Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Soccer Dad's Mideast Media Sampler, 1/8/13

Today's sampler and analysis of Mideast media content from my pal Soccer Dad:

1) Friends don't let friends drive Chuck

What's driving the nomination of Senator Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense? According to Roger Cohen of the New York Times, it shows Israel's True Friends? (Are the people in the accompanying picture an example of Israel's True Friends according to Cohen?) The article is mostly incoherent ignorance. For an example of Cohen's argument there's this paragraph:

Five years on, that needed dialogue has scarcely advanced. Self-styled “true friends” of Israel now lining up against the Hagel nomination are in fact true friends only of the Israeli right that pays no more than lip service to a two-state peace (when it even does that); scoffs at Palestinian national aspirations and culture; dismisses the significant West Bank reforms that have prepared Palestine for statehood; continues with settlement construction on the very shrinking land where a Palestinian state is envisaged (and was granted nonmember observer status at the United Nations last November by 138 votes to 9 with 41 abstentions, including Germany); cannot find a valid Palestinian interlocutor on the face of the earth despite the moderate reformist leadership of Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad; ignores the grave implications for Israel of its unsustainable, corrosive dominion over another people and the question of how Israel can remain Jewish and democratic without a two-state solution (it cannot); bays for war with Iran despite the contrary opinions of many of Israel’s intelligence and military leaders; and propels Israel into repetitive miniwars of dubious strategic value.

Cohen writes of "reforms that have prepared Palestine for statehood," but this week Fayyad complained that Arab countries are not meeting their pledges to the Palestinian Authority. An entity prepared for statehood wouldn't require donations to function. Abbas, as anyone familiar with the Middle East knows, is no reformer, but an out-of-touch autocrat mostly interested in perpetuating his own rule. Since Israel withdrew from most of the West Bank in 1995 and all of Gaza ten years later Again, anyone paying attention also understands that no Israeli politician is "baying" for war with Iran, but rather pleading for tough sanctions that will prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear threat. As far as the "miniwars" that Cohen decries, they have little to do with Israel's supporters, but are the result of terrorist organizations using Israeli concessions to threaten Israeli citizens. Israel's supporters defend Israel's right to defend itself; a right that Cohen apparently feels is "dubious."

It's amazing how much ignorance Cohen packed into a single paragraph.

A New York Times editorial, Nominations for Defense and the C.I.A. assesses the Hagel nominations:

While a member of the Senate from Nebraska in 1998, Mr. Hagel criticized the nomination of James Hormel to be ambassador to Luxembourg because he was “openly, aggressively gay.” That was a repugnant reason to oppose anyone for public office. Last month, Mr. Hagel issued a statement in which he described his comments 14 years ago as “insensitive,” apologized to Mr. Hormel and insisted he was “fully supportive of ‘open service’ and committed to L.G.B.T. military families.” Some leading foreign policy professionals who are gay, including Mr. Hormel, have since said they could support Mr. Hagel’s candidacy. Still, it will be important to hear Mr. Hagel explain at his confirmation hearing how his views have changed and how he plans to make sure that all service members are treated equally and receive the same benefits regardless of sexual orientation. It would also help if he acknowledged that his past comments were not just insensitive but abhorrent. ... Mr. Hagel’s independence and willingness to challenge Republican orthodoxy on Iraq, sanctions on Iran and other issues — both in the Senate and later as an administration adviser — have so alarmed neocons, hard-line pro-Israel interest groups and some Republican senators that they unleashed a dishonest campaign to pre-emptively bury the nomination. It failed, but the confirmation process could be bruising. The opponents are worried that Mr. Hagel will not be sufficiently in lock step with the current Israeli government and cannot be counted on to go to war against Iran over its nuclear program if it comes to that.

Note what the priority of the New York Times is. That Hagel of the correct view of alternative lifestyles. But because Hagel has apologized, he's okay now. What about his more numerous noxious comments about Israel? That doesn't bother the editorial writers at the Times as they excuse him for not being in "lockstep" with the current Israeli government. Whew! At least he'll be American official not an Israeli one. Hagel's comments about Israel aren't offensive to the editors of the New York Times because they agree with them!

Alana Goodman does a good job of summarizing Hagel's (in)actions that were anti-Israel. (Since these actions also were in regard to anti-American elements, they also could be construed as anti-American.) Of course, Goodman didn't summarize the actions; she was just copying a statement from the NJDC, which now supports Hagel! My father pointed out that she missed a significant point of the NJDC's hypocrisy. The NJDC statement from 2007 ended with:

And here's what the anti-Israel group, CAIR wrote in praise of Hagel:

"Potential presidential candidates for 2008, like Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Joe Biden and Newt Gingrich, were falling all over themselves to express their support for Israel. The only exception to that rule was Senator Chuck Hagel …” [Council on American-Islamic Relations, 8/28/06]

CAIR is anti-Israel and it praised Hagel for that exact quality! How again is it that Hagel is a "true friend" of Israel?

2) "Occupation" is a relative term

Dore Gold writes in European settlements and double standards:

Yet in the case of Northern Cyprus, the U.N. did not qualify its demand for a Turkish withdrawal by allowing, for example, the Turkish military to remain in even part of the island. Looking at these different considerations, it appeared that the international community should have judged the dispute over Northern Cyprus far more severely than the way it viewed the dispute over the West Bank, where Israel had multiple rights that it could exercise if it decided to do so. However, in practice, that was not the case. As usual, on Dec. 10, the European Union declared yet again that it was "deeply dismayed by and strongly opposes Israeli plans to expand settlements in the West Bank, including in east Jerusalem." Its statement made wild charges that Israeli construction in E1 "could also entail forced transfer of civilian population." It finally added that "the European Union reiterates that settlements are illegal under international law and constitute an obstacle to peace." Ironically, while the EU releases harsh statements of this sort against Israel for any construction activity in West Bank settlements, it has nothing to say about tens of thousands of Turkish settlers that have moved into Northern Cyprus.

Eugene Kontorovich argues that there could be a practical benefit for Israel stemming from this hypocrisy:

Discussions of a potential ICC referral often focus on potential liability by Palestinians as a factor that would dissuade them (or the Court) from proceeding. But Israel’s best bet for heading off such a suit would be to advertise the implications for other non-member states that would clearly be on the settlement hook: Turkey and Russia. For the record, I think it quite unlikely that the ICC will indict Israeli leaders over settlements, but I’d bet the farm it wouldn’t indict Israel and Turkish leaders in this decade. Indeed, if I were the Israeli government, I’d spend less time preparing an ICC defense that working up a Cypriot case against Turkey, as a favor to its new bestie. By the way, the Europeans who are “settling” N. Cyprus do not themselves violate the Geneva Conventions, because i) only the “occupying power” can violate it, and ii) it only prohibits “transfer” of “nationals of the occupying power.” Assuming the Europeans are not Turkish citizens, they can’t be settlers. Similarly, American Jews who move to, say East Jerusalem as American citizens cannot be said to be “settlers,” though popular usage may vary.

This is just one more example of how ignorance and misinformation color the way many look at the Arab-Israeli conflict.

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