Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Matt 24 watch, 103: Missing yet another opportunity for peace in the Middle East

If I recall correctly, Abba Eban, longtime Foreign Minister of Israel, often spoke about a key obstacle to genuine peace in the Middle East: "never miss[ing] an opportunity to miss an opportunity."

Sadly, it seems that that is beginning to happen again. And, this pattern, even more sadly, is probably no accident.

The why of which is very instructive to us all; especially about the dangerous, deceptive, manipulative and utterly ruthless nature of the course of events, and -- sometimes even more importantly -- how those events are discussed in news, commentary and even education. (Or, in some cases, from the pulpit.)

But first, let us identify the opportunity, created by remarks made by Mr Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority in a recent Brookings Institution Luncheon Forum with thirty senior foreign policy wonks: "leaders of major Jewish organizations, former national security advisors and think tank experts."

As the Jerusalem Post recounts in a June 11 article by Leila Kreiger, "Nobody denies Jewish history here":
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas laid out new requirements for moving to direct talks with Israel Thursday, dropping earlier calls for a settlement freeze in favor of progress on borders and security.

Specifically, he said he was looking for agreement from the Netanyahu government that the basis for borders would be the 1967 lines with agreed land swaps, an arrangement he said was in place during his direct talks with the previous prime minister, Ehud Olmert. [And which Arafat walked away from in 2000.]

“Everyone around the world talks about the ’67 borders, but with some amendments, some swaps here and there,” [Of course, "everybody" is not quite true . . . ] he told a Brookings Institution forum the day after he met with US President Barack Obama and other top American officials . . . .

Abbas reaffirmed publicly positions more often heard from Palestinians in private, such as his willingness to have a long-term international presence in Palestinian areas in order “to make the Israeli people feel secure inside their homes.”

He pointed to NATO as one such organization he had discussed with American officials, declaring through a translator, “We have no objections to NATO.”

He rejected out of hand the concept of a one-state solution, but said the popularity of this idea was growing among Palestinians [i.e. the destruction of Israel] and added to the urgency of resolving the situation so that there would be “no more demands” and an “end of claims.” [But this, too, is not quite true: all along there has been a strong Arab tendency to reject the legitimacy of claims by non-Arab groups in the whole ME, including most notably Israel.] He also said that the matter of Palestinian refugees would be handled by an “agreed” solution [which will be quite difficult, given more than eighty years of hate, propaganda and violence in part backed up by religious teachings of the Islamists], . . . .

On another sensitive issue – the notion that Jerusalem would be a shared capital for both countries – Abbas indicated that he recognized Israeli claims to west Jerusalem as its capital, but not to east Jerusalem. At Wednesday night’s dinner, he stated, “We say that west Jerusalem is the capital of Israel” [A pivotal disagreement point; but what maybe is possible is a condominium arrangement with common shared areas and areas that are held by each side. One help is that there is recent evidence that the Mosque on Temple Mt, intended to demonstrate Islamic dominance over and succession to earlier faiths, was built too far north and the temple area proper lies to its south] . . . .

When asked about whether under a final agreement the PA would recognize Israel as a Jewish state, Abbas told the crowd of 30 leaders of major Jewish organizations, former national security advisors and think tank experts that Israel would be free to describe itself however it wanted.

But he also said, “Nobody denies the Jewish history in the Middle East. A third of our holy Koran talks about the Jews in the Middle East, in this area. Nobody from our side at least denies that the Jews were in Palestine.”[Not quite true, a lot of Palestinian Arab rhetoric has tried to deny any historic roots of Israel in the Holy Land, indeed we have been hearing some of it against Ashkenazi Jews in particular. Never mind the now decade old story of genetic evidence that points to the common roots of Jews, Arabs and Kurds, including Ashkenazi Jews. The common claim that the Ashkenazi are descended primarily from alien "Khazar" converts to Judaism has no genetic foundation. ( The latest genetic studies, published in The American Journal of Human Genetics under revealing the title, “Abraham’s Children in the Genome Era: Major Jewish Diaspora Populations Comprise Distinct Genetic Clusters with Shared Middle Eastern Ancestry,” and as reported in the just linked Jerusalem Post article, underscore this point: "Jews from the major Diaspora groups formed a distinct population cluster, albeit one that is closely related to European and Middle Eastern non-Jewish populations. Each of the Diaspora groups also formed its own cluster within the larger Jewish cluster . . . each group demonstrated Middle Eastern ancestry and varying degrees of mixing with surrounding populations. The genetic analysis showed that the two major groups – Middle Eastern and European Jews – split from from each other about 2,500 years ago . . . ")]

[Parenthetical comments added.]

