Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Wanton Destruction in Gaza Bodes Ill for the Future

The torching of synagogues and the looting and destruction of greenhouses in Gaza doesn't bode well for a future Palestinian state if one is to ever exist. Indeed, the destruction of those synagogues makes it far more unlikely that Israel will concede areas with important Jewish holy sites in Judea and Samaria. The greenhouses, donated to the Palestinian people by wealthy American Jews who bought them from the former settlers, used to provide Israel with $60 to $100 million in agricultural exports annually. They could have provided ample food for Palestinians now dependent on international food aid and jobs for thousands of the largely unemployed Palestinian population in Gaza. Instead the people of Gaza will remain poor and destitute.

Of course, as my previous post pointed out, the press is bending over backwards not to portray it this way. We will undoubtedly hear over and over again, as we have for the past five years, how Palestinian terrorism is due to the “hopelessness” of their situation and that, in turn, will be blamed on Israel. Why can't the blame be put where it belongs: on the Palestinian leadership which made excuses for this behavior rather than trying to prevent it? The Palestinians themselves destroyed what would have given them the means to feed themselves and would have given them an income and the beginnings of a sustainable economy. Instead American and European taxpayers will continue to subsidize “hopelessness” and “despair”, corruption, graft, thuggery, and terrorism.

The destruction of the synagogues, which could have become community centers for the Palestinian people, is even more serious. If the Palestinians continue to disrespect, defile, and even destroy Jewish and Christian holy sites, as they did at Joseph's Tomb, the Church of the Nativity, and most recently in Gaza, how can they be entrusted with some of the most important sites in Judaism, such as the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron? The sad fact is that they cannot. Israel must now consider extending the security fence to take in the Jewish sector of Hebron and the settlements in the Hebron hills, much as a finger of territory was walled off to protect Ariel in western Samaria. This, too, will cause much international condemnation, but what choice does Israel have?

Certainly Israel cannot turn over part of Jerusalem. which is the holiest place in all of Judaism. For millennia Jews have prayed “next year in Jerusalem”. Despite the insistence by the Palestinians and most recently by the Jordanians that the Jewish people have no historical or religious claim to Jerusalem, this flies in the face of Jewish and Christian belief and three thousand years of history. As I have pointed out in the past, throughout the five centuries of Ottoman rule Muslims were a minority in Jerusalem while Jews and Christians were the solid majority. During most of that time the Jewish people alone were a majority in the city.

So long as the Arabs as a whole and the Palestinians in particular deny Jewish and Christian history they cannot be entrusted to preserve or respect it. That, in turn, means that significant parts of the West Bank cannot be turned over to them. That, in turn, makes an independent state truly unlikely.

One last question: since when is the torching of Jewish holy sites OK with the press? Why the uproar over American soldiers at Guantanamo Bay allegedly mishandling a Koran if destroying synagogues is OK? As Jack Englehard pointed out in the piece I quoted and linked last week it seems only Muslim holy sites are considered holy by the press anymore, This double standard, like all the double standards in Middle East reporting, disgusts me. Why must every media outlet claim to be unbiased, fair, balanced, or even handed when, in fact, they promote a specific agenda even when the facts simply cannot support their position?

Friday, September 23, 2005

Politically Correct Language and Extreme Media Bias

Author Jack Englehard wrote this really good piece which accurately described the media bias in reporting Israel's withdrawal from Gaza. It highlights the BBC (which I've called the British Bias Corporation) and The New York Times for really amazing redefinition of terms. I was going to write a piece about this but Mr. Englehard has done such a brilliant job I'd rather link his.

I am dismayed, as usual, that this is only making the rounds on right wing sites. It seems that saying anything uncomplimentary about the Palestinians is now simply not acceptable with a large part of the political left. This has been a quandary for many normally leftist supporters of Israel. It is easy to understand why in the context of the one sided and often, as Mr. Englehard points out, ridiculous reporting that goes on. If someone actually believes the BBC not to be hugely biased and believes their reporting they'd have no choice but to see all Israelis as heartless monsters and all Palestinians as saints.

Here are some excepts from Mr. Englehard's piece:
The dictionary defines "looting" as "to rob, steal, pillage." But, in its first reports on Gaza, where Palestinian Arab mobs were, well, looting, the New York Times came up with a nifty twist to avoid the L-word. There was no looting going on, only "looking for usable materials".

