Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Boston Blame Game: Left Wing Editon

[NOTE: This is a rare cross-posted from personal blog. I've added it here because touches at least tangentially upon Israel.]

Ever since the Boston Marathon bombings lots on lots of people on the Internet are playing a despicable blame game, blaming everyone and anyone they don't like for the terrorist attack; anyone except Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, that is. The conspiracy theorist version of the blame game includes claiming this was actually a U.S. government plot or an Israeli/Mossad "false flag operation". The right wing version often includes blaming Islam as a whole and every Muslim on the planet. For right now I'm going to pick on a left wing version: blaming the victims (the United States) and our friends in the world.

It's pretty easy for hard core left wingers to blame American foreign policy here: the use of drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the invasion of Iraq and American support of Israel are used as prime examples. The United States is blamed, often solely blamed, for the loss of innocent lives throughout the Muslim world. Here is a dose of reality: radical Islamists have declared war on the West. When you're attacked you do have to respond. Anything else is perceived as weakness and encourages more violence. Are innocent lives are lost? That is the sad and tragic reality in any war. Yes, if we have a choice war needs to be a last resort. Sometimes, sadly, it is the only resort left.

The problem with radical Islam, something which is growing and spreading like a cancer in the Muslim world, is that people are taught to hate in their schools, in their mosques and in the media. Add a very large poor population, poorly educated or hardly educated at all, a relatively low literacy rate, and little or no access to other viewpoints. If the infidel or the American or the Jew or the Israeli or the European is made a scapegoat for all that is wrong in their lives the hatred is there. It doesn't require a drone strike or ill advised foreign policy to nurture that hatred.

Some ultraliberals, when referring to the Muslim world, talk about how we ignore or harm "the government(s) that represents those people". In the Islamic world there are only such representative governments in Turkey, Indonesia, and Iraqi Kurdistan, which is independent from the rest of Iraq in many respects. Everywhere else you have dictatorships and theocracies that vary only in the extent to which they brutalize their own people. The worst poverty I have ever seen was in a Muslim country I visited several times on business. If I took the time to describe what I saw your heart would break. The sad truth is those kind of scenes are repeated in many, many countries throughout the Islamic world.

The poverty I refer to wasn't caused by drones, by American meddling or by any other excuse used to explain the problem. Those issues are factors but, honestly, they are relatively minor factors. They serve as propaganda points for those stoking the hate. No American government policy included meddling in Chechnya, where the Tsarnaev's come from. Honestly, that excuse is nothing more than an excuse.

The conflict between a modern, tolerant view of Islam and the more radical and fundamentalist view has been going on for more than a thousand years. To blame recent policies, no matter how short sighted or flawed, is to ignore history. The principle blame here belongs to the terrorists, to the ideology they followed, and to those who promote that ideology and justify terrorism. A small dose of blame goes to the left-wingers who enable terrorism by blaming the victims rather than the real sources of the problem.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Israel is Always Ready to Negotiate for Peace

The Palestinians have never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” -Abba Eban
One of the popular but utterly false claims made by the pro-Palestinian crowd online is that no Israeli Prime Minister since Yitzhak Rabin has been willing to sit down and negotiate with the Palestinians for peace. That claim stinks to high heaven but none the less it's practically a meme on social networking sites like Facebook. Here is a summary of what each and every Israeli Prime Minister has done since the Rabin assassination.

The first Prime Minister after Yitzhak Rabin wase Shimon Peres, one of the architects of the Oslo Accords. He shared the Nobel Peace Prize with both Rabin and Yasser Arafat. Does anyone doubt his peacemaking credentials?

Next came Binyamin Netanyahu's first term. He not only negotiated with Arafat, but he signed the Wye River Memorandum in 1998 and withdrew from additional land, including most of Hebron, the second holiest place in Judaism. The consequences of that agreement were that the right abandoned Netanyahu and his government fell. He basically sacrificed his own political career at the time for an interim peace agreement.

After Netanyahu came Ehud Barak who negotiated both at Camp David and at Taba. President Bill Clinton blamed the failure of Camp David squarely on Arafat. When Barak upped the offer at Taba the response delivered by Yasser Abed Rabbo was that the Palestinians wouldn't give up "even one centimeter" of land. No counter offer was ever made. The offers from Israel were good enough that many moderate Arab leaders had 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. Prince Bandar, no friend of Israel, said Arafat's refusal to take the deal was "a crime". Arafat chose to fight the second intifada instead.

After Barak came Ariel Sharon who withdrew from all of Gaza without any agreement in the hope it would lead to peace. Instead the result was regular rocket fire from Gaza into Israel and two more conflicts. Then came Ehud Olmert who ran for Prime Minister on a platform of withdrawing from much of Judea and Samaria. He was at the 2007 Annapolis Conference, which was the first time both sides agreed that the final settlement would be a two-state solution. In 2008 he offered Abbas an area equal in size to the 1949 armistice line with land swaps to account for current demographics. He was turned down flat. Once again, there was no counteroffer from the Palestinians.

Now we have Binyamin Netanyahu again, who gave a 10 month settlement freeze and nearly lost his government for it. Abbas only negotiated in the last two weeks and then used the expiration of the freeze as an excuse not to negotiate. Since then the Prime Minister has offered to negotiate without preconditions whenever the Palestinians are ready. They are never ready.