Monday, July 25, 2011

Soccer Dad's Mideast Media Sampler 07/25/11‏

My old pal DG, formerly of the unfortunately deceased blog Soccer Dad gives us a daily sampler of noteworthy pieces and worthy reads on the Middle East out today:

1) " More widely and accurately understood"

From an interview of Alan Solow by Shmuel Rosner (h/t my father)

2. Is it possible that this isn't just about PR, but rather that the President pursues policies that some Jewish voters don't feel comfortable with? Do you see some sections of Jewish voters that you have no chance of convincing because of such policies - other than those Jewish voters who did not support President Obama to begin with?
This effort has nothing to do with PR, but has everything to do with policy. President Obama believes it is in America's interest for a secure Jewish State of Israel to live in peace within the region and every step that he has advocated is consistent with this objective. I agree with President Obama and believe that the likely alternative is a bi-national state that will mark the end of the Zionist dream. President Obama received 78 per cent of the Jewish vote in 2008. It is too early in the election cycle to predict the 2012 result with any degree of precision, but I am confident that as President Obama's policies are more widely and accurately understood, he will have the support of Jewish-American voters.

Let's go back to 2009. Jackson Diehl interviewed Mahmoud Abbas:

Yet on Wednesday afternoon, as he prepared for the White House meeting in a suite at the Ritz-Carlton in Pentagon City, Abbas insisted that his only role was to wait. He will wait for Hamas to capitulate to his demand that any Palestinian unity government recognize Israel and swear off violence. And he will wait for the Obama administration to force a recalcitrant Netanyahu to freeze Israeli settlement construction and publicly accept the two-state formula.

Until Israel meets his demands, the Palestinian president says, he will refuse to begin negotiations. He won't even agree to help Obama's envoy, George J. Mitchell, persuade Arab states to take small confidence-building measures. "We can't talk to the Arabs until Israel agrees to freeze settlements and recognize the two-state solution," he insisted in an interview. "Until then we can't talk to anyone."

Diehl then explains what has prompted Abbas to dig in his heels:

Obama, in contrast, has repeatedly and publicly stressed the need for a West Bank settlement freeze, with no exceptions. In so doing he has shifted the focus to Israel. He has revived a long-dormant Palestinian fantasy: that the United States will simply force Israel to make critical concessions, whether or not its democratic government agrees, while Arabs passively watch and applaud. "The Americans are the leaders of the world," Abbas told me and Post Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt. "They can use their weight with anyone around the world. Two years ago they used their weight on us. Now they should tell the Israelis, 'You have to comply with the conditions.' "

The reason there have been no serious negotiations since President Obama has been because of the President's stance towards the Middle East. So the "secure Jewish state of Israel living in peace" that Solow seeks has been made less likely by the actions of President Obama. Once this is understood, I doubt supporters of Israel, whether they're Jewish or not, will be supportive of President Obama's re-election bid.

2) Don't go to the UN

Ziad Asali of the American Task Force on Palestine argues against Palestinian efforts at the UN for a unilateral declaration of a state.

First, the United States indicated unequivocally that it would veto in the Security Council a Palestinian application for U.N. membership, making such membership impossible at this time. Moreover, Congress has sent a strong message that U.N. action on Palestinian statehood would result in a cutoff of U.S. aid, and the United States is the single biggest donor to the Palestinian Authority.
Second, Palestinian hopes for securing support for U.N. membership from a unified European community have been dashed by the open opposition of some countries, such as Germany and the Netherlands, and by a lack of support from nations such as Britain and France, which hold key swing votes.
Third, Israel is threatening unspecified unilateral retaliation.
Fourth, there is a significant danger of widespread outrage among Palestinians if a U.N. effort fails, with serious potential for unrest. Outrage can also be expected if a U.N. initiative succeeds but produces no improvement or even leads to deterioration in Palestinians’ living conditions.

The American veto remains important. I doubt many countries in Europe would have the resolve to vote against the effort if the American veto wasn't certain. Asali, of course, puts none of the blame on the Palestinians. As he explained earlier in the op-ed:

Palestinians are impelled by frustration and despair about the impasse in the peace process — a frustration shared by many Israelis, Americans and others. It is, however, Palestinians who live under occupation, which gives them a justified sense that the status quo is intolerable. The diplomatic impasse created a demand for any mechanism for progress; hence the appeal of approaching the United Nations with a request for membership.

What's fascinating here is the idea that the situation is "intolerable" for the Palestinians. And yet Dr. Asali gives a pass to Abbas for refusing to negotiate. If Abbas has the luxury of demanding preconditions, the situation isn't intolerable.

A letter published today takes issue with Dr. Asali and insists the the unilateral declaration ought to go ahead.

This dangerous trend of provocative settlements and violent reactions, sustained since 1967, then justifies Israeli refusal to withdraw. This pattern has repeated over and over. No more delays. Do it now.

The author is a former Commerce Department official, Charles Kestenbaum.

