Saturday, January 19, 2008

NO PEACE, NO PEACE PLANS, NO PRICE FOR PEACE -- A SHORT GUIDE TO THOSE OBSESSED WITH PEACE .


 

by Moshe Sharon

        Everybody says that his donkey is a horse.
     There is no tax on words.
     --(Two Arab proverbs)

On December 24th 1977, at the very beginning of the negotiations between Israel and Egypt in Ismailia, I had the opportunity to have a short discussion with Muhammad Anwar Sadat the president of Egypt. "Tell your Prime Minister," he said, "that this is a bazaar; the merchandise is expensive." I told my Prime Minister but he failed to abide by the rules of the bazaar. The failure was not unique to him alone. It is the failure of all the Israeli governments and the media.

On March 4, 1994, I published an article in the Jerusalem Post called "Novices in Negotiations" The occasion was the conclusion of the "Cairo Agreement." A short time later, Yasser Arafat, proved yet again that his signature was not worth the ink of his pen let alone the paper to which it was affixed, and his word was worth even less. Then, as in every subsequent agreement Israel was taken aback when her concessions had become the basis for fresh Arab demands.

In Middle Eastern bazaar diplomacy, agreements are kept not because they are signed but because they are imposed. Besides, in the bazaar of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the two sides are not discussing the same merchandise. The Israelis wish to acquire peace based on the Arab-Muslim acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state. The objective of the Arabs is to annihilate the Jewish state, replace it with an Arab state, and get rid of the Jews.

To achieve their goal, the Arabs took to the battlefield and to the bazaar diplomacy. The most important rule in the bazaar is that if the vendor knows that you desire to purchase a certain piece of merchandise, he will raise its price. The merchandise in question is "peace" and the Arabs give the impression that they actually have this merchandise and inflate its price, when in truth they do not have it at all.

This is the wisdom of the bazaar, if you are clever enough you can sell nothing at a price. The Arabs sell words, they sign agreements, and they trade with vague promises, but are sure to receive generous down payments from eager buyers. In the bazaar only a foolish buyer pays for something he has never seen.

There is another rule in the market as well as across the negotiating table: the side that first presents his terms is bound to lose; the other side builds his next move using the open cards of his opponent as the starting point.

In all its negotiations with the Palestinian Arabs, Israel has always rushed to offer its plans, and was surprised to discover that after an agreement had been "concluded" it had become the basis for further demands.

Most amazing is the reaction in such cases. Israeli politicians, "experts" and the media eagerly provide "explanations" for the Arabs' behaviour. One of the most popular explanations is that these or other Arab pronouncements are "for internal use," as if "internal use" does not count. Other explanations invoke "the Arab sensitivity to symbols," "honour," "matters of emotion" and other more patronising sayings of this nature. Does Israel possess no "sensitivities" or does it have no honour? What does all this have to do with political encounters?

It is therefore essential, as the late President Sadat advised, to learn the rules of the oriental bazaar before venturing into the arena of bazaar diplomacy. The most important of all the rules is the Roman saying: "If you want peace -- prepare for war." Never come to the negotiating table from a position of weakness. Your adversary should always know that you are strong and ready for war even more than you are ready for peace.

In the present situation in the Middle East and in the foreseeable future "peace" is nothing more than an empty word. Israel should stop speaking about "peace" and delete the word "peace" from its vocabulary together with such phrases as "the price of peace" or "territory for peace." For a hundred years the Jews have been begging the Arabs to sell them peace, ready to pay any price. They have received nothing, because the Arabs have no peace to sell, but they have still paid dearly. It must be said in all fairness that the Arabs have not made a secret of the fact that what they meant by the word "peace" was nothing more than a limited ceasefire for a limited period.

Since this is the situation, Israel should openly declare that peace does not exist as an option in the Arab-Israeli conflict, and that it has decided to create a new state of affairs in the Middle East, compelling the Arab side to ask for peace; and pay for it. Unlike the Arabs, Israel has this merchandise for sale.

From now on Israel should be the side demanding payment for peace. If the Arabs want peace, Israel should fix its price in real terms. The Arabs will pay if they reach the conclusion that Israel is so strong that they cannot destroy it. Because of this, Israel's deterrent power is essential.

Therefore, if anyone asks Israel for plans, the answer should be: no "plans," no "suggestions," no "constructive ideas," in fact no negotiations at all. If the Arab side wants to negotiate, let it present its plans and its "ideas." If and when it does, the first Israeli reaction should always be "unacceptable! Come with better ones." If and when the time comes for serious negotiations, once the Arabs have lost all hope of annihilating the Jewish state, here are ten rules for bargaining in the Middle Eastern bazaar:

1). Never be the first to suggest anything to the other side. Never show any eagerness "to conclude a deal." Let the opponent present his suggestions first.

2). Always reject; disagree. Use the phrase: "Not meeting the minimum demands," and walk away, even a hundred times. A tough customer gets good prices.

3). Don't rush to come up with counter-offers. There will always be time for that. Let the other side make amendments under the pressure of your total "disappointment." Patience is the name of the game: "haste is from Satan!"

4). Have your own plan ready in full, as detailed as possible, with the red lines completely defined. However, never show this or any other plan to a third party. It will reach your opponent quicker than you think. Weigh the other side's suggestions against this plan.

5). Never change your detailed plan to meet the other side "half way." Remember, there is no "half way." The other side also has a master plan. Be ready to quit negotiations when you encounter stubbornness on the other side.

6). Never leave things unclear. Always avoid "creative phrasing" and "creative ideas" which are exactly what your Arab opponent wants. Remember the Arabs are masters of language. Playing with words is the Arab national sport. As in the market, so also at the negotiating table, always talk dollars and cents.

