Friday, December 31, 2010

The 2010 Takeaway: The Legitimacy War

Richard Falk
"It is up to all of us dedicated to peace and justice to do all we can to help the Palestinians prevail in the legitimacy war and bring their long ordeal to an end."

2010 was the year in which the implicit campaigns to delegitimize Israel came out of the closet. Richard Falk, Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University and current UN Rapporteur for Palestine, put it best in his essay, "The Palestinians are Winning the Legitimacy War: Will it Matter?" What had seemed to many to be efforts to bring about "peace" and "justice" to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict have in fact been a drip, drip, drip accumulation of activity aimed at destroying Israel's image and ability to defend itself on the international stage. It is a war that the Palestinian movement and its adherents have been waging alongside a pretense at negotiating for peace. Now it is out in the open and the pro-Israel community has finally gotten the message. Here are Falk's most salient points:

"…there has been a notable change of emphasis in Palestinian strategy. The new strategy has been to initiate what might be described as a second war, “a legitimacy war” that is essentially based on the reliance on a variety of non-violent tactics of resistance. Armed resistance has not been renounced by the Palestinians, but it has been displaced by this emphasis on non-violent tactics.

“The essence of this legitimacy war is to cast doubt on several dimensions of Israeli legitimacy: its status as a moral and law abiding actor, as an occupying power in relation to the Palestinian people, and with respect to its willingness to respect the United Nations and abide by international law. Those that wage such a legitimacy war seek to seize the high moral ground in relation to the underlying conflict, and on this basis, gain support for a variety of coercive, but non-violent initiatives designed to put pressure on Israel, on governments throughout the world and on the United Nations to deny normal participatory rights to Israel as a member of international society.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

More on Tis the Season for Delegitimizing Israel

NGO Monitor has a good roundup of how all the BDS campaign affiliates are exploiting the season to show how Israel is ruining Christmas in the Holy Land.

My favorite is the Sabeel Center's list of the top ten brands to boycott for Christmas. Take a look and remember, there's still time to go out and buycott all the companies mentioned: Ahava, Motorola, Intel,  Sabra, Estee Lauder and Victoria's Secret. Frankly, I never thought I'd be urging anyone to shop at Victoria's Secret but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

O Lost Town of Bethlehem

Ahhhh... tis the season for linking the suffering of Palestinians to the suffering of Christ, for claiming that Israel is forcing Christians out of Bethlehem and on and on. For this year's rendition and excellent analysis read the Elder on why, according to Faisal Hijazin, Parish Priest of the Holy Family Catholic Church in Ramallah, this may be the last Christmas in Bethlehem:

"This Christmas, Christians around the world will be singing such Christmas Carols as “O Little Town of Bethlehem” without knowing that in truth, they could soon be singing of a town where you can no longer find the living presence of Christ, the community of those baptized into his body, the Church; “O Lost Town of Bethlehem” could be a more accurate sentiment when Christians awake to find that the Christian presence in this small holy city has, after 2,000 years, come to an end. "

And then read this 'news package' from the groovy alternative tabloid of the Pacific Northwest:

Jesus hands
Who would Jesus bomb?

(BETHLEHEM) - In this time of year, people around the world celebrate.
They celebrate the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem Palestine.
They celebrate a birth that was meant to propagate a set of ideals to make the world a better place. 2010 years later, that same birthplace is plagued by a regime that practices the exact opposite of those ideals.
Bethlehem is surrounded by a racist wall of biblical proportions, by regime which is racist to biblical proportions. Yet people celebrate.
But that is OK. The people of Palestine also celebrate. They need to, as any other people would need to celebrate. After all it is the season to make exceptions.
You can read the whole thing here.