3) Speaking about unilateral declarations

Excerpt from The Kurdish Case in the Jerusalem Post (h/t Martin Kramer)

Far more numerous than Palestinians, they’re estimated at between 30 million and 35 million. They form an obvious separate nationality, non-Arab, with its own culture and readily distinguishable language (a subcategory of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian group of Indo-European languages.) They were around far before any Arabs had learned of the Palestinian moniker, and the Kurds struggled for independence long into the 19th century, before the advent of Arab nationalism. They established the short-lived Republic of Ararat in 1927 but it was soon vanquished. Both Turkey and Iran cruelly suppressed numerous Kurdish uprisings. Kurds are still fighting for their freedom.

The contrast between how the world treats the Palestinians and the Kurds couldn’t be more marked. Palestinians are spoiled with international succor and are pampered financially. They were offered an independent state back in 1947 but rejected it, preferring to destroy the twin Jewish state instead.

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B.Poster said...

"The Americans are the leaders of the world." Either Mr. Abbas is spoutng this as a propaganda line and understands that it really isn't true or he actually believes that. Eitehr way this is not good. If we are going to resolve this problem, we need to have frank discussions among all parties. Such ridiculous b.s. as this is VERY unhelpful.

There is a possibility that he actually believes his statement. If so, he is destined to be extremely disappointed. He is assigning powers to America that America simply does not have. As such, America will be unable to deliver for him what he wants it to deliver for him. In this situation, he may lash out against us in ways that are unhelpful even dangerous.

While it is true that currently Aemrica has enormous influence, Americans and America are not "the leaders of the world." In saying this, Mr. Abbas is either engaging in progaganda, is very stupid or is blinged by ideology. He is definitely not stupid. As such, this is either a case of propaganda or ideology. I think it is propaganda. One of the easiest ways to vifify someone or something is to assign it more powr than it actually has. Regardless this isn't good.

While America may say it will veto a UN resolution granting unilateral statehood for the Palestinians, as the Septermber deadline gets closer the pressure placed on America and its leadrers not to veto this resolution and to actually support it will buid up exponentially. This will make things very difficult. Do America's leaders want to resist this pressure? Assuming they do, do they have the courage to withstand the pressure that will no doubt be coming their way? I pray the ansers are yes to both of these questions.

Many supporters of the resolution have the power to harm America and its people in significant ways. This will make things extremely difficult. Also, I wouldn't count on European nations not supporting the resolution even if America does ont.

B.Poster said...

The remarks by Mr. Kestenbaum are sadly typical of American governemnt officials and former American government officials. They are always willing to wade into things they don't understand or worse they are just plain evil. I'm assuming Mr. Kestenbaum simply does not understand what he is wading into.

There are two basic problems with his position that I see. 1.) God promised the lands of Judea, Samria, and Jersualem to Abrahan's descendants which are the Jews as an eternal possession. Furhtermroe He promised to bless whoever blesses Israel and to curse whoever curses Israel. In seeking to rip this land from the Jewish people, you are inviting the wrath of God to fall on you, your family, and the country you claim to represent. Now should Israel choose to part with their divine possession this will be their decision. This is not a decision for Mr. Kestenbaum or America to make.

2.) The solution he proposes is bassackwards to what needs to be done. It is actually the Israelis whose basic human rights are being denied not the Palestinians and it is the Israelis who have to be feeling desparate more so than the Palestinians.

By advocating this move by the Palestinians, you are effectively doing the equivlent of pouring gasoline on a forest fire. The Israelis will be feeling even more desparate. This may lead them to act in unpredictable ways, possibly sparking a major war.

We claim to want two basic things. A.)A two state solution that is equitable to both parties. B.)A nuclear weapons free middle east. In order to make this happen, the best approach to this will be to cut off all aid to the Palestinians or at least make it highly conditional like the aid the Israelis receive. In this situation, the parties will be on more equal footing. As long as the Palestinians are receiving unconditional aid in vast quantities from America and Europe, they feel no pressing need to negotiate in good faith. Cut off this aid and the parties will be on more equal footing. In this situation, the Palestinians are more likely to negotiate in good faith and we are more likely to achieve stated goal A. As for stated goal B, Israel is a very small nation who no doubt feels very vunerable. When being confronted by enemies who are receiving uncondtional aid in vast quanties from the world's major powers, they are going to feel the need for a force multiplier like nuclear weapons. Again, cut off the unconditional aid to the Palestinians or make it conditional like what the Israelis receive and the Israelis may feel less vunerable and this would make it more likely to achieve the stated goal.

Finally, if honest research is done on Mr. Kestenbaum's company B & K International I think there is a strong possibility that this company is little more than an Arab/Palestian propaganda arm and these are the people paying for the whole thing. In this case, Mr. Kestenbaum is the equivelent of a prostitute. I'm reminded of a saying, "lie down with dogs, get up with fleas."