Posted by Ariel Blumenthal
The BBC News Hour reporter was clearly taken aback by the Egyptian interviewee he talked to on the streets of Cairo. The man was expressing unsettling support for the military’s action that left at least 638 Muslim Brotherhood members dead.
The number of casualties is unreal. It’s difficult to cope with this scope of disaster or with the idea that soldiers - ordinary people and representatives of the government, can take part in such a political massacre. (Or that a citizen in the street would show support for it on the BBC News Hour).
The Egyptian civilization is clearly very different than ours. A report from Egypt from March 9th illustrates that: “22 killed in riots sparked by the sentencing to death of 21 people following the death of 74 soccer fans in a game at Port Said”. Death and more death, horror after horror after horror.
The brutality of the war in Egypt is not the only shocker. The pace and velocity of the drama there are no less hair-raising: The Muslim Brotherhood, the military’s arch-nemesis, went from rags to riches, from jail cell to the President’s palace in a matter of months. Preventing this from happening was the military’s raison d’etre, but they did tolerate two years of the unthinkable - Muslim Brotherhood rule. Eventually, the military had decided to snap out of it. Now we’re talking about the destruction and dissolution of the Brotherhood, there’s no compromise or negotiations here, it’s total, life or death.
Nothing new here. The epic battle between Egyptian military rulers and the Muslim Brotherhood has been going on for decades, with similar middle-ages mentality. There’s only one new aggravating factor: this is now going on under unprecedented international scrutiny, and a serial pull out of international corporations from Egypt is the first, immediate result.
The Democratic world doesn’t play this way, this is all very foreign: The outrageous violence, the confusing burst of spontaneous street-democracy that landed Morsi back in the jail cell, up until his dramatic address from Martha’s Vineyard on Thursday, even President Obama looked like a camel caught in the headlights.
The President was equally blamed for supporting both sides; Perhaps it’d ease American guilt and confusion to internalize that there’s no good side here, no candidate for support - at least not on moral grounds. The events in Egypt are unacceptable across the board (just like in Syria), it’s a screenplay with no character you can identify with, and that movie - anybody in Hollywood can tell you - is never going to be made.
The Generals have a clear head-start with the Western public because they’re not religious fanatics. They’re wrong to think that’d sustain support though: Lack of moral clarity tends to end up with total identification with the victim
Victimization is perhaps the dominant political principle of this generation. The victim is sanctified, exempt. We’ve seen human rights champions hug it out with the un-liberal leaders of Hamas; We’ve seen Brotherhood-affiliates from the Turkish IHH on board the Mavi Marmara pump each other with fantasies of glorious violence and chant antisemitic slogans all the way to their unfortunate encounter with the Israeli navy, just to be dismissed by world opinion (and the UN) as aggressed victims.
Congratulations, Muslim Brotherhood, you’ve been accepted into the program. If all goes well, the Brotherhood will be granted a blank slate any American with bad credit would kill for.
On PRI’s The World Thursday edition, host Marco Wurman ended the program reading portions from the tragic text correspondence between 26 years old Habiba Abdel Aziz, who ended up dead in Cairo on Wednesday, with her mother. The text messages didn’t include a mother’s call to get out of an area where religious extremists known for their desire to die for Allah are getting ready to confront a blood-thirsty military. It did end, though, with a troubling line, an essence of radical Islam, texted by Habiba most likely seconds before her death:
“Death, here we come. We are not afraid of you, but you from us”
When read with enough pomp, even this chilling choice of a 26 year-old sounds heroic.
11.15.13 at 1:48 pm | One interpreter was struck with a moment of. . .
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July 30, 2013 | 6:54 pm
Posted by Ariel Blumenthal
The images of released killers boasting their triumph are not images of peace.
In October 2011 Palestinians cheered 1,027 prisoners, responsible for 569 deaths, whose release was forced upon Israel by what basically was a hostage situation. Among the released, the likes of Ahlam Tamimi, a young, beautiful woman shown here gloating upon learning that her attack killed 8 children, not 3 as she previously thought.
