Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Oslo Disaster

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by Efraim Karsh  in the “ Middle East Forum”  Sep 14, 2016
For the full article go to:

Viewed from a 23-year vantage point, the Oslo "peace process" between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) stands as one of the worst-ever calamities to have hit Israelis and Palestinians.

For Israel, it has been the starkest strategic blunder in the country's history – establishing an ineradicable terror entity on Israel's doorstep, deepening its internal cleavages, destabilizing its political system, and weakening its international standing.

For West Bank and Gaza Palestinians, it has brought about subjugation to corrupt and repressive PLO and Hamas regimes – regimes that have reversed the hesitant advent of civil society in these territories, shattered their socioeconomic well-being, and made the prospects for peace and reconciliation with Israel ever more remote.

This abject failure is a direct result of the Palestinian leadership's perception of the process as a pathway not to a two-state solution — meaning Israel alongside a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza — but to the subversion of the State of Israel; not to nation-building and state creation, but to the formation of a repressive terror entity that would perpetuate conflict with Israel while keeping its hapless constituents in constant and bewildered awe as its leaders line their pockets from the proceeds of this misery.

Palestinian leaders see the peace process as a pathway not to a two-state solution, but to the subversion of Israel.
So long as things on the Palestinian side are permitted, or even encouraged, to remain as they are, there will be no progress whatsoever toward peace. There will be no advancement towards peace in the framework of a French-initiated international conference, nor even in bilateral talks (were the Palestinians to be somehow coerced to return to the negotiating table).

Just as the creation of free and democratic societies in Germany and Japan after World War II necessitated a comprehensive sociopolitical and educational transformation, so it will only be when Palestinian society undergoes a real "spring" that the century-long conflict between Arabs and Jews can at long last be resolved and a semi-functioning Palestinian state come into being. This requires sweeping the corrupt and oppressive PLO and Hamas rulers from power, eliminating endemic violence from political and social life, and teaching the virtues of coexistence with Israeli neighbors.

Sadly, the possibility of a Palestinian spring, which seemed to be in the offing in 1993 when the PLO hovered on the verge of extinction and West Bank and Gaza leadership appeared eager to strike a historic deal within the framework of the Washington peace negotiations, has been destroyed for the foreseeable future by the Oslo "peace process."

Read the full report: The Oslo Disaster, Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, September 2016. See also Efraim Karsh's article in the Fall 2006 issue of Middle East Quarterly, "Why the Oslo Process Doomed Peace."

Efraim Karsh is emeritus professor of Middle East and Mediterranean studies at Kings College London, a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, and principal research fellow at the Middle East Forum.


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Arabs Must Turn a New Page with Israel

By Fred Maroun 10-7-2016
For the full article go to Gatestone Institute -

This is part two of a two-part series. The first part examined the mistakes that we Arabs made in our interactions with Israel.

There is much that we can do to improve our relationship with Israel -- if we want to -- and there is good reason to think that it would be in both our short- and long-term interest if we did. The most critical change is in approach. Changing that would start to repair the foundation of the relationship and would provide a basis for mutual respect and trust, without which any solution would remain fragile.

Understand Israel

We must see the real Israel rather than the monstrosity that Arabs have been brainwashed to see. We are so afraid to call Israel by its real name that we refer to it as the "Zionist entity". The name is "Israel"; as written in Haaretz, "Israel has been the name of an ethnic group in the Levant going back at least 3200 years".

The standard Arab narrative about Israel is that it is the result of Western colonialism. This language has also been adopted by many, who claim that "settler colonialism that began with the Nakba ... in 1948", implying that all of Israel is a colony. This claim is not true, and no healthy relationship can be built while one side keeps repeating lies about the other.
Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, a people with a long and complex history on that land. Attempts to kill them and exile them came from many sources over the centuries, including the Assyrians, Babylonians, Romans and the Crusaders. These are historical facts.