The Jews Who Stole Christmas

Not wanting to miss an opportunity to be reminded of Garrison Keillor's rant about all those Christmas songs written by Jews -- "And all those lousy holiday songs by Jewish guys that trash up the malls every year, Rudolph and the chestnuts and the rest of that dreck. Did one of our guys write ‘Grab your loafers, come along if you wanna, and we’ll blow that shofar for Rosh Hashanah’? No, we didn’t. Christmas is a Christian holiday—if you’re not in the club, then buzz off" -- I thought I'd stick it to him with this list of the best ones:

And this:

And this:

And this:

Personally, I've always loved Christmas songs but it's only now that I understand why -- so many of them are probably channeling my tribe's collective unconscious.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Roger Cohen Just Blew My Mind*

The Captive Arab Mind - Global Edition,

Perhaps he was chagrined by the response to his real-politik stability at all costs appraisal of what should happen when the Special Tribunal for Lebanon indicts Hezbollah, for it seems that Cohen is pulling back and possibly coming to terms with how things really work in the ME. Regarding conspiracy theories in the Arab world (and he even mentions the shark-attack-instigated-by-Israel delusion) he writes:

"What we are dealing with here is the paltry harvest of captive minds. Such minds resort to conspiracy theory because it is the ultimate refuge of the powerless. If you cannot change your own life, it must be that some greater force controls the world.

"...Lebanon is only an extreme case in an Arab world where the internet and new media outlets have not prised open minds conditioned by decades of repression and weakness.

"...Hariri, who was pro-Western and anti-Syrian, was assassinated in downtown Beirut. Suspicion fell on Syrian agents. A United Nations tribunal was set up to investigate — itself a reflection of Lebanon’s weakness in that the country’s own institutions were deemed inadequate.
"Five years later, I found the investigation irrevocably infected by cui bono (who benefits) fever. “Who took advantage of the killing?” Talal Atrissi, a political analyst, asked me. “Not the Syrians, they left Lebanon afterward. It was the United States that benefited.” Hah!
"Ali Fayyad, a Hezbollah member of Parliament, told me: “The tribunal is entirely politicized, an illegal entity used by the United States as one of the tools of regional conflict against Syria and the resistance.”
"Theories abound that Israel penetrated the Lebanese cellphone system to coordinate an assassination portrayed as providing the pretext for a failed anti-Syrian putsch by the West (much as 9/11 is grotesquely perceived in the Arab world as a self-inflicted pretext for the United States to wage war against Muslims).
Why, it is asked, was an international tribunal set up for Hariri but not for Benazir Bhutto’s killing? Why has the C.I.A. not been interrogated? Such questions now have such a hold on Lebanon that I have reluctantly concluded that justice and truth in the Hariri case are impossible, victims of the captive Arab mind.
"In the cui bono universe there can be no closure because events stream on endlessly, opening up boundless possibilities for ex post facto theorizing."
Now, if he could only apply this to the delusions that breed Palestinian intransigence concerning Israel, we would have something to talk about.

Meanwhile Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on the Special Tribunal, dismissing its soon-to-be rulings: "This tribunal is receiving orders from elsewhere and whatever ruling it hands down is null and void." 

* Cohen's pieces on the ME always receive tons of online readers' comments but today they are not being allowed. What are Cohen and the NYT afraid of?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

DREAM Act Divides Friends of Israel and Becomes Platform for Its Demonization

A very, very sad day for immigration rights activists. The DREAM Act, which would have granted a path to citizenship to children of undocumented immigrants, lost in the Senate today. Most mainstream Jewish organizations, AJC, ADL, HIAS and the federations, advocated for the bill in keeping with their liberal immigration agendas. As Nathan Guttman in the Forward says, "The DREAM Act is an easy sell to the Jewish community. Most Jewish groups dealing with domestic issues have expressed their support and are lobbying for its passage. Jewish organizations would actually want to see Congress go much further in pushing forward a comprehensive immigration reform, a goal that’s now looking harder to reach."
With the Republicans having a stronger voice in the next Congress, passing the DREAM Act will be even more difficult.

But not all friends of Israel favor a progressive approach to immigration issues and, unfortunately, some of them are tying their disapproval of the bill with their so-called fight against Muslim extremism. There are times when I want to say to some of Israel's right-wing supporters: Thanks but no thanks. Please don't muddy the waters with your fight against CAIR, problematic though this organization is.
ANSWER Coalition infiltrate pro-immigration
rallies to promote anti-Israel agenda
More worrisome, however,  is that some friends of the DREAM Act have used the immigration issue to demonize Israel. The ANSWER Coalition is busy sowing discontent among groups that have long worked together for immigration rights in states like Florida by using local events to sound off against Israel. From Andrew Rosenkrantz of ADL, "Some groups even try to manipulate mainstream issues, like the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and immigration issues, to promote their anti-Israel objectives. For example, Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) recently hosted an event in Lake Worth that was promoted as a rally to stop an Arizona-like immigration law from being passed in Florida. The bait-and-switch was on, however, as several speakers instead used the platform to express their aggressive anti-Israel vitriol."

