Sunday, December 4, 2011

Another One-Sided Daoud Kuttab Article

The last three Daoud Kuttab articles have been pretty much the same thing repeating itself: The Palestinians are the helpless victims and the Israelis are the reason why there is no peace. And unfortunately his latest is not any different, though this time he has a slight scrap of hope from his Palestinian friends that might help him get somewhere.

He starts off sounding like he might criticize the Palestinian leadership for a while but quickly gets back into his one sided rhetoric:
"Palestinians, still waiting for a state of their own, free from the yoke of an unjust colonial military occupation, probably received the highest number of promises that never materialized."
Isn't it so amazing? Palestinians aren't obligated to actually work to achieve the lifestyle they want, all they need to do is wait for everything to just be handed over to them, no questions asked. Isn't that fantastic? Why are we even talking about a "peace process" when we really should be talking about a "peace waiting" in which everyone just waits for peace to just magically happen on its own. And of course I shouldn't even have to mention this, but for Kuttab to call Israel's self-defense measures a "yoke" that is "unjust" is just insulting to everyone the Palestinians have killed in the past few decades, no matter what religion they practiced. If he thinks he is fooling anybody, he should think again.

Speaking of fooling people, he then attempts a propaganda history lesson:
"They started at the beginning of the 20th century, when British leaders promised Arab leaders that Palestine will be free and independent...then, throughout that century and in the 21st, record books were filled with unfulfilled promises to the Palestinians."
Kuttab's link is to the McMahon-Hussein Correspondence, which has been an Arabist talking point for years and is often used to "counter" the Balfour Declaration. I don't particularly want to get sidetracked into a whole  history discussion, but suffice to say Britain made a lot of promises to a lot of people and didn't usually keep them. That doesn't justify such a one sided view of the history coming from the desk of Daoud Kuttab, however. To hear it from him, people offer the Palestinians a state only to snatch it away at the last minute like a bully taunting a smaller child. The Palestinians of course never rejected any peace treaties, UN resolutions, or compromise agreements, and of course never responded in explosive violence when things weren't going their way. At least, that's what Kuttab would have you believe.
"The most recent, totally useless was the promise made by U.S. President Barack Obama from the UN rostrum. Speaking at the opening of the winter session of the General Assembly, in September 2010, Obama said: "When we come back here next year, we can have an agreement that will lead to a new member of the United Nations -- an independent, sovereign state of Palestine, living in peace with Israel.""
Now I know that English is probably not Kuttab's first language, so I am willing to cut him some slack on this one. But reading that sentence, it's pretty clear that President Obama was not promising anything. What he said was we can have an agreement, not that we must or that we will. And why didn't we? Oh yeah, because the Palestinian Authority refused to negotiate with Israel, even after Israel met their preconditions. I should also point out that Kuttab misquoted Obama or else didn't link correctly, since that phrase was not in the link that he provided. The half-truths continue, if you can believe it:
"Not only did the Obama administration join previous U.S. governments in making false and unfulfilled promises, it also began an active campaign to ensure the failure of a UN Security Council resolution dealing with that very issue." 
 As I said before, Obama made no promises. And also, the "active campaign" that he was talking about was in response to a Palestinian campaign to avoid making the agreement that Obama wanted them to work for! President Obama didn't promise a Palestinian state (nor did he promise anything) he said what he wanted was an "agreement" that would lead to peace between two states. It's very telling that Kuttab needs to put words in someone's mouth in order to make his point, and I don't appreciate him accusing my President of lying. But the lying is coming from Kuttab, and it doesn't end there:
"The past year was yet another in which the international community has failed to end a military occupation that the Security Council unanimously rejected in 1967. UN Security Council Resolution 242 declares in its preamble the "inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war""
Okay. Let's try this again. An occupation is different from acquiring territory. The presence of Israeli soldiers in the West Bank is not acquiring land but an occupation. (The settlements are something different) UNSC 242 said that Israel cannot acquire land with force, but Kuttab is dishonestly taking that to mean they "reject occupation?" Wow, that's pretty dishonest even for the Huffington Post. If anything, 242 endorsed occupation when it said that Israel can hold the territory until a peace agreement is made with its neighbors. Maybe Kuttab should have read past the preamble next time before he jumped to conclusions.

At this point he moves to a Quartet proposal about asking both sides to submit their vision of borders. The PA has, but the democratically elected representatives of the Palestinian people have not, and neither has Israel. Kuttab attempts to use this to prove Palestinian superiority to Israel:
"Asking Israel to submit its vision of the borders (as in late 2010) aims to circumvent the Israeli roadblocks around settlements. If Israel outlines exactly where it sees the borders of the future Palestinian state, it will be difficult to justify Israel's settling or confiscating land in that areas earmarked (even from an Israeli point of view) for the Palestinian state."
Except, of course, that Israel has already done that twice already in 2000 and 2008. But don't worry, Kuttab has a response to this as well: Denial!
"Of course, one should not be surprised if Israel does not present any map. In negotiations over 20 years, Israelis never presented to their Palestinian counterparts a single map or paper outlining the Palestinian state. Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert came closest to it by showing one to his counterpart, Mahmoud Abbas, without allowing him to take it or a copy of it."
We have all seen these:

 As usual, Kuttab is telling a half truth. Israelis haven't submitted official maps to the world, but by the same token neither have the Palestinians. And unlike the Palestinians, Israel has publicly endorsed the Clinton proposal detailed above and (as Kuttab admits and Abbas doesn't deny) the Olmert offer was very similar to the Clinton proposal. Israeli governments have been on the same page about this for years, it's very very informative that Kuttab is now trying to pretend that they haven't been. But I guess when there really isn't anything that can be said that's good about the Palestinians, you're pretty much down to attacking everyone else.
"If Palestinians are united, they can exert concerted, nonviolent campaigns to finally end the brutal 44-year-old Israeli occupation of their land."
And assuming they actually want to be nonviolent. Seen you next time, Mr. Kuttab.

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