104 more killers will be released now, part of an agreement to restart peace talks.
Last Thursday, at the height of Secretary Kerry’s efforts to usher in the talks, Mahmoud Abbas’ party Fatah posted a fb shout-out for the “The brave free prisoner” Abdallah Barghouti, carefully itemizing his achievements: “15 Zionists dead at Sbarro restaurant, 11 Zionists dead at Café Moment, 15 Zionists dead at Sheffield night-club - -” and on it goes. 61 deaths in total.
The Palestinian society deserves its glorified heros, killers of women and children.
On July 18th the Palestinian Authority honored the diseased Abu Sukkar, who killed 15 in a 1975 bombing in Jerusalem, with an official military funeral. President Abbas eulogized the “righteous son”; Jibril Rajoub vowed to keep his “principles and goals”.
A broadcast on Palestinian TV in June glorifies Ibrahim Faiz Abu Ali, who murdered a 24-year-old taxi driver, as “A hero whose struggle brought honor to us and all of humanity”, and in another broadcast in May, Farej Saleh Abdallah Al-Rimahi is described as an “Heroic giant who brought pride to all humanity.” Al-Rimahi killed an 84-year-old using a hoe.
The Palestinian attachment to violence and blood is a morality-free pathology. Everything is named after killers: from squares and bridges to summer-camps and football tournaments, and that’s the moderate Palestinian Authority we’re talking about. Murderer of an 84-year-old a “Giant hero” - when the moral inversion is so complete, it is not just a case of culpable neglect in the face of Secretary Kerry’s committed efforts towards peace, it’s a cultural, societal disorder.
The Huff-Post reports that a majority of Israelis support the negotiations - they absolutely have to. But more than half have no hope that it’d bring peace - including yours truly. My reason expressed in a metaphor: A person in debt would have to stop burrowing before they can start paying off their debt; The Palestinians will have to stop nourishing and nurturing tendencies that contradict peace before they can start moving towards it.
Release and even total amnesty of all perpetrators makes sense when a conflict is resolved. Releasing guilty parties is never a moral move or a moment of justice, but under real, meaningful circumstances it’s an understandable step in a momentous change that finally puts all the pain, blood and agony of the past behind. At the moment, there’s no resolution or momentous change in sight, all we are left with is the unjust and immoral moment.
About 70% of Israelis, reports that poll on the Huff-Post, reject release of prisoners or other gestures of that sort, they don’t see how it may serve any positive goal. Indeed, even the most sober, strategic calculations I can think of won’t turn the moment of joy for radically disturbed killers, poster-boys for the non-peaceful reality, into an appropriate interlude to peace efforts.
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July 19, 2013 | 1:32 pm
Posted by Ariel Blumenthal
When I got my German passport, based on my grandparents’ credentials, it was clearly stated by the Germans that the next generation will not be eligible for a citizenship. The buck, or the Mark, stops with me. But 10 years later, while renewing my passport, the consular clerk urged me to register my little son as a citizen. Politely but persistently she lobbied, even after I explained that he already had an EU citizenship thanks to his French mother. “With us it’s better” she said. I thanked her, and wondered whether she had noticed the moment of thick irony: 75 years after my grandparents - citizens and all - had to run for their lives, a new Blumenthal is being courted to sustain a largely bogus relationship with the German state.
It may be purely guilt, but I want to think that the German authorities’ change of policy can be partly attributed to the pursuit of productive, contributing members of society. I want to think they dared to assume that my son, just like his great-grandparents, will turn out that way. The desirable kind, after all.
I remembered that anecdote this week, when the EU issued its “Binding directive ... forbidding any funding, cooperation, awarding of scholarships, research funds or prizes to anyone residing in the Jewish settlements...” The Europeans had decided to stop investing their West-Bank Euros in science, education and the arts, and focus on endless aid spending. Something about severing ties with the productive side, the one with the academic institutions, environmental ventures and art institutions, feels wrong, and the question is whether this is really what needs to be done in order to find the road to peace.