7). Always bear in mind that the other side will try to outsmart you by presenting major issues as unimportant details. Regard every detail as a vitally important issue. Never postpone any problem "for a later occasion." If you do so you will lose; remember that your opponent is always looking for a reason to avoid honouring agreements.

8). Emotion belongs neither in the marketplace nor at the negotiating table. Friendly words as well as outbursts of anger, holding hands, kissing, touching cheeks, and embracing should not be interpreted as representing policy.

9). Beware of popular beliefs about the Arabs and the Middle East -- "Arab honour" for example. Remember, you have honour too, but this has nothing to do with the issues under negotiation. Never do or say anything because somebody has told you that it is "the custom." If the Arab side finds out that you are playing the anthropologist he will take advantage of it.

10). Always remember that the goal of all negotiations is to make a profit. You should aim at making the highest profit in real terms. Remember that every gain is an asset for the future, because there is always going to be "another round."

The Arabs have been practicing negotiation tactics for more than 2000 years. They are the masters of words, and a mine of endless patience. In contrast, Israelis (and Westerners in general) want quick "results." In this part of the world there are no quick results, the hasty one always loses.

 
Moshe Sharon is Professor of Islamic History at the Hebrew University.

This article is archived at : http://www.spme.net/cgi-bin/articles.cgi?ID=1202

 

A NEW PARADIGM FOR THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT: FROM THE POLITICAL TO THE HUMANITARIAN


 

by Martin Sherman  

1st part of 2

To solve a problem means mapping the features of the solution to the essential facts and features of the problem. The Jerusalem Summit has been constructing a plan for restructuring how we view the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and using this paradigm as a basis for intelligent action. This takes into consideration historic truths and the inescapable fact that the tiny area that is Israel (inclusive of "West Bank" and Gaza) constitutes 1 tenth of 1 percent of the land mass of the surrounding Arab states and can not support two states, especially given that either Israel or the projected Palestinian state would need to be split in two to maintain the other's integrity.

We have now come to the end of the first stage of our proposal. Part I is a synopsis of our plan; part II is a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) -- and our responses to the many queries we've received.

PART I. THE SYNOPSIS

A. Assessment

1. The conventional-wisdom paradigm for the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has failed woefully, bringing nothing but misery and despair to both sides -- but particularly to the Palestinians as individual human beings.

2. This conventional paradigm has attempted to solve the conflict by means of a Political Approach involving the establishment of a self governing Palestinian entity on territories in Judea Samaria and Gaza which have been under Israeli control since 1967 i.e. on the basis of a "Land for Peace" approach.

3. Dispassionate assessment of the history of the conflict and its current development will strongly suggest that persisting with attempts to attain a political solution on the basis the conventional paradigm are at best futile -- and at worse harmful. Accordingly, alternative modes of resolution must be pursued.
 

B. Analysis

1. Analysis of Palestinian deeds and declarations over the years make it difficult to avoid the conclusion that they are in effect both unwilling and incapable of achieving and maintaining statehood.

(a) Palestinian Unwillingness: This is reflected in the fact that the Palestinians have rejected every single viable proposal which would have afforded them a state -- from the 1947 partition plan to the 2000 Barak proposals.

(b) Palestinian Incapability: The Palestinian national movement has enjoyed conditions far more favorable than almost any other national independence movement since WW-II -- widespread international endorsement of their cause, unmitigated support of a superpower in the decades of the Cold War, highly sympathetic coverage by the major media organizations, and over a decade of Israeli administrations who have acknowledged (and at times even identified with) the Palestinians declared national aspiration. In spite of this, the achievements of Palestinian national movement have been more miserable than almost any other national independence movement -- bringing nothing but privation and penury to its people.

2. It is thus far easier to understand Palestinian conduct if one assumes that it is driven less by lack of Palestinian self determination and more by the very the existence of Jewish self determination; less by the aspiration to establish a Palestinian state and more by the aspiration to dismantle a Jewish state.

3. The latter, and seemingly more plausible, explanation of Palestinian behavior -- i.e. rejection of Jewish self determination and the dismantling of the Jewish nation state -- reflects an agenda totally unacceptable by any international standards and thus must be branded as devoid of any legitimacy.

4. Accordingly if the accepted version of the Palestinian narrative -- i.e. a desire for Palestinian self determination and the aspiration for Palestinian statehood -- cannot be reconciled with the history of Palestinian behavior, this narrative also must be branded as devoid of any legitimacy.

5. This issue of legitimacy of narrative is crucial. Indeed the very fuel of the Political Paradigm involving the establishment of a Palestinian state is the perception -- or rather the misperception -- of the presently prevailing Palestinian narrative as legitimate.
 

C. Conclusion

1. The establishment of a Palestinian State must removed from the international agenda.

2. However, removing the issue of a Palestinian state from the international agenda will not eliminate the humanitarian predicament of Palestinians residing in Israeli-administered areas.

3. This is clearly an issue that must be addressed and resolved. But it must be addressed not in political terms but in humanitarian ones.

4. Thus, to successfully resolve the Palestinian problem, the Political Paradigm must be replaced by a Humanitarian Paradigm. This, however can only be done if the current Palestinian narrative, which fuels the Political Paradigm, is de-legitimized.

5. Thus, the de-legitimization of the Palestinian narrative becomes a vital prerequisite to any comprehensive resolution of the Palestinian issue.
 

D. Proposal

1. A comprehensive Humanitarian Approach to the Palestinian issue would entail three major elements:

(a) The dissolution of UNRWA -- which will end the discriminatory treatment of the Palestinians with regard to their status as refugees;

(b) The termination of ethnic discrimination against Palestinians , living in the Arab world -- which will end the discriminatory treatment of the Palestinians with regard to their status as residents;

(c) Generous relocation grants to Palestinians living in Israeli administered territories on an individual basis and not via any official Palestinian organization.

