Black Shards Press – Electronic Gumbo is Our Specialty

The One True Way to Peace in the Middle East

18.03.2010 (9:44 am) – Filed under: Israel,Middle East ::

Regarding the recent flap between the U.S. and Israel over housing settlements in the latter country, British political writer Melanie Phillips understands far better the nature of the situation than President Obama, who, for all his measured oratory, persists in ignoring the history of the Jewish state. 

There is, Phillips points out, only one true way to peace in the Middle East and that is by the acceptance of fundamental truths by all parties, including the would-be martyrs of the West Bank and Gaza, who allege that all they want is a place to call home. This is one of the primary untruths that Hamas, et al, foist on a gullible outside world:

The US and the rest blame Israel for thwarting a two-state solution. But the reason the two-state solution has not been achieved is that, from the beginning, this was a two-state problem.

Two states were indeed provided in 1920 when Churchill split land already promised to the Jews by giving three quarters of Palestine to the Arabs to create Jordan.

The world community ordained that, within the remainder — what is present-day Israel and the West Bank and Gaza — the Jews should be ‘closely settled’ to re-establish their national homeland.

The Arabs refused to accept this two-state solution. When they turned to terrorism to destroy the nascent Jewish state, instead of holding the line for law and justice the British offered them half of what remained of Palestine.

They refused it then and have done so ever since, because their real aim remains unchanged: one state of Palestine, with Israel destroyed.

Phillips is far from a household name here in the U.S., but writing like this deserves a wider audience. The truth of these paragraphs is both powerful and undeniable: There are only two roads to peace in the Middle East. One requires the surrender of Israel to the forces of Arab and Muslim terrorists and the other that these same instigators lay down their arms and join with Jews in moving the country forward.

Until this fundamental truth is acknowledged there will be no progress toward peace in the Middle East and certainly no solution, for no such outcome is possible when basing negotiations on lies.

Far from rebuking Israel for exercising its sovereignty in its own territory, President Obama should demonstrate his respect for the one nation in the region that is worthy of American support by espousing the truth that everyone must accept to move forward. Then he should declare that only the outcome that leads to a secure, united Israel will be allowed to come to pass.

Abdul-Latif Moussa, Gaza’s David Koresh?

14.08.2009 (5:47 pm) – Filed under: Islam,Middle East,Terrorism ::

image Abdul-Latif Moussa leads an Islamic terrorist group called Jund Ansar Allah that as of now is literally fighting for its survival in the Gaza Strip.  But their opponent isn’t the Israeli Defense Forces as one might expect; rather, Moussa’s group is holed up in a mosque surrounded by hundreds of armed members of Hamas.  At least 10 members of the group, whose unlikely name means Army of the Helpers of God, have been killed already with dozens more still inside. 

Details are sketchy.  However, Moussa’s group is antagonistic toward Hamas because they feel that the latter are not radical enough in their opposition to Israel and the west.  That’s saying something, obviously.

Moussa may have brought the attack on his people by declaring Gaza an “Islamic emirate” and denying Hamas’ leadership of the region.  In doing so he has put his own people’s lives in harms way and risks going out in flames, the Gaza Strip’s very own David Koresh, he of Texas’ Branch Davidian infamy.

In typical terrorist leader fashion, Hamas leader Ismail Haniya resisted any stray impulses he might have had along the lines of taking the high road by blaming the radical Muslim group’s actions on Israel, saying:

“These declarations [of an Islamic emirate] are aimed towards incitement against the Gaza Strip and an attempt at recruiting an international alliance against the Gaza Strip.

“And we warn those who are behind these Israeli Zionist declarations: the Gaza Strip only contains its people.”

Incredible.  Hamas has virtually no credibility on the international stage as it is and for good reason.  As Haniya’s refusal to acknowledge reality and call out Moussa for what he is demonstrates, Hamas has no intention of dealing honestly and above boards with the civilized world.

Obama Addresses the Muslim World

06.06.2009 (10:36 pm) – Filed under: Islam,Middle East,Politics ::

image

Barack Obama’s speech to the Muslim world was one worth making.  He made some important points and made them more firmly than I had hoped he would.  True, the president could have done more to clarify our country’s intention to hold to its own values, regardless of public opinion among foreign Muslims, but then he would have been George W. Bush, wouldn’t he?