The Europeans continue to place the responsibility for lack of peace solely on Israeli refusals, failings and abstinence and believe that exerting pressure on Israel is the road to peace. This is an optimistic thesis, as it grants Israelis the ability and power to end the conflict. It’s hardly apparent this week, though, as Abbas’ refusal to return to negotiations dictates Secretary Kerry’s busy travel itinerary. On a wider view, this assumption contradicts ideologies, cultures, history, rhetorics, education, policies, statements - all of those important components and factors that the Europeans would have thoroughly looked at if they weren’t absolutely committed, emotionally and ideologically, to Palestinian victimhood.
The European disconnectedness already leads to frequent entanglements with indirect support for Palestinian violence and hatred, through EU money placed in the wrong hands. Norwegian-funded hate speech and British Pounds paid to terrorists - this is the funneling direction the EU had decided on this week.
East Jerusalem’s inclusion in the boycott totes another moment of irony: The resolution was delivered on Tish’a Be’av, a fasting day commemorating the destruction of the two Jewish Temples, which were located, unfortunately, in the EU's East Jerusalem. As economy Secretary Bennet put it on his fb page: “Turns out I’m fasting over an occupied territory”.
In the name of justice an inquiry should be made as to the arbitrary nature of the European definition of occupied territory. When the old city of Jerusalem was taken by Jordanian forces in 1948, its Jewish residents were expelled and the Jewish quarter destroyed. Isn’t that an act of occupation? In the case of the old city of Jerusalem, the focus of 2000 years of Jewish longing, the EU had decided that the buck (or the Shekel) stops in 1967.
Finally, the Golan Heights were included in the boycott as well. I hope no one entertains the absurdity of handing out the region to Bashar Assad or anyone else in the Syrian slaughterhouse. Still, the EU, in contradiction with the principles of freedom and prosperity, is clearly eager to abolish Israeli sovereignty in the region. To that end, I’d like to suggest reverting to the French mandate of 1918-1943. The French will surely be orderly and courteous, and after all, they’ve controlled the Golan Heights for 25 years, one year more than the Syrian state did (and just over half the time it’s been under Israeli control: 46 years.)
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July 4, 2013 | 8:45 pm
Posted by Ariel Blumenthal
No writer in Hollywood could have gotten it better. Revolution in Egypt: a season finale shocker.
For decades it was common knowledge that Hosni Mobarak is sitting on a barrel of Islamist explosive, that only his firm hand is keeping the Muslim Brotherhood from taking over the country, unleashing violence and chaos. Egypt was not alone: A Brotherhood rise against Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad in the 1980s ended with some 30,000 dead bodies in Hama, and when Al Qaeda first announced its agenda, it was the ousting of the secular regimes in the Arab world at the top; Most specifically in Saudi Arabia.
Thus was the status-quo in Egypt and other Arab countries: Enormously popular Muslim Brotherhood, disciplined and patient, kept at bay by ruthless strongmen.
But when they finally rose to power, it wasn’t the way the Brothers had anticipated. No rivers of blood for the sake of Allah, no holy martyrdom - almost disappointing. No, the Muslim Brothers moved directly, and quite literally, from Mubarak’s prison dungeons to the Presidency on the wings of Democracy, a Western invention that categorically contradicts everything they believe in.
Only the hopelessly naive could have missed the irony in Islamists reaping the benefits of a “Democratic” “Arab Spring”, which taught us that when the will of the people in the Arab world is accommodated, what you get is Political Islam in all of its calamitous glory.
Tunisia, Egypt, Gaza, Libya, Turkey - the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and Political Islam is not a democratic occurrence equivalent to a Republican or a Democratic win in an election cycle. Their rise was decades in the making, backed by the current enormous wave of religiosity and radicalism in the Muslim world - from Tehran to Malmo, Damascus to Boston. Their rise is a tsunami, or as agent Smith says to Neo in The first Matrix: “You hear that Mr. Anderson? This is the sound of inevitability.”
