Thursday, May 03, 2012

The Middle East Media Sampler 5/3/2012: Another BDS Defeat, But...

From DG:
1) Methodists don't divest

It seeemed like a positive headline, Methodists Vote Against Ending Investments Tied to Israel. Unfortunately, the reporting was less than encouraging.
In Tampa, many delegates took to the floor to testify that they had traveled to the Holy Land and met with Palestinian Christians who were suffering and increasingly desperate for an end to the occupation. But in the end, they listened to some Jewish leaders and fellow Methodists who warned that divestment was a one-sided strategy that penalized only Israel.
The Rev. Alex Joyner, a Methodist pastor in Franktown, Va., and a member of an antidivestment caucus called United Methodists for Constructive Peacemaking in Israel and Palestine, said: “We are all concerned about the suffering and the ongoing occupation, because it is hurting Israeli and Palestinian society. But what the church has said is we want a positive step, and we reject punitive measures as a way of trying to bring peace.”
Is it so hard to acknowledge that the occupation has been over since late 1995?
In the last seven weeks Israel has handed over six West Bank towns and more than 400 villages to the Palestinian Authority. The authority now controls about 90% of the West Bank's more than 1 million Arabs, and about one-third of the land in the Delaware-size territory.
Furthermore, it is the Palestinians leaders who have refused to make peace with Israel. The report on the Methodist vote, really becomes inexcusable here:
Advocates for divestment say that Caterpillar supplies the bulldozers and earth-moving equipment used by the Israel Defense Forces to clear Palestinian homes and orchards; that Hewlett-Packard provides, sometimes through subsidiaries, biometric monitoring at checkpoints and information technology to the Israeli Navy; and that Motorola supplies surveillance equipment to illegal settlements in the West Bank and communications equipment to the occupation forces.
It would be nice if the reporter had taken the time to point out that these are security measures that have been necessitated by an ongoing terror war against Israel. But that's not the most outrageous element of the paragraph. It is inexcusable to refer to the Israeli army as "occupation forces." By adopting the language of Israel's enemies, the reporter, Laurie Goodstein lost any claim to objectivity and became an advocate.

 One last question. Given that the not too subtle point of Bob Simon's Christians in the Holy Land report was "if Christians knew how badly Israel treated Christians, American Christians wouldn't be so quick to support Israel," was the report deliberately timed ahead of this vote?

2) Depends what the meaning of "sophisticated" is

Part of the Washington Post's endorsement of Barack Obama was:
But Mr. Obama, as anyone who reads his books can tell, also has a sophisticated understanding of the world and America's place in it.
In Can Obama run on his foreign policy record?, Fouad Ajami rips that pretense to shreds:
He had presented himself as a cosmopolitan man—the un-George W. Bush. But the cosmopolitanism was just a veneer. Underneath the affectation of worldliness, there lay a calculating politician with a superficial knowledge. They have caught on in Karachi and Cairo, where the star of 2008-2009 has come down to earth. And they've caught on in Tehran and Damascus, where tyranny has had little to fear from the standard-bearer of American power.
His announcement last week, in a speech at the Holocaust Memorial Museum, that he has created a new Atrocities Prevention Board is testament to this president's penchant for doublespeak and naïveté. It is as though atrocities are like hurricanes and tornadoes that the weather center tracks and anticipates. Meanwhile, there are daily atrocities in the bereaved cities of Syria, the prison cells of Iran. 
That General Motors has been rescued is true, but the price paid was far too high. Moreover, it set a precedent at variance with the economic tradition and values of our country. The markets, not the White House, should have administered the treatment. Nor can our national economy be reduced to the tale of GM. A presidency that gave us an unprecedented but largely ineffective stimulus of $825 billion, that hiked federal spending to 24.3% of GDP from 20.8%, and that is set to run a deficit of $1.3 trillion this year, is not one that can ask to be trusted with the store.
3) A father's eye view of Jewish history

Jeffrey Goldberg's A Peace Legacy for Netanyahu’s Hard-Line Dad? is a bit condescending for my tastes. However, it includes this fascinating observation by Benzion Netanyahu:
The historian Benzion Netanyahu, who died Monday at 102, was sometimes asked to explain the miracle of Jewish survival through millenniums of persecution. Netanyahu – the father of Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin – would answer in a way his interlocutors did not at all expect. “The Jews didn’t survive,” he would say. About 1,900 years ago, he would explain, there were about 9 million Jews in a world population of roughly 300 million. Today, there are about 13 million Jews in a world of 7 billion. How is it that the number of Jews has stayed essentially stagnant, even as global population has grown exponentially? 
Persecution, he explained, has driven the Jews nearly to extinction. So many murdered, so many forcibly converted to Christianity and Islam, so many choosing the dubious path of assimilation as a defense against hatred and isolation. The Jews of today, he said, are a remnant of a remnant.
(via Daily Alert)
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