Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Abbas’s Challenge to Obama

Henry Kissinger was angry. He had spent months of shuttle diplomacy trying to persuade Israel’s then–prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, to pull back from the Golan Heights territory the Jewish state had won from Syria in an epic tank battle two years earlier, during the 1973 war. But in the end, Rabin told Kissinger that although he saw the logic, he could not agree so soon to a move that everyone in Israel would see as a risk to their security. The most Rabin said he could accept was an interim deal postponing the hard questions. And so, after delivering the bad news in person to Anwar Sadat at the Egyptian president’s summer residence in Alexandria, Kissinger retreated for an hour to let off steam.
In the privacy of a shaded veranda on that blistering August afternoon, at a chalet on Alexandria’s poshest beach, the American secretary of state expressed himself bluntly. “Israel is a nation so traumatized by war that its leaders have lost the capacity to make sound judgments about their country’s long-term strategic interests,” he told the beach house’s owner, Mohamed Heikal, as the three of us shared an elegant and off-the-record meal. (The food was catered by Heikal’s personal chef at the veteran Egyptian journalist’s Alexandria apartment and chauffeured to the chalet.) Kissinger’s memoirs, written years after the fact, would offer a more emollient assessment of why the Golan Heights effort failed, but the memory of his exasperation comes back vividly as the U.S. and Israel brace themselves for the imminent U.N. showdown on Palestinian statehood.
For the past 60 years, the West has been operating on borrowed time in its dealings with the Arab world. With the arrival of the Arab Spring, that era may now be ending. As always the pressing issue is how Israel coexists with its neighbors. The Palestinians’ decision to request full U.N. membership from the Security Council might look like a doomed gamble—after all, President Obama has warned that the United States will use its veto power to block any such bid. But Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his advisers are not fools. Abbas is seeking a Security Council vote precisely because he wants to force the U.S. to confront a broader question: as the Arab world tries to reinvent itself, where does America stand—will it cling to past policies, or will it dare to foster that still fragile hope of reform and freedom? The repercussions of the Security Council vote will extend far beyond the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Mideast Israel Palestinians
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Sept. 16. Abbas will address the United Nations next week and ask the world to recognize a Palestinian state., Tara Todras-Whitehill / AP Photo
We’ve been here before. Sixty years ago an earlier Arab Spring just might have flowered, but the British and Americans played an inglorious role in its withering. After the defeat of the Arab onslaught against infant Israel in 1947–48, rotten old regimes throughout the region began toppling. In Egypt an able colonel, Gamal Abdel Nasser, was persuaded by the Egyptian Army’s humiliations in the Negev to assemble a group of plotters known as the Free Officers, who overthrew King Farouk’s corrupt monarchy in 1952.
Egypt seemed to be on the verge of great changes. The country had a vibrant parliamentary system, an educated urban middle class, and a lively press that all but defied censorship. Egypt could have become a democracy and a Western partner. Instead, the country became a military dictatorship—and, for close to 20 years, a client state of the Soviet Union.
The Arab world sees Palestine as the test: the U.S. vote in the Security Council will be taken as proof of where America really stands.
Those were Nasser’s choices, but abysmally short-sighted U.S. and British policies helped propel him into that tragic dead end. Then as now, it was a conflict between new hopes and old interests. The dominant Western powers viewed Nasser through the prisms of colonialism and the Cold War. Britain was aghast at the loss of its near-viceregal sway in Egypt. At the same time, the Eisenhower administration feared that Nasser’s opposition to the Baghdad Pact—an organization of primarily Muslim nations cobbled together ostensibly as a regional equivalent of NATO—posed a threat to Western defenses in the Cold War. (Nasser, a convert to the Non-Aligned Movement, saw no Arab stake in the Cold War. “Why should I worry about a man with a tommy gun 2,000 miles away?” he asked.)
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1 Hour Ago
why doesn't israel just declare the occupied west bank part of israel and give those people the right to vote as well as israeli citizenship?
7 Hours Ago
phenomenal article, Mr. John Barry. We have to be on the right side of history. We can't let Israel's influence in our political process define us.
10 Hours Ago
Barry, in 1922 the Palestine region was partitioned into two - all the Palestine to the east of the river Jordan went to the Arabs which is 77% of the Palestine region (the current country of Jordan) and all of Palestine region to the west of the river Jordan went to the Jews which is 23% of the Palestine region (current Israel (17% of the Palestine region), Gaza and West Bank (6% of the Palestine region)). There is already a state for the Arabs of the Palestine region made up of the lion's share of the Palestine region 77% Jordan, where the majority population is Arabs of the Palestine region, with its own royal family whose Queen is a Arab of the Palestine region.

