Barry Rubin’s recent column, entitled “A gold mine for understanding US Middle East policy,” touches on a variety of subjects by drawing upon statements made recently by Secretary of State Clinton at a press conference. But I want to focus on one particular critical observation Rubin made:
“BUT ANOTHER thing Clinton said is more disturbing and has become an Obama administration talking point. She said the Palestinians ‘deserve’ a state. In this approach, having a state isn’t something earned by ending terrorism and incitement, truly accepting Israel’s existence, providing strong security guarantees and resettling refugees in your own country. According to the US government, Palestinian statehood is an entitlement, a prize they get no matter how they behave. (emphasis added)
“So why shouldn’t the Palestinians demand they get everything and give nothing? The world owes them a state. By such policies the Obama administration undermines its own leverage on the issue. One more nail in the already studded coffin of the peace process.”
This is hardly surprising. And it’s not just the Obama administration. It’s the EU and others. It’s sort of a “given” that the Arabs who call themselves Palestinians are entitled to their own state. Never mind entitled, but entitled to all the land beyond the Green Line.
Whatever I say about the Palestinian Arabs, I have to give them this: Their PR is masterful, that they have achieved this.
The Kurds are a real people, with a real and legitimate right to their own state, Kurdistan. They live in the highland plateau region at the intersection of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria. Numbering well over 20 million, they are the largest ethnic group in the world without their own nation; they have their own language, their own cultural traditions and their own history, which reaches back for many centuries. While they have obtained some autonomy (in Iraq), and have successfully developed governmental structure and commercial ventures, they are denied independence because none of the nations in which they reside will support this.
But do you hear about a UN day in solidarity with the Kurds? Of course not. Because there is no such day — only the Palestinian Arabs “merit” such support.
Incredible, when you think of it, is it not?
Beyond the success of Palestinian Arab PR, I think there are probably other reasons why the distorted notion has arisen that they are entitled to a state.
A Christian Zionist here, whom I respect enormously, shared with me his observations based on his organization’s interaction with the European community. What he told me was that Europeans feel guilty about the Holocaust, but not particularly guilty about what was done to the Jews. Rather, they believe that Jews would not have fled Europe for Palestinian if not for the persecution of the Holocaust. In other words, they buy into the also fallacious notion — which ignores Jewish history and heritage — that there is an Israel today only because of the Holocaust, and that fleeing Jewish refugees pushed out indigenous Arab population in the area. Thus, believing they have responsibility for creating the situation that made them suffer, they feel beholden to the Palestinian Arabs. An interesting perspective.
It behooves us to speak out forcefully in every possible venue with arguments that refute the belief — whatever its source — that there is a Palestinian Arab entitlement. Who are these “Palestinians,” it must be asked, and what constitutes their uniqueness as a people. WHY do they deserve a state? How will the world benefit from such a state? What is the genuine Jewish historical and legal entitlement to the land the Arabs claim?
More news with hopeful potential:
Borzou Daragahi, an American born journalist of Iranian descent, wrote in yesterday’s LA Times that the movement of anti-regime activists in Iran is spreading out of the main cities — where anonymity is more possible — into the Iranian heartland.
“More than 60% of Iranians are younger than 30, and 70% of college students reportedly opposed Ahmadinejad.
“What has happened over the last seven months in Birjand [a potential opposition stronghold], and consistent with reports from other small cities around the country, illustrates how the opposition movement has gained a foothold nationwide. Students began organizing small gatherings at their universities. In the classrooms, professors lifted students’ spirits by discussing the Islamic Republic’s missteps, and what sorts of protest action were effective and which were counterproductive. The students followed the news on opposition websites and via BBC Persian and Voice of America. They have mastered the use of proxy servers to get access to banned websites as well as shield their surfing habits from surveillance technology.”
At her press conference yesterday, Secretary of State Clinton said that decisions were still being made, but the thought is that focused sanctions against those making the decisions in Iran would be most effective. It is assumed that she is referring to the Revolutionary Guard.
Regrettably, she said, once again, that the US is still interested in dialogue with Iran, even as sanctions are under review.