Spielberg Targeted for Boycott by Arab League

The Guardian reports that a Wikileaks cable reveals that Stephen Spielberg who donated $1 million to Israel during the 2006 war with Hezbollah was the object of an Arab League boycott of all his films and products:

"A US embassy memo released by WikiLeaks reveals that during a meeting of the group in April 2007, diplomats or representatives from 14 Arab states voted to ban all films and other products related to Spielberg or his Righteous Persons Foundation.

Schindler's List banned in the
Arab world?
"At the confidential US briefing, the head of the Syrian regional office for the boycott of Israel, Muhammad al-Ajami, said that Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen had agreed to ban all Spielberg's works."
A spokesperson for Spielberg, however, said that distribution of the films and dvds proceeded as usual.

The only countries not attending the Arab League meeting that decided on the boycott were Egypt and Jordan.

Of course, the Guardian, used the following quote to show how it really feels about the boycott:
"But Chris Doyle at the Council for Arab-British Understanding said the boycott was an "understandable" reaction to Spielberg's donation.
"It would be consistent with other decisions in the past over boycotting both companies and people who have done something equivalent," he said. "The donation would have been seen as hypocritical, given the ethical stance Steven Spielberg has taken on other issues including Darfur, and would have caused a lot of anger.
"The depiction of Arabs in Raiders of the Lost Ark was very poor, cartoon-like and full of the usual stereotypes," he added. "In a broader context, this applies to so many Hollywood films where Arabs for decades have been ludicrously depicted."
Now, will the BDS movement follow the Arab League's lead and announce a boycott of Spielberg and, perhaps, other Jewish film makers who may have donated to Israel-related causes?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

More on Columbia's Center For Palestine Studies

Joseph Massad's book, Desiring Arabs. claims that homosexuality is a
western construct imposed upon the Middle East

This article by two recent Columbia graduates, Armin Rosen and Jordan Hirsch, worries as I do about the potential politicization of the new center and the probability of it becoming an official venue for Israel bashing. With a strangely undefined mission, the center can become home to anyone whose work is only tangentially related to Palestine, but centrally concerned with establishing Israel's evil credentials.

They note two academics whose work develops out of an apriori assumption of Israel's perfidy. One, Katherine Franke, a legal scholar whose, "...own work reveals the perils of such uncertainty in mission. She told us that she focuses on “gender and sexuality and how the rights of LGBT people in Israel are being used to punish Israel’s Arab neighbors.” For her, one of Israel’s greatest accomplishments (the creation of one of the most tolerant societies in the Middle East) is linked to the country’s ceaseless persecution of Palestinian Arabs."

The other scholar, "...Mahmood Mamdani—the former director of Columbia’s Institute of African Studies—with the CPS further illustrates the dangers of mission-creep. Mamdani justifies his involvement by pointing to a conference he helped to organize titled “Post-Apartheid Reflections on Israel and Palestine,” which taught him “how a thematic focus [on Palestine] could bring African scholars … into the mainstream of intellectual discussions.” Mamdani associates with Palestine studies, it seems, to increase the profile of his primary field. Moreover, he has used his background as an Africanist to attack Israel. In a 2002 speech at a pro-divestment teach-in, Mamdani argued that Israel was an apartheid state and a settler-colonial enterprise comparable to Liberia."

Even more troubling, however, is the inclusion of Joseph Massad, the villain of the David Project's film, Columbia Unbecoming who was cited for bullying Jewish students who dared to oppose his Israelis as Nazis views: "But there are signs that politics have already infiltrated the CPS. Take, for example, the fact that Joseph Massad (the professor accused of bullying students in 2004) is associated with the center. Massad’s body of work is a postmodern mash-up of high-minded critical theory and base innuendo. His book Desiring Arabs theorizes that homosexuality is a western construct that imperial powers imposed upon the Middle East and that a “gay international” cabal (consisting of groups like Amnesty International and the Human Rights Campaign) uses the rhetoric of minority rights to unfairly vilify Muslim regimes.

