Saturday, December 18, 2010


By Schmoel Yitzhak

It is astonishing how deceptive the so-called wise media members have been when analyzing Middle East politics.

Deceptive is one description of the mis-information regularly dispensed.

Illusions fits just as well.

Webster's Dictionary defines illusions thusly: "an erroneous interpretation."

A prime illusion is that the Arabs want peace with Israel.

Hatred generated by Hamas, Hizbullah and Iran is so patently obvious as to not even bear discussion. But this detestation of the Jews -- Israel -- runs far deeper and is infinitely more widespread than that generated by those hideous groups. There are others who masquerade as proponents of peace in the Arab world.

One who has clarified this point is Harold Rhode who served in the Pentagon's Office of Net Assessment. Currently he is a Senior Advisor at the Hudson Institute in New York.

"The Saudis (Wahhabis) have lots of money," explains Rhode, "and they are using it to propagate their hatred of the West and Israel."

What's curious about that statement -- true as it is -- reverts to American policy. Uncle Sam views the Saudis (Wahhabis) as allies. Yet, it has been clear for decades that, as Rhode explains, "Wahhabism is fanatical and for Islam is the equivalent of the Ku Klux Klan brand of Christianity."

How can one even suggest that Israeli-Arab peace can be attained if so-called "moderates" such as the Saudis want to bring down Israel as fervently as the fanatics in Gaza and Lebanon?

How can columnists such as Thomas Friedman continually bash Israel for building homes when it has been abundantly apparent for decades that whether "settlements" rise or not, Arab hostility will not abate.

Another observer who understands the folly of Friedman and his pathetically misguided ilk is Barry Rubin, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs.

"For the Palestinian Authority and its governing body, Fatah," asserts Rubin, "the goal is the transformation of all of the land into a Palestinian, Arab and Muslim state. For Hamas, it is the transformation of all of the land into an Islamic Palestinian state that is also Arab."

One would think -- here we have another illusion -- that supposedly bright individuals such as Hilary Clinton and (ahem!) Barack Obama would see these things as clearly as other Middle East analysts do but the American leaders are hellbent on appeasing the Arabs at any cost and continue to do so while getting slapped around in return.

Why would the president consistently send emissaries to Jerusalem and Ramallah when the missions are automatically doomed to failure?

This is a point that was clearly enunciated by Richard Holbrooke, the distinguished American ambassador who recently passed away. Former Ambassador to the United Nations, Holbrooke examined the Arab-Israeli peace prospects and put it this way:

"One over-riding reason that the current process cannot be called a 'peace process' is the simple fact that there is no one to negotiate with, since the Palestinian Authority is at war with itself.

"Israel's most dangerous enemies, Hamas and Hizbullah, seek the destruction of the Jewish State. They are not party to any of the agreements. Furthermore, they are backed by the single most dangerous nation in the entire region, perhaps even in the world: Iran.

"Hamas and Hizbullah will not negotiate and their backers in other countries, Iran and Syria, will not force them to the table."

I recall columnist Friedman once making a big deal out of a visit to Saudi Arabia where he allegedly won a Saudi promise of an Arab-Israeli peace pact. Later a Saudi-backed proposal was adopted at a Beirut Summit in March 2002 and, here again, an illusion was created that it was conciliatory to Israel.

Far from it.

"The press often reported that Saudi Arabia offered recognition to Israel for the first time in its proposal," noted Holbrooke. "However, the word recognition is (was) not used but rather the term 'normal relations' -- there may be a difference in meaning.

"More significant, what this proposal really does (did) is to lay out as a precondition for the negotiation the very thing being negotiated; this is a fundamental flaw, along with the fact that the Saudis are not willing to participate in the negotiations themselves."

Sound familiar.

Time and again, Mahmoud Abbas sets forth pre-condition after pre-condition in an effort to sidestep the direct negotiations agreed to by Benjamin Netanyahu.

Abbas is too weak to hammer out an agreement even if he wanted to; which he doesn't. And anyone who believes that the Arabs seriously want to achieve a permanent, lasting peace with Israel is, well, suffering from illusions.

"These problems cannot be waved away by good intentions," Rubin concludes, "or clever peace plans. They will prevent an end to the conflict for decades until Palestinian leadership and ideology changes."

And, pray, have no illusions; Palestinian leadership and ideology is not about to change!

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