I rather like Barry Rubin’s comments today on James Baker’s thoughts and recommendations, from his report on Iraq, regarding Israel and peace in the Middle East. Says Rubin, "The only way this kind of thinking is going to damage the radical forces is if they fall down and hurt themselves from laughing so hard."
Rubin calls this part of Baker’s report "drivel" because it "is a bunch of slogans with limited links to reality."
Some of the report’s conclusions and Rubin’s comments:
"1. The Arab-Israeli conflict is inextricably linked to Iraq.
"Really? I can’t think of a single issue in the region it is less linked to. Iraq is about an internal struggle for power. The radicals are not extremist because of the conflict…nobody in Iraq even talks much about the conflict. This is repeating a mantra, not looking at the facts.
"2. The most important thing right now is for everyone to negotiate since it was the breakdown in talks that led to the violence.
"Wrong again. It was the refusal to make an agreement that led to the breakdown in the talks, and to violence. The extremists don’t want serious talks because they want victory, not compromise, or, to put it another way, the kinds of gains they want are not those achieved by bargaining…but by fighting.
"3. A negotiated peace would strengthen Mahmoud Abbas.
"Do these people pay any attention to the Middle East? To obtain peace, Abbas would have to make concession. Making the needed concessions would destroy him. To make peace, Abbas would have to enforce law and order as well as stopping terrorism.
"He is incapable of doing that. To get a peace treaty Abbas would need to suppress Hamas, which he can neither do nor even try to do. Is that so hard to understand?
"4. It is good to have a Palestinian national unity government.
"Get it? Have Hamas in power, have Fatah and Hamas competing to show which can be the more militant and successful in terrorism, and on top of that have successful peace talks. No wonder this kind of policy recommendation gains a consensus. It promises everything, and leaves out all the problems.
"The key to moderating Syrian policy in Lebanon is getting Syria the Golan Heights.
"If Syria had wanted the Golan Heights, it could have had them long ago. Syria wants Lebanon…
"And since the Baker-Hamilton reporters are pushing for US niceness toward Syria, Damascus knows it does not have to fear American pressure if it continues its aggressive subversion in trying to take over Lebanon."
Hope you’ll share this with all those you know who think that Baker’s suggestions have merit. Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center.
There is so much perversity afoot these days, and so many enemies to deal with, that I hadn’t gotten around to our old nemesis Jimmy Carter, who has now re-emerged as the darling of the left with the advent of his new anti-Israel book. Carter, in case you were not aware of it, in his time served as a speech writer to Arafat. (No, I am not making this up.) His book, which levels the Arab libel of apartheid at Israel, has caused considerable controversy.
Ken Stein, who was Middle East Fellow at the Carter Center, concerned that people would associate him with the book, has resigned his position. About the book he said:
"..it is replete with factual errors, copied materials not cited, superficialities, glaring omissions, and simply invented segments. Aside from the one-sided nature of the book, meant to provoke, there are recollections cited from meetings where I was the third person in the room, and my notes of those meetings show little similarity to points claimed in the book. Being a former President does not give one a unique privilege to invent information or to unpack it with cuts, deftly slanted to provide a particular outlook. …Falsehoods, if repeated often enough become meta-truths, and they then can become the erroneous baseline for shaping and reinforcing attitudes and for policy-making. The history and interpretation of the Arab-Israeli conflict is already drowning in half-truths, suppositions, and self-serving myths; more are not necessary…"
Last week, the US House of Representatives passed a bill that will, presumably, cut off US aid to the Hamas controlled Palestinian Authority unless there is recognition of Israel, acceptance of previous agreements, and a start at dismantling terrorist infrastructure. It was applauded in many circles as an important step in the right direction and something that will "assist" steps towards peace in the region: the naive thought being that this will encourage moderation.
This bill is the version passed by the Senate and far less stringent than the one (promoted by our good friend Congresswoman Eliana Ross-Leighton) that the House originally passed; this watering down tells us something about what is going on.
