Sunday, April 28, 2013

With Kerry's Newest Attempt At Israel-Palestinian Peace, Media Trots Out Same Old Optimism

The sober assumption that Middle Eastern instability is today endemic has found little favour either in Britain or in America. The prevalent fashion has been to proclaim the latest revolution as the herald of a new day, and the newest turbulence as the necessary and beneficent prelude to an epoch of orderliness and justice.
Elie Kedourie, “The Middle East and the Powers,” in The Chatham House Version: And Other Middle Eastern Studies, 1970.

Some things never change.

In resonse to renewed efforts at peace negotiations between Netanyahu and Abbas, Barry Rubin wonders How Much Did U.S. Policymakers Learn about the Middle East in Forty Years? Some Proof
Consider this quotation:
“Israeli pessimism seems largely if not entirely unwarranted. It seems based on an extraordinary lack of understanding of what happened in the Arab world in the last year and a half. Rather than girding their loins for the fifth, sixth, seventh Israeli-Arab wars. The Israelis might examine more carefully than they seem to have done so far the alternative of a peaceful accommodation with the Arabs."
This is not a reference to the "Arab Spring." No, it's from a dispatch sent from the U.S. embassy in Saudi Arabia, January 9, 1975. It concluded that the lack of peace in the Arab-Israeli conflict was Israel’s fault. That dispatch could be published—as we will see in a moment—word for word today, 38 years later, with just as little accuracy.

The dispatch reflects the unshakable premise--well, from time to time it does decline or disappear for a while--that the Arab side really wants peace, that Israel is not so much threatened but paranoid, that Israel doesn't think enough about making peace, and that conditions in the Arab world demonstrate that peace is possible or even imminent.
Rubin considers the context, the situation in the Middle East when this statement was made:
  • The PLO was pursuing terrorism against Israeli civilians, declaring it would use a West Bank-Gaza Palestinian state to destroy Israel

  • Southern Lebanon was controlled by the PLO to launch cross-border attacks

  • Syria and Iraq were ruled by radical regimes sponsoring terrorism against Israel

  • Egypt's President Anwar al-Sadat was thinking about peace with Israel as a solution to Egypt’s woes -- after which he was isolated by every other Arab states and denounced by them and Sadat was assassinated. (and much of the treaty was not implemented
So much for Israel's "unwarranted pessimism".

But hope springs eternal and the Washington Post suggests that John Kerry’s efforts in Middle East could lay groundwork for success -- a Pollyanna approach which Rubin rebuts with 8 points apparently overlooked by the Washington Post editors.

Secretary of State John Kerry

Read the whole thing.

Who made up the rule that it is forbidden to suggest that an increasingly dangerous Middle East will prevent diplomatic efforts at peace from working?

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