Friday, June 10, 2011

"Words, Words, Words"

Arlene Kushner

And in the end, when we weed out grandstanding, innuendo, sensationalism and rumor, how much will matter?

Today's JPost carried the headline, "PA may delay UN bid, Palestinian official says." Oh Wow!

But wait a second. This requires a closer look. The PA leadership would consider postponing a UN move if there were international guarantees that Israel would refrain from "creating new facts on the ground" and "provocations" in the coming months.

So, what constitutes a "new fact" or a "provocation." It would seem that this is simply a different, slightly more subtle, way of demanding a total freeze. Hey, a kindergarten build in eastern Jerusalem, which the Arabs claim as theirs, would be called a "new fact on the ground." I wrote last about the possibility that Abbas is rethinking his UN bid, because he's come to understand that it may well not succeed. Now the JPost reports that the cited PA official said, "We are under pressure from the Americans and some Europeans to postpone the plan to ask for UN recognition in September."

In point of fact, this week Obama was quite direct with regard to the matter. He and visiting German Chancellor Angela, at a joint news conference, spoke out against Palestinian Arab efforts to seek recognition of a state at the UN.

So the PA leadership is recalibrating its position, or presenting the semblance of having done so. While assuming the role of "good guys" who are willing to compromise, they actually compromise on nothing.


Acting US Middle East envoy is due here in the next few days to further explore ways to "jumpstart the peace process."

No one in a leadership position, it seems, has the political capital or courage to cry, "The Emperor has no clothes!" There is no "peace process" possible.

Words, words, words...


I've written quite a bit lately about international law and implications of a Palestinian state.

Dr. Amichai Magen, in a piece called "Towards Responsible Sovereignty," written for BESA, addresses relevant issues and provides considerable broad-based insight:

We are dealing now, he tells us, with a situation of "failed states," so that the system that pertained internationally for 350 years now is breaking down.

"Conventional sovereignty, which [...become] the global standard, assumes a world of autonomous, internationally recognized and, most importantly, effectively governed states. Under this model, state-to-state relations are what count, and states are accountable for threats emanating from their territory.

"This world, however, no longer exists. Thus, conventional sovereignty no longer works.

"Today, there are between 30 and 45 failed states, and this number is growing. In the past, these entities would have been swallowed up by their neighbors or by powerful empires. But in today's world, the Darwinian mechanism has ceased to operate. States today are a little like diamonds – once formed they last forever. Unfortunately, unlike diamonds, not all states shine...

"One of the most striking aspects of the contemporary world is the extent to which domestic sovereignty has ceased to function in states that still enjoy international legal sovereignty, with all its benefits. Thus, states like Lebanon, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen – entities that have ceased to function internally and have become breeding grounds for international threats – continue to enjoy...far reaching privileges and protections. Similarly, states like Iran, Syria and Pakistan retain their international legal sovereignty, instead of having it curtailed. Much more can and should be done to condition the benefits of sovereignty on responsible domestic and international behavior...

"For states in the making, adhering to responsible sovereignty will be particularly important. It is one thing to have to deal with the consequences of state failure in an already existing state; it is quite another to permit the establishment of a new state where there is no guarantee of effective, stable and peaceful statehood. Thus, at a time when the international community is struggling with the dire effects of state failure in the Middle East and Africa, it would be unconscionable – perhaps illegal – to aid and abet the establishment of a new failed state in the West Bank and Gaza." (emphasis added)


I would also like to share a very somber piece by Barry Rubin, on "What I Have Learned In My Long Visit to America."

"...Recently, I have been involved in a number of exchanges in which I presented facts only to be told they are biased opinions. Interlocutors cited no evidence or even gave any specific examples of how what was said wasn’t accurate. They don’t have to do so any more since feeling has become truth and identity has become proof. To get them to understand that to make an argument one must have evidence, not just a personal feeling or can put a label on the person making the statement, is difficult. (emphasis added)

"...Here’s the bottom line: No matter how bad the economic situation, leadership, or policies might be, a country can recover if the people and elite are able to define the real problems and the real solutions. If the connection with reality is lost, all hope is gone. That is one of the Middle East’s central problems. Increasingly, it seems to be Europe and America’s problem, too.

"The way cults work is to isolate people from reality and bombard them with a single viewpoint. The victim is cut off from other influences by being told that they are evil and thus to be disregarded. In some ways, that is what’s been happening to America in recent years.

"One weakness of this structure is that the arguments it makes and the claims puts forward are so ridiculous that if exposed to articulate and reasoned responses — often, even for a mere sixty-second period — it quickly collapses logically. Its strength is that it has such strong defenses against such exposure..."

(With thanks to Don M. for calling this to my attention.)


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.

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