Monday, August 30, 2010

The unique anti-logic of Ali Abunimah …

Balfour St.

I wasn't sure what I was going to post today until I wandered over to Mondoweiss and was directed towards what was described as "a great journalistic moment." Philip Weiss was simply giddy that his anti-Israel colleague, Ali Abunimah, was granted op-ed space in The New York Times. What was Abunimah's main argument? That the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians will be futile as long as Hamas is excluded from the process.

Abunimah, the founder of the Electronic Intifada website, BDS activist, author of various anti-Israel screeds, and all around pleasant fellow, made a comparison to the situation in Northern Ireland in order to prove his point. While I can understand this reference to a certain extent, since Abunimah was referring to U.S Middle East envoy George Mitchell's success in that region, he nevertheless draws completely the wrong conclusion. Color me surprised.

I have long argued that the situation in Northern Ireland will offer an observer exactly zero insight into the Arab-Israeli conflict. Without going into detail, the two are in no way related. Nevertheless, Abunimah finds considerable evidence there that Hamas should be engaged and involved in the peace process.

In regards to Northern Ireland Abunimah argues that it was "only by breaking with one-sided demands that Mr. Mitchell was able to help bring peace." Abunimah states earlier in the article that the U.S has imposed a similar set of one-sided demands on Hamas. It is interesting to read how those demands are described.

The United States insists that Hamas meet strict preconditions before it can take part in negotiations: recognize Israel, renounce violence and abide by agreements previously signed between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, of which Hamas is not a member. These demands are unworkable …

Please note that Abunimah describes what any rational observer would list as the most basic, minimum requirements for Israel to engage Hamas as "strict" and "unworkable." What would there be to discuss? Will Israel continue to exist, will it not? Well according to Abunimah, that would be discussed.

Abunimah, as anyone familiar with him would know, does not recognize Israel's right to exist. In that regard he completely agrees with Hamas, making it no surprise that he wants them involved in the negotiations. But what is most remarkable about Abunimah's argument is what follows in the very next sentence.

Why should Hamas or any Palestinian accept Israel’s political demands, like recognition, when Israel refuses to recognize basic Palestinian demands like the right of return for refugees?

This is perhaps the most perfect summary of the impossible logic of the anti-Israel community. As anyone familiar with the Arab-Israeli conflict knows, the implementation of the so-called "right of return" would effectively eliminate the State of Israel by inundating it with Palestinian Arabs. Abunimah and others admit this openly. This allows us to rephrase and simplify Abunimah's argument to see what he is really saying.

Why should Hamas or any Palestinian accept Israel’s political demands, like recognition, when Israel refuses to recognize basic Palestinian demands like the right [to eliminate Israel]?

Anyone looking for explanations why there isn't peace need look no further than Ali Abunimah.

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