Sunday, October 30, 2011

Mideast Media Sampler 10/30/2011

From DG:
1) Hamas: committed to the ceasefire  
Yesterday, there was renewed rocket fire from Gaza into Israel. This time there were injuries and a fatality. Israel retaliated killing five of the terrorists. There are numerous aspects of this news that can be manipulated in reporting. The New York Times adds a different distortion in Israeli Drone Strike Kills Militants in Southern Gaza by Fares Akram and Isabel Kershner. Repeating an unsupported assertion mentioned earlier in the article, Akram and Kershner conclude:
Hamas is largely committed to the fragile cease-fire that first came into effect after Israel’s three-week military offensive in Gaza that ended in January 2009. Smaller groups like Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees are not.
I'm not sure what "largely committed" means, but I'll assume that it means that according the reporters, more often than not Hamas will prevent rockets from being fired into Israel. Of course, that begs the question as to what happens when Hamas is not committed to the ceasefire. Is it intentional or not. We know, for example, that Hamas taxes goods that are smuggled in. So my guess is that Hamas has a pretty good idea of the material that Islamic Jihad and other smaller terrorist groups obtain. My guess, too, is that the manufacture of the rockets require a number of people and of course facilities. The logistics of manufacturing the rockets should make identifying "factories" and technicians pretty easy to trace. In other words the manufacturing of rockets is something that Hamas should be able to identify and stop, if it wants to. It's probably fair to say that Hamas observes the ceasefire when it wants to. 
Claiming, with no evidence, that Hamas is "largely committed" to the ceasefire grants Hamas goodwill to which it is not entitled. This just in - after starting the latest violence Islamic Jihad is offering a ceasefire. I guess they were hit pretty hard and are looking for a face saving way of protecting itself from further damage. Just noted: Islamic Jihad didn't really want a ceasefire.

2) His poor kids 
 Despite reports that its leadership is increasingly viewed as keeping the wealth for themselves, Hamas has been paying for the lavish treatment of the prisoners - many of them terrorists - who have been freed from Israeli jails in exchange for Gilad Shalit. How popular these expenditures will be with the residents of Gaza who don't benefit from the organization's largesse remains to be seen. One of the hotel residents is Mustafa Maslamani. Here's how he's described in In Gaza, former prisoners pampered in luxury hotel in the Washington Post.
Mustafa Maslamani, 47, another former prisoner who is staying at the hotel, said he feels so out of place that he hasn’t managed to sleep on the sprawling bed with white cotton sheets in his room. “In prison, you share a cell with eight people,” he said while chain-smoking on the hotel’s patio on a recent night as waves crashed nearby. “Here, I have not slept on a bed. I’m sleeping on the floor. I don’t want to forget where I came from.” Maslamani, who had been imprisoned since he fatally shot two Jewish settlers in 2001, said his punishment won’t fully end until he is allowed to return to Tubas, his native town in the West Bank, where his three sons and three daughters await. Until then, he said, he’s going to enjoy the view and cuisine.
The two "Jewish settlers" no doubt have family, who will never see their relatives again. It's hard to work up much sympathy for Maslamani or his children. It's fortunate for Maslamani that he didn't kill two Moroccans.
Prosecutors had accused Adel al-Othmani of dressing like a tourist and planting the bomb in the Argana cafe, before setting it off with his mobile phone. He was convicted of premeditated murder and building explosives, among other charges. The April 28 blast killed eight French tourists in addition to British, Swiss, Moroccan and Portuguese victims. The court handed down a life prison term for al-Othmani’s associate, Hakim Dah, and gave four-year terms for four other defendants charged with having knowledge of the crime. Three were given two-year prison terms.
al-Othmani was sentenced to death.

