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Thursday, January 12, 2006


Look, I know I said I'd stop talking about politics, and stick to the sports/random crap angle, since my invective tends to be excessively vituperative, but I couldn't pass this one up.

Andrew talks about this over at his place, but Salon has an article that... well, it sort of made me die a little inside. Here is Juan Cole's take on Ariel Sharon's legacy, and the current state of Israeli/Palestinian relations.

First, I want to note a few of Cole's more ignorant points:
That the scheme probably creates a permanent state of low-intensity warfare between the Israelis and Palestinians is a price Sharon was willing to pay for the permanent territorial gains and diplomatic superiority it guaranteed Israel.

This is just one of the many times that Cole claims that Israel's present policy is some sort of Orwellian plot to maintain a constant state of war for political leverage. He's missing one of the primary differences between 1984 and Israel - namely that, in 1984, it was Oceania was told to have been shelling its own cities. In this case, if the "low-intensity warfare" is so disadvantageous to the Palestinians, they are, as always, welcome to stop murdering Israeli civilians. And while later, Cole defines "murder" as the intentional killing of anyone who you could otherwise have brought to trial and convicted, I use it here in the more classical "the untargetted killing people who are not involved in the active planning of your demise, and that of your entire ethnicity."

If Palestinians ceased hostilities, is there any doubt that their lot would improve, and their claims to citizenship and statehood would carry significantly more weight, both practically and morally? Cole would have to be utterly perverse to actually think that Sharon and the Likud, or any Israeli, is happy with the status-quo of bus bombings, mortar shellings from the Golan heights, or the loss of sons and daughters when IDF checkpoints are suicide bombed. If the Palestinians didn't pose an imminent threat to the lives of Israeli citizens, the Israelis would actually pay them very little notice, which is actually sort of the point.

This is not, as Cole would Suggest, a situation where the poor Palestinians are being subjugated by an imperialist Israel. This is not Palestinians who want their own state, their own home. One of the most infuriating parts of the movie Munich, for me, was the scene where Avner and the Arab were standing in a stairwell in the middle of the night, and the Arab waxed eloquent about the need for a home, a piece of land that might belong to his people. Because the Palestinians have had that option all along - it was offered in Oslo, it was offered during the Camp David talks. And both times, they turned it down. What they want is Israel. This isn't about a state, this is about gaining control of a specific piece of land, and the pretense and colloquies about a stateless group of unwashed refugees is basically just a thinly veiled justification for the continuation of a war to drive Israelis into the sea. To pretend otherwise is to ignore history.

Cole refers to a book, "The Truth About Camp David," which he claims "...shows that the Israelis bear significant blame for the breakdown of the negotiations." Regardless of whom you decide to demonize for the talks failing to produce a tangible result, two facts are crystal clear and undisputed: 1) Israel offered between 90 and 98 percent of what the Palestinians were demanding; and 2) the Palestinians turned it down, and opted for violence to gain more. These are not the actions of a rational group who simply yearn for self-government, they are the actions of petulant children, so caught up in their own importance that the moral high ground means more to them than their stated goal of independence.

Cole also praises "The moderate, secular president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas..." Yes, so very moderate and so very secular. A sampling of Abbas quotes:
"It seems that the interest of the Zionist movement, however, is to inflate this figure [of Holocaust deaths] so that their gains will be greater. This led them to emphasize this figure [six million] in order to gain the solidarity of international public opinion with Zionism. Many scholars have debated the figure of six million and reached stunning conclusions--fixing the number of Jewish victims at only a few hundred thousand." (1983)

"From here [the Gaza withdrawal], our people begin the march towards establishing an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital"

"I renew my commitment to continuing the road he [Arafat] began and for which he made a lot of sacrifices, until the Palestinian flag flies from the walls, minarets and churches of Jerusalem."

A holocaust denier, who will continue the tradition of his close friend Arafat, until Palestinians are given control over Jerusalem. Sounds very secular to me. But at least he's a break with the violent past, right? Well, not according to Mohammed Daoud Oudeh, one of the planners of the Munich massacre. He writes, in his memoirs, "Though he didn't know what the money was being spent for, longtime Fatah official Mahmoud Abbas, aka Abu Mazen, was responsible for the financing of the Munich attack." Take the 'he had no idea' portion as you will, I'm just putting out there that, at a minimum, he was more of the 'absentee' or 'silent partner' type when it came to his money's use and whereabouts.

Cole goes on to write,
"Sharon's systematic execution of the civilian Hamas leadership even extended to firing a rocket at a nearly blind old man in a wheelchair, Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who could surely have been arrested if Israeli authorities had evidence he had committed a crime."