2. UNRWA is an organization that perpetuates the Palestinian refugee problem. It is an anomalous organization which exists solely to deal with Palestinian refugees, while all the other refugees on the face of the globe are dealt with by the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

3. The organizations not only deal differently with the refugees under their auspices, they each have different definitions for classifying an individual as a "refugee".

4. This difference in definition has far-ranging consequences. For in contrast to the UNHCR definition, which results in a decline in the number of refugees in the number of refugees over time, the UNRWA definition leads to an inflation of the number.

5. In fact, if the UNHCR's otherwise universal definition were applied to the Palestinian case, the number of refugees would decline from 4-5 million to 200-300,000 i.e. by over 90%!!

6. It thus appears that UNWRA is perpetuating the very problem it was designed to eliminate.

7. Accordingly, the dissolution of UNRWA is an essential prerequisite for any comprehensive, durable settlement of the Palestinian issue.

8. With the dissolution of UNWRA, the remaining, and drastically reduced, number of Palestinian refugees, should be placed under the auspices of UNHCR -- in accordance with the accepted practice for all other refugee groups on the face of the globe.

9. Those Palestinians no longer classed as refugees under the new arrangements, must be offered all the privileges afforded all other peoples resident in their current countries of domicile in the Arab world -- including the right to acquire citizenship.

10. In order to do this, a vigorous diplomatic and media campaign must be mounted to induce Arab governments to end their harsh discriminatory behavior towards the millions of Palestinians domiciled in their countries and absorb them into their societies as fully fledged citizens. After all, even the Palestinians assert (in the opening paragraph of their National Covenant) that they are "part of the Arab Nation".

11. As for the Palestinians resident in Israeli administered territory, there is only one reasonable and feasible alternative that will facilitate:

(a) extricating them from their dire humanitarian plight;
(b) free them from the yoke of generations of misrule by their leadership;
(c) ensure the survival of Israel as the nation-state of the Jews.

12. This is a generous relocation and resettlement package to allow them to build a new life for themselves and their families in countries preferably, but not necessarily exclusively, with similar religious and socio-cultural conditions.

13. In order to minimize the ability of organized Palestinian interest groups to impede the success of such an effort, the offer of financial inducement to emigrate must be "atomized" -- i.e. made to individual Palestinian breadwinners on a one-to one personal level and not on a communal level via some formal Palestinian entity.

14. A survey conducted among the Palestinians in Nov. 2004 indicates that only about 15% of the Palestinian population resident in Israeli administered areas would reject such an offer outright. By contrast, over 70% would accept some form of material compensation as an inducement to emigrate permanently from the areas currently under Israeli administration (see http://www.jerusalemsummit.org/eng/news.php?news=102)

15. The economic cost of such a policy of generously financed humanitarian relocation and resettlement would be eminently affordable and would compare favorably with almost all other settlement proposals on the table today. Indeed, its total cost would be around 50% of the present total US outlay on the War in Iraq!!

16. Indeed, given Israel's present level of GDP, it is an initiative that it could well undertake on its own over the next decade to a decade and a half. It should be realized that this is the period that has elapsed since the initiation of the Oslo process -- which has brought nothing but failure and tragedy at the cost of billions of dollars and thousands of lives.

17. Of course, if the US, the EU and other developed nations were to contribute to this effort, it could be implemented in a far shorter space of time and with almost no burden on the world economy.

18. Quite the opposite, the Palestinians arriving in their new countries of domicile will not be impoverished refugees but reasonably affluent émigrés. The funds that they would be bringing with them would provide a considerable boost for the economies of these nations -- most of which would be developing countries with a pressing need for such a substantial influx of funds.
 

E. Summary

The proposed initiative constitutes a "win-win" proposal which will:

Alleviate, and even eliminate, the humanitarian plight of individual Palestinians

Ensure the continued security and survival of Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish people

Provide a Significant Boost to the Economies of the Developing World

Transform poverty stricken refugees into affluent émigrés
 

Martin Sherman

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

A NEW PARADIGM FOR THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT: FROM THE POLITICAL TO THE HUMANITARIAN

 

by Martin Sherman  

2nd part of 2

 

PART II. RESPONSES TO FAQs

We have now come to the end of the first stage of our plan to promote our proposal for a Humanitarian Regional Solution to the Israeli Palestinian Conflict. (The proposal can be accessed via
http://www.jerusalemsummit.org/eng/hs_short_eng.htm in English and
http://www.jerusalemsummit.org/eng/hs_short.htm in Hebrew)

The proposal generated a flood of responses -- some of which we tried to answer on an individual basis. However, although we would have liked to reply personally to each respondent, whether supportive or antagonistic, this proved impossible and we are, unfortunately, physically unable to do so.

Instead we have composed this single document which addresses most of the questions, comments, criticisms and objections that were raised during campaign.
 

How much would it cost?

It is difficult to arrive at a precise estimate for the total cost of such a scheme for the relocation and rehabilitation of the Palestinian population west of the Jordan River -- since this would clearly depend on the finally determined level of compensation and the actual size of the population. There is a fierce debate regarding the true figures for Palestinian population in Judea, Samaria and Gaza - with a discrepancy of well over a million between competing estimates. New and reliable sources seem to indicate that the Palestinian population is considerably lower than the usually accepted figures. (See The Million Person Gap: The Arab Population in the West Bank and Gaza-
http://www.biu.ac.il/Besa/MSPS65.pdf and also see
http://www.pademographics.com)

Assuming compensation of between US$100,000-200,000 per family the total cost would be between US $60 billion and US $160 billion.