In 1919 when the Arabs of the Palestine region were asked if they wanted the region to be independent or to be a part of Greater Syria (what is now Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Gaza, West Bank, Jordan), they wanted to be a part of Greater Syria, not independence. The Palestine region was considered Southern Syria, the Arabs of the Palestine region are Southern Syrians. Israel without the West Bank and Gaza is only 17% of Southern Syria/Palestine region, and far less% of Greater Syria. There is already a state for Arabs of Southern Syria/Palestine region Jordan since 1922. What Abbas is doing is not about creating a state for "Palestinians" since one already exists. At best he is creating a SECOND Palestine state out of land that went to the Jews during partition. At worst well see their words below:

"There is no such country [as Palestine]! 'Palestine' is a term the Zionists invented! There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria."
- Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, a local Arab leader, to the Peel Commission, 1937

"Palestine was part of the Province of Syria... politically, the Arabs of Palestine were not independent in the sense of forming a separate political entity."
- The representative of the Arab Higher Committee to the United Nations submitted this in a statement to the General Assembly in May 1947

"It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but southern Syria."
- Ahmed Shuqeiri, later the chairman of the PLO, to the UN Security Council

"You do not represent Palestine as much as we do. Never forget this one point: There is no such thing as a Palestinian People, there is no Palestinian entity, there is only Syria. You are an integral part of the Syrian people, Palestine is an integral part of Syria. Therefore it is we, the Syrian authorities, who are the true representatives of the Palestinian people."
- Syrian President Hafez Assad to PLO leader Yassir Arafat.

"There are no differences between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. We are all part of one nation. It is only for political reasons that we carefully underline our Palestinian identity.... yes, the existence of a separate Palestinian identity serves only tactical purposes. The founding of a Palestinian state is a new tool in the continuing battle against Israel."
- Zuheir Muhsin, late Military Department head of the PLO and member of its Executive Council (Dutch daily Trouw, March 1977)

"The Oslo accords were a Trojan Horse; the strategic goal is the liberation of Palestine from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea"
- Faysal Al-Husseini, Palestinian Authority Minister for Jerusalem Affairs, in his last interview, 'Al-Arabi' daily newspaper (Egypt), June 24, 2001

"This is Palestine from the (Jordan) river to the Mediterranean sea, from Rosh Hanikra to Rafah (in Gaza). The gap between Palestinian expectations and the Israeli conspiracy will inevitably lead to a collision."
- "Our Position" issued by Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction of the PLO in PA newspaper AL HAYAT AL-JADEEDA, Dec. 19, 1998
Barry, when you read the charters of the PLO, FATAH and Hamas they do not speak of a two state solution but of the end of Israel, of an "Arab Nation" across the Middle East, http://www.mythsandfacts.org/Conflict/statute-treaties/all.htm
12 Hours Ago
The holy scripture literalists on all sides of this conflict are evil people holding the world hostage.
7 Hours Ago
so true. And one arm of their force has infiltrated the American political process.
Charles Martel
15 Hours Ago
John Barry wrote,
"How can President Obama demand that the Palestinians accept any less?"

Easy: because they're paranoid, hysterical bigots who value neither life nor liberty.
Dick Beninya
14 Hours Ago
... {o_O}
7 Hours Ago
says you, bigot

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