Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Middle East Media Sampler 8/12/2012: Palestinian Culture And Blaming Others For Their Failures

From DG:
1) The fact that undermines the argument

In The Palestine Romney doesn't know, Palestinian American businessman Zahi Khori writes:
Despite their circumstances, Palestinians living under Israel’s brutal occupation share the same culture and proudly claim the same remarkable achievements. I, for one, returned to Palestine in 1993 to launch the first Coca-Cola bottling plant in the West Bank. It was granted a Best Country Bottling Operation award in May by Coca-Cola, a testament to my colleagues’ ingenuity and determination. But these traits alone cannot overcome the stifling effects of Israel’s occupation.

If Romney got one thing right, it’s that Israelis far outdo Palestinians in net wealth. In fact, his estimates of the disparity were too conservative: Israel’s per capita gross domestic product is roughly $32,000 to the Palestinians’ $1,500.

Remarkably, that $1,500 figure is roughly half of what Palestinians claimed in 1993, when the Oslo accords were signed. In other words, the U.S.-sponsored peace process has made us poorer.
Note the date in the last paragraph: 1993. Why is that significant?

George Gilder wrote last year:
During the era of Israeli "occupation" that ran from after the war of 1967 to 1993, for example, the number of Arabs in the territories tripled to some 3 million, with the creation of some 261 new towns, a tripling of Arab per capita incomes, and a rise in life expectancy from 52 to 73 years. Meanwhile, the number of Israeli settlers in this area stripped of Jews by Jordan rose only to 250,000. Again, far from effecting any displacement of Arabs, the Jewish settlements enabled a huge increase in both the number and wealth of the Palestinian Arabs.

THE CAUSE OF the subsequent disaster was intervention from the West under the so-called Peace Process of the early 1990s. Foreign aid poured in at a rate of close to $4 billion per year, and the PLO under Yassir Arafat and his predatory gang of rabid anti-Semites was brought in from Tunisia to manage the bonanza. The result was a 40 percent decline in per capita income together with mounting terrorism and anti-Semitic animus. In this environment, Palestinian entrepreneurship collapsed amid much talk of the "humiliation" of Palestinians working for Jews.

The test of a civilization is what it accomplishes in advancing the human cause -- what it creates rather than what it claims. From the outset early in the 20th century, Palestinian nationalism itself was an artificial construct characterized by hostility toward Jews, as well as toward capitalism. Palestinian political behavior was so obnoxious that their leaders were rejected by every Arab state in which they sought refuge, including the contiguous and predominantly Palestinian state of Jordan when it ruled the West Bank between 1948 and 1967. But after 1967, and under Israeli rule, the Palestinians proved that by focusing on enterprise complementing the Israeli economy they could become prosperous.
It was the introduction of Arafat's kleptocracy in 1993 that stifled Palestinian development. And it wasn't  just the embezzlement of  foreign aid and granting of monopolies to the privileged that hurt development. It was also the accompanying increase in terror encouraged by Arafat that forced Israel to introduce security measures such as checkpoints and the security barrier.

The final paragraph of Lee Smith's Palestine's Biggest Obstacle makes an important point.
Perhaps. But it's worth remembering that the Jews pulled off something unique in the annals of human history—re-establishing political sovereignty in their historical homeland after two millennia. What's strangest, then, about Romney's comparison is that the Jews are one of the world's rare exceptions. By historical standards, the current state of the Palestinian economy probably falls somewhere in the middle of the scale. History is nothing but the record of tribes and nations that, in order to survive, change—as the Palestinians must as well.
His argument isn't straightforward, so I won't excerpt more of the essay, but recommend that you read the whole thing.

2)  Thomas Friedman's question answered

A month ago, Thomas Friedman asked:
So Morsi is going to be under enormous pressure to follow the path of Turkey, not the Taliban. Will he?
Assuming that the question is, "will Morsi follow the path of Turkey?" I believe the answer is "yes."