Its major flaw, as I see it, is the broad latitude given to the president to waive penalties if he sees it as being "in the national interest." This echoes for me the Jerusalem Embassy Relocation Act, which required the president to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem no later than the end of May, 1999. As you may have observed, it is well past 1999, and the US Embassy is still in Tel Aviv. That’s because the law included a waiver that the president could evoke in the interests of "national security." Both Clinton, who professed to being a great friend of Israel, and Bush, who promised during his election campaign to make this move, determined that it would risk US national security to place the Embassy in Jerusalem. Presumably a lot of Arabs would have been angry with the US if the move had been made. The Act, then, reflected the sense of Congress but ultimately had no teeth.
And so here. The administration is in a mood of appeasement. There is no predicting at what point there might be a decision to override this legislation in order to "motivate" the PA. A give-away here is the endorsement of the bill by the Israel Policy Forum, which works against the best interests of Israel. Forum president Seymour Reich (the man who last year went to Condeleezza Rice and told her to be tough with Israel) has declared: "In the wake of the Iraq Study Group’s strong endorsement of a reinvigorated Israeli-Palestinian peace process, this legislation gives the president the authority and latitude he needs to advance Israeli-Palestinian negotiations." This, perhaps, says it all.
Yesterday the news was that Abbas was going to fire the government and call for early elections, which would likely be held in March. But this was information coming from his associates — there was no formal announcement. Today the news reflects the distress among Fatah loyalists at Abbas’s continuing failure to act.
Today Fatah-Hamas tensions increased considerably as the result of a drive-by shooting in Gaza City that killed three children of a Fatah-loyalist PA intelligence officer. Hamas is being blamed for this action in which gunmen opened fire on a street where there were hundreds of school children. While Hamas is denying involvement, it should be noted that the chil
dren’s father, Baha Balousheh, was heavily involved in recent actions against Hamas.
But the obscenity of hitting children! This calls to mind the incident of several years ago in which a key Palestinian figure was assassinated when gunmen came to his door and shot him down. The gunmen were immediately identified by the Arabs as Israeli. Why? Because the man’s children were in the house and were left alive; only the Israelis would do that, they charged.
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal has told the Italian news paper Republica that he has offered Israel a ten year cease-fire deal. The ten year time period is not a random number, but reflects the practice of Muhammad, in offering such a deal to the Quraysh tribe, which he subsequently broke as soon as he felt strong enough to defeat them. (For those new to this list, see my posting at: https://www.arlenefromisrael.info/current-postings/2006/11/18/posted-november-18-2006.html for a description of the duplicity of Muhammad and the model he set.) This "ceasefire" would be a hudna, a period of quiet designed to provide breathing space to strengthen for further attack.
In fact, said Mashaal, he would agree to set up a Palestinian state in the pre-67 lines, but he would never recognize Israel because that would give legitimacy to the "occupation." Please note this statement carefully: The "occupation" he is referring to is within Green Line Israel. Such statements should never be interpreted as reflecting moderation or sincere desire for peace. The scenario he envisions is weakening Israel by pushing her back to pre-67 armistice lines, setting up an interim Palestinian state, and using the hudna to buy time to prepare to take down all of Israel.
Hurray for us! We have blocked entry into the area of a UN fact-finding mission, headed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, which was to investigate the deaths of civilians in Beit Hanoun last month. We need more of this sort of determination. A spokesperson for Olmert said, "The commission was sent on the premise that Israel targets civilians and it did not take into account the daily rocket fire targeting Israeli civilians."
Israel’s position is that there has already been an investigation by the IDF and an official apology, and that nothing more is needed.
There is considerable anger here about a biased resolution of the Human Rights Council that fingers Israel and ignores both Palestinian violence and their practice of deliberating shooting from densely populated civilian areas; it was by vote of this Council that the fact-finding mission was set up.
But this should come as no surprise. As Anne Bayefsky has pointed out (www.eyeontheun.org) a "reformed" UN Human Rights Council has had five sessions since its was constituted in June, and in that time 100% of its resolutions condemning a specific state for human rights violations was aimed at Israel. This is bias so audacious as to be breathtaking. And they do this with a straight face, yet.
This posting can be found at: https://www.arlenefromisrael.info/current-postings/2006/12/11/posted-december-11-2006.html