Israel's then Prime Minister Golda Meir said in 1973, "We Jews have a secret weapon in our struggle with the Arabs -- we have no place to go". No matter how much pressure Arabs put on Jews to leave, they are not going anywhere; in fact, that pressure only hardens their resolve. Israel is their home.

We must look at Israel not as foreign presence, which it is not, but as a unique and remarkable component of the Middle East that enriches the region.

Not our enemy

We must stop calling Israel our enemy. We deliberately chose to make Israel our enemy when we attacked it, rather than accept the existence of a tiny Jewish state in our midst.

Israel is only 19% of British Mandate Palestine (which included Jordan), on which Britain promised in 1924 to build a "Jewish National Home". Israel is so small that it would have to be duplicated 595 times to cover the entire Arab world.

We made self-defeating decisions in our relationship with Israel, based on the belief that it is our enemy and that we can only deal with it though force -- but the tiny state of Israel is not a threat to the Arab world.

Every year, Palestinians hold rallies, often violent ones, to commemorate the Nakba ("catastrophe"), which is name they give to the Arab loss in the war of 1948/49. They carry keys, symbolizing the keys to homes that their ancestors fled during that war. This commemoration, like much of the Arab rhetoric about Israel, is a one-sided view that demonizes Israel while it absolves Arabs of all responsibility for starting and continuing a conflict that resulted in decades of violence as well as displacements of both Arabs and Jews.

This false narrative does not leave much room for peace with Israel. How can peace be acceptable to Arabs who are repeatedly fed the false narrative that everything is Israel's fault, when, in fact, "everything" is not "all Israel's fault"?
Building a positive future requires accepting that the past is gone and cannot be restored.

Resolving the Palestinian Question

For a successful resolution of the Palestinian question, we must understand the few fundamental issues on which Israel cannot compromise. At present, the Arab world, and particularly the Palestinians, shows so little understanding of Israel's fundamental issues that the Israeli public's faith in peace negotiations is low. As reported in the Jerusalem Post, "most Israelis (67.7%) do not believe that negotiations will bring peace in the coming years and less than a third (29.1%) think it will ever yield such a result".

Israel's ability to remain a Jewish state and a haven for Jews worldwide is its most basic existential necessity. Without it, Israel would be only a name. For this reason, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stated unequivocally that there is "no room to maneuver" on the Palestinian claim of a "right of return" for the descendants of Palestinian refugees. It may be unreasonable to expect relatively small and weak countries like Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan to absorb all the refugees residing there, but rich Gulf countries have the ability to help. If Europe can absorb millions of Muslim refugees, why could we not do it too?

A second existential necessity for Israel is its need for defensible borders, as explained in an extensive report. Israel has been defending its very existence against Arab attacks for seven decades. It has been attacked from all sides using all methods imaginable, from missiles to suicide belts to tunnels. Israel does not see the pre-1967 armistice lines as defensible, as was explained as far back as 1977 by then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, widely considered a pro-peace moderate.

A third fundamental point is Jewish access to holy sites, starting with the most important one, the Old City in East Jerusalem. Jews see their win in East Jerusalem in the war of 1967 not as a conquest, but as the liberation and reunification of their historic home since the time of King David, ca. 1000 BCE. Although Israeli governments, both in 2000 and in 2008, offered to give up control over part of Jerusalem, one should not assume that a similar offer will be likely in the future. In June of this year, PM Netanyahu pledged that, "The idea of a divided, split, wounded city is one we will never return to." Other issues such as borders, compensation for refugees, removal of some settlements, and the level of Palestinian sovereignty appear to be negotiable. Netanyahu further stated, "Israel wants peace. I want peace. I want to renew the diplomatic process to achieve peace".

But we Arabs must understand that this can only be possible within the constraints of the three fundamental issues.

The Arab League's Peace Initiative

A peace initiative was endorsed by the Arab League in 2002 and again in 2007, but this initiative falls short in two ways, first in its substance and second in its form.