The only true false note in the speech was, as Peter Daou noted, was Mr. Obama’s malignant little ode to the hijab, a symbol – perhaps the symbol – of male Muslims’ repression of women. 

I’ve often written here about honor killings of Muslim women who dared reach inside themselves and find the temerity to try to live as they pleased, only to be beaten, strangled, raped, stabbed, and burned at the hands of the very men who should have protected them and instead allowed a slavish, legalistic observance of Islam to direct them to grotesque forms of violence against their loved ones.  That the President of the United States would say, in front of the entire world – with a straight face, mind – that the hijab is a woman’s to wear or not is, frankly, a betrayal of the truth.  The right is theirs, certainly, but it is a right yet to be realized, even in the United States where it should be guaranteed without question and all people who come here, Muslim men included, need to acknowledge that’s how we do things here.

Otherwise the speech was on one hand an expression of a pragmatic president who recognizes that the world is far from an ideal place and that it’s necessary to deal with – or at least pretend to deal with – people who have no business ruling nations or controlling weapons of mass destruction.  On the other, Mr. Obama was woefully short of details and overlooked the fact that his most interesting ideas for moving the American-Muslim relationship forward will be rejected out of hand by people like Hamas, al Qaeda, and Mahmud Ahmadinejad, puppet master of the Iranian Ayatollahs.

“Progress must be shared,” Obama said.  But sharing requires a willing recipient, among other things.  Americans are more than willing to share everything we have with the world; however, the Muslim world is defined by its rejection of much of what we have to offer.

Thankfully, one thing it will not be easy for Muslims to reject is Mr. Obama’s blunt acknowledgment of the horrors of the German Holocaust against the Jewish people.  Deniers abound in Islamic countries but Obama shone a light on the dark lies such people spread and for that, if little else, Israel should be grateful.

It is inevitable that Israel cede territory to create a Palestinian state.  Like the abortion issue in America, it is simply a matter of time before a compromise is reached.  Could be years or decades, but it will happen.  Why delay? was Mr. Obama’s question, one for which the only answer is a lack of willingness to put aside past grievances – not a reason at all.

Similarly, there is no reason for America not to meet with Iran to discuss world (and nuclear) affairs.  Some believe that doing so would be a loss of face and a show of weakness.  The reality is otherwise.  Meeting is not the same as appeasing.  Indeed, such talks could be an opportunity to deliver a message.

It is true that people long for a voice in the governing of their own affairs.  On the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in China, nothing could be more obvious or more fundamental.  Even in Iran that longing runs strong, though the sort of government Iranians might elect if given free and fair elections instead of the sham they indulge in now might not be to the liking of the west.  All people deserve a government of their own choosing.  If they choose oppression, so be it.

To my ears Mr. Obama’s remedies for a stultified culture were rushed and insufficiently thought out.  High-minded talk of religious freedom means little to a Christian bound and gagged in a Turkish bookstore, just as money dedicated to the education of young Muslim girls will yield few tangible results so long as they fear for their lives and faces should they attend school.  Similarly, the notion that the Internet will bring information and intellectual freedom to countries like Iran is naive as long as firewalls and censors with guns line the borders of Muslim countries.

This isn’t to say that Mr. Obama didn’t present good ideas.  He did.  Unfortunately, few if any of them will be realized during his time in office, even if he wins a second term, as seems likely.  That’s true regardless of how many compromises we’re willing to make and how much money we’re willing to spend, because there are too many Ahmadinejads who just aren’t buying what Obama is selling.  Hopefully he recognizes that unfortunate fact.

Will Muslims Respond to Barack Obama’s Overtures?

08.02.2009 (10:54 pm) – Filed under: Islam,Israel,Middle East,World ::

Alaa Al Aswany says that Muslims from the Middle East will not respond to Barack Obama’s friendly overtures until they see him taking sides with Palestinian rebels against Israel.

I found a combination of glowing enthusiasm for Mr. Obama, a comparison between the democratic system in America and the tyranny in Egypt, the expectation of a fairer American policy in the Middle East, and then severe disappointment after Mr. Obama’s failure to intercede in Gaza. I thus concluded that no matter how many envoys, speeches or interviews Mr. Obama offers to us, he will not win the hearts and minds of Egyptians until he takes up the injustice in the Middle East. I imagine the same holds true for much of the greater Muslim world.

