This is an auspicious time and place, appropriate for the awarding of two commendations.
To employ the language of Genesis, this is first day (יום ראשון). It begins a week that will have the natural wonder of the autumn equinox, and the political wonder of the United Nations General Assembly. I am writing this from Jerusalem, occasionally turning my head to squint through the sunrise over the Judean Desert.
The first commendation: For world class disingenuousness, to Mahmoud Abbas, for calling his people to demonstrate in support of his petition to the United Nations for statehood, but demanding that they demonstrate peacefully.
Peaceful Palestinian demonstration is an oxymoron, especially in the context envisioned by Abbas. One who expects such demonstrations to occur without inflammatory religious and nationalist language, stone throwing, and nothing less than fire bombs with ancillary stabbings, the deadly use of vehicles, and rocket firing does not know the population. Abbas'' commitment to peaceful demonstration sounds too much like Hamas'' occasional assertions that it will control its people and various competitors from firing rockets against the Zionist infidels.
Abbas has accumulated the tinder and explosive material by his long preparatory travels and speeches leading up to his appearance at the United Nations. His appearance in New York later this week, no matter what the outcome, is likely to ignite what he has prepared by many months of promising nothing less than a state with its capital in Jerusalem and the borders of 1967.
The background of Abbas'' campaign involves the anti-Israel atmosphere consisting in part of the work by the runner-up for the commendation for disingenuousness. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister of Turkey, is a close competitor with Abbas for his campaign against Israel''s killing of 9 fighters intent on breaking the blockade on Gaza. Erdogan''s candidacy for the disingenuous commendation rests on his own forces killing many times that number of Kurds, including a recent bombing raid across the border in Iraq that killed more than 10 times the number of individuals who died while fighting against the IDF on the Mavi Marmara. http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iCkEfFBk_BAJ39fI8PV3iRJ2RYLw?docId=3e2f93bfcb044af0baba225ecb80b73a
The second commendation: For political naivete having disastrous consequences, to Barack Obama, for his 2009 speech in Cairo that won him the Nobel Prize for Peace, but put in motion the heightened Palestinian campaign for statehood and whatever frustration and violence it produces, as well as contributing to Arab spring/summer/autumn against unsavory but stable regimes in Tunis, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, and Syria. The death toll is already in the thousands and still climbing.
Obama''s speech was finely crafted and delivered, and was balanced in challenging both Israel and Palestinians, as well as other Arabs. It demanded that Israel accept the idea of a Palestinian state, and employed a key location and a bright spotlight in the capital of the leading Arab country to insist on an end to corruption as well as transparency and democracy there and elsewhere in the region. It angered Israelis and Arabs alike. Along with other pronouncements of Obama and his Secretary of State, it added to Palestinian demands a complete cessation of Israeli building in "occupied territories," including Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem.
The American campaign overlooked the competition and extremism within Palestine that have made impossible any moderate demands acceptable to Israelis, and set the Palestinians on a track bound to fail. There is no better demonstration of this than Obama''s own backtracking, and his opposition to Abbas'' move to the United Nations that grew out of the American campaign.
It is not my style to predict what will happen toward the end of this week and beyond. It will be a good week if no more than 9 Palestinians die while engaging in the kind of protests Mahmoud Abbas says he does not want. More certain will be the added focus on Israeli intransigence, emphasized by politicians with a chorus of activists and media personalities who will not bother to ponder Palestinian rejection of offers by Israeli leaders in 2000 and 2008, and the demands of Palestinian factions--including that in control of Gaza--that nothing will be good enough short of Israel''s disappearance.