Monday, May 6, 2013

James Zogby Points the Finger (As Usual)

As one of the Huffington Post readers pointed out in the comments section:
"An Israeli or an American who recognizes that Israeli or America needs to change their tune, is a something to respect. An Arab who recognizes that the Arabs need to change their tune is something to respect. An Arab pointing out that Israel and America needs to change is just typical. "
This article by James Zogby is exactly that: just typical. Everything is the fault of Israel and America, and nothing the Arabs do is ever wrong. In fact the Arabs are too nice! See, his basis for this article is that the Arab League made one tiny concession, that land swaps would be acceptable to them in a final peace negotiation. How generous. Of course they didn't exactly approve that with the Palestinians, though Zogby is quick to wave this away almost immediately so that he can get to blaming Israel:
"While some Palestinians decried the Arab League committee's decision as an unwarranted concession, some in the Israeli peace camp heralded the move as an important breakthrough. For his part, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu poured cold water on the offer dismissing it as inconsequential, stating that the most important issues that have separated Israel from the Arabs have never been territorial."
Netanyahu happens to be correct: the most important issues are not territorial. I'm glad we can rely on Zogby to spin the bejeezus out of everything Netanyahu says, though, while at the same time refusing to look at the obvious implications of the Palestinian rejection of the same proposal. The Arab League's decision was a good one (and not a concession) but it still isn't enough. Right now Israel has undeclared peace with 99% of the Arab League so they really aren't offering Israel much of anything. It shouldn't be all that shocking that Israel isn't jumping on the proposal because the only people who it would actually affect are Palestinians...and they didn't like it. So nothing has really changed all that much, but it gives Zogby an opportunity to slam Israel over ten paragraphs again.

He then jumps into the usual series of complaints: "Israel has moved to the right," and not that they just wised up to the fact that no matter what they do the Arabs have to be ready for peace on their own, the Palestinians are "divided," and if groups like Hamas don't negotiate it's only because they don't want to be "marginalized," America is not an honest broker and not because we aren't the biggest fans of people who supply terrorists with weapons. You know, everything we've heard before spun to make the Arabs look as good as possible.

Next we get the mother of all loaded questions:
"If Israel's governing coalition has a determined hard-line pro-settler bent that is not able to make territorial concessions; if the Palestinian movement is hopelessly fractured; and if the U.S. is deemed incapable of pressing the Israelis to change course, then, one can reasonably ask "what is the point of offering Israel more concessions for a peace they won't accept; especially when these concessions will result in cutting Jerusalem off from its Palestinian environs, and creating even deeper fissures in the Palestinian polity?""
Israel's government can probably be considered hard-line and pro-settler but as always it's a question of perspective. Begin and Sharon were right-wingers too but they also gave territorial concessions, though the Arab spin machine was quick to label them as anything but sacrifices for peace.

But getting to his point, he's going about this the wrong way. The problem with this statement by the Arab League is threefold:

It's coming from the wrong people: Israel isn't making peace with the Arab League, it's making peace with the Palestinians. If they put themselves at risk by making those territorial concessions it will be Palestinian terror groups like Hamas and the Al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigade who will be using them with a distinct tactical advantage. Israel is amenable to concessions for peace...but they have to come from Palestinians. The Arab League can say whatever they want, but as the Palestinians themselves would say, "it isn't their land to give away."

It isn't the right concession. As Netanyahu pointed out, and we know Zogby read, the problems between the Arabs and Israelis isn't territorial. Ergo, offering territory to Israel and acting all offended when they don't roll over for you is simply being typically disingenuous. Saying "We, the Arab League, recognize Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people," is also a concession that doesn't cost anyone anything and would be welcomed with welcome arms by even the "hard-line" Netanyahu government. But the Arab League and James Zogby won't endorse doing this because they don't recognize Israel as a Jewish state and they don't think Jews have any right to live there. So they are forced to hide behind weasel words.

It still expects nothing from the Palestinians. As we commented on before, you don't take a rental car to a car wash. If the Palestinians don't sacrifice for peace (and I know, they'll claim they already have boo hoo hoo) then they have no reason to respect that peace treaty. The Arab League, and James Zogby, are being one sided as usual.

Anyway, getting back to the article Zogby demands that President Obama do what he demand and that Hamas be allowed to join a Palestinian unity government. Too bad the international community doesn't agree.  If Zogby's article is anything to go on, Arab attitudes toward peace are even further away than we thought.

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