The initiative demands that Israel go back to the pre-1967 armistice lines. Not only does Israel not consider those borders defensible, but during the fifty years that elapsed since then, Israel has built large settlement blocks in the West Bank. We Arabs had previously expelled the Jews who were native to that land, and it is unrealistic to expect that Israel would agree to victimize its own Jewish citizens yet again.

The initiative declares that Arab states reject "all forms of Palestinian patriation which conflict with the special circumstances of the Arab host countries", implying that Israel and the new Palestinian state would be responsible for absorbing the descendants of all Palestinian refugees. For the new Palestinian state, it would be a huge burden to add to the task of building a new state, as it would mean an increase to its population from 6 million to 9 million. This would leave Israel to receive the refugees, which it will not do.

Equally unrealistic is the initiative's casual reference to "the establishment of a Sovereign Independent Palestinian State". The creation of such a state under today's conditions is likely to result in a Hamas-dominated state that is violently hostile towards Israel. The Palestinian Authority must be transitioned into a peaceful and stable entity before it can be expected to run a state.

There was no need to write this document at all. All that the Arab League had to do was to declare that Arab states are open to making peace with Israel, accept Sharon's offer to attend, then send a delegation to Israel as a sign of goodwill.

Sadat in His Own Words

We should take inspiration from and follow the lead of Sadat, an Arab leader who took a bold step towards peace and achieved a peace agreement that even the Muslim Brotherhood government of Egypt felt compelled to respect 35 years later.

We should take inspiration from and follow the lead of Sadat, an Arab leader who took a bold step towards peace and achieved a peace agreement that even the Muslim Brotherhood government of Egypt felt compelled to respect. Pictured: Egyptian President Anwar Sadat (left) and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin (right) acknowledge applause during a Joint Session of Congress in which U.S. President Jimmy Carter announced the results of the Camp David Accords, September 18, 1978. (Image source: Warren K. Leffler/Library of Congress)

Sadat knew that taking steps towards peace requires more than simply writing documents and speaking from afar, which is why he went to Israel to present his vision. He said to the Israeli Knesset, "There are moments in the life of nations and peoples when it is incumbent on those known for their wisdom and clarity of vision to overlook the past, with all its complexities and weighing memories, in a bold drive towards new horizons".

Sadat demonstrated that he understood some of Israel's fundamental issues when he said, "What is peace for Israel? It means that Israel lives in the region with her Arab neighbors, in security and safety".

A New Page

The Arab world has an abysmal record on human rights, is mired in internal wars, and continues pointless hostility towards Israel, a neighbor that is far ahead of us scientifically and economically, and from which we could benefit greatly.
We must take ownership of our past actions towards Israel, and we must make the changes needed to turn the page. In the words of Sadat, "We must all rise above all forms of fanaticism, self-deception and obsolete theories of superiority". It is up to us.

Fred Maroun, a left-leaning Arab based in Canada, has authored op-eds for New Canadian Media, among other outlets. From 1961-1984, he lived in Lebanon.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Arabs' Historic Mistakes in Their Interactions with Israel

By Fred Maroun 10-7-2016
For the full article go to Gatestone Institute -
  • We Arabs managed our relationship with Israel atrociously, but the worst of all is the ongoing situation of the Palestinians. Our worst mistake was in not accepting the United Nations partition plan of 1947.
  • Perhaps one should not launch wars if one is not prepared for the results of possibly losing them.
  • The Jews are not keeping the Arabs in camps, we are.
  • Jordan integrated some refugees, but not all. We could have proven that we Arabs are a great and noble people, but instead we showed the world, as we continue to do, that our hatred towards each other and towards Jews is far greater than any concept of purported Arab solidarity.
This is part one of a two-part series. The second part will examine what we Arabs can do differently today.

