Friday, November 2, 2012

James Dorsey's Unbalanced "Narrative"

The Huffington Post is always looking for something new to attack Israel over, and now they have called up James Dorsey to discuss what has been happening with Israel's campaign regarding the rights of Mizrahi Jews or "Arab Jews." You may remember Mr. Dorsey from writing more than ten articles about soccer but this time he has been called up to attack Israel for standing for the rights of its citizens. The article, as you will see, doesn't even try to hide it's left-leaning anti-Israel bias. We see this right off the bat:
"The plight of Palestinians uprooted and driven out of large chunks of historic Palestine to make way for a Jewish state lies at the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict. That epochal dispute dominated policies towards and perceptions of the Middle East for much of post-World War Two history."
As much as Mr. Dorsey tries, the myths of the "Nakba" crumble more with every passing year. Now even Palestinians admit that some of them fled in order to avoid the war that they started. Trying to give his chosen victims elevated importance in international politics to make up for this is a tried and true idea, but in a post Arab Spring world, it just doesn't work. Israel and the Palestinians matter in their own little corner of the Middle East, and people who don't like Israel will always find the Palestinians a useful club, but in reality the Middle East has moved on. And remember, this is just the first paragraph, he hasn't even arrived at his main point yet.

Having rewritten history, he now attempts some moral equivalence:
"On the contrary the [recent rocket] attacks enabled Hamas to burnish its credentials as a resistance movement and fend off criticism from more militant Palestinian factions that accuse it of having gone soft and allowed Israel to project it as a continued terrorist threat, maintain its refusal to formally do business with Hamas and ensure that the peace process remains in a deep coma."
So after just admitting that the only way a Palestinian group can possibly stay in power is to continue attacking Israel, Mr. Dorsey then turns around to blame Israel for daring to call Hamas exactly what they are. I hate to tell him this but when it comes to Hamas the world is all on the same page: They need to cut it out and negotiate with Israel. No country on earth would "do business" or make peace with an equivalent entity like Hamas, and I think Mr. Dorsey knows this. He just can't come off as looking like he's saying "Israel is good and this group of Palestinians are bad," but then the Huffington Post won't publish his piece. So now that the square peg has been firmly pounded into the round hole, we can finally get to the point of his piece, the situation of the Mizrahi Jews.
"To further undermine the centrality of the Palestinian issue that has been significantly diminished by the wave of popular revolts sweeping the Middle East and North Africa as well as the split between Hamas and the Al Fatah-led Palestine Authority on the West Bank, Israel supported by Jewish leaders is equating Palestinian rights with those of Arab Jews who once lived in the Arab world but were forced to leave their homelands. It is a move perceived by Palestinians and even a minority of Jews as a cynical manipulation of a justified cause."
Guess what? I actually kind of agree with him. I think it's pretty likely that the reason Israeli leaders are bringing this up now is because they know it will get the goat of the Arabs. I don't think the Mizrahi Jews or the Israeli leaders actually think that it will get anywhere. That being said, the world doesn't revolve around the Palestinians. In a best case scenario the Israeli leaders see another historic injustice that should be rectified, and in the worst case they want to make the Arabs squirm and maybe make the language of "human rights" stick in their throat a little bit.

You know what, Mr. Dorsey? They deserve it. Turnabout is fair play: the only reason why the Palestinians are (a) a nation and (b) still refugees is because of "cynical manipulation" by Arab leaders and other people who want to use them as a weapon against Israel. If the Arabs can use the suffering of innocent people purely for propaganda ends, it's pretty hypocritical to criticize Israel for doing the exact same thing. At least Israel hasn't kept the Mirazhi in refugee camps for decades on end and filled their heads with pie in the sky promises and bloodlust. But once again I forgot, hypocrisy is the fuel on which the Huffington Post bloggers stable runs.

He makes a similar comment about how this decision is "all about the Palestinians," then slips into a place where I am sure he is comfortable: The language of "narrative."
"At the core of the battle of narratives lies a definition of rights that has allowed both parties to ensure that peace negotiations do not produce the kind of painful compromises on both sides needed to achieve a definitive resolution of their deep-seated conflict."
This isn't a battle of narratives at all. It's a literal battle. The Arabs want to destroy Israel so they made up a Palestinian people with a falsified history, and they have never pretended to deny this. Then they repeated their narrative a million times so that people actually started believing it. Sure, Israel has their narrative as well, which leaves something to be desired. But the goal of their narrative is to form a state. The goal of the Arab narrative is to destroy one. there's no equivalence there and it's not something that can be compromised over or negotiated with. The Palestinians broke the one rule of show business: they started to believe their own propaganda. At this point he wades into the narratives, let's see how far down he goes:
"Like everything else that is on the negotiation table, the solution to the plight of Palestinian refugees as well as that of Arab Jews is evident to all. Palestinians would get an independent state of their own alongside Israel and be compensated for losses suffered in territories that are part of the Jewish state...."
Really? And what makes you think that the Palestinians would be satisfied with an independent state? All the evidence says something quite different. This is something that Palestinian advocates need to prove, not just assume, before anyone can work forward from that framework. Similarly, why should the Palestinians be compensated for a war that they started and was completely avoidable? There's no equivalence between them and the Mizrahi Jews; the latter were minding their own business when the Arabs decided it's time for them to be ethnically cleansed. But wait! I forgot, you're not allowed to tell the whole truth about such things on the Huffington Post.
"Similarly, Arab Jews would be compensated for their losses. Few, if any, Palestinians are likely to want to physically return to Israeli rule and even fewer Arab Jews would opt for a return to their ancestral homelands....Palestinians would settle for compensation and a state of their own but insist on doing so on the basis of an Israeli recognition of their right to return to their ancestral homes."
Check out this slick propaganda: Dorsey says that few Palestinian want to return to "Israeli rule," but a large percentage of them will not renounce the "right of return," or accept compensation instead. Once again, the well meaning left-wing blogger runs straight into a brick wall that is reality. But like Calvin, he isn't in denial, just very selective about the reality that he chooses to accept. He says one thing, and the truth says something different. This continues in the rest of the article.