This sentence has me reeling. It is literally the equivalent of stating that, if a Ranger company came across Osama Bin Ladin, and had the opportunity to kill him, they should instead attempt to arrest him. And probably Mirandize him. The man began Hamas, which, in addition to producing what I'm told is an excellent yearly bake sale, IS ALSO A GODDAMN TERRORIST ORGANIZATION RESPONSIBLE FOR THOUSANDS OF DEATHS. I'm all for due process, but let's not kid ourselves here. But it goes on.
That voice went silent as Yassin was wheeled out of a mosque on March 22, 2004. Six others were killed by the rocket, and a dozen wounded. Soon thereafter militants in Fallujah, Iraq, killed four Western security agents, claiming to have done so in the memory of Yassin, setting the stage for the destabilization of western Iraq.

On March 2, 2004, 224 Iraqis are killed in a large, simultaneous terrorist attack against Shia civilians celebrating a religious festival.
On March 17, 2004, a hotel in downtown Baghdad is bombed, killing 27 people and injuring 40 more.
On March 18, 2004, a series of five attacks kills seven more, including British troops.
On March 23, 2004, nine Iraqi police officers are killed by an insurgent with a machine gun.

It's within the realm of reason to assume that Yassin's death was not the trigger that broke the idyllic Iraqi republic apart. It's conceivable that the Americans posed a unique and distinct evil to the Islamic resistance in Iraq, and Israel's actions actually had very little to do with the fighting in Fallujah.

Finally, Cole closes with,
The old general with so much blood on his hands was given the equivalent of formaldehyde by his physicians over the weekend, to induce a coma. Induced sleep is never more than a stopgap measure, however, since the patient must eventually awake to face the real world. The dark vision of Ariel Sharon, of Israel as walled fortress, with hordes of leaderless, hopeless, violent Palestinian plebeians trapped in serial enclaves outside the marble walls, virtually guarantees a Hundred Years War in the Mideast. It enrages the Arab and Muslim world and is a leading cause of its hatred of Israel's patron, America. It hardly creates a situation that would attract Jewish immigration, or help retain Jews already in Israel. It erases the Palestinians as persons, reducing them only to the occasional violence in which some of them engage. Sharon himself never understood, and now perhaps never will understand, that only war can be waged unilaterally. Peace requires negotiations and partners.

The sentence it's important to key in on is, "It enrages the Arab and Muslim world and is a leading cause of its hatred of Israel's patron, America." It enrages the Arab world that Palestinians are being so mistreated? It upsets Saudi Arabia, who routinely executes its own citizens for nothing more than the vaguest suggestion that they did not follow to a letter the Sharia? Or maybe it treads upon the delicate, liberty-driven sensibilities of Iran? Hypocrisy wouldn't begin to describe the Arab world, most of whom garner a ludicrously understated "not free" on the Freedom House report, being 'enraged' by Israel's policies towards a people who are not even citizens. If they are so enraged, why no offers to accept Palestinians into their own borders? Why doesn't Jordan extend an invitation to come enjoy citizenship? Saudi Arabia is one of the richest countries in the world. They absolutely have the power to allow the Palestinians to live like kings, should they so desire. They have bundles of nearly uninhabited land. If they are shocked and appalled at the Palestinians situation, why do they sit around and do nothing - NOTHING - to remedy it, and instead fund only the groups who provoke Israel into a violent defense of their own?

I understand the reasons why few politicians will come out and call the Arab world a bunch of rights-depriving thugs. I don't necessarily agree with those reasons, but I certainly am capable of comprehending them. What I do not understand is why the liberals of this country are so adamant about blatantly ignoring the fact. Why they would attempt to argue for the rights of the so-called Palestinian refugees, ignoring the rights of the Israelis, is beyond me. Why they would condemn a democracy who is fighting for its very existence against seemingly insurmountable odds, and against some of the most, if I may take the liberty, evil countries that are around today, is mind boggling. News flash: Syria did not, in the past fifteen years, have an epiphany that led them to an enduring love of humanity and a hatred of suffering.

Honestly. What would advocates like Cole prefer Israel actually do? Just cede half their territory to the Palestinians, because the Palestinians made enough noise? His argument literally seems to be that Israel is responsible for the terrorist attacks they have endured, because they had the audacity to fight back. If the Palestinian cause was being hijacked by a few extremists, as so many of their apologists seem to want to argue, then where is the Palestinian movement to stop them? To turn over Hamas members and leadership for trials? Where was the call among the Palestinians for an end to the violence, when Arafat called for the second infatada? Why should Israel give concessions to a bunch of bloodthirsty extremists?

I am honestly shocked that any credible (it is Salon, so 'semi-credible' might be more apropos) website would bother to publish this trash. It's disgusting, ill-argued, and blatantly self-contradictory.

cranked out at 12:45 PM | |

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