Al Aswany, who considers Israel’s recent action in Gaza “a massacre”, is duly impressed with the U.S.’s ability to overcome racial discord in electing our first black president and openly states that the Middle East would be a better place if Egypt and other countries in the region were led by representative government rather than by, as in Egypt, a “head of state who seized power through sham elections and keeps it by force”.  But is that really the case? 

Many would disagree.  For instance, Robert Ellis wrote that increasing democracy in Turkey would radicalize that country’s political process and alter its stance decidedly toward a more Islamic, theocratic way of thinking and interacting with the world at large.  He quotes Omer Dincer, Prime Minister Erdogan’s former undersecretary:

“I believe that the republican regime in Turkey should be replaced by a more participatory one, and the principle of secularism should be replaced with integration with Islam. Therefore I believe that it’s time, and absolutely necessary, to replace all the fundamental principles outlined at the start of the Turkish Republic, such as secularism, republicanism and nationalism, with a structure that is more participatory, more decentralized and more Muslim.”

We can reasonably assume similar feelings and outcomes in other Islamic nations should matters be put to the popular vote.  Are we to believe Al Aswany’s assertion that what’s missing in Egypt is a fully democratic election system?

Hardly, since the one predictable outcome of such elections would be weak governments more under the sway of Muslim clerics and susceptible to the mad desires of radical fundamentalists.

Al Aswany’s view of the Israeli action in Gaza is indicative of the greater problem – the combined Muslim/Arab rejection of Israel as a nation.  An important measure of the Middle East’s maturity will be taken when – and if –  the general populace is finally able to reject pro-Palestinian agitators’ repeated calls for the annihilation of Israel and accept the Jewish state as a legitimate nation in its own right. 

Until such time there’s little good that can come from unbridled democracy in the Middle East, all wishful thinking aside.  Barack Obama presumedly knows this, explaining why his friendly overtures toward the Middle Eastern Muslims have been only oratorical to-date.

The truth is that Americans of all walks of life would like to be friendly with Muslims and Jews, Eqyptians, Iranians, and Israelis alike.  But the process of getting from here to there will not be an easy one as it requires what President Obama called an unclenching of the fist.  This is a rhetorical nicety that really means that Muslims need to de-radicalize before any lasting relationship can be formed.

Could that be achieved by democratizing Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Iran?  Only in the sense that Turkey, with its precarious balance between government and military, and Iraq, with a similarly supported elected government, are democratic. 

A level of social maturity is required before democracy can be considered a positive form of self-rule.  Al Aswany is wrong if he thinks it has been reached, whether in Egypt or in Gaza, as the Fatah/Hamas civil war demonstrated beyond dispute.

War Crimes in Gaza, Mogadishu

13.01.2009 (9:41 pm) – Filed under: Africa,Crime,Middle East,Military ::

Jeffery Goldberg wonders if American troops committed war crimes in Somalia while fighting rebels in Mogadishu.  The question seems ridiculous at first.  What war crimes could be committed against murderous insurgents responsible for a civil war?  Goldberg’s big gun, however, is astounding.  According to Mark Bowden, author of Black Hawk Down, 80% of Somalia casualties were civilians.  This number, if true, is alarming and news to me.  I find it unbelievable, to be completely frank.  Yet there it is.  So is a battle such as the one in Mogadishu a crime if more civilians die than bad guys?

Bowden:

…gunmen in that battle hid behind walls of civilians and were aware of the restraint of the (Army) Rangers. These gunmen literally shot over the heads of civilians, or between their legs. They used women and children for this. It’s mind-boggling. Some of the Rangers shot civilians, some of them inadvertently and some of them advertently. They made the choice to shoot at crowds. When a ten-year-old is running at your vehicle with an AK-47, do you shoot the kid? Yes, you shoot the kid. You have to survive.

American waged war on the Somali rebels right enough.  But the crimes were committed by the rebels who deliberately placed innocent lives in harms way because of their own lack of courage, equipment, skill.