Until this week.
This revolution came out of left field: the defeat of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is perfectly counter-intuitive. The Islamist route for Egypt, which was building up for 80 years, collapsed in just one year and three days. Astounding.
This is not the first time history takes an unexpected turn. Why positive outcomes occur in the face of hopeless prospects is a philosophical question more than anything else. Such a resounding loss for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the land of its founder Hassan Al-Bana (the father of the Brothers if you will), a land of 80 million people, a leader in the Arab world - is hardly a bump in the road for Political Islam. And a loss to political Islam is a clear win for civilization, freedom and progress worldwide.
The issue of democracy is almost beside the point. Just like placing a team of Swedes on the Cricket field; Democracy is simply not an Arab game, at least not at the moment. The two titanic battles in the Muslim world are Islamists against secularists and Sunnis against Shi’as, the rest is a distraction. Just like Hamas in Gaza, being elected was the last democratic move Morsi had made, and seeing supporters of the Brotherhood now sob for the demise of democracy is a recap of that same irony I mentioned above.
So what now?
After the first round of the 1991 Parliamentary elections in Algeria, it became crystal clear that the Islamic Salvation Front is about to triumph in a monumental way, and that the country will inevitably turn into an Islamic state. The military got nervous, and cancelled the election in a swift coup. The result was a gruesome civil war lasting 10 years, including intensely brutal massacres of entire villages by raging Islamist factions.
Islamism thrives in an environment of violence and blood. Case in point: Afghanistan, Chechnya, Bosnia, Iraq, Gaza and terror scenes around the world. The Muslim Brotherhood had built its strength in Egypt while under the iron fist of dictators. If anything, the Brotherhood is now back in its natural, comfortable position of the victim, the underdog.
If the Algerian civil war is to teach us anything, the battle in Egypt is far from over.
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April 8, 2013 | 12:08 am
Posted by Ariel Blumenthal
The Irish Teachers Union members are oblivious of the symbolic week they had picked to adopt an academic boycott on Israel. One may argue the justice behind this move; I’d argue it has nothing to do with justice. Even the grimmest Apartheid reality the Irish teachers may imagine to be going on in Israel would leave them with much more evil candidates for a boycott. But the Irish teachers would not boycott China for the unchallenged annihilation of Tibet and Tibetan culture, would not seek academic retaliation on Iraq and Egypt for a tsunami of fleeing Christians, they have no issues with Syria for the horrors we all know about -- it’s a gruesome, long list.
This sort of unfounded singling-out is primitive, vicious and disconnected from reality as Antisemitism has always been. You won’t find “justice” among it’s motivations.
Venezuelan front runner and Chavez lackey Nicolas Maduro goes antisemitic on his opponent Enrique Capriles, who had a Jewish grandparent. Capriles is, therefore, a Zionistic agent - and that’s that. Maduro also told thousands of supporters that his late master Hugo Chavez had tweeted him - an analog tweet that is, through a beak of a bird. Antisemitism has always been ridiculous, psychotic.
On the occasion of Holocaust Memorial Day (and that’s where the Irish teachers had struck symbolism), Israeli Ha’aretz reports a rise of 30% in antisemitic incidents in 2012. Antisemitism is doing well, thank you. Professor Krzysztof Jasiewicz, an esteemed Polish historian, said this week that the Holocaust was the work of the Jews. No typo here. The head of Rome’s Jewish community Riccardo Pacifici warned of “The end of the good days”, saying that Jews should “get ready to leave”. The good days, turns out, lasted less than 70 years.
Antisemitism is rising. And while Western governments take some measures, the reaction of the world this time around is not yielding very good results.
