by Barry Rubin
Continue reading Remembrance of Articles Past
Reorganizing files for my past articles I came across some amusing and revealing things you might enjoy, showing how often the region doesn’t really change in some key ways and how rarely Western observers learn from events.
Palestinian Authority (PA) Health Minister Munzir Sharif complained to reporters that Israeli security measures, taken after two terrorist bombs killed 12 people in a Jerusalem marketplace, prevented Palestinians from getting needed medical treatment in Israel.
This protest seemed less credible when, three days later, Sharif himself had an operation in an Israeli hospital. He was not alone. Another hundred Palestinians received passes to obtain special care during the closure’s first days.
A key element in the way Arafat is often interpreted is to treat each of his declarations as if it has no history behind it. Thus, when he denounces terrorist attacks on Israel, pledges to make reforms, and asks for patience, this is merely a repetition of statements made many times previously without results. Often, though, headlines around the world about Arafat opposing violence or favoring compromise drown out the fact that these sound bites have long proved empty public relations’ gestures….
Here’s one example:
In May 1997, a PLC report found rampant corruption involving Arafat’s highest-ranking officials and in every PA agency. The PLC demanded that Arafat dissolve his cabinet within a month and name a new one staffed by honest professional people and experts. Only in January 1998 did he agree to reshuffle the cabinet, declaring he was launching an anti-corruption campaign. The PLC’s speaker, Abu Ala, greeted this statement as "a new beginning.” Yet Arafat did nothing at all until August 1998 when he did name a new cabinet--with all the same members including those accused by name of having stolen PA funds.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). His latest book is Israel: An Introduction, was published by Yale University Press in January 2012. You can read more of Barry Rubin's posts at Rubin Reports, and Rubin Reports, on Pajamas Media
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