"More troubling than this vilification of human rights organizations is that much of Massad’s work is overtly political—exactly the type of scholarship that the CPS purportedly intends to avoid. In a 2002 essay in the “independent socialist” journal New Politics titled “On Zionism and Jewish Supremacy,” Massad called for “the continuing resistance of Palestinians in Israel and the Occupied Territories to all the civil and military institutions that uphold Jewish supremacy”—this during a year when “continuing resistance” killed over 200 Israeli civilians. In the wake of “Operation Cast Lead,” the three-week armed conflict in the Gaza Strip in 2008–2009, Massad published an article on the Palestine solidarity activist Ali Abunimah’s website, Electronic Intifada, titled “The Gaza Ghetto Uprising,” which pilfered the memory of the Warsaw Ghetto for rhetorical flourish."

Sunday, December 12, 2010

It's The Right of Return, Stupid*

The one thing we must all remember and re-infuse into the mainstream 'conversation': for the Palestinians, the Right of Return is unconditional.

Erekat forthright about Right of Return. Why now?

Read this from Saeb Erekat in the Guardian and wonder what conditions facilitated his remarks at this time. "Today, Palestinian refugees constitute more than 7 million people worldwide – 70% of the entire Palestinian population. Disregarding their legitimate legal rights enshrined in international law, their understandable grievances accrued over prolonged displacement, and their aspirations to return to their homeland, would certainly make any peace deal signed with Israel completely untenable.

"In accordance with past Israeli-Arab agreements based on UN resolutions – most significantly the Egypt-Israeli Camp David Accords based on UN resolution 242's formula of land-for-peace – resolution 194 must provide the basis for a settlement to the refugee issue.
"Return and restitution as the remedy of choice has a strong international precedent. For example, in the context of the Dayton Accords, concluded under the auspices of the United States, the return of Bosnian refugees to their homes and restitution of their property was considered a "non-negotiable" right that was critical to crafting a durable solution. American leaders such as Madeleine Albright, then the secretary of state, openly called on Bosnian Muslim refugees to return en masse to their former places of residence.
In Bosnia and in Palestine, the return of refugees has been considered absolutely necessary for the stability of peace. Any deal that does not respect the rights of refugees has been viewed as bearing the seed of its inevitable failure."
Extraordinary that 1) Erekat should place the number of refugees to be repatriated to Israel at 7 million, and 2) that he uses a comparison with the repatriation of Bosnians who numbered at 700,000 (ha! the number of original Palestinian refugees) to substantiate the Palestinian demands. Had there been a Dayton Accords in 1948, the Arabs would have boycotted them just as they refused to negotiate with Israel.
Jonathan D Halevi, in an extraordinary report, "The Palestinian Refugees on the Day After "Independence", details how the Palestinians have never -- despite the West's refusal to admit it -- let go of the Right of Return of all the refugees and their descendents. Erekat, as the head Palestinian negotiator, Mahmood Abas and Salaam Fayaad have all asserted the indivisibility of this demand and for some reason, no one has taken it seriously. Except, that is, for those in the Palestinian solidarity community who are very comfortable with the proposed annihaliation of Israel should the refugees and their children, grand children and great grand children return. This report is worth reading because, among other things, it confirms that the Arab states will absolutely refuse to accommodate peace accords by granting their refugees full rights -- with the full blessing of the Palestinians.

Benny Morris, in his recent Tablet article, agrees: "The key to understanding Fatah objectives today lies in its leaders’ stance on resolving the refugee problem. Contrary to what many Western commentators and analysts have chosen to believe, the Palestinian stress on the importance of the refugees is not a tactical matter—a way to gain further leverage in negotiations. The Palestinian leadership is unanimous and resolute in insisting that the problem’s solution lies in the “Right of Return”: Israel, and the world, must accept the principle of repatriation and eventually facilitate repatriation. The idea that the refugees must return to their homes has been the ethos, the be-all and end-all of Palestinian politics and policy, since 1948. No Palestinian leader can or will ever abandon this principle, on pain of assassination, and none has. 

"(For Western journalistic consumption, Yasser Arafat once vaguely wrote that the Palestinians would take account of Israeli demographic sensibilities when it came to implementing refugee repatriation; and more recently, Abbas was reportedly willing, in his secret 2008 negotiations with then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, to countenance less than full refugee repatriation in the initial phases of a deal. But in their public utterances during the past two years, Abbas and his colleagues have been rock-solid in their advocacy of an unrestricted “Right of Return”—and why not take them at their word?)"