In the current state of the relationship between the Arab world and Israel, we see a patchwork of hostility, tense peace, limited cooperation, calm, and violence. We Arabs managed our relationship with Israel atrociously, but the worst of all is the ongoing situation of the Palestinians.

The Original Mistake

Our first mistake lasted centuries, and occurred well before Israel's declaration of independence in May 1948. It consisted of not recognizing Jews as equals.

As documented by a leading American scholar of Jewish history in the Muslim world, Mark R. Cohen, during that era, "Jews shared with other non-Muslims the status of dhimmis [non-Muslims who have to pay protection money and follow separate debasing laws to be tolerated in Muslim-controlled areas] ... New houses of worship were not to be built and old ones could not be repaired. They were to act humbly in the presence of Muslims. In their liturgical practice they had to honor the preeminence of Islam. They were further required to differentiate themselves from Muslims by their clothing and by eschewing symbols of honor. Other restrictions excluded them from positions of authority in Muslim government".

On March 1, 1944, while the Nazis were massacring six million Jews, and well before Israel declared independence, Haj Amin al-Husseini, then Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, declared on Radio Berlin, "Arabs, rise as one man and fight for your sacred rights. Kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, history, and religion. This saves your honor. God is with you."

If we had not made this mistake, we might have benefited in two ways.

Jews would likely have remained in the Muslim Middle East in greater numbers, and they would have advanced the Middle Eastern civilization rather than the civilizations of the places to which they fled, most notably Europe and later the United States.

Secondly, if Jews felt secure and accepted in the Middle East among Arabs, they may not have felt the need to create an independent state, which would have saved us from our subsequent mistakes.

The Worst Mistake

Our second and worst mistake was in not accepting the United Nations partition plan of 1947. UN resolution 181 provided the legal basis for a Jewish state and an Arab state sharing what used to be British-controlled Mandatory Palestine.

Video of the week- 9/11 memorial monument in Israel -


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Fraying Palestinian Political Entity in the West Bank

By Pinhas Inbari: Jerusalem Centre For Public Affairs

Note Palestinian police in riot gear.
  • The Palestinian Authority is failing to control extensive parts of the West Bank. Some districts are developing in different directions, thereby accelerating the process of the PA's disintegration.
  • In Hebron, the large clans of Mount Hebron have linked up with each other, reestablished the Tribal Council of Mount Hebron, and sent a delegation to Amman to express loyalty to the king of Jordan.
  • Nablus has gone into a tailspin of total anarchy, under the rule of gangs, with exchanges of gunfire in the heart of the city and attempts at political assassinations. Local Fatah strongman Ghassan Shak'a, who resigned as head of the Nablus municipality in August 2015, announced that he will run in the next municipal elections with his own list of candidates against the Fatah slate. On June 1, 2016, unknown persons in Nablus fired at his house. On July 24, bullets struck the home of Muhammad Jihad Dwekat just days after he announced his intention to run for Nablus mayor as an independent non-Fatah candidate.
  • In Ramallah, seat of the Palestinian Authority, a dense network of Palestinian nongovernmental organizations (PNGOs) that relies on European aid is leading a growing opposition to the PA. Europe believes that the successor to Mahmoud Abbas will emerge from this network - from the local Palestinians that the Oslo agreements disinherited when the PLO leadership in Tunis was brought in to rule. However, the PLO is not prepared to agree to any power sharing with the PNGOs. It wants to take measures against them, but is encountering problems with Europe.
  • The PA's loss of control in the West Bank raises questions about its ability to run a state. The fragmented West Bank will be a weaker entity than the weak states that collapsed in the Arab Spring. When the Palestinian entity collapses, the vacuum will be filled by the negative forces that have become the nightmare of the world.
Click here to read the full article.
Pinhas Inbari is a veteran Arab affairs correspondent who formerly reported for Israel Radio and Al Hamishmar newspaper, and currently serves as an analyst for the Jerusalem Center.

Video of the week: Who are the “Palestinians” -