There is so much silliness and misinformation published about the Middle East
nowadays that the debris is obscuring reality. Four examples demonstrate this:
First, Thomas L. Friedman’s latest gimmick is “The real Palestinian
A real Palestinian revolution would take place when Fatah,
the PA and Palestinian public opinion really changed toward accepting a
Instead, the “real revolution” of Friedman and PA
leader Mahmoud Abbas is merely a matter of image, as in the following
“It is a revolution based on building Palestinian capacity and
just resisting Israeli occupation, on the theory that if the
build a real economy, a professional security force and an effective,
transparent government bureaucracy, it will eventually become impossible
Israel to deny the Palestinians a state in the West Bank and Arab
of east Jerusalem.”
It would be a good thing, of course, if the PA did
succeed in accomplishing these goals. Yet a number of cogent questions
raised about Friedman’s model.
Let’s suppose the PA failed to do these
things. Nothing much actually seems to be changing and even if it did
modest progress to date might well collapse in a new round of extremism
So what if the PA failed? Would conventional wisdom in
Washington switch to saying that Israel had no real alternative for
thus US policy should back Israel or would the PA merely find some new
Even if it succeeded in creating a marvelous stable, prosperous,
(does that mean elections that Hamas might win?) entity, would that mean
ready to make a real and lasting peace with Israel? Not necessarily.
issue is not whether there is more money or less corruption but whether
a Palestinian readiness to end the conflict, teach their people to give
dream of getting all of Israel, provide security guarantees and be
resettle refugees in the state of Palestine.
Why should Israel give up
territory and security to the PA merely because it prosecutes corrupt
(don’t hold your breath) and is more prosperous? What it needs to know
the conflict won’t continue, that there won’t be cross-border raids,
won’t take over and that Palestine won’t invite in Syrian or Iranian
forces, to cite some examples.
But Friedman’s formula reveals the PA’s
strategy: Forget about making peace with Israel, just get international
for declaring independence on its own terms.
Second, The New York Times
and The Los Angeles Times
to have a policy of running as many op-eds as
possible by apologists for terrorism and advocates of engaging terrorist
Here’s another one from the NYT, trotting out all the misrepresentative
arguments by people who never say a word about the specificity of groups
Hamas and Hizbullah, their goals, ideology and personnel: “Why we talk
terrorists” published on June 29 is the kind of article that claims that
the South African group, the African National Congress (ANC), became
why not Hamas or Hizbullah? While it is true that the ANC had a military
and engaged in some terrorism, that violence was very limited. The ANC
always led by a philosophy of peace and conciliation not—as in the case
Middle Eastern counterparts—totalitarian dictatorship and genocide.
There is no
sign that the revolutionary Islamist Hamas is or wishes to become more
and there are good reasons why that is so.
BY COINCIDENCE, I revisited
the terrorism museum in Israel recently. There were some new features,
the cigarette lighter made in China and sold in the West Bank that shows
World Trade Center on fire when clicked. There is massive documentation
involvement of Hamas and Hizbullah in terrorism, anti- Semitism,
anti-Americanism and would-be genocide. One can see videos of kids in
schools carrying out military exercises.
Watch their videos and then ask
whether Hamas is intending to produce a generation of
Revolutionary Islamism and terrorism, hatred for the US and
the desire to wipe out Israel (and Jews generally) are not some minor
issues for these groups but are absolutely central to their existence.
is amazing to think of these naïve people who think they are going to
revolutionary Islamists into being moderates, or buy them off with money
(there’s that idea of prosperity solving all problems again) or
Third, members of the official US delegation to Syria made
fools of themselves by twittering about the good time they were having.
a repressive dictatorship.
While these American ninnies were having nice
cups of coffee, a few minutes away prisoners were being tortured because
had criticized the regime.
When a US official from the delegation says:
“We made it clear that we want assurances that technologies sold to
be... used in ways to harm Syrian citizens,” does he have any idea how
ridiculous this sounds? Indeed, the more American delegations show up,
peaceful dissidents get arrested.
FINALLY, HAMAS officials are now
claiming that the Obama administration is secretly contacting their
is probably happening is that the US government thought itself very
send some well-connected but not official figures to hang out with Hamas
explore getting along with a group that happens to be backed by Iran,
revolutionary Islamist, anti-Semitic, intent on genocide, repressive
women and intolerant toward Christians, among other things.
they should understand that all this does is convince Hamas that the
administration is ready to make a deal so there is no reason for it to
policy. All some Hamas leaders have to do is mumble a few words into the
deceived Americans’ ears and the fools will rush off to shout how these
are moderates in an op-ed piece.
And of course the US government makes
itself subject to blackmail from Hamas, which only has to reveal
conversations have taken place, with some creative additions and
Thus, the title of the article about this issue, “Hamas says asked by US
silent on talks,” illustrates that point.
Let’s be clear here. If you
deal with Hamas, Hizbullah and Syria, you are dealing with thugs and
Sometimes you do have to deal with thugs and murderers, but never forget
reality. And one thing you have to remember is that such people aren’t
make deals with you, keep their promises, become moderate or respect
interests no matter how much you bribe or bow to them.
At the terrorism
museum there’s a Hizbullah poster that shows people giving money to
charities, that money being turned into bullets and those bullets being
Israel. That’s also an accurate picture of the diplomatic “charity”
to the enemies not only of the West but also of the Middle Eastern
murder and oppress.
The writer is director of the Global
International Affairs Center and editor of
Middle East Review of
Affairs and Turkish Studies. He blogs