In short, despite many problematic points in his remarks, Abbas has publicly conceded the historic roots of the Israelis in the Holy Land, and thus the legitimacy of their basic claim to Middle Eastern nationhood; so he seeks to go back to the compromise his predecessor, Mr Arafat, walked away from to make terroristic war in September 2000.

This, after ten wasted years, billions of dollars of destroyed wealth and most importantly many, many thousands needlessly dead or gravely wounded and crippled for life.

Worse yet, that compromise or something like it has been on the table not only in 2000 but ever since 1948 and again ever since 1967. Each time, as Abba Eban was pointing out, it has been violently rejected, consistently from the Arab side.

Unfortunately -- and probably not coincidentally -- this attempt at compromise is being drowned out by the ongoing largely misinformed global brouhaha over blockade breaking flotillas; especially the recent clash on MV Mavi Marmara when descending IDF soldiers of Flotilla 13 were mauled with metal rods, stabbed with knives, captured [and apparently taken hostage], stripped of side arms which were then turned on their fellow soldiers, leading to a melee in which nine militants were shot dead, twenty seven wounded; with seven Israeli soldiers wounded as well, two of them critically. (Two to four of the wounded Israelis have stab and/or gunshot wounds.)

We may examine some typical "seen just once on TV . . . " videotape:

(NB: Please pay more attention to the tape than to the mark-up commentary. The former is fact, the latter is opinion. A reminder, lest we forget: the Israeli soldiers are members of a disciplined service, carrying out orders they may not even personally like; orders that are legitimate, in enforcement of a patently legitimate blockade against smuggling of weapons used for terroristic rocketing of Israeli civilian towns that had previously been sustained for years. There is simply no excuse for the sort of vicious mauling we see here and in previous videos. So, we must ask a pertinent question: Where are the apologies from the organisers of this flotilla? That silence is perhaps the most telling point of all.)

Most menacing of all, we have the addition of a Turkey led by an Islamist regime to the more familiar mix of radical Middle Eastern regimes, multiplied by the apparent behind the scenes top-level involvement of William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, radical leftist, former Weatherman terrorists involved in Vietnam war era bombings that led to deaths in the US -- since turned academics and leftist agitators -- in the flotilla gambit. It is thus highly significant to note that it is in Ayers and Dohrn's home that a certain Alinsky-ite Chicago School Community Organizer and Lawyer began his political career at a fund-raiser in the mid 1990's.

Namely, the current president of the United States.

Also involved in the Free Gaza Movement: Jodie Evans, leader of the US-based antiwar activist group, Code Pink. (The colour is highly suggestive of several associations, not least by its proximity to red, a traditional colour of the left. [Cf critiques here.])

In short, we see here significant signs of the red-green alliance of leftists [including radical environmentalists, homosexualists and related anarchistic anti-Capitalist activists], with Islamists that was discussed in the immediately previous post in this blog. Multiplied by possibly astonishing behind the scenes connexions to key centres of power.

In that post, I observed that:

. . . there is now a very obvious alignment between left-leaning, Marxism-influenced mostly secularist or neo-pagan advocates within Western Culture [but also including a good slice of a wing of the Christian church deeply affected by the skepticism-influenced modernist theological movements that have spread since the 1700's], and islamist agendas. The former interpret the latter as manifestations of third-world resistance to the evil imperialist agendas of Western Civilisation, viewing -- and often openly denouncing -- Israel as an Apartheid-state, colonialist outpost imposed on the native peoples of the Middle East. For these, "fundamentalist" Christians are a backward, dangerously reactionary and potentially violent right-wing force in our civilisation, seeking to turn the clock back on "progress" by imposing a theocratic tyranny.