* An excellent blog post on CIFwatch elaborates on the Right of Return delusion.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Polish Embassy Anti-Semitism Blindspot

A scene from Seven Jewish Children as
performed at the Lebanese American University
PSC play at Polish Centre sparks angry demo | The Jewish Chronicle

The Polish Centre in London went ahead and allowed itself to be the venue for anti-Semitism masquerading as art on December 8th, the last night of Hanukkah. Thinking I would be making a difference among many other emailing objectors to the performance of Caryl Churchill's Seven Jewish Children, I wrote to the Polish Ambassador to the UK and received the following response from the embassy's press counselor.Note the link he included to back up his spurious implication that because the play was written in response to the Gaza operation, it should be "considered only anti-Israeli policies" and not as an instance of anti-Semitism.

Dear Madam
I’d like to thank you for bringing it to our attention. With reference to your letter, I would like to inform you that the Polish Social and Cultural Association Ltd. was founded by and has since been run by the Polish community in the United Kingdom and is completely autonomous of the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in London. The Embassy has therefore no right of intervention in internal decisions made by the Centre with regards to the production of Seven Jewish Children.

Nevertheless, I would like to point that Caryl Churchill's play relates to the political context of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and, in light of this, its content can be considered critical towards Israeli policies. The play has been staged at the Royal Court Theatre, but definately it is controversial (please read eg. "The Guardian")

Kind regards
Robert Szaniawski
Press Counsellor
Embassy of the Republic of Poland

My email:

Your Excellency,

I am an Israeli-American of Polish-Jewish grandparents who has learned from my friends in London that Caryl Churchill's 'play' will be performed at the Polish Centre in London on December 8th, ironically during Hanukkah. I am writing to protest the Centre's providing a venue for this anti-Semitic diatribe. That a Polish institution would give cover to this play is a shame and a mistake. I urge you to request that the Centre reconsider it's decision.

Here is a sample of the dialogue in the play. I would be surprised if it made you comfortable and that you did not immediately perceive the age-old anti-Semitic tropes invoked:

"Tell her, tell her about the army, tell her to be proud of the army. Tell her about the family of dead girls, tell her their names why not, tell her the whole world knows, why shouldn’t she know? tell her there’s dead babies, did she see babies? Tell her she’s got nothing to be ashamed of. Tell her they did it to themselves. Tell her they want their children killed to make people sorry for them, tell her I’m not sorry for them, tell her not to be sorry for them, tell her we’re the ones to be sorry for, tell her they can’t talk suffering to us. Tell her we’re the iron fist now, tell her it’s the fog of war, tell her we won’t stop killing them till we’re safe, tell her I laughed when I saw the dead policeman, tell her I wouldn’t care if we wiped them out, the world would hate us is the only thing, tell her I don’t care if the world hates us, tell her we’re better haters, tell her we’re chosen people, tell her I look at one of their children covered in blood and what do I feel? Tell her all I feel is happy it’s not her."

I look forward to your response, but more so, to hear that you have persuaded the Polish Centre not to allow itself to be used in this shameful manner.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Jews: The Movie

Egypt: Sinai shark attacks could be Israeli plot

I just had to have this story and picture in my archives. Make of the Egyptian official Muhammad Abdel Fadil Shousha's statement what you will:

“What is being said about the Mossad throwing the deadly shark [in the sea] to hit tourism in Egypt is not out of the question, but it needs time to confirm,”

Thank you to Oy Va Goy for the movie poster and Elder of Ziyon for alerting me to it.

Other cute references from Jeffrey Golberg and Backspin. But NPR told the AP story which didn't mention this farcical suggestion. Wonder why.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Design a Refugee Camp and Other Fun Projects

Our fatuous friends over at Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine are very busy replicating themselves through a bunch of seemingly separate organizations, websites and exhibitions, all of which promote, in one way or another, the Right of Return. They're getting ready with prescriptions of how to prepare for the Return, and for retrofitting existing Israeli communities into urban models believed to approximate Palestinian habitation patterns for the eventual "re-take" of original villages and towns. The architectural ideas aren't bad in and of themselves, in fact it would be a blessing to see a change from the ubiquitous suburban housing types that now scatter all over Israel. But the point is, the goal is to subsume Israel into a new entity that accommodates the Return.