Jews leave Malmö, Sweden, because of violent attacks by Muslim immigrants, and mayor Ilmar Reepalu says that “If Jews want to leave that is not a concern for Malmö.” The mayor believes that the right-wing Democrats party had “infiltrated” Malmö’s Jewish community in order to turn it against Muslims. In reaction to the very un-European violence against a group of Jewish demonstrators during the last Gaza fighting (“Hitler Hitler!” chants, home made bombs, evacuation and all), Mayor Reepalu blamed the Jewish crowd for supporting Israel’s position. You probably think: Where is freedom of speech? Not in Malmö, Sweden I’m afraid. The Jewish demonstrators were merely expressing sympathy for “all civilian victims” in Gaza and Israel - they’d already not dare to say anything more pro-Israeli than that in Malmö. Jews attacked? Authorities blame the attacked? That’s too closely familiar.
What had civilization learnt from the Holocaust? One of the important lessons is to protect minorities from hatred, harassment and violence. Under this very protection, ironically, Islamic antisemitism thrives and it’s irrational, dogmatic and paranoid. Is this a correct turn of events? These are the same Jews, after all. Political correctness cannot be the right answer to Nazi horrors if it allows for rhetoric and intentions equally horrifying as the Nazi’s.
I’m afraid there’s no place for Holocaust-fatigue. A message heard so many times may become old and tiring, especially when the world we live in today is so different. Unfortunately we see that antisemitism persists through cultures and political systems - god knows why. It hides behind political excuses that are no more credible than the 19th century libel.
But through all its reincarnations it retains its language, the language of hatred. This is the sign that we cannot afford to miss.
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March 24, 2013 | 6:22 pm
Posted by Ariel Blumenthal
On Thursday, as President Obama was getting ready to deliver his vision of peace to Israeli students, the alternative to that vision was typically expressed by a rocket attack from Gaza. On Thursday morning the contrast between the two visions was clearly illustrated; Just a day later the violent alternative received a tremendous boost.
Hamas applauded Turkish PM Erdogan on finally getting his apology, declaring it “A victory” - and so they should: The effort to rescue the Hamas regime in Gaza, taken by the Turkish Islamist organization IHH three years ago, ended Friday with their calamitous moral victory. Since IHH radicals on board of the Mavi Marmara are still too often related to as “carrying humanitarian aid” and as “peace activists”, I’m inclined to remind my readers who they were, via this 3:35 video I made with my friend Guy Ross:
No, these were no peace activists attacked by ruthless commandos while selflessly seeking justice; These were fanatic Islamists confronted with paint guns while seeking martyrdom and itching for a holy fight. These “peace activists”, die-hard supporters of Hamas and the alternative it offers to the region, were never looking for peace. And on Thursday morning, back in their homes in Turkey, they were very happy to see some rockets flying into Israel. These are the people granted an apology.
Beyond the context of intent and ideology, there’s also the issue of affiliation. Three years ago the Muslim Brotherhood was unknown to the Western public; Today it’s a household name, making the significance of IHH’s ties to the global Brotherhood clear. A report by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs showed that “The IHH ... was an integral part of a Turkish Muslim Brotherhood network” and that “Since 2006, Turkey has become a new center for the Global Muslim Brotherhood, while the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip acted as the main axis for this activity.” You can’t expect the IHH to care for Shiites, or even non-Brotherhood Sunnis (like the Palestinian Authority). The flotilla was an act of alliance between Muslim Brotherhood affiliates; The thin veneer of “humanitarian aid” that miraculously still holds, was intended for those who are foolish enough to still believe in it.
Erdogan did not hesitate to throw his weight behind the IHH and keep it there for three years. The PM and his Justice and Development party, (which last year received Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal with a standing ovation and “damn Israel!” chants), are Brotherhood sympathizers, if not affiliates themselves. The moral ramifications are to be expected.