This is of course is a fraction of the US$350 billion that the US has already incurred in the War on Iraq. Moreover, given the fact that Israel's GNP is about US$100 billion, if it were to allocate 5-7% of this GNP per annum over a decade to a decade and a half, it could bear much of the economic burden by itself. If the international community were to help shoulder the task, the entire enterprise could be completed far more rapidly, at a cost which would be virtually imperceptible, amounting to a mere fraction of a percentage point of the GNP of the OECD nations.

Finally it should be recognized that cost incurred by "Disengagement" from Gaza, together with a cost of the planned "Convergence" from the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) is estimated at tens of billions of dollars. The same is true for the evacuation of the Golan. Thus, the cost of Israeli withdrawal, and uprooting Jewish settlements established decades ago, is of the same order of magnitude as of the proposed Humanitarian-Regional Solution for the resettlement of the Palestinians -- this without taking into account the cost of financing UNRWA in its present form and the enormous international aid that would be required to maintain a faltering and failing Palestinian State.

Surely it would be far wiser to spend the money on inducing voluntary Palestinian migration rather than imposing coercive Jewish deportation.
 

How feasible is large Scale Palestinian Emigration?

No one knows precisely how many Palestinians can be induced to emigrate without putting the matter to a practical test. However, the only available evidence strongly suggests that extensive emigration is indeed eminently feasible. A poll commissioned in December 2004 by the Jerusalem Summit and conducted via a reputable Israeli research institute, Maagar Mohot Interdisciplinary Research and Consulting Institute Ltd, in collaboration with the well-known Palestinian center, The Palestinian Center For Public Opinion, showed that over 40% had actively considered emigration while up to 50% did not discount such a possibility -- even without being offered any material inducement. The figure rose to over 70% (!) when the question of material compensation was introduced to encourage such emigration. See http://www.jerusalemsummit.org/eng/news.php?news=102.

These findings received strong -- and independent corroboration -- in a recent poll conducted by Bir Zeit Universtiy, which also showed that close to half the Palestinian youth would emigrate if given the chance. In the words of the poll: "44% of young Palestinians are willing to [e]migrate if given the opportunity". See
http://home.birzeit.edu/dsp/opinionpolls/poll28/highlights.html. Likewise an article which appeared in October this year in the Christian Science Monitor also reports wide-scale Palestinian willingness to emigrate -- again even in the absence of the systematic financial inducements specified in our proposal. See
http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/1024/p04s01-wome.html.

These findings are of course far more powerful and persuasive evidence than the vague and unsubstantiated protestations of those opposing the proposal that "the Palestinians will never forsake their land". The factual findings seem to indicate otherwise.
 

Who would accept them?

The Palestinian recipients of relocation grants would not be arriving as communities of impoverished refugees but as individual immigrants of relative affluence who traditionally have brought great benefit to the host countries that accepted them. Moreover, the volume of money the Palestinian newcomers would bring with them would constitute a very significant influx of funds into the economies of these host countries. Indeed, for every hundred Palestinian families received, the host country could count on the influx of around ten to twenty million dollars directly into the private sector. Absorbing 2500 new Palestinian family units could mean the injection of quarter of a billion to half a billion dollars, into the local economy of countries direly in need of such funds.

Consider the following example, which if not entirely realistic, is instructive in illustrating the principle involved. Suppose Indonesia - the word's most populous Moslem country -- were to open its gates to the Palestinians and all the Palestinians in areas across the Green Line were indeed to emigrate to that country. The significance of this would be an increase of a little over 1% (!) of the Indonesian population (estimated at almost 250 million) but an influx of over US $100 billion (!!!) into the Indonesian economy whose total GNP (2005) is less than US $300 billion. Moreover, each Palestinian breadwinner would arrive with a sum worth over a century (!!!) of GNP per capita in his pocket -- which would mean that he would in no way be an impoverished refugee and a burden on the local society or economy. Quite the opposite. He would be a rather well-to-do individual, capable of making a positive contribution to both the economy and society.

It is of course unrealistic to believe that all the Palestinians would head for a single destination. However if Palestinian emigration was distributed over several countries, they could be absorbed, resettled and rehabilitated with very little difficulty by a number of host nations with compatible domestic socio-cultural and religious environments -- with the financial benefits accruing to these host nations being proportional to number of Palestinian immigrants they accept.
 

What about those who remain?

This is of course a serious question and a detailed response would depend on, among other things, the size of the residual Palestinian population who refuse any material compensation as an inducement to emigrate. The acuteness of the problem would definitely be a function of its scale. Clearly the smaller this residual population, the less pressing and less serious the need will be deal with it. For example it seems plausible that if, say, only a hundred thousand Palestinians remain, consideration may well be given to the possibility of offering them Israeli citizenship -- subject to stringent security vetting and sworn acceptance of Jewish sovereignty as the sole legitimate source of authority in the land -- without endangering the Jewish character of Israel.

If by contrast well over million remain, granting such citizenship is liable to jeopardize the Jewish character of the state. Accordingly other arrangements must be devised. In such a circumstance, the remaining Palestinians would be deemed (accurately) resident aliens with wide ranging economic, religious and cultural liberties but with yet to be determined political affiliation.

Continued right of residency would contingent upon acceptance of Jewish sovereignty. [Any manifestation of insurrection would result in the offender being declared a "persona non grata" -- as would be the case in any self-respecting democracy if an alien resident were to rebel against the prevailing source of sovereignty -- and in his being deported from the country along with those dependant on him for their livelihood.] One option may be to confer upon them special UN status together with UN documents to facilitate travel. Another would be to canvass third party states to offer them non-resident citizenship in return for financial benefits to theses states.