Our friends in Print and Broadcasting are having difficulties putting a shine on this Palestinian Arab rampage that's been in progress ever since the Israelis departed. Obviously, we need a new dictionary, or the same dictionary that they're using over there at the Times, the BBC and wherever truth needs to be camouflaged.

CELEBRATION, for example, usually means "to express happiness," but it means something entirely different when describing the total takeover of Gaza by Palestinian Arabs. In this case it means rage and rioting, or, indeed, "looking for usable materials." When the new inhabitants of Gush Katif ransacked the greenhouses left behind by the Israelis, and, like termites, tore down everything that stood, they were celebrating.

HOLY PLACES used to refer to places of worship of all religions. Not so anymore. Holy Places refers only to mosques and other Muslim shrines. Churches, for example, are not Holy Places ever since Arab terrorists invaded the Church of the Nativity (April 2, 2002), used it as a latrine, and hardly anyone complained. They also ripped the place apart, no doubt "looking for usable materials." More recently, like yesterday, the new inhabitants of Total Gaza set fire to about 25 synagogues and this, indeed, is seen by the world as a step toward peace.

Torching synagogues can also be found under TO CELEBRATE.


PAIN. Only Muslim Arabs are entitled to pain. Here, for example, is the BBC's Orla Guerin reporting from Gaza: "Palestinians came streaming to the settlements that caused them so much pain! Israel stole 38-years from them; today, many were ready to take back anything they could." The Israelis who were evicted from their homes felt no pain. Is that clear? Also, thanks to Ms. Guerin and the BBC, we know that "Israel stole 38 years from them."

This sets a new standard for totally objective and thoroughly unbiased journalism.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Missed Opportunities

“The Palestinians have never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” -Abba Eban

The Palestinians, first at Camp David and then at Taba, had been presented with offers from Israel that were good enough that many moderate Arab leaders encouraged Yasser Arafat to accept. President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah of Jordan, and Mahmoud Abbas were among those urging Arafat to finally make peace with Israel. He dismissed the offer as “insufficient” and never made a counteroffer. He chose intifada, a war of terror, over peace.

Despite many attempts by the supporters of and apologists for the Palestinians to try and pin blame on Israel or President Clinton for the failure of the peace process, if one doesn't try and revise history it is clear that President Clinton and former U.S. Middle East envoy Dennis Ross are correct in placing the blame squarely and solely on the shoulders of Yasser Arafat. Occupation would have ended. The Palestinians would have been independent. Their response was interpreted by most Israelis as spitting in their collective faces, and rightly so. Dennis Ross has repeatedly stated that Arafat was “incapable” of making peace.

In 1967, when most Israelis were celebrating the victory in the Six Day War, my father called occupation “bad business”. He didn't see much to celebrate. My father was, in my opinion, a very wise man. The past 38 years of Israel's attempt to rule over roughly three million Palestinians has been an unmitigated disaster resulting only in bloodshed. I'm not sure there is much of anything Israel could have done to diminish the hatred and anti-Semitism in the Arab world but the continued occupation gave the Arabs an excuse to be anti-Semitic that was acceptable to the wider world community. The additional land gave Israel some additional security from conventional attack but as time passed it became less clear that the continued occupation was worth the cost.

Occupation never had to happen. The Arabs could have prevented it if they had wanted to. In the wake of the Six Day War then Prime Minister Levi Eshkol offered to return all the land Israel had just captured in exchange for diplomatic recognition from the Arab world and peace. The Arab League, meeting in Khartoum, unanimously rejected the offer.

The Oslo Accords gave both sides hope. Yasser Arafat single handedly dashed those hopes. Despite articles to the contrary by those engaging in moral equivocation and those promoting the Palestinian cause, I see no evidence to make me believe otherwise. In 2000 the Palestinians had two chances to end occupation and have an independent state. Those opportunities were, as usual, missed.

The withdrawal from Gaza and northern Samaria brings a new opportunity for the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas to demonstrate that they can, in fact, govern a nation and end their terror war. Doing so would undoubtedly lead to either further disengagement or a genuine revival of the peace process. Sadly I see no willingness on the part of the current Palestinian leadership to do so. True to form, they will not miss this opportunity to miss an opportunity.