Erdogan doesn’t think Hamas is a terrorist organization, but calls Israel a “terrorist nation”. He takes no notice of Hamas’ violence and accuses Israel of genocide in Gaza, while ironically facing a very similar situation with the Kurdish PKK, a challenge he responds to with lethal ferociousness. Describing Erdogan as a non-objective mediator is an understatement. In 1998 he said that “the image of the Jews is no different than that of the Nazis”; In 2011 he rallied an Arab League meeting: “Israel must pay the price for its aggression and crimes.” He told his Parliament that Israel is engaged in ethnic cleansing; He said that “Israel is inexplicably cruel” and “hiding behind the Nazi Holocaust”. Some classic Antisemitic themes? Here you go: “The world media is under the control of Israel” and “Wherever Jews settle, they make money.” Bizarro roots? By all means: Back in 1974 Mr. Erdogan wrote, directed and starred in the play “Maskomya” about a Free-Mason - Communist - Jewish (Mas-Kom-Ya) evil conspiracy.
And finally, just three weeks ago he told a press conference in Vienna that Zionism is a crime against humanity. This coming from the PM of Turkey, whose nationalism cost an enormous number of Armenian, Greek and Kurdish lives - is infuriating. This is the man granted an apology...? The game of apologies in the Middle East is a one-way affair: the provocateur demands it, the provocateur is granted it.
Commentator Robin Wright was correct to say on Friday’s “Left Right & Center” that the apology “was the most important thing to come out of Obama’s visit”. The diplomatic necessity for Turkish-Israeli cooperation in light of the chaos in Syria is clear; Access to NATO facilities in Turkey and the dismissal of abusive legal charges against Israeli officers are just two of many immediate benefits. It’s a prospect you can’t refuse.
This is an artificial apology, a product of extortion. Israelis don’t believe in it, their PM had to eat a dish-full of frogs in order to make the call. The Turkish PM will escalate again very soon - he won’t be able to help it. It’s the ideology, stupid. Did I hear reconciliation? Erdogan was remarkably quick to cool it down on Saturday using confrontational language the world has grown so deaf to identify.
The moral consequences are devastating. If I were an Islamist anywhere in the world - I’d be launching a new flotilla tomorrow. For the rest of the world, the understanding of good and bad intentions, violent and peaceful ideologies and the very principle of justice, is more blurry today. As I wrote here yesterday, reality and perception are growing further and further removed.
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March 20, 2013 | 1:50 pm
Posted by Ariel Blumenthal
“I hope that he [President Obama - A.B.] will see our life here, and will want to do something about it,” said an anonymous Jerusalem teenager to Israeli radio in anticipation to President Obama’s visit to the country. There’s no doubt that the President had seen and heard a lot during his short visit. In his press conference with Netanyahu, Obama spoke unusually about that complexity of the Palestinian-Israeli issue; Hopefully he’d left the region with some new, first-hand insights into why this conflict is so damn unsolvable.
On the eve of the historic visit NPR chose to bring us more of the same: Sheera Frenkel’s redundant account about Israeli settlers and Palestinian drivers. Listening to Frenkel’s report one may think that if only Israel had stopped building a house, a road - something, all will be well.
But the fact of the matter is that generations of international peacemakers, who had largely adopted that very narrow and historically implausible vantage point, failed - the conflict still rages. And when the such a large portion of the discourse is occupied by Palestinian victimhood - a symptom, not a cause - you know that something is amiss.
Something is amiss. Peace is made with sanity. It works pretty well with the sane nation of Jordan: King Abdullah told Jeffrey Goldberg on Monday’s Atlantic that his relationship with Netanyahu, at the center of Israel and Jordan’s joint action to keep the Syrian conflict from spilling over, is “very strong”. King Abdullah clearly understands where stability is maintained in this neighborhood. He sees Israel as an ally in contrasting the “Iranian-led Shia crescent” to his East as well as the “Muslim Brotherhood crescent developing in Egypt and Turkey”. As his father Hussein before him, King Abdullah chooses progress over destruction for sectarian, religious or nationalistic reasons.
Remember this: Over 50% of Jordanians are of Palestinian origins; Jordan occupied the West Bank prior to 1967, and was part of that same British Mandate that controlled today’s Israel and West Bank. Save the Israelis and Palestinians themselves, no other country is as immersed in the conflict as Jordan. All odds are for Jordan being yet another scene of violence and chaos, but --
Sanity. It works.
