Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Mideast Media Sampler 07/05/2011

From DG:
1) Trusting dead men

At the Aspen Ideas Festival, Thomas Friedman was quoted:

"...Every one of the Arab leaders is a dead man walking. It’s about dignity.”
Friedman's belief is that eventually technology will bring about the downfall of all current Arab despots (even, apparently, the benevolent ones.) 

Nearly ten years ago Friedman had  a different view of Arab leaders.

One Friedman's most famous columns, An Intriguing signal from a Saudi Prince began:

Earlier this month, I wrote a column suggesting that the 22 members of the Arab League, at their summit in Beirut on March 27 and 28, make a simple, clear-cut proposal to Israel to break the Israeli-Palestinian impasse: In return for a total withdrawal by Israel to the June 4, 1967, lines, and the establishment of a Palestinian state, the 22 members of the Arab League would offer Israel full diplomatic relations, normalized trade and security guarantees. Full withdrawal, in accord with U.N. Resolution 242, for full peace between Israel and the entire Arab world. Why not?
This is interesting on a number of levels:

a) These leaders, most of whom are still in power, are now dismissed by Friedman as yesterday's news, are precisely the ones he was telling Israel to trust and make peace with.
b) In a recent column Friedman wrote:

For the last 30 years, Israel enjoyed peace with Egypt wholesale — by having peace with just one man, Hosni Mubarak. That sale is over. Today, post-Mubarak, to sustain the peace treaty with Egypt in any kind of stable manner, Israel is going to have to pay retail. It is going to have to make peace with 85 million Egyptians. 
That same "logic" would have applied with every single other Arab regime; if the people of the newly free regimes opposed peace with Israel, Israel would have to adjust its expectations.
c) Though right now Friedman poses as a supporter of freedom and democracy, in 2002 he didn't care how Arab regimes treated their citizens. If they made (an insincere) offer of peace to Israel, he would let them off easy.

2) Party like its 1947 - or earlier

Pinchas Inbari writes for the JCPA, What Are the Palestinians Planning after September?

Two of his "bullet points" echo ideas we've seen recently.

What the Palestinians really envisage after September is to exploit a UN endorsement of statehood to legitimize an escalation of the conflict. After having the 1967 lines recognized so as to negate the results of the Six-Day War, they plan to seek recognition of the 1947 partition lines.
As Inbari writes later, this is why the Palestinians are changing their focus on UN resolutions from 242 to 181. And basing peacemaking on 181, was the recommendation of a recent "Turnip Truck" Tom Friedman column.

Inbari also writes:

In his New York Times article, Abbas was straightforward: "Palestine's admission to the United Nations would pave the way for the internationalization of the conflict as a legal matter, not only a political one. It would also pave the way for us to pursue claims against Israel at the United Nations, human rights treaty bodies and the International Court of Justice." 
As Melanie Phillips observed the other day, this is the goal of the Hamas allied Free Gaza Movement as stated by Adam Shapiro. (h/t Daled Amos)

Free Gaza is but one tactic of a larger strategy, to transform this conflict from one between Israel and the Palestinians, or Israel and the Arab world...to one between the rest of the world and Israel...
Using international organizations against Israel is another way of getting "the rest of the world" against Israel.

3) Grecian formula

After the flotilla last year, one of the questions was what should the IDF have done differently. Lately it is emerging, that it isn't the IDF that needed to do something differently, but Israel's foreign ministry and Prime Minister's office, as Herb Keinon observes (h/t EG)

And the diplomatic success wasn’t limited to Greece. The diplomatic accomplishments vis-à-vis this flotilla include prodding UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to come out against the flotilla, getting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to voice strong disapproval, having countries such as Britain, France and the Netherlands issue unequivocal travel advisories against taking part, making it difficult for the vessels to get insurance and ensuring that the Turks kept the Mavi Marmara from setting sail again and did not appear – as they did last time – to be giving their sponsorship to the entire farce.

As Defense Minister Ehud Barak aptly said in the cabinet meeting on Sunday, “We see positive developments in connection to the flotilla, as the Greek, Cypriot and Turkish governments are working to restrain it. That is the result of comprehensive efforts from the Foreign Ministry, the Prime Minister’s Office and us [the Defense Ministry].”
Janine Zacharia is no longer listed as a correspondent for the Washington Post on her Twitter account. So it appears that the only Israel correspondent of the Post is now Joel Greenberg who reports With Gaza flotilla stalled, both sides claim victory. Greenberg ends with:

Medea Benjamin, an activist from Washington who was with the U.S. ship, said that even without reaching its destination, the effort to sail had succeeded in refocusing international attention on “the plight of the people of Gaza.”
“We have still managed to show the lengths Israel is willing to go to stop a ragtag group of 10 ships and 300 unarmed peace activists from reaching Gaza,” Benjamin said by telephone from Athens. “This is not over. We’ve certainly won the propaganda war.”
Really, this pretty thin gruel for claiming that flotilla supporters claim victory - especially when earlier in the article, another flotilla participant said that she's seeking legal action against Greece. The headline writer really misled here.

And the UN is ready to issue a report that largely supports Israel's version of last year's flotilla incident, with only a criticism of Israel for using too much force. (I think that criticism is unfair.) But it supports Israel's legal right to a blockade and criticizes Turkey's involvement with the IHH. (h/t Yaacov Lozowick)

4) Gilder on Israel again

The Wall Street Journal features The economic case for Supporting Israel by George Gilder. (You can get the full article by clicking on the link from here. h/t Challah Hu Akbar)

Clearly, Israel needs every acre it now controls. Still, despite its huge technological advances, its survival continues to rely on peremptory policing of the West Bank, on an ever-advancing shield of antimissile technology, and on the unswerving commitment of the U.S. 
But this is no one-way street. At a time of acute recession, debt overhang, suicidal energy policy and venture capitalists who hope to sustain the U.S. economy and defense with Facebook pages and Twitter feeds, U.S. defense and prosperity increasingly depend on the ever-growing economic and technological power of Israel. 
The BDS case argues that "occupation" is uniquely evil and thus that it's morally wrong to do business with Israel. Gilder argues that economic support for Israel is not only not immoral, but that it is indeed a moral imperative with very real benefits for the West.
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