In any event it is totally unreasonable to insist that Israel either jeopardize its Jewish character (the very raison d'etre for its establishment) by conferring full citizenship on a large populace of hostile aliens, or jeopardize its national security (indeed survival) by relinquishing territory comprising vital strategic assets -- to accommodate highly questionable demands of those hostile aliens.

No other nation on the face of the earth would acquiesce to such demands; no other nation would be expected to acquiesce to them.
 

Isn't the proposal an odious/fascist/racist plot for ethnic cleansing?

This is a most puzzling accusation leveled by some respondents at the proposal. For it is indeed difficult to fathom what aspect of the plan could conceivably be considered "odious", "fascist" or "racist"?

  • The proposal prescribes reassigning the treatment of the Palestinian refugees to an organization with proven record of success (U.N. High Commission for Refugees -- UNHCFR) from one with a proven record of failure (UNRWA) . Should this be considered "odious", "fascist" or "racist"? If so, why so?
  • The proposal prescribes putting the Palestinian refugees on a par with all the other refugees on the face of the globe. Should this be considered "odious", "fascist" or "racist"? If so, why so??
  • The proposal prescribes demanding the elimination of ethnic discrimination against Palestinians across the Arab world. Should this be considered "odious", "fascist" or "racist"? If so, why so??
  • The proposal prescribes allowing individual Palestinians to decide, on their own, for themselves, to extricate themselves and their families from penury and privation. Should this be considered "odious", "fascist" or "racist"? If so, why so??

Indeed in light of the proven political incompetence of the Palestinians and their manifest lack of authentic political will to exercise self-determination, one finds it strange that that those who purport to be sympathetic to the Palestinians would persist in inflicting on them the hardship and suffering that their spurious demands for statehood have wrought upon them.

After all isn't giving the notion of "state" absolute dominance over individual liberties the very essence of fascism? So wouldn't the real fascists be those who insist that Palestinian statehood must have precedence over free choice of Palestinian individuals, whatever the human cost at the personal level??
 

More on the question of ethnic cleansing

Should the millions of Arabs/Moslems who decided to migrate to Western countries to improve their lives be deemed "ethnically cleansed? Surely not.

So why should Palestinians who make the same decision to improve their living standards and that of their families -- something hitherto denied them by the adoption of erroneous assumptions regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict -- be considered "ethnically cleansed" -- and not "economically upgraded"?

Moreover, if ethnic separation leads to stability which ethnic mingling undermines, would this still be considered "immoral"?

If multi-ethnic realities generate bloodshed and enmity -- why is this more moral than mono-ethnic realities that generate calm and stability?

By the way, isn't the policy of Israeli withdrawal driven precisely by the principle of ethnic separation? But as opposed to this proposal, withdrawal will involve Israel relinquishing strategic assets vital for its security and leave individual Palestinians victims of the corrupt kleptocracy of the Fatah or the tyrannical theocracy of the Hamas. How moral is that?

Finally, it should be recalled that although opponents endeavor to taint it as being fascist or racist, the concept of ethnic separation and resettlement as vehicle for inducing stability has impeccable humanitarian credentials, as can be gauged from the following citation from President Herbert Hoover, whose efforts to relieve famine and human misery in World War I earned him the title of the "The Great Humanitarian":

"Consideration should be given even to the heroic remedy of transfer of populations... the hardship of moving is great, but it is less than the constant suffering of minorities and the constant recurrence of war." -- (President Herbert Hoover, in The Problems of Lasting Peace, pp.235-36).
 

What if the Same Kind of Offer Would Be Made to Induce Jewish Emigration?

The answer to this question has two complementary parts: 1. The offer is not on the table for Jews in Israel and certainly would not be put there by an Israeli government. The measure is proffered as a means to:

(a) Relieve genuine Palestinian humanitarian misery not Jewish disgruntlement
(b) Ensure -- not undermine- the survival of Israel as the Nation-State of the Jews

2. Of course, it would be impossible to prevent Arab elements from offering Jews financial inducement to emigrate from Israel, but in this regard it should be recalled that:

(a) For the overwhelming majority of Israelis, the standard of living is far higher than that of the Palestinians. Israel is classified as an advanced industrial nation with a GNP per capita 15-20 times higher than that in the Palestinian administered territories -- and many independent Arab countries.

(b) Accordingly, it would be commensurately more difficult to tempt them to leave. The kind sums offered would have to be considerably higher to create a comparable economic incentive (decades of GNP per capita of relevant host countries) and would run into millions rather than hundreds of thousands per family.

(c) In this regard it should be pointed out that recent polls indicate that between 80-90% of the Jewish population in Israel are satisfied with their life -- thus the prospect of financial incentives of to induce large scale emigration seems remote.

Martin Sherman

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

 

 

 

Thursday, January 17, 2008

DUBYA'S REAL MIDEAST AGENDA.

 

CAN HE CONSOLIDATE HIS REVOLUTION?

 Amir Taheri

New York Post, January 8, 2008

 GEORGE W. Bush will set a new presidential record on his Middle East grand tour, visiting at least 10 countries in a short period. In some, he'll be the first US president to make a state visit. But what is the visit for?

Cynics would suggest that Bush is looking for photo opportunities that might add some spice to his future memoirs. More generous commentators might see the tour as the continuation of an American tradition: All US presidents since Woodrow Wilson have dreamed of themselves as peacemakers and tried to help others sort out ancient disputes.

Both assessments may be true. After all, why shouldn't Bush look for a photo opportunity, and why shouldn't he try his luck at peacemaking? But those explanations are inadequate.