The New York Time reported at the beginning of the year Charges Against Journalists Dim the Democratic Glow in Turkey:
At a time when Washington and Europe are praising Turkey as the model of Muslim democracy for the Arab world, Turkish human rights advocates say the crackdown is part of an ominous trend. Most worrying, they say, are fresh signs that the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is repressing freedom of the press through a mixture of intimidation, arrests and financial machinations, including the sale in 2008 of a leading newspaper and a television station to a company linked to the prime minister’s son-in-law.
The arrests threaten to darken the image of Mr. Erdogan, who is lionized in the Middle East as a powerful regional leader who can stand up to Israel and the West. Widely credited with taming Turkey’s military and forging a religiously conservative government that marries strong economic growth with democracy and religious tolerance, he has proved prickly and thin-skinned on more than one occasion. It is that sensitivity bordering on arrogance, human rights advocates say, that contributes to his animus against the news media.

There are now 97 members of the news media in jail in Turkey, including journalists, publishers and distributors, according to the Turkish Journalists’ Union, a figure that rights groups say exceeds the number detained in China. The government denies the figure and insists that with the exception of four cases, those arrested have all been charged with activities other than reporting.
Now the Washington Post reports Egyptian newspaper confiscated for insulting President:
Editions of Al-Dustour, a privately owned daily, were seized after several individuals filed lawsuits accusing it of “fueling sedition” and “harming the president through phrases and wording punishable by law,” MENA said.
Several days earlier, a TV network was ordered off the air over allegations it suggested the killing of Morsi. The network, el-Faraeen, broadcasts populist talk show host Tawfiq Okasha, a former Mubarak loyalist who regularly expresses enmity toward the revolution and the Muslim Brotherhood on his show.

The Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s most influential Islamic political group, came under heavy criticism after its lawmakers, packed in the parliament’s upper house, moved to replace chief editors of Egypt’s state-run newspapers.
More from Barry Rubin and Elder of Ziyon.

3) The missing plane

Claire Berlinski has written an extended analysis of the Turkish plane that was allegedly shot down by Syria, A Phantom Wrapped in an Enigma Wrapped in a Riddle:
Then the Wall Street Journal ran a devastating article: Apparently, anonymous but high-level American "senior defense officials" failed to disconfirm the Syrian version of events. "We see no indication that [the plane] was shot down by a surface-to-air missile," said one official, although he declined to say how he knew this. Now, this may seem a pedantic point, but he did not say, "We do see indication that it was not shot down by a surface-to-air missile." In other words, his statement means—literally, at least—"We don't actually know." Other unsourced "current and former" defense officials suggested that Ankara had been testing Syria's air defenses. A "former senior US official who worked closely with Turkey" said "You think that the airplane was there by mistake?" (I could make an educated guess about this official's identity—there are only a limited number of possibilities—but it would add to the hysteria, so I won't.) NATO officials—also unsourced—said that diplomats had not closely questioned the Turks about their version of events at the emergency meeting. The ever-leaking US officials said that the US had pushed NATO to issue a statement sharply condemning Syria.
The article caused a scandal here. Turks generally will not admit it, but they often trust the Wall Street Journal more than their own press, and for good reason: By long tradition, the Turkish press is generally careless with the facts, highly politicized, subservient to those in power, or in jail. This is one reason there is less clamor here than one might expect about the imprisonment of Turkish journalists. Turkey ranked 148 on the World Press Freedom index last year, plunging below the Democratic Republic of Congo, but I reckon most Turks figure they had it coming. As a friend once memorably said to me, "We value the streetwalkers more—at least they do honest work and perform a useful service."

When the Wall Street Journal reports something, though, people take it more seriously. Erdoğan was again enraged, and again, I run out of adjectives to describe his emotional state; if you are enraged by everything it is not that notable when you are enraged by something. What was notable was the target of his rage—Joe Parkinson of the Wall Street Journal. He called upon him to reveal his sources, accused him of cowardice, and decried his reporting as a stealth attack on President Obama. He railed against Turkish journalists for accepting the story as truth, and for good measure threw in an insult to the main opposition CHP leader, Kemal Klılıçdaroğlu: "Unfortunately [Kılıçdaroğlu] is not hand in hand and shoulder to shoulder with this country's values. [He stands] shoulder to shoulder with Israel's values, and the Baath regime." Yes, yes, of course—those notorious Zionists, the Baath regime. (I've stopped rubbing my eyes in wonderment at what comes out of that man's mouth. I'm used to it now.)
Berlinski seems unsure of what all the spinning over the affair means, but is convinced that "... there is more riding on the issue than might seem at first blush—matters of regional war and peace, in fact; and matters that surely affect Americans, whether or not they realize it."
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