Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Middle East Media Sampler 1/17/2013: Hagel's Meager 42% Approval Is Deserved

From DG:
1) The "narrow" discussion over Israel 

At the left wing Washington Post blog, Plum Line, Jamelle Bouie wrote How Hagel underscores the narrowness of discussion over Israel.
It's wrong to say "Jewish lobby"—not all Israelis are Jewish, and not all Jews support Israeli policy—but the basic idea is sound. Hagel sees himself as responsible for the interests of the United States. Sometimes those intersect with the interests of Israel, and sometimes they don't.
Yet discussion around Israel is so narrow that this was enough to cause problems for his nomination. Which is to say that if there's anything good about Hagel's nomination, it's that if he's confirmed, he might be able to widen the scope of our discussion around Israel. That doesn't seem like much, but given the nature of the opposition inspired by Hagel's mild dissent, it's a bigger step than it looks.
Of course, this isn't the only reason that Hagel's critics are concerned with his views. But Bouie misses an important point. The "Jewish lobby" comment wasn't offensive because it was technically wrong, but because it echoed an offensive canard. George Will suggests a number of questions that senators ought to ask Hagel in his confirmation hearings. Two related questions are:
Did you refuse to sign a 2006 letter urging the European Union to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization because you consider that designation inaccurate? From your 2009 endorsement of U.S. negotiations with Hamas, can we conclude that you oppose the policy of not negotiating with terrorists?
This is the problem with the view that Hagel is correctly putting American, not Israeli interests first. For example, those who believe that Israel should negotiate with Hamas, ignore that Hamas opposes peace between Israel and the Palestinians, something declared to be in America's interest. In fact there's a very strong confluence between American and Israeli interests. Those favoring Hagel also oppose such a strong alliance between Israel and the United States. Often those people are identified as anti-Israel. If Bouie means that a wider discussion of Israel means accepting anti-Israel forces as pro-Israel his position is illogical.

(As an aside: there is an odd phenomenon when dealing with Israel. Rarely do we see "pro-choice" activists trying to assume a "pro-life" identity. Nor do we see many "pro-gun control" advocates claiming to be "pro-gun rights." Only in the case of Israel is there a strong effort to characterize people who are clearly "anti-Israel" as being "pro-Israel.")

For the most part, Americans aren't buying this distinction. Instapundit noted:
The Post-ABC polls show 42 percent of Americans approve of the Chuck Hagel nomination. This is poor by any historical measure. At the time of her nomination, Hillary Clinton got the support of 71 percent of Americans in a CNN poll taken in December, 2008, while 83 percent approved of Robert Gates continuing as secretary of defense.
It's impossible to know to what degree Hagel's views on Israel shape his low approval ratings. However, given that Americans are strongly pro-Israel, it can be assumed that Hagel's image is suffering from his antagonistic views towards Israel.

2) The faithless guarantors

In Murdered Diplomacy: How the Israel-Palestinian Conflict Has Been Totally Transformed, Barry Rubin writes:
In addition, we pointed out that the management of this whole enterprise was feeding the PA's notion that the "international community" was recognizing its claim to every inch of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and east Jerusalem. And since they were entitled to all of this land, they didn't have to compromise on anything and didn't need to reach any agreement with Israel. This assumption, of course, guarantees there won't be any negotiated peace agreement at all.
In a May 2011 New York Times op-ed piece, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas laid out precisely what he has now done: "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." Palestine was not admitted as a member but the recognition of it as a state was the important part.
In other words, the UN General Assembly's action was the single most effective sabotage to a two-state solution since the Palestine Arab leadership's rejection of a two-state solution based on partition in 1947. Much of the media, "experts," and Western politicians will no doubt blame Israel and especially the Netanyahu government for the absence of a diplomatic miracle. In fact, though, Israel's stances have now been rendered irrelevant in this regard.
By admitting "Palestine" as provisional state, the UN effectively gutted the peace process. In doing so it ignored nineteen years of material Israel concessions that have been met by Palestinian rejection and terror.

Lee Smith asks if Israel has become A far right electorate?
The popular belief that Israeli public opinion is moving radically to the right "is profoundly untrue," said Dan Schueftan, a visiting professor at Georgetown who advised Israeli prime ministers from Yitzhak Rabin to Ariel Sharon. Instead, they've adopted the central paradigms of both the left and the right. "Most Israelis are very pessimistic about reaching a peace deal with the Palestinians, and the Arabs in general. This is a core paradigm of the right," Schueftan told me. "And yet a majority is willing to reach a compromise that would partition the land into two states for two people. This is a core paradigm of the left. They're not saying we don't want peace, but that even if they make concessions they don't think it will lead to peace."
Israelis haven't abandoned the dream of peace; they've faced reality and are refusing to continue to pay lip service to an illusion. "The last 20 years have seen a process of depolarization," said David Hazony of the Israel Project. "Go back 20 years, and you had a peace camp that believed peace was just around the corner. The other camp believed that there was no partner for peace, and since there was no one to talk to and we have a right to land, we should just take anything. But a series of events took the wind out of both camps, like the Rabin assassination, disengagement, the Second Intifada," he added.
If the second Lebanon war and two wars in Gaza marked disillusionment with the peace process, then Netanyahu's 2009 speech at Bar-Ilan University promoting the two-state solution marked, at last, the acceptance of the idea in the political mainstream. Netanyahu, for all the criticism he gets in the international press, should get credit for leading even the Israeli right into philosophical acceptance of the two-state solution. And perhaps Bibi's infamous bluster has had its purpose. While his belligerent rhetoric unnerves his many critics, including world leaders, it's helped keep Israel out of armed conflict. He has presided over more economic success and less war than almost any other Israeli leader in history.
In general the lack of credit that Israel gets with regard to the peace process is reflected in the treatment of Netanyahu.
When the same people who predicted peace and promised normalization dismiss Israel's efforts as insufficient and excuse serial Palestinian violations, why should Israelis continue to accept the premises that led them to support the peace process in the first place? As Barry Rubin pointed out, it isn't just that the international community excused Palestinian rejectionism but actively abetted it! The guarantors are faithless and Israelis have no reason to trust them.


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