Earlier Michael quoted Daniel Pipes, who I respect a lot, as saying that he doesn’t know what the Israelis hope to achieve in Gaza or if their army knows how to do the job there.  With respect to Mr. Pipes, I don’t think the objective is in doubt – it is to hurt and hopefully cripple Hamas, a purely military action that’s overdue.  As to whether the IDF knows how to do that cleanly…is such an outcome even possible?

Mark Bowden also has something useful to say about Gaza:

I believe that culpability for these casualties is very much with Hamas. Take this leader, Nizar Rayyan, who was killed with many of his children. He knew he was a target. If I knew that I was a target, I sure as hell wouldn’t have my children near me. It’s a horrible and cynical choice he made.

In other words, Rayyan was using his sworn enemy’s own sense of mercy and fair play as a weapon against them.  It did not work and while we ought to mourn the innocent lives that have been lost, the objective is a good one. 

To allow terrorists to hold hostage the civilian lives that are unfortunately entangled with their own is not an acceptable option for any nation at war with these people. 

For a guide, consider the Moscow theatre hostage crisis engineered by Chechen terrorists in the Russian capital.  Even though many hostages were killed, Russia’s choice to use force against the terrorists was the correct one. 

Only the size of the stage and the number of hostages is different in Gaza.

Nuclear Power, Waste, and Theft

21.07.2008 (1:19 pm) – Filed under: Energy,France,Middle East ::

William Tucker, author of the forthcoming book "Terrestrial Energy: How Nuclear Power Can Lead the Green Revolution and End America’s Long Energy Odyssey", says that nuclear power is both safe and required if we are to ensure that the electrical demands of Americans are met.

I’ve written about this before, often enough to bore, frankly, and sometimes it’s quite a chore to go over the point once more.  Yet it’s inescapable that France, the geniuses behind the quick surrender to fascism and rioting "discontented youths", now gets 3/4 of its electricity from nukes.  Oui, the French!

Rather than re-hash matters here, go read Tucker’s article.  Here’s the salient point:

Finally, the problem of radioactive waste has been absurdly exaggerated. More than 95% of the material in a spent fuel rod can be recycled for energy and medical isotopes.

We have a nuclear waste problem in this country because we gave up reprocessing in the 1970s. The fear was that terrorists or foreign nationals would steal plutonium from American reactors to build bombs. This is a bit like worrying that terrorists will steal all the gold from Fort Knox. Other countries have built bombs in the intervening years. They didn’t need American plutonium to do it.

Exactly. 

It’s not an exaggeration to say, however, that Fort Knox has been looted by oil-producing countries in the decades since our national cowardice in regard to nuclear power manifested itself as energy policy.  We guarded against the wrong disaster and now we’re paying the price, literally, to our enemies.

Given a choice between dealing with a Arabian sheik offering oil in one hand while holding a gun behind his back in the other and a white-coated American nuclear scientist, there ought to be no hesitation whatever on the part of American leadership.

Repression in Yemen

20.05.2008 (11:49 am) – Filed under: Free Speech,Middle East ::

From the NY Times and Jane Novak’s Armies of Liberation blog comes the story of Abdul Karim al-Khaiwani, a journalist who is facing a potential death sentence tomorrow as a consequence of writing about the rebellion in northern Yemen that’s cost thousands of people their lives.

Read the NYT article and Jane’s post, then consider signing the petition to free al-Khaiwani, before more of this happens:

Since he was released in 2005, Al-Khaiwani has been beaten, kidnapped, censored and imprisoned. His paper was cloned, his website blocked and his children threatened.

Al-Khaiwani was badly beaten during his arrest in June 2007. His daughter, six year old Ebba, was slapped by police so hard that she fell unconscious. After Al-Khaiwani’s arrest and release on bail, he was kidnapped and badly beaten again. The US State Department issued a statement from DC noting his abduction pointed to, “disturbing trend of intimidation and harassment of Yemen’s journalist community.”

Seems the Yemeni government is unhappy with him for writing about its bloody battles with a rebel group of which he is now accused of being a part.

The facts may not be perfectly clear; however, it seems best to err on the side of al-Khaiwani and freedom of the press rather than blindly accept the Yemen states’ version of events and the harsh, possibly final, punishment that will follow such a judgment.