So remember, he just said the Palestinians insist that Israel recognize that they have a "right of return" to "their ancestral homes," which presumably exist solely in Israel and not Jordan or the West Bank or anywhere else:
"Such recognition would amount to Israeli acknowledgement of Palestinians being the original owners of historic Palestine. In effect, it would deny Israel's narrative that it represents the resurrection of the Jewish state in lands that always belonged to the Jews."
That's not exactly correct, Mr. Dorsey. First of all, by phrasing this as "acknowledgement" you're saying that the Palestinians were the "original owners" when established history says that they didn't "own" anything except houses and villages. So why should Israel "acknowledge" something that isn't even true?

Israel's narrative is not that these lands always belonged to the Jews because unlike some people they read history and know that other nations and empires ruled the land while they were too weak to form their own state. However, Israel remained the Jewish homeland and so when they created a Jewish state they did so through the legal means available to them. They didn't just demand a state and start murdering people when they didn't get it. Yes, there were of course a few extremists that did, I haven't forgotten.

In contrast, you're partially correct about what the "right of return" means for Palestinians. They are not saying that "yeah we were the original owners but it's okay now, we have a state here and you have a state there so everybody is happy." They are saying "we were the original owners, you stole this land from us, therefore your state has no right to exist, therefore we are going to continue to fight you until his historical injustice is put right." Why should Israel say that their country is illegitimate and justify attacks on its people? No other country would!

Furthermore, the Palestinians are demanding something that straight up does not exist in international law. The descendants of refugees (assuming they even are refugees) do not have the "right of return" anywhere. They are supposed to be repatriated. It is not Israel's problem nor Mr. Dorsey's that the Arabs did not do this.

Let's skip ahead a little because this is running long. He whines that Israel now demands the Palestinians accept their right to exist, always informative, and then we have this:
"In doing so, it [the right to exist demand] prepared the ground to use Arab Jewish rights as a tool to further undermine Palestinian demands for recognition of their right to return, by rejecting Palestinian suggestions that Arab Jews too should have the right to return to their Arab countries of origin rather than Israel."
What I wanted to highlight most here was his phrase "recognition of their right to return," indicating that Mr. Dorsey clearly believes that they have one (contrary to international law) and that his has completely taken the Palestinian side in all this. It's not like that wasn't obvious to begin with, but I just wanted to make sure you saw it as well. As for the actual substance: it's absurd to think that a population exchange can happen at this point involving Palestinians and Mizrahi Jews. Nobody wants that to happen except the Palestinians because (as usual) their welfare is the only thing that matters to them. They very much could care less if the Mizrahi Jews are slaughtered by the hundreds of thousands should they go back to Iraq and Syria, and why Mr. Dorsey gives them the time of day I can't imagine.

At this point he clouds the issue with other topics such as the Palestinian UN bid and the Presbyterian Church letter (cling on, HuffPo), before he finally gets back to the topic of refugees with this amazing paragraph (emphasis mine)
"The campaign for recognition of the rights of Arab Jewry could not come at a more politically opportune moment for Israel. It reinforces pro-Israeli support in Congress to limit the definition of a Palestinian refugee to those who were physically displaced when the Jewish state was created in 1948. The definition would deprive a majority of Palestinians born after the founding of Israel of any possibility to put forward a claim. It coalesces with proposals in Congress to equate Arab Jewish rights to those of Palestinians.[AIEEEEEEEE! Not equality!]"
That "limited" definition isn't limited at all, Dorsey. It's a correct definition that is what a Palestinian refugee always should have been. Israel and America are under no obligation to go along with Palestinian "narrative" of perpetual victimhood, nor does that have anything to do with the plight of the Mizrahi Jews. The Palestinians have no "claim," nor do most Mizrahi Jews. That is how refugee law works. And I love that last line so freaking much. He's right though: there is no equality between those who simply wanted to live where they were living for thousands of years and those who tried to commit genocide and lost.

At this point he complains some more and declares, "Palestine may well for now be on the backburner; it is however unlikely to remain there." As much as I'm sure you wish that were true, Dorsey, I wouldn't count on it. We've all gotten more than sick of having the same conversations over and over, and the world's attention is shifting elsewhere. Will you shift with them?

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