An example of designing for the Return: Design project for rehabilitating
Kafr Bir'im, a Palestinian Christian village which was captured
and evacuated by the Haganah in the war of 1948 , and had been,
 in fact, originally a Jewish  pilgrimage site. 
Yet, just as the veil is slowly lifting off the Return conceit and UNRWA is being acknowledged, here and here for what it is -- the structure that underlies the multi-generational imprisonment of the refugees and the sustainer of the myth of the Return, here comes an architecture workshop at Bezalel which asks students to test their design skills on bringing refugee camps up to 21st Century code. Not, mind you, in order to integrate the refugees into PA's jurisdiction, or design a program for the urban renewal of those camps so that they can become coterminous with existing PA towns and villages. No, the workshop assumes the continuation of refugee status and temporary shelter for those stuck in the camps. And by temporary, the workshop isn't talking about the types of camps that house refugees on the eventual road to resettlement but rather a camp that "...would be sustainable for at least one century."

"As we were invited to give a workshop to the students of Bezalel’s architecture faculty in Jerusalem -a city in which the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is in its extreme- we have decided to focus on the issue of Palestinian refugees. Along the city’s municipal-line and on the other (the Palestinian) side of the Wall, one can find the oldest refugee camps in the world. While reflecting on this reality, we have asked the students to rethink the UN planning regulation of a refugee camp, as they are given to doctors.

We have asked a pragmatic question: to shape a camp that would be sustainable for at least one century.

Typical services and infrastructure requirements for refugee camps

1 latrine 1 family (6–10 persons)

1 water tap 1 community (80–100 persons)

1 health centre 1 camp (of 20,000 persons)

1 hospital up to 200,000 persons

1 school 1 sector (5,000 persons)

4 commodity distribution sites 1 camp module (20,000 persons)

1 market 1 camp module (20,000 persons)

2 refuse drums 1 community (80–100 persons)

Site planning figures for emergencies

Land 30 – 45 m2 per person

Shelter space 3.5 m2 per person (tents or other structures)

Fire break space a clear area between shelters 50 m wide should be provided for every 300 m of built-up area

Minimum of 1-1.5 m should be provided between guy-ropes of neighbouring tents on all sides

Roads and walkways 20-25% of entire site

Open space and public facilities 15-20% of entire site

Environmental sanitation 1 latrine seat per 20 people or ideally 1 per family sited not farther than 50 m from user accommodations and not nearer than 6 m.

1 x 100 litre refuse bin per 50 people

1 wheelbarrow per 500 people

1 communal refuse pit (2 m x 5 m x 2 m) per 500 people

Water 15-20 litres per person per day of clean water

Health centre: 40-60 litres/patient/day

Feeding centres: 20-30 litres/patient/day

Tap stands 1 per 200 persons, sited not farther than 100 m from user accommodations

Warehouse space for food grains in bags, stacked 6 m high, allow 1.2 m2 of floor space per ton

Data: A Handy Guide to UNHCR Emergency, Standards and Indicators, eCentre"

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Benny Morris: Palestinians Don't Want Two-State Solution

Bleak House - by Benny Morris: Tablet Magazine

This is Benny Morris at his most candid about Palestinian intentions. He has been distancing himself from the other revisionist historians for some time. If he is so dejected, where do the rest of us Two-Staters go now?

"The first, the one that American and European officials never express and—if impolitely mentioned in their presence—turn away from in distaste, is that Palestinian political elites, of both the so-called “secular” and Islamist varieties, are dead set against partitioning the Land of Israel/Palestine with the Jews. They regard all of Palestine as their patrimony and believe that it will eventually be theirs. History, because of demography and the steady empowerment of the Arab and Islamic worlds and the West’s growing alienation from Israel, and because of Allah’s wishes, is, they believe, on their side. They do not want a permanent two-state solution, with a Palestinian Arab state co-existing alongside a (larger) Jewish state; they will not compromise on this core belief and do not believe, on moral or practical grounds, that they should.