The Politics of Appeasement

16.05.2008 (9:13 pm) – Filed under: Iran,Middle East,Terrorism ::

Politics is exactly what Barack Obama and others on the left are playing at when they protest, overmuch, that President Bush attacked the presumptive Democratic nominee when he delivered a much-needed slap in the face to those who would look away from terrorism rather than face the threat directly.

Dana Perino had to love delivering this zinger in response to Senator Obama’s complaints:

"I would think that all of you who cover these issues and have for a long time have known that there are many who have suggested these types of negotiations with people that the president, President Bush, thinks that we should not talk to. I understand when you’re running for office you sometimes think the world revolves around you. That is not always true. And it is not true in this case."

President Bush’s speech was, in my opinion, an excellent one – when read on paper, at least – and spot-on appropriate given occasion, the 60th anniversary of Israel’s rebirth.  Hopefully there will be history teachers all over the world with the wisdom and courage to share his words with their students – it’s that good and that important. 

The key part:

The fight against terror and extremism is the defining challenge of our time. It is more than a clash of arms. It is a clash of visions, a great ideological struggle. On one side are those who defend the ideals of justice and dignity with the power of reason and truth. On the other side are those who pursue a narrow vision of cruelty and control by committing murder, inciting fear, and spreading lies.

This struggle is waged with the technology of the 21st century, but at its core it is the ancient battle between good and evil. The killers claim the mantle of Islam, but they are not religious men. No one who prays to the God of Abraham could strap a suicide vest to an innocent child, or blow up guiltless guests at a Passover Seder, or fly planes into office buildings filled with unsuspecting workers. In truth, the men who carry out these savage acts serve no higher goal than their own desire for power. They accept no God before themselves. And they reserve a special hatred for the most ardent defenders of liberty, including Americans and Israelis.

That is why the founding charter of Hamas calls for the "elimination" of Israel. That is why the followers of Hezbollah chant "Death to Israel, Death to America!" That is why Osama bin Laden teaches that "the killing of Jews and Americans is one of the biggest duties." And that is why the president of Iran dreams of returning the Middle East to the Middle Ages and calls for Israel to be wiped off the map.

There are good and decent people who cannot fathom the darkness in these men and try to explain their words away. This is natural. But it is deadly wrong. As witnesses to evil in the past, we carry a solemn responsibility to take these words seriously. Jews and Americans have seen the consequences of disregarding the words of leaders who espouse hatred. And that is a mistake the world must not repeat in the 21st century.

Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: "Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided." We have an obligation to call this what it is – the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.

Some people suggest that if the United States would just break ties with Israel, all our problems in the Middle East would go away. This is a tired argument that buys into the propaganda of our enemies, and America rejects it utterly. Israel’s population may be just over 7 million. But when you confront terror and evil, you are 307 million strong, because America stands with you.

In truth I’ve wondered more than once if the re-creation of Israel was a good idea.  That fateful decision is the direct predecessor of so many of the world’s current problems.  Yet it would be naive to think that Islamic terrorism would not exist but for Israel.  It would.  And so would their continued quest for power and control and the spread of the oppressive way of life that they lust after.  Israel is a friend, ally, and the brightest spot in all the Middle East.  Abandoning her is impossible.

It’s incumbent on the next American president to live up to standard for determination set by the current administration and President Bush’s speech was an unmistakable reminder of the reality that many Democrats would like to ignore.  No wonder they were so enraged, Joe Biden, ever the eloquent one, perhaps most of all.

The Bush presidency has, on balance, not been a good one in my view.  But this issue the administration understands fully.  As do Democrats in Congress, if I’m not mistaken.  Why else would they continue to allow financial and security legislation to pass that’s anathema to the platform they rode to victory in 2006?  There is only one reasonable answer: the threat is credible.

If President Bush is capable of subtlety, one could also read into the speech a reminder to European nations of their lack of response to the terrorist threat, both in military and social terms.

Consider one of a seemingly endless series of such incidents, this from France:

Last September Robert Redeker, a French high-school philosophy teacher and author of several scholarly books, published an opinion piece in Le Figaro entitled "What should the free world do in the face of Islamist intimidation?"

He was condemned to death on one Muslim site, which posted his address and a photograph of his home.

