Thursday, January 26, 2012

Henry Siegman Makes No Sense (Part 2)

Returning to the article by Henry Siegman that I was talking about yesterday, in which he declares that America isn't good enough to make peace and we should instead trust some other amorphous "community" to take care of it instead. He has been making rather...dubious claims for the entire article so I hope you are ready for some more. Here is the first:
"Such an effort must focus primarily on the requirement that negotiations over territory and borders begin at the June 1967 line, for the erosion of that line has been critical to Israel's politicide."
Here we have this "ridiculous" charge of "politicide." How does the removal of the Green Line lead to the destruction of the Palestinian national identity? After all, it's not like identity is tied to 100% of the West Bank, with the loss of any of it necessarily equaling the loss of all of it. Maybe Mr. Siegman would like to explain his statement to us? No? He's just going to move on instead? How typical. He'll keep talking about the settlements but not about how it translates to "politicide."
"For the elimination of the 1967 line is crucial to Netanyahu and his government's campaign to gain support from at least some countries for his government's outrageous claim that the West Bank is not occupied territory but contested territory, the pretext they invoke to justify Israel's "vandalism" in the West Bank."
So if I am understanding what Mr. Siegman is saying, he's complaining that Netanyahu wants to eliminate the '67 line because that will justify Israeli settlements. Um...okay? This returns to the same question of settlements that we have been over a million times already. Namely, are the Palestinians and their supporters like Mr. Siegman going to let them be an obstacle to peace or not? Do the Palestinians value 100.00% of the West Bank over peace? Mr. Siegman is trying to make the settlements seem like a colossal wrong in their own right on par with the rest of the conflict. They're allowed to be, in his opinion, but he's in for a wake up call if he expects the rest of the "international community" to agree with him about that.

For the sake of space I'm going to skip past some more attacks on Netanyahu and Mr. Siegman's "final peace plan," because they were all pretty uncontroversial. But then he makes kind of a strong claim here:
"The second goal is obtaining an unambiguous UN affirmation of the Palestinian right to national self-determination. That right is considered a "peremptory norm" in international law, which means that it takes precedence over conflicting obligations, treaties and bilateral agreements. If challenged by Israel or the U.S., it is a challenge that European and other countries should join Palestinians in bringing to the International Court of Justice."
This comes off as just more Arabist bluster. The UN recognized the Palestinian people a long time ago, and has been acting on that for decades now. Therefore, the "Palestinian right to national self-determination" has been fulfilled already.  You'll notice that in this paragraph Mr. Siegman doesn't spell out exactly what an expression of this "right" exactly means. After all, a state is not required for the right of self-determination to be fulfilled. Just ask the Tibetans and the Kurds.

In classic Palsbara style, Mr. Siegman is insisting that the Palestinians have their cake and eat it too. The "international community" that he values so highly has said to the Palestinians: "You want a state and an end to the occupation? Fine. Make peace with Israel first." But rather than take the not-PC position of holding the Palestinians responsible for their own future, Mr. Siegman prefers to make even more demands. This time that the Palestinians have a right to a state and that right supersedes every law, demand and agreement in the history of humanity. Which adds another level of irony to the column, seeing as how he began the article by insisting that the international community join the peace making process. Apparently the international community is only useful to him as long as they tell him what he wants to hear. What classically Palestinian behavior. He concludes by reiterating what he said before:
"Bottom line, any effort to reconfigure peace strategies without first delinking the search for a peace agreement from the Palestinian right to statehood is doomed. Obama's assertion in his speech at the UN that Palestinians can obtain their state only as a consequence of a peace accord with Israel reached in bilateral negotiations in effect assigned to Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman the exclusive right to grant or deny Palestinians their independence."
Oh isn't that a pity? I guess maybe the Palestinians shouldn't have rejected all those peace treaties and peace plans for the past 60 years. Mr. Siegman can continue to blame Israel all he likes, but the rest of the world isn't going to be as blind to Palestinian behavior as he has been. As the Palestinians themselves have admitted, a recognition of a Palestinian state at the UN would only be symbolic. Peace is only going to come when the Palestinians actually man up and do something besides whine in the pages of the Huffington Post. No matter who is sitting at the peace table. So the whole business is just a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. That's the bottom line.

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