“America’s Diplomatic Fig Leaf”

29 09 2007

I’m becoming very fond of this columnist at Asharq Alawsat, Amir Taheri. His latest column, “America’s Diplomatic Fig Leaf,” is about Condoleezza Rice’s push for the upcoming Middle East Peace Conference in November. He says when political leaders don’t know what to do, they hold international conferences, which become figurative fig leaves to cover their political nakedness – and often subvert the causes for which the conferences are held.

Anybody who has bought a carpet in a Persian bazaar would know that the larger the number of participants in a haggling session the less the chances of a deal being made.

The history of the Middle East conflict illustrates the point.

After the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948, the Palestinians who were most directly affected by the conflict were inclined to accept their status as losers in exchange for a space in which they could build their nationhood. The Arab states, however, would have none of that. They could afford to appear heroic at the expense of the Palestinians. Overtime, the cause of Palestine became an ideological toy and a political subterfuge for all sorts of people. The overexposure of the issue on the international scene made its resolution that much more difficult, especially during the Cold War when both blocs used the Middle East as a battleground for proxy wars.

“War is one of the most intimate of human relationships, something similar to love,” says Taheri. “It brings two sides together in extreme proximity, excluding all others.”

Later I want to talk about how many people have been screwed over by the tug-of-war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union over the Middle East and its oil.


Mahmoud Abbas recognizes Israel as “a state of and for the Jews”

27 09 2007

For those who wonder why many people refuse to recognize the legitimacy of the state of Israel – it goes beyond ideology.

Abbas: Don’t cross the red-lines
An editorial from AMIN. Khaled Amayreh discusses Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ recent recognition of Israel as “a state of and for the Jews,” and the implications of that recognition.

Recognizing Israel as a “Jewish state,” let alone “a state of and for the Jews,” implies that the estimated 1.5 million Palestinians citizens of Israel have only a “temporary” or “transient” but not “permanent” right to live in their homes and towns, and that sooner or latter, these “goyem” would have to either emigrate, willy-nilly, or be brutally expelled because they are not Jews.

Israel currently considers the West Bank and Gaza territories, which means that the people who live in the West Bank and Gaza are not citizens of Israel (and can’t vote).

Israel is in a pickle with the West Bank and Gaza. It can either A) officially incorporate the territories and their citizens into Israel, thereby making the majority of the population Arab and negating Israel’s status as a Jewish state, B) give the territories back to Palestine, or C) incorporate the territories, but institute official apartheid (rather than unofficial apartheid, which is what they have going now). Given those options, it’s obvious why they’ve kept the West Bank and Gaza as territories.

Is there a reason for the JNF to exist anymore?

26 09 2007

Jewish Fund Must Sell Land to Arabs

From al-Jazeera – The Jewish National Fund (JNF), which began buying land in Palestine in 1913 to sell to Jews, has been ordered by the Israeli Supreme Court to sell land to Arabs. The JNF owns around 13 percent of Israel’s land and calls itself, “the caretaker of the land of Israel, on behalf of its owners – Jewish people everywhere.”

Please remember, if you are American, that if this organization existed in the United States the parallel would be less like an organization that only sells land to Jews and more like an organization that only sells land to white people – because Arabs make up 20% of Israel’s (official) population (obviously, Arabs are in the majority if you include Gaza and the West Bank), and Jews make up 76.4%. Of people who can vote, they’re the overwhelming majority.