best interest of the two people to be separated,” Maen Areikat, the PLO ambassador, said during a meeting with reporters sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor. He was responding to a question about the rights of minorities in a Palestine of the future.

Such a state would be the first to officially prohibit Jews or any other faith since Nazi Germany, which sought a country that was judenrein, or cleansed of Jews, said Elliott Abrams, a former U.S. National Security Council official.

Israel has 1.3 million Muslims who are Israeli citizens. Jews have lived in “Judea and Samaria,” the biblical name for the West Bank, for thousands of years. Areikat said the PLO seeks a secular state, but that Palestinians need separation to work on their own national identity.

May 22, 2011

Obama clarifies his last Middle East speech

Filed under: Middle East,Politics,USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 11:46

Drew M. points out that President Obama is merely doing what every other President since Jimmy Carter has done:

There was a lot of confusion on Thursday about whether Obama’s reference to “67 borders with mutually agreed upon swaps” was news or not. A lot of pro-Israel folks on Twitter (but granted not all) didn’t seem to think it was a big deal at the time. I think two things played into the reaction.

One, the left, led by the New York Times, played this is up as a big change and that an American President was finally standing up to Israel.

Second, the language choices Obama made and the fact that no one doubts in his heart of hearts Obama would throw Israel under the bus if he could. The fact is, Presidents don’t always have full freedom of action. It’s like there are checks and balances or something (thank God).

Now, he’s walked back or clarified his stance (depending on your point of view). The anti-Israeli left will say “the Jews got to him”. Many on the right will say, “Bibi got him”.

I think the fact is, reality got him.

Obama is simply doing what many other Presidents (Carter, Bush, Clinton and even G.W. Bush gave it a shot) have done…try and build a legacy by solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. He’ll fail just like the rest simply because the Palestinians don’t want to solve it by any means other than the destruction of Israel. Until that changes, this will always be a Siren’s Song that winds up with everyone crashing on the rocks.

That last little nugget is the real reason I always feel depressed when yet another attempt to “resolve” the Middle East crisis gets underway: without Palestinians accepting the right of Israel to exist, there will be no actual progress regardless of the number meetings, declarations, conferences, and so on. One side has the bedrock value that the other side must die — as long as that value remains, no peaceful settlement is possible.

July 7, 2010

Recycled propaganda still doing its job

Filed under: Media,Middle East,Religion — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 08:05

Strategy Page points out that even recycled propaganda can be effective:

Palestinian media, both Fatah and Hamas controlled, have undertaken a media campaign to arouse popular anger against Israeli plans to destroy the al Aqsa mosque. The problem here is that there are no Israeli plans to destroy al Aqsa. This complex is built on the site of two Jewish temples. The last one was destroyed by the Romans nearly two thousand years ago. Israel has always provided security for al Aqsa, but the Palestinians find it convenient to keep alive unfounded fears that Israel will, at any moment, destroy al Aqsa and rebuild their temple. This is what some religious extremists (Jewish and Christian) want, and one reason for the tight Israeli security around al Aqsa (which is otherwise controlled by Moslem religious authorities.) This fear mongering is a big deal among the Palestinians, but generally ignored, or simply unknown, outside Israel.

The numerous al Aqsa scare stories in the Palestinian media (replete with cartoons straight out of similar 1930s Nazi propaganda) are rarely recognized as a reason why Israel and the Palestinians cannot negotiate a peace deal. Arab and Western nations are again trying to organize peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis, with the goal of achieving a peace deal, and an independent Palestinian state. The “al Aqsa threatened by the Jews” propaganda campaign is one reason why these peace talks tend to go nowhere. The Palestinian strategy, which they make no secret of, is to keep harassing Israel until, as many Palestinians believe, the Jews will flee the Middle East and Israel will disappear. On Palestinian maps, it already has.

September 25, 2009

Consistency on the Middle East

Filed under: Politics,USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 09:50

David Harsanyi looks at the consistency (actually, the lack thereof) in President Obama’s proposals for negotiation on the Palestinian-Israeli peace process:

The United States does not negotiate with terrorists — but we insist Israel do without preconditions.

We will not get entangled in the distasteful internal politics of Iran — but we define Israel’s borders.

We will remove missile defense systems in Eastern Europe so we do not needlessly provoke our good friends in Russia — but we have no compunction nudging Israel to hand over territory with nothing in return.

This week, President Barack Obama spoke to the United Nations’ General Assembly and insisted that Israel and the Palestinians negotiate “without preconditions.” (Well, excluding the effective precondition that Israeli settlements are “illegitimate,” according to the administration — so no pre-conditions means feel free to rocket Israel while you talk.)

Israelis must be wondering just what possible benefit this set of negotiations can possibly offer them: they’re the ones who stand to lose if they fall in line with Obama’s preconditions, and the Palestinians have no reason to compromise. It’s funny that the only functioning democracy in the middle east is now being portrayed as the villain by the US government, while the pocket dictatorships surrounding Israel get a free pass.

There is an ethical question that the president might want to answer, as well. Why would the United States support an arrangement that scrubs the West Bank of all its Jews? Why is it so unconscionable to imagine that Jews could live among Muslims in the same way millions of Arabs live within Israel proper? Not many international agreements feature ethnic cleansing clauses.

Isn’t this, after all, about peace?

Of course, we all know the answer to this question: Jews would be slaughtered, bombed from their homes, rocketed from their schools. This indisputable fact reveals the fundamental reality of these negotiations.

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