Redeker and his family went into hiding. Five months later they are still living in secrecy. Christian Delacampagne, writing in the latest issue of Commentary magazine, describes how the French reacted: "The communist mayor of Redeker’s town condemned him, the headmaster of his school complained that he had included his affiliation at the end of the article, France’s two largest teachers’ unions, both socialist, issued statements saying they did not share Redeker’s convictions. The leading leftist human-rights organisations denounced his irresponsible declarations and putrid ideas. The French Education Minister, Gilles de Robien, criticised Redeker.

"The editorial board of Le Monde, France’s newspaper of record, characterised Redeker’s piece as excessive, misleading and insulting. It called his remarks about Muhammad a blasphemy. To judge from this response, large sectors of the French intellectual and political establishment have carved out an exception to the hard-won tradition of open discussion: when it comes to Islam, as opposed to Christianity or Judaism, freedom of speech must respect definite limits.

Must it?  If so it will not be made so as a result of legal, ethical, or moral constraints but rather through the naked use of terror and raw, brute animal force.

France had the good sense to elect Nicholas Sarkozy and he in turn made some good decisions that put France more in alignment with the U.S. and with reality.  Perhaps Bush’s speech can do some good in other nations as well, though an American president’s words may mean little to leaders of countries with significant Muslim immigrant populations.

George W. Bush gets to go home to America, after all, whereas they must deal with the problem of "disenfranchised Asian youths" in their streets and in their schools.  It is an unenviable position, certainly, as are the demographic trends for many European nations.

One question the next president should ask, therefore, is how America can re-establish closer ties to Europe without reducing our anti-terrorist activities.  Thus far I have not heard that question asked, though I could have missed it.  I’d like to hear the answer, certainly, especially from Barack Obama since I expect him to be the one with the opportunity to ask it.

One answer he might give is that talking to Iran, for example, is not akin to sanctioning their actions.  We certainly gave little quarter to the Soviets after WW II, yet we had communications of a sort with them.  I agree with Obama that we should interact with Iran, although it would be a mistake to engage them as equals so long as they sponsor, encourage, and facilitate terrorism against the us and our allies, of which Israel is deservedly one.

Engaging in talks with terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah, however, should be completely off the table for all American leaders.  One does not negotiate with a man holding a gun; neither should free nations negotiate with terrorists.  That should be Obama’s primary takeaway from today’s lesson.  Hopefully he’s paying attention.

Ah, Intellectuals

26.12.2007 (11:31 pm) – Filed under: Middle East,Politics,Society ::

David Frum recently wrote about what he thinks is a disturbing trend among conservatives, dismissing too intellectual positions without properly understanding them while advancing popular, even common, causes and people instead.

While it is true that progressive points of view are given short shrift by conservatives there are often valid reasons for their dismissal.

As an example of anti-intellectual bias in conservative politics, Frum pointed to Harriet Miers, President Bush’s nominee for the Supreme Court who was slammed in the media for being under-qualified for the position, Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul, writing:

Huckabee and Paul have not the faintest idea of what they are talking about. The problem is not that their answers are wrong — that can happen to anyone. The problem is that they don’t understand the questions, and are too lazy or too arrogant to learn. But say that aloud and their partisans will shout back: Elitism!

On its face, this retort is ridiculous. How exactly is it elitist to expect a candidate for president to be immune to obvious flim-flam? Or to submit his ideas to criticism–and change them if they cannot stand up?

Like Frum I found Miers’ qualifications underwhelming to say the least (although she has a law degree, practiced for many years, and headed the Texas State Bar Association).  Ms. Miers should not have been nominated for a position of such importance given her lack of experience. 

Yet it is a bit much to claim that Huckabee and Paul don’t understand the issues of the day.  I suspect that what Frum meant is that their positions are incompatible with his own – which are 100% right and unassailable, of course – and therefore can only result from ignorance.

Both candidates have positions with which I disagree.  Yet Huckabee’s support for educating the children of illegal immigrants doesn’t necessarily mean he has no understanding of the immigration problem.  We have simply come to a different opinion about how this issue should be addressed.

Dismissing both men, Frum finishes with a flourish:

If elitism means snobbishness, then of course it is a vicious thing. If it means being impressed by credentials instead of evidence, then again: good riddance. But if it is elitist to expect politicians to be able to see through glaringly false and stupid ideas — well in that case, call me elitist.