The Palestinians are far from having made a similar choice. To get there they will have to divorce Hamas as an ideology and a choice - not only an organization. And there’s more:
In the past 2 months Itamar Marcus of Palestinian Media Watch brought his piles of evidence of Palestinian attitude-problem to shocked British and Norwegian Parliaments. On a March 17th session of the British Parliament, MP Gordon Henderson described the findings: “It is clear that a culture of hate has wormed its way into the very fibre of Palestinian society. Incitement to hate is pervasive in Palestinian school textbooks, on television programs and at cultural and sporting events.” He concluded: “No peace agreement will be able to guarantee ... peace, if a generation of Palestinians is growing up indoctrinated to hate Israel, Jews and the West."
Norwegian MPs were disturbed by their aid Euros being used towards salaries for convicted terrorists. “It almost seems to be an aid program to terror-convicted prisoners” said MP Peter Gitmark on February 28th, and Morten Høglund, Foreign policy spokesman for the Progress Party said “You have to send a clear political signal that we, as a donor country, also want to reinforce the peace process. I think anyone who sees this realizes that this contributes to the opposite ... We must fight fire with fire and say that we will stop the aid unless the PA takes immediate action to stop this type of hate message."
A paradigm shift strong enough to replace failure with success and peace has to include the replacement of Palestinian victimization and hate with clear decision and dramatic shift into the language of peace. It seems to me that Obama understands it, I just hope he doesn’t pay too much attention to Sheera Frenkel’s reports.
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March 11, 2013 | 12:48 am
Posted by Ariel Blumenthal
Every so often the symbolism of an event would be multiplied by great timing. Such was the Dutch government recommendation to label goods from Israeli settlements in the midst of the kidnapped UN soldiers crisis in Syria. The connection? The inclusion of the Golan Heights in the recommendation.
Equating the territory that was taken from Syria in 1967 to the West Bank makes a clear statement: just like the Dutch government would like to see the West Bank under Palestinian control, so it would like to see the Golan back under Syrian sovereignty.
When the recommendation was issued on Thursday, as Golan settlers were working on their soon-to-be-labeled juices, apples and wines, the UN was handling the kidnapping of 21of its UNDOF soldiers by fighters across the border, in a country with no government, no law and no compassion.
There’s no problem of self-determination in the Golan. The non-Jewish population is Druze, and the Druze views on issues of nationality allow for relationship with the state of Israel that is entirely different than the Palestinians’. The Druze serve in the Israeli army - the ultimate symbol of shared fate, and are not opposed to Israeli rather than Syrian control (in light of the past two years - who can blame them?)
Syria has been under decades of Assad family tyranny that crushed human rights, killed 30,000 in the Hama 1982 uprising and tens of thousands in the current one. Externally, the regime attacked Israel 3 times in 25 years, had de-facto occupied Lebanon for 30 years assassinating local leaders at will, and made Syria a poster boy for the ideology that tilts this region towards violence rather than peace, by aligning and supporting Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, PFLP, and many others over the years. Now, there’s not even a Syrian state to speak of or with - still the Dutch government saw it appropriate and just to make the call on the Golan Heights.
When a burglar robs someone’s house, or kills or rapes, justice is very clear. But in the non-mundane reality of international relations the idea of justice is a complex one. Just three weeks ago 7 fighters injured battling Assad’s forces fled to the border to seek care in Israel. Is it just, in light of that, to call on the Druze of the Golan to become Syrians? What values are manifested in the removal of population from a reality of freedom and prosperity to a much worse life?
With many arguments for justice weighing against it, the Dutch government had decided to focus on a single angle of justice: the need to revert back to Syrian sovereignty that lasted 23 years (1944-1967) and ended 46 years ago. It would be unsurprising if an entirely different view of justice emerges in other instances, when Israel is not concerned.