First off, the greater Middle East is no longer a distant region whose importance to the United States stems from its oil reserves and strategic location in the context of big-power rivalries. Over the last three decades, US dependence on Middle East oil has dropped steadily, even as US imports of crude have almost doubled. As for geostrategic factors, the Cold War's end spelled the finish of the Middle East as a big prize in the race between the Free World and the Soviet bloc.

Instead, the Middle East has emerged as the chief source of threats to US national security in the context of a new global struggle between the established order and its challengers, who often act in the name of this or that version of Islam.

Successive US administrations failed to see this radical transformation when it began in the '70s. Even the storming of the US embassy in Tehran and the seizing of American diplomats as hostages failed to convince Washington that something important was going on in the Mideast. It took the 9/11 attacks to shake America out of its illusions about the region.

Since President Franklin Roosevelt, US Middle East policy had aimed at preserving the status quo. Each time America intervened in the region - from the Marines landing in Lebanon and Jordan in the '50s to the expulsion of Saddam Hussein's armies from occupied Kuwait - Washington sought to maintain as much of the status quo as possible.

That policy's failure - illustrated by the emergence of pro-Soviet Arab regimes in the '50s and the '60s, the Communist seizure of power in Afghanistan in 1977 and the Khomeinist revolution in Iran in 1979 - didn't persuade Washington that a different analysis might be required. But Bush realized post-9/11 that it was the very status quo that America had helped preserve that had produced its deadliest foes. He became the first US president to adopt an anti -status quo, not to say revolutionary, posture toward the Middle East.

Bush backed his words with deeds by taking military action to remove two of the region's most vicious regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. He also exerted pressure on other countries, including some allies, to change aspects of their domestic and/or foreign policies.

The upshot: The status quo has shattered. Yet (even leaving aside the peoples of Afghanistan and Iraq, who've had a chance to taste freedom from tyranny) America hasn't been the sole beneficiary.

Indeed, the prime beneficiary has been the Islamic Republic in Iran. In 2001, it was in a pincer between the Taliban regime in Kabul and the Ba'athist regime in Baghdad. The Afghan mullahs challenged the Iranian mullahs on religious grounds; the Ba'athists tried to mobilize pan-Arab nationalism against Khomeinism. Those regimes' fall has enabled the Khomeinists to revive their ambitions of regional supremacy as never before.

Other beneficiaries include Russia, India, China and Uzbekistan - who were all mired in deadly struggles against armed Islamists. The Taliban's fall and the destruction of al Qaeda's Afghan network have led to the gradual demise of terrorist groups in Chechnya, Kashmir, Xingjian and the Ferghana Valley.

* Freed from the Chechnyan albatross, Vladimir Putin's Russia has revived its big-power ambitions in Central Asia and the Middle East.

* The end of the Muslim revolt in Xingjian has enabled China not only to develop that oil-rich region, but also to attract massive Arab investment.

* India has freed itself of the cross it had to bear in Kashmir, letting it cut defense spending for the first time in half a century and focus on economic development.

* With no more mujahedin coming from Afghanistan, Uzbek President Islam Karimov has been able to restore his control over the Ferghana for the first time since 1990.

Arab states from Algeria to Yemen to Egypt, have also benefited from the fact that Afghanistan and Iraq have become magnets for terrorists who'd otherwise have targeted them. Europe and Japan gained, too, if only from the receding of the Saddamite and al Qaeda threats to a region that provides 60 percent of their oil imports.

The problem is that, while the old status quo has fallen, a new one has yet to take shape. The struggle against the enemies of new Afghanistan and Iraq may continue for many more years. Under a new administration, America may balk at the effort required to shape a new status quo. A US withdrawal before a new balance of power is in place could leave Iran and Russia the arbiters of the region's future. Both have made no secret of their ambitions to build alliances to challenge what they see as US domination.

The State Department may have designed Bush's final tour of the region as a signal that America is satisfied with the half-built Mideast status quo. This is why the focus is put on the Israel-Palestine conflict - which, its intrinsic importance notwithstanding, is of little consequence in the broader struggle for a new Middle East.

The president's tour can acquire a positive meaning only if it is used to shape a new alliance for reform, progress and democratization as the chief guarantor of Middle East peace and security. Such an alliance would challenge the hegemonic ambitions of both the Islamic Republic and Russia.

Under Bush, America has helped change the Middle East. It would be odd, to say the least, if America's principal adversaries end up as the chief beneficiaries of that change.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

 

 

Lebanon in Limbo.

The political process comes to a halt.

by Lee Smith


Beirut-
THE IDEA THAT George Bush might be stopping in Lebanon during the course of his 9-day tour of the Middle East is one of the more far-fetched rumors I've ever heard in a land rife with speculation and hearsay. A Bush visit here is unlikely, for obvious reasons.

"Syria's allies threatened to block the airport road if Bush shows up in Beirut," says Eli Khoury, a Lebanese democracy activist and founder of New Opinion Workshop (NOW) Lebanon. And what about the rest of Lebanon? "Considering Syria's strong presence in Lebanon through these allies, and the security threat it poses, there is a big difference between what the democratic public in Lebanon would want to do to welcome Bush and what they would actually do. People might not mass up, out of fear for their lives or militant intimidation."

Certainly a meeting between Bush and the million plus who took to the streets March 14, 2005 to demand their freedom, independence, and sovereignty would cheer the leader of the free world at a time when his administration's Middle East policy has run off the tracks. If the invitation Secretary of State Rice extended Damascus for November's Annapolis meeting rattled the Sunni-Druze-Christian coalition that makes up Lebanon's March 14 movement, post-Annapolis events have concerned the rest of Washington's regional friends.