Me too.  Above all, my highest ideal is to know the truth.  Whatever it may be and wherever it may lead us I believe we should undertake to discover the truth and, having found it, embrace it.

The problem with so many of today’s intellectuals – one which drives so many people to despise them – is that the truth is not their highest objective.  Rather, too often their own ideas, ideals, and agendas have replaced objective truth as that which must be realized.

Case in point

A research paper that won a Hebrew University teachers’ committee prize finds that the lack of IDF rapes of Palestinian women is designed to serve a political purpose.

The abstract of the paper, authored by doctoral candidate Tal Nitzan, notes that the paper shows that “the lack of organized military rape is an alternate way of realizing [particular] political goals.” 

The next sentence delineates the particular goals that are realized in this manner: “In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it can be seen that the lack of military rape merely strengthens the ethnic boundaries and clarifies the inter-ethnic differences – just as organized military rape would have done.”

The paper further theorizes that Arab women in Judea and Samaria are not raped by IDF soldiers because the women are de-humanized in the soldiers’ eyes.

Or it could be that Israeli soldiers are simply properly trained, better disciplined, and more civilized human beings than the troops of nations like Serbia, Rwanda, Uganda, etc, etc.

Do we really need to cook up some elaborate stew of sociological gibberish to explain this phenomenon of human decency?

I say that we do not.  The simple fact is that the Israelis’ moral code is superior to those of the ethic cleansers in Yugoslavia, the xenophobic butchers in Iraq, and others of their ilk.

If that belief makes me anti-intellectual, so be it.

A Palestinian State?

28.11.2007 (8:34 am) – Filed under: Middle East ::

The NY Times has a transcript of the speech read by President Bush at Annapolis yesterday here

The key bits:

The Palestinian people are blessed with many gifts and talents. They want the opportunity to use those gifts to better their own lives and build a future for their children.

They want the dignity that comes with sovereignty and independence. They want justice and equality under the rule of law. They want freedom from violence and fear.

The people of Israel have just aspirations as well. They want their children to be able to ride a bus or to go to school without fear of suicide bombers. They want an end to rocket attacks and constant threats of assault. They want their nation to be recognized and welcomed in the region where they live.

For these negotiations to succeed, the Palestinians must do their part. They must show the world they understand that while the borders of a Palestinian state are important, the nature of a Palestinian state is just as important. They must demonstrate that a Palestinian state will create opportunity for all its citizens and govern justly and dismantle the infrastructure of terror. They must show that a Palestinian state will accept its responsibility and have the capability to be a source of stability and peace for its own citizens, for the people of Israel and for the whole region.

The Israelis must do their part. They must show the world that they are ready to begin — bring an end to the occupation that began in 1967 through a negotiated settlement. This settlement will establish Palestine as a Palestinian homeland, just as Israel is a homeland for the Jewish people. Israel must demonstrate its support for the creation of a prosperous and successful Palestinian state by removing unauthorized outposts, ending settlement expansion and finding other ways for the Palestinian Authority to exercise its responsibilities without compromising Israel’s security.

Arab states should also reach out to Israel, work toward the normalization of relations, and demonstrate in both word and deed that they believe that Israel and its people have a permanent home in the Middle East. These are vital steps toward the comprehensive peace that we all seek.

Will this may be the time that the Israelis give in and allow the creation of a true Palestinian nation?  Anything less is certain to be used as a rallying point to continue the largely manufactured conflict.  But would an independent Palestinian state end the fighting between the region’s Muslims and Jews?  Not likely.

Indeed, the Palestinian independence movement exists solely to serve as a focal point of the region’s hatred for Israel.  Those feelings will not evaporate with the formation of Palestine, though perhaps some of the steam behind the movement will be released and a temporary reprieve granted.  And perhaps such an interlude of peace could become permanent.  But I wouldn’t bet on it.

Almost exactly a decade ago a friend of mine who calls himself a Palestinian was speaking to me about the peace process that had just broken down and said, "We got close this time.  I really thought that it might happen."   Then he shrugged.  "Maybe next time."

I wondered then if a separate state would matter.  The same question still needs to be answered.

h/t memeorandum