3) The unreasonableness of a reasonable argument \ 
Over at the Atlantic, activist Zvika Krieger is attempting to explain how peace can be made between Israel and the Palestinians. In the first part of four, Krieger writes:
In 1988, The Palestine Liberation Organization officially accepted a two-state solution to the conflict and relinquished its demand for control over all of historical Palestine; settling instead on a state within the 1967 lines -- one that would constitute only 22 percent of the land. Palestinians view this as their "historic compromise." Thus, Palestinians refuse to accept a state that would comprise less than 22 percent of historical Palestine. If you had to boil down the Palestinian negotiation position on borders, it would be this: A Palestinian state MUST comprise the equivalent of 100 percent of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. They demand, in other words, 100 percent of their 22 percent. Israelis also believe they have a legitimate claim to the entirety of the land between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea. Many Israelis do not consider the 1967 lines as a basis for drawing a border. They view the 1967 lines as arbitrary armistice lines that separated the Israeli and Arab troops in 1949. Additionally, they ask, why should Israel have to return territory that it won in a defensive war? Some Israelis also argue that borders based on the 1967 lines are not defensible -- despite the fact that they were the borders from which Israel successfully won the 1967 war. This issue is addressed in more depth in the Security chapter of this presentation.
While the tone of these paragraphs - as well as the whole article - is so measured, so reasonable soudning, there are many problems here. But let me focus on just one. Note how Krieger accepts the Palestinian argument about "historic Palestine" without reservation. 
However, "historic Palestine" is hardly an indisputable concept. However when it comes to the Israeli claim about the 1967 borders not being defensible, he cites the results of the Six Day War as proof that the assertion is wrong. The Six Day War was miraculous, nothing anyone reasonable  would want to count on. But by taking the Palestinian claim uncritically and challenging the Israeli claim, Krieger signals his agenda: it's up to Israel alone to make peace. Aside from this the general focus of the article misses one very important aspect of the "land for peace" equation. Totally absent from Krieger's formulation is any discussion of peace. Sure he can delineate specifically which Israeli withdrawals (at least on paper) are necessary for peace. But none of the four chapters of Krieger's argument are about peace. "Security" might, at least, pretend to address Israeli concerns, but judging how blithely Krieger dismisses the "indefensible borders" argument, I suspect that his "security" argument won't be serious. The recent return of 477 prisoners, many with blood on their hands, illustrates this problem. 
Everyone in authority - whether from Hamas or from Fatah - welcomed them back as heroes. But their heroism wasn't having survived in Israeli prisons, but for attacking and killing Jews. How stable is peace going to be with a population that celebrates the destruction of the other side? Did a single Palestinian leader welcome any prisoner back with - "We're glad your home, but we rejected terrorism in 1993 and your actions violated that solemn commitment?" Here's a statement from Mahmoud Abbas:
Abbas promised the prisoners that they will see the results of their struggle and sacrifices in the independent Palestinian state. “Your cause was and is still in our heart and minds. We see some of you out, and the rest will follow soon if God wills,” he told the released prisoners. Abbas referred to the prominent Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, the ill Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine secretary-general Ahmad Sadaat, and Hamas military commander in the West Bank Ibrahim Hamed, who were left out of the deal, expressing hope they will be released soon.
That sounds like approval. And demanding the release of Barghouti and Sadaat who were jailed for post-Oslo terror, emphasizes that Abbas doesn't take the renunciation of terror seriously. And finally there's a matter of history. At the end of 1995 Israel completed its withdrawal from seven major Palestinians cities, meaning that 90% of the Palestinian population in Judea and Samaria was no longer under occupation. Two months later a series of suicide bombings killed nearly 60 Israelis and injured many more. Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000 strengthened Hezbollah, which escalated its attacks against Israel until 2006 when Israel was forced to go to war to defend its north. The "disengagement" from Gaza in 2005 strengthened Hamas and finally in 2008, Israel was forced to defend its south with Operation Cast Lead. The short history of the past 18 years of the "peace process" is that Israel cannot trust its defense to its enemies, even ones who claim to have changed. Simply put "land for peace" won't work unless the other side is committed to peace. Unless Krieger admits this, his work must be dismissed as arguments for forcing Israel to make more concessions with no expectation of peace in return. He may say this nicely, and he may sound wise but his work is shallow and predictable.
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