Insofar as Annapolis was supposed to gather U.S. allies to remind them of their common front against Teheran, the National Intelligence Estimate discounting the dangers of the Iranian nuclear program rendered the exercise meaningless.
Why would the Saudis or Egyptians stick their necks out for the White House if the president can't even manage his own intelligence community? Now, the administration is stuck with what some pundits are unironically calling the "Annapolis process," which is supposed to lead to a Palestinian state and usher in a new Middle East.

But to welcome the President to what is still the old Middle East, Damascus and Tehran have heated things up a bit--largely here in Lebanon. First, a sectarian clash in a Beirut Sunni neighborhood bordering on a Shia section threatened to get out of hand until the army was deployed and tensions cooled. Monday, two rockets were fired into Northern Israel, and Tuesday afternoon a UN convoy was targeted, injuring three UNIFIL troops.

As Lebanon's Syrian and Iranian allies are willing to resort to such violence to send the message that the President of the United States cannot protect his allies in Lebanon, Israel, and Europe, what can the U.S. do to show its resolve?

Khoury believes a presidential trip would actually mean a lot. "It means that Lebanon has, for once, strong allies who are serious about supporting their cause," Khoury says. "And that, despite the deadly circumstances, the new Syria-free regime will overcome and flourish."

Right now, however, there is only political stasis. After March 14 cut a deal allowing army commander and presumed Syrian ally Michel Suleiman to become president, the Hezbollah-led opposition smelled blood in the water. What they wanted next was a re-jiggered cabinet that would give them veto power to quash the formation of the tribunal into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minster Rafiq al-Hariri. Thus, Lebanon has entered a stalemate that has no obvious resolution--except for March 14 to cave in to the demands of Hezbollah and its Syrian assets, or for the tribunal to take shape and start naming members of the Asad family.

It is very difficult for observers to understand how a country can function in such a vacuum, without a president and a sidelined parliament, but life goes on in Beirut. Bars and restaurants were filled this holiday season with Lebanese expats; as one reveler explained New Year's Eve, "the fun never stops"--even if the political process has.

And thus Lebanon has come down to a game of nerves, with regional and international actors waiting for the next move. Regardless of the president's travel plans, in the wake of Annapolis the White House has redoubled its efforts to show, as Bush said recently, "the United States is strongly committed to Lebanese democracy." And after France's brief flirtation with Damascus, president Nicolas Sarkozy has suspended talks.

The Arab League has backed the Suleiman presidency, which given the reality on the ground is a non-starter. According to Tony Badran, a fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, "It seems increasingly like the Syrians simply avoided criticism in Cairo by appearing to back the Arab consensus while at the same time winking to their Lebanese allies to create old-new hurdles. It afforded Syria, in their view, a measure of deniability."

Usually it is the Americans who are eager to wrap things up--to get some closure, as we like to say. But if Syria and Iran believe they are riding a wave with the NIE, the recent violence in Lebanon suggests that Damascus and Teheran are also capable of losing their cool.

First, the vacuum gives the tribunal more time to form. Second, in spite of all the vain talk about splitting Syria from Iran, there is only one obvious wedge issue between them. While Damascus will sacrifice any amount of Lebanese blood to protect the Syrian regime, Iran does not want a Sunni-Shia war in Lebanon that would affect its standing throughout the region. If Washington's Sunni allies read the NIE as an index of the Bush administration's weakness, sectarian conflict in Lebanon would remind them that cutting deals with the Islamic Republic of Iran is a very foolish idea.

Lee Smith is a visiting fellow at the Hudson Institute.


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Humanitarian Aid to PA, Again

 

by Nissan Ratzlav-Katz

Security agents of the Israel Airport Authority (IAA) discovered two tons of material used to manufacture explosives on a truck supposedly delivering humanitarian aid for residents of the Palestinian Authority. The discovery was made Monday afternoon at the IDF checkpoint at the KeremShalom Crossing into southern Gaza, a transit point for goods from Egypt destined for the PA.

The bomb-making ingredient was found by IAA officials during routine and random inspections of vehicles supposedly carrying humanitarian supplies into southern Gaza. According to security sources, the chemical compound, made from fertilizer, is used as fuel for PA rockets and in the manufacture of incendiary devices. The quantity of material discovered was sufficient for hundreds of rockets.

Security officials have yet to determine the source and destination of the explosives supplies. The investigation continues.

The smuggling incident was the second of its kind in less than a month. In late December, IDF soldiers discovered 6.5 tons of potassium nitrate hidden in sacks marked "sugar" and earmarked for needy Arabs in Gaza. Potassium nitrate is a banned substance in Gaza, Judea and Samaria due to its use by terrorists for the manufacturing of explosives and Kassam rockets. The bags were marked as humanitarian aid from the European Union, Gaza's biggest source of assistance.

While security officials investigating the December case do not assume that the potassium nitrate was sent by the European Union, they have noted that terrorist groups have learned to take advantage of such shipments. An IDF source said at the time, "This is another example of how the terror organizations exploit the humanitarian aid that is delivered to the Palestinian population in Gaza with Israel's approval."

PM Olmert Opposes Gaza Incursion
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday that Israel was at "war" with Arab terrorists in Gaza, but said he opposed a full-scale invasion of the area "right now."

The prime minister explained his position: "Hundreds of fatalities amongst terror organizations in Gaza in the last year are a heavy price for the terror groups to have paid. I highly recommend that we do not get involved in operations and costs out of all proportion to the issues we are dealing with."

At the same time, Olmert stressed that he did not underestimate the severity of Kassam attacks on Sderot and other Jewish communities located near Gaza.

Israel Lifting Fuel Sanctions
The random discovery of the bomb-making material last month and on Monday did not change Defense Minister Ehud Barak's decision to drop fuel sanctions imposed on Gaza by the government last month.

