In the beginning of his article he starts by complaining that David Keyes criticized the Palestinians completely and utter lack of democracy, and most of the article would be spent in response to it. Here is what Keyes had to say:
""A good indicator of how committed a government is to upholding peace with its neighbors is its commitment to protecting the human rights of its own citizens. Nations that disregard the freedoms of their own people are not likely to care much about maintaining peace with their historic enemies. Palestinian human rights, in other words, are key to the peace process... A positive first step would be linking Western economic aid to the Palestinian Authority's respect for free speech. Human rights, too often seen as a diversion from the peace process, are in fact the secret to it."What is unreasonable about that? It's the exact attitude that people like Josh Reubner have toward Israel, so what's sauce for the goose is also good for the gander, one would think. Oh wait, one little problem: Palestinians are special and can't be expected to engage in the most minimal actions to improve their own lives. It is the responsibility of everyone else to make the Palestinians happy, haven't you heard? Remember, Keyes isn't talking about the Palestinians' relationship with Israel. He isn't daring to make the taboo statement that the Palestinians should stop murdering people. All he is saying that the Palestinians should respect the human rights of their own people. This is enough to get Zogby's goat, apparently.
Dr. Zogby begins with the strawman argument that the Palestinians must first build a functioning democracy before they can have a state. Keyes did not say that, though according to Zogby George Bush did in 2002. All Keyes is saying is that the Palestinians must respect human rights before the West just gives them free money. That is not by any measure an unreasonable point of view, but listen to Zogby howl:
"How, I asked back then, could a people under military occupation establish a functioning democracy, without any functioning economy and their people seething in anger at the daily humiliation they were forced to endure, the denials of their rights to movement, the restrictions on their ability to engage in commerce, and the loss of their property and hopes all brought to them by their "democratic" neighbor?"Let's see...the Jews did. And if they can do it without a dedicated UN relief agency and billions in oil wealth backing them up, your precious Palestinian friends absolutely can. I might also add that the Palestinian living situation is completely a result of Palestinian actions. In other words, you have no one to blame but yourself. Let's not forget either the subject of this discussion: there is no reason why Israeli checkpoints should prohibit the PA from giving people like Walid Husayin a right to speak his views without arrest. Zogby sounds like a freshman at an SJP event parroting "the occupation is to blame for everything" over and over again.
After launching an attack on Natan Sharansky, someone who has done more for human rights than Zogby ever will, Zogby goes after the organization for which Keyes works for. Nothing like addressing the substance of the argument, huh? Finally he gets to "criticizing" the PA, in the weakest terms possible.
"I want to be clear. I cannot condone the PA's performance or its behavior -- and I have told them so. In the 1970s I founded the Palestine Human Rights Campaign (PHRC) which defended Palestinians who had been tortured in Israeli prisons..."He then proceeds to go on for a paragraph of how much the PHRC criticizes Israel. Did he forget that he was supposed to be talking about how he "told" the PA that he doesn't condone its behavior? Fortunately, he remembers:
"In the mid-1990s, I was asked by the State Department to host a meeting for a visiting delegation of PA officials, one of whom had been an Administrative Detainee during the '80s. I assembled a group of individuals who had signed a petition back then to the Israeli occupation authorities calling for his release. After criticizing the PA's human rights record, we turned to that former prisoner and said "we defended your rights when they were violated, don't force us to turn against you because you are violating human rights. Because we will." And we have.'Really? You have? When? Because in the course of writing on the Huffington Post I have never seen you criticize the Palestinian governments, ever. And at the very least, they have never been the subject of an article, only Israel or America. But I like how the most recent example you can find is almost twenty years ago. It's like not like the PA has somehow become more respectful of human rights since then. Another job well done, Zogby.
He whines about the occupation some more and making excuses for Arafat, he starts to conclude with this hilarious statement:
"This in no way justifies the behavior of the PA, but it puts the burden where it belongs -- on the occupation that continues to maintain its demeaning control with no end in sight."Um, actually, by "putting the burden" for the PA's behavior on something other than the PA, justifying their behavior is absolutely what you are doing. If people aren't responsible for their own actions, then they aren't unjustified. Regardless, this is SJP freshman argument all over again. There are Arab governments around the world abusing human rights who don't have the catch-all excuse of being "occupied," and I don't see why the Palestinians should be treated any differently. Quit whining.
Finally, he engages in the classic Palestinian argument of once you've finished blaming everything on "the occupation," blame everything on Israel:
"Oh yes, and by the way, I agree with his argument that economic and military aid should be linked to human rights performance. But I would insist that this mandate should, of course, be applied to Israel, as well. To suggest that Israel be exempt and not held to account for its abuses of the human rights of a people it holds captive is the definition of "chutzpah." However, I am not holding my breath for either AHR or, for that matter, the U.S. Congress to measure human rights by one yard-stick."The Palestinians aren't being "held captive." They kill Israelis, and Israel stops them from killing Israelis. If you think that's being "held captive" then you need to pay closer attention. But okay, sure, let's use the same yardstick.
Does Israel have freedom of speech? Yes.
Does Israel have freedom of religion? Yes.
Does Israel have freedom of sexuality? Yes.
Does Israel have a functioning democracy? Yes.
Does Israel have equal rights for all citizens? Yes.
So you get back to us when you can say the same about the PA. This conversation is not about international relations, it's about how you treat your own people. Maybe if you were a little better at reading and a little slower to just point the finger at Israel, you wouldn't make such obvious mistakes.