"This basic Palestinian rejectionism, amounting to a Weltanschauung, is routinely ignored or denied by most Western commentators and officials. To grant it means to admit that the Israeli-Arab conflict has no resolution apart from the complete victory of one side or the other (with the corollary of expulsion, or annihilation, by one side of the other)—which leaves leaders like President Barack Obama with nowhere realistic to go with regard to the conflict. Philosophically, acceptance of the rock-like unpliability of this reality is extremely problematic, given the ongoing military and philosophical clash between the West and various forces in the Islamic world. Perhaps the fight between America and its allies and its enemies in the Middle East and South Asia and North Africa and the banlieues of Western Europe will go on and on, until one side is vanquished?"

Hezbollah Prepares for War

Tunnel vision: Ready for war against Israel

The Special Tribunal on Lebanon is about to report its findings, probably pointing the finger at Hezbollah's involvement in the Harriri assasination. When this happens, what will Hezbollah do? It may decide to launch an attack on Israel. Here are a couple of reads to scare your boots off:

From The Mess Report, Haaretz: "There have been an increasing number of reports of late hinting at Hezbollah's preparations for a war against Israel. The Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai Al-Aam reported on Wednesday that the Shi'ite organization has completed its preparations for a war against Israel, including the construction of an extensive network of tunnels throughout the whole of Lebanon.

"The report comes amidst the threat of an escalation against Israel when the findings of the United Nations tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri - the father of current Lebanese Premier Saad Hariri - are published in the near future.

"According to the report, Hezbollah has completed equipping its arsenal of missiles and weapons and finished building its defensive network against a possible Israeli attack. The network stretches from the length of the Lebanon's coast to the country's mountainous eastern region. According to the same report, the decision whether to go to war or to preserve the quiet is in Hezbollah's hands."

From Now Lebanon: In a fascinating interview with, Thanassis Cambanis, the journalist whose new book, Privilege to Die, paints a very frightening picture of Hezbollah's power within Lebanon and the region through conversations with the group's rank and file. A short excerpt of the interview:

"You argue that Hezbollah is the premier force in the Middle East, and even more dangerous to Israel and the West than Hamas and al-Qaeda. Why do you think this is true, and what makes the group such a threat?

"Cambanis: Hezbollah has effectively created, packaged and sold an idea. And this idea has proven to have mass appeal and has proven popular in varied contexts. They’ve managed to appeal to not just Lebanese Shia but also Lebanese Christians and secular Lebanese. They’ve managed to appeal to Sunnis and Shia outside of the Lebanese context. It’s debatable how influential their idea of Islamic resistance will be in the wider Islamic world, but I believe it has become the trend-setting idea in the wider region. And that has the ability to inspire a lot more ideological indoctrination, a lot more militant activity and a lot more fighting than anything else.

"One of Hezbollah’s central ideas is that Israel really can be defeated by force, not just symbolically, not simply fighting back in order to restore dignity. Hezbollah is fighting Israel in order to win. It’s an old idea that was discarded after ’67 and they brought it back into circulation.

"Frankly, of all the movements I’ve really focused on, Hezbollah’s the only one that’s come up with a sustainable recipe for fighting and engaging in politics, and has come up with a really simple and appealing idea at its core. And that, in my view, makes it much more likely to grow, much more influential and much more dangerous."

Arab Middle East Suppressing WikiLeaks Coverage

From the Washington Post: "In many Arab countries, the mainstream media have largely avoided reporting on the sensitive contents of the cables, including accounts of Arab leaders drinking alcohol and siding with Israel in advocating a U.S. military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.

"Most Arabs don't know what's come out in these WikiLeaks documents," said Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Institution's Doha Center. "If they did know, there would be an angry reaction."

"He added that opposition Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt might try to capitalize on documents that underscore their arguments that Arab leaders are subservient to the United States and that they do not reflect the interests of their own people.

"In Egypt and the larger Arab world, the massive collection of State Department documents has created a quandary for the media, said Hisham Qasim, an independent newspaper publisher and media analyst in Egypt. "They're still trying to figure this out, and there is definitely some censorship and self-censorship," he said.

"In many Arab countries, criticizing a leader is a line that must not be crossed; in Jordan, it is illegal to criticize the king. Most mainstream Arab media outlets are government-owned, and the portion of the public with Internet access is far lower than it is in China and the West."

Why aren't we surprised.