Tuesday, January 8, 2013

James Zogby is a Dreamer

Unlike the song, I don't particularly like dreamers, especially not those who are trying to mislead other people and don't have a dream based on facts. For a change, Dr. James Zogby is writing something other than a hit piece on Israel, and has shown us how to solve the Middle East conflict (by which he means the ones in Syria and Israel, of course). His big solution? Spend lots of other peoples' money. He must be a Democrat! Just kidding....not really.

But as if all that wasn't enough, for a change he demands some action from the Arab world instead of the West. It's enough to make you wonder what is going on. He begins with Syria: That the Arab League should work not to help one side or another but to help them arrive at a peaceful transition of power. How exactly you say?
"Arab states have leverage here since they are funding, arming, and supporting the opposition. Instead of merely enabling more conflict, Arab states should use the leverage they have with their allies in Syria to take the lead in ending the killing and destruction, before the country collapses, fragments, and/or the violence spills across the border destabilizing an already fragile region."
He comes so close here but just can't take that final step. Because this has been going on for two years, and with 60,000 people dead, what else can one conclude except that the Arabs don't want there to be peace and don't want the violence to end? Or else they do but don't care enough to actually make something happen, which might as well be the same thing. If Dr. Zogby were someone else he might call out the Arabs for their hypocrisy about shrieking at the West for "killing Muslims," and yet kicking back and relaxing while their fellow Arabs do something far far worse. But instead Dr. Zogby just tells his Arab friends to get to work and then takes a coffee break. Yeah, that's so very, very helpful.

Now it's time to move on to the Palestinians, who are completely dependent on Arab money to keep their society running. Do you think Dr. Zogby will have anything more helpful to say this time? Not so much. After having a description of the lives of Palestinians, with heavy use of the word "strangled" and no mention of how they came to be where they are, he actually criticizes their leadership:
"The failed paths chosen by Palestine's two leaderships, though contradictory, are both flawed. Hamas has made a religion of "resistance" which has won nothing but death and hardship for Palestinians, insecurity in Israel and reinforcement for hard-line Israeli policies. Meanwhile the Palestinian Authority's commitment to diplomacy and negotiations, while commendable, has become pointless, since negotiating without leverage (and without control over the constituency for which they are negotiating) becomes an empty exercise."
As usual, this sounds fine but the important parts are still left out. Not only does Hamas use violence, as Zogby says, they also have no intention of recognizing Israel or making peace with it. So not only has their "path" led to suffering for everyone, it doesn't even lead to a righteous ending. Meanwhile, he whitewashes Fatah and the PA: they say they are committed to diplomacy and negotiations, but that isn't true. They have made no effort to negotiate or talk, not even when they got their demand for a ten month settlement freeze. And believe me, President Obama noticed.

But okay, we'll leave things the way they are. Now how does Dr. Zogby suggest that the Arabs solve this problem? More BDS? More demands in the UN?
"The first priority must be to achieve Palestinian reconciliation, and the establishment of an effective and unified Palestinian government that can command both popular support and the respect of the international community."
He has also mentioned that according to his polls, "peace remains possible." However, he provides no link to these polls so there is no way to know. Personally, I don't see how that stands up with this poll, but anyway this statement is not very helpful. What would they unify about? Who can fight Israel the best? Because that is still what the Palestinian people want. However, Dr. Zogby says we should just ignore all that and focus on the economics because what people really want are jobs and housing. Okay, so how will that happen? Emphasis mine:
"The Arabs already participate in international efforts to subsidize the Palestinian Authority budget and individual Arab states finance projects in both Palestinian territories. But these funds given this way merely serve to underwrite the two divided Palestinian leaderships maintaining the unacceptable status quo. To move the reconciliation process forward, I would propose the creation of a massive multi-billion dollar "Peace and Reconciliation Incentive Fund" that would provide immediate relief and job-creating investment once the parties have agreed to and taken steps to implement a unity plan."
Yep, that's right people. The Palestinians are already one of the biggest money toilets in the world right now, and Dr. Zogby's big plan is throw even more money into it. I'm sure the idea of spending other peoples' money is very appealing to him, but I find it difficult to believe that the Arabs haven't noticed the mansions and BMWs that the PA leadership have managed to acquire for themselves while the poverty rate in "Palestine" stays high (though not as high as most of the planet, i.e. people who aren't Arabs so they don't matter). It's hilarious that Dr. Zogby thinks that the Arabs will just toss in billions of dollars because he asks them to: it's even more hilarious that he thinks that the Palestinians won't just waste it all like they have for decades. Don't worry, he isn't finished yet:
"In addition, the Arab League, instead of merely reaffirming their 2002 and 2007 peace plan, would do well to enlarge upon it by putting, as it were, "meat on the bone." They could, for example, spell out in greater detail for Israelis the types of investment and/or trade incentives that would accompany final peace and/or normalization. And they could even create a staged sequencing (for example, with the signing of an Israeli-Palestinian framework, stage one will occur; with removal settlements and checkpoints in compliance with agreement, stage two will occur, etc.)...If Arab leaders were then to "go on the road" selling their plan to world public opinion, it would have a tremendous impact in advancing peace and transforming views of Arabs."
Oh, Dr. Zogby. You've been around a long time. Longer than me. Don't you think that if the Arabs were actually going to do some work to make this conflict history, they would have done that by now? The Palestinians remain what they have always been: a stick to beat Israel with when the Arabs have nothing better to be doing. Right now they have much much better things to be dealing with, and that's why they don't care about the Syrians or the Palestinians. It may not be a pleasant truth for you to face, but the Arabs just don't care. Not about human rights or international law. And certainly not about each other. Yet you wonder why Israel is so reluctant to trust them! Good luck with your plans, but even the people on the Huffington Post laughed this one off.

1 comment:

  1. Well, I'm not a huge fan of Dr. Zogby in general (to me, he's the equivalent in the academic-political sphere of the pro-Palestnian world as Glenn Greenwald is in the author/advocate part of that world: often lying and/or hyperbolic but undeniably intelligent and looking even better than he really is compared to the truly vile and stupid people who inhabit much of that sad little universe) but his paragraph on the Arab Peace Initiative is actually a very good idea. It's utopian in the ways you said--the main reason the API hasn't been "fleshed out" is a combination of how it's been presented as a take it-or-leave it demand of Israel rather than an offer, and how it's left the refugee issue in particular open for maximum one-state effect--but getting PAST that gauzy wrapping would be extraordinarily positive and could really produce a peace agreement.

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