Wednesday, September 09, 2009

"Closing In?"

I want to begin by calling your attention to the URL below. I recommend that you read this, especially if you are American, even if you read nothing else here today.

This piece, "Disarming America: The Obama Administration in the Shadow of 9/11" is alarming precisely because it is written in a reasoned, carefully thought-out style. Its author, Dr. Joel Fishman, is an historian and fellow with a major Jerusalem think tank. This piece first appeared in Hebrew and has been translated by Dr. Fishman. I put it up on my website with his permission. If you agree with its thesis, and are also alarmed, please share it widely, including on lists and blogs.


We seem to be coming closer to a definition of the "freeze" on settlement building that is anticipated:

According to a "senior political official" who, according to the Post, was briefed by Netanyahu, there will be a six-month "moratorium" in Judea and Samaria. This is said to exclude Jerusalem and provide latitude for public building construction (a school or clinic, for example) that would enable "normal life" to continue.

We may be closing in here, but this is still off the record, unofficial. Mitchell is due here after Shabbat for two days of meetings, and it is only following this that official announcements will presumably be made.


What caught my eye and made me snort with derision was the statement by the official that, in return, Israel expected an end to incitement against Israel in the media and educational system. If this were not forthcoming the moratorium would end.

Dr. Aaron Lerner ( expresses cynicism because the official indicated that "a way of measuring this still needed to be worked out." This provides the specter of a huge amount of wiggle room, with the possibility that Netanyahu, if pressured, might extend the moratorium based on pathetically small steps against incitement.

Lerner says there has never been an agreed-upon definition of "incitement." He says this is unenforceable and everyone knows it. Perhaps he's correct.

I certainly know what he's talking about. A couple of years ago, I had extensive communication with someone in the Home Office of the British government regarding incitement in Palestinian school books. I provided him with what I thought were examples that offered clear evidence of incitement, only to find that he -- loath to finger the PA -- explained that these were probably instances of "study of war literature." We're talking about such material as this from a seventh grade text: “Hearing weapons clash is pleasant to my ears. And the flow of blood gladdens my soul.” The promotion of martyrdom and jihad is fairly ubiquitous in these texts. But OK, this is study of war literature.

But what about textbooks that routinely fail to identify Israel in their maps -- labeling everything from the river to the sea as "Palestine"? What about census figures for "Palestine" in PA texts that simply leave out the Jewish population, as if it doesn't exist? What about PA-TV kids shows that identify Israeli cities as "Palestinian"? Or the PA’s Chief Islamic Judge, Sheikh Taysir Rajab al-Tamimi, who just last month declared that "Jerusalem is an Arab and Islamic city and it always has been so...[for there is no archeological evidence] that Jews ever had a history or presence in Jerusalem, or that their ostensible temple had ever existed"?

There is a Palestinian generation that simply has not been educated to accept the legitimacy of Israel or of a Jewish population in this part of the world. Do we let this stand as acceptable?

I would suggest that Israeli stringency in pushing how incitement is defined will play a significant role here. If we cut the PA slack, it all comes to nothing.


PA president Mahmoud Abbas paid a visit to Saudi Arabia at the beginning of the week. According to Saeb Erekat, PA negotiator, the Saudi king Abdullah advised Abbas to "make sacrifices" to put an end to Palestinian division. Translation: Cave in to Hamas demands so there can be a unity government. Abdullah expressed the opinion that this would help the Palestinian cause. This is the Saudi contribution to "the peace process," I guess.

Abbas replied that the Egyptians were working hard to bring the division to an end.

And indeed, an Egyptian plan for unity was leaked to an Egyptian newspaper. It would not require that the parties recognize Israel.

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