The cutbacks in fuel supplies were implemented as part of the effort to isolate and pressure the Hamas government in Gaza. The High Court of Justice heard several petitions against the move. On Thursday, the state submitted a motion in which it announced the suspension of the punitive measures.

Canada to Provide Aid
In addition to the assistance from the EU for the PA, Canadian Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier announced that his government would allocate $300 million for the PA over the course of the next five years. The money will be used to reform the PA and to fund its security forces, Bernier said.

The PA security forces have begun patrolling Shechem and Bethlehem in an effort to prove that the PA is able to fight terrorism and control crime. Terrorists who are caught by PA forces serve up to three months in prison and then become members of the force, provided with weapons and a salary from the PA.

Nissan Ratzlav-Katz

 

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

PA Chairman With PLO Flag That Erases Israel.

by Nissan Ratzlav-Katz

 

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was filmed this week at a PLO Central Committee meeting with an emblem that negates the existence of Israel as a backdrop. The PLO emblem includes the PA flag above a map which depcits Palestine replacing the entirety of the State of Israel.

The video from the PLO meeting, which took place in Ramallah, was broadcast on PA television on Sunday, January 13. The event took place just days after Abbas met with US President George W. Bush and reiterated his commitment to peaceful negotiations with Israel.

The PA's Fatah terrorist faction, under the direct command of Abbas, also continues to promote the elimination of Israel through its maps and symbols. A map on a poster printed in December in honor of the group's 43rd anniversary shows all of Israel as "Palestine" draped in a colorful keffiyeh scarf. A rifle is pictured alongside the map.

Fatah is generally treated by Western leaders as more moderate than rival terrorist groups, as it currently professes to support an Arab Muslim state in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Jerusalem, but not within Israel's 1948-1967 borders. However, throughout decades of negotiations, the group never changed its maps or military symbols, and Fatah leaders refuse to recognize Israel as Jewish within any borders. In a 2001 press release in honor of the 37th anniversary of Fatah's first terrorist attack, the organization declared that "a legitimate Palestinian entity forms the most important weapon that Arabs have against Israel...."

On November 28, the day after the Annapolis Conference, official PA television broadcast a map of the region obliterating Israel completely and replacing it with a Palestinian flag.

 

Nissan Ratzlav-Katz

 

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

 

The Arab States encouraged the Palestine Arabs to leave their homes ...

 

by Hillel Fendel

The issue of "Arab refugees" has long been a matter of widespread consensus in Israel, with even left-wing parties declaring that allowing them into Israel would endanger its very existence as a Jewish state.  Nevertheless, the subject does not appear to be going away.  Reports are that Prime Minister Olmert has now agreed to allow 50,000 Arabs who left Israel in 1948 - or are descendants of those who did - to enter and live in Israel.

Channel Ten reported Thursday night that in a private meeting between Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Abu Mazen, the two agreed that in the final-status agreement, Israel would withdraw from 92% of Judea and Samaria, including all the non-Jewish neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem.  It was also agreed that 50,000 "refugees from 1948" would enter and live in the State of Israel. 

Staffers in Olmert's office did not deny the report, and even hinted that it was at least partially accurate.

Olmert Went Further than Bush
U.S. President George Bush summed up his three-day visit to Israel on Friday by saying that a new Palestinian state, together with financial compensation, would be the solution to the refugee problem.  The implication is that the refugees need not enter Israel

"There must be an end to Israel's occupation [sic] that began in 1967," Bush said.  "Palestine must serve as a national home for the Palestinians, and Israel - for the Jews."

Israel liberated Judea and Samaria during the Six Day War in 1967, capturing it, essentially, from no one. No country in the world, other than Great Britain and Pakistan, recognized Jordan's control over Judea and Samaria between 1948 and 1967.

Lebanon: Return, Not Money
Lebanon's Prime Minister Fuad Seniora does not accept Bush's position on the refugees. Seniora said that money alone is not enough, and that his country will continue to refuse to grant citizenship to the 400,000 refugees living within its borders.  The number of Arabs who left Israel in 1948 has been estimated to be roughly a half-million, but millions now claim the 'right to return.'

Hamas, too, refuses to accept any solution other than the "return" to Israel of the millions of Arabs who claim that they themselves, or their ancestors, were forced to leave Israel in 1948.  The Hamas prime minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, said that Bush will soon leave the political arena, while the Hamas demands will remain forever: "A Palestinian state in the pre-1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital, the destruction of all the settlements, the release of all the Palestinian prisoners, the 'right of return' of all the Palestinian refugees, and continued adherence to the strategy of not giving up on even one inch of all of Palestine."

Arabs Denied Refugee Problem
Oft-forgotten is the fact that the refugee problem was not caused by Israel, but by the Arab states.  "The Arab States encouraged the Palestine Arabs to leave their homes temporarily in order to be out of the way of the Arab invasion armies," according to the Jordanian newspaper Filastin (February 19, 1949). 

Joan Peters, in her classic work "From Time Immemorial," quotes (on page 13) an Arab-sponsored Institute for Palestine Studies finding that "the majority" of the Arab refugees in 1948 were not expelled, and that 68% left without seeing an Israeli soldier.

On April 27, 1950, the Arab National Committee of Haifa informed the Arab States: "The removal of the Arab inhabitants... was voluntary and was carried out at our request... The Arab delegation proudly asked for the evacuation of the Arabs and their removal to the neighboring Arab countries."

Zuheir Muhsein, the late Military Department head of the PLO and member of its Executive Council, told the Dutch daily Trouw, March 1977, "The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity... Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people... to oppose Zionism."

Hillel Fendel

 

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

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