Radical Islamists are only too willing to go along with what they probably view as "useful idiots," as they know that a house divided cannot stand and proverbially hold that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. (It bears noting that the real agenda of many radical Islamists is religiously motivated global subjugation under Allah, Allah's prophet, law and warriors, as can be seen by simply reading the Quran, Surah 9: 5, 29 and 30 - 34 in light of an unfortunately major and sadly unfinished thread of religiously motivated conquest in Islamic history. The Muslim Brotherhood global subjugation plan of 1982 will make this plain, as will a reading between the lines of the Iranian Government's 2006 Christmas message to the world. [The very fact that this point has to be specifically underscored is itself telling on our willful denial and refusal to see the manifestly plain but unwelcome.])

So, let us think a bit:

  • Given that the sort of gambit that Abbas has now made will have taken time and much discussion behind the scenes to prepare,
  • Noting the related fact that there are very strong militant factions among the circles of power and influence in the Palestinian Arab community, which have links to not only fellow Islamists but leftist radicals in the West,
  • Plainly, the timing of the recent flotilla incident -- just before Abbas' visit with the president of the USA -- is no coincidence.

And, it has succeeded: Abbas' historic offer[and even if it was intended as taqiyya, strategic deception -- as some suspect -- it is significant enough to be seized upon as a fresh departure] is drowned out in the rage over the latest violent incident involving Israel. It is currently off the table, not even a subject for significant notice much less discussion.

Aristotle's weary ghost is shaking its head sadly:

". . . persuasion may come through the hearers, when the speech stirs their emotions. Our judgements when we are pleased and friendly are not the same as when we are pained and hostile . . ." [The Rhetoric, Bk I Ch 2, c. 350 BC.]
But, all of this -- however necessary as a corrective -- is on the distraction, not the opportunity.

Let us refocus the opportunity:

1 --> It is now quite plain that not only Israel but Egypt and the Palestinian Authority are agreed that some restriction is needed on the ability of Hamas to continue its policy of firing rockets at civilians in Israel.

2 --> This may be doubted by many, so let us note the following from a Haaretz June 13 article, "Abbas to Obama: I’m against lifting the Gaza naval blockade":

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is opposed to lifting the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip because this would bolster Hamas, according to what he told United States President Barack Obama during their meeting at the White House Wednesday. Egypt also supports this position . . . .

The issue of the Gaza flotilla and lifting the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip was the main topic of discussion between Obama and Abbas last Wednesday night.

European diplomats updated by the White House on the talks said that Abbas had stressed to Obama the need of opening the border crossings into the Gaza Strip and the easing of the siege, but only in ways that do not bolster Hamas.

One of the points that Abbas raised is that the naval blockade imposed by Israel on the Strip should not be lifted at this stage. The European diplomats said Egypt has made it clear to Israel, the U.S and the European Union that it is also opposes the lifting of the naval blockade because of the difficulty in inspecting the ships that would enter and leave the Gaza port.

Abbas told Obama that actions easing the blockage should be done with care and undertaken gradually so it will not be construed as a victory for Hamas. The Palestinian leader also stressed that the population in the Gaza Strip must be supported, and that pressure should be brought to bear on Israel to allow more goods, humanitarian assistance and building materials for reconstruction. Abbas, however, said this added aid can be done by opening land crossings and other steps that do not include the lifting of the naval blockade . . . [Emphases added. NB: Haaretz is from the centre-left of the Israeli political spectrum.]
3 --> Even more important than that, as has been already cited, it is the president of the PA who is now on public record that the Jewish nation has undeniable historic roots in the Holy Land.

4 --> So, at length — after ten wasted years, many thousands of lives needlessly lost or subjected to crippling wounds, and billions of dollars of wealth destroyed — there is again discussion of a compromise along the lines of what Arafat walked away from to wage terroristic war in September 2000. The same general lines that were there from 1948 -9 on and again from 1967 on.

5 --> In short, the basic legitimacy of Israel as a nation with historic roots in the Holy Land is not in question; at least when the Palestinian President stands before an informed audience such as at Brookings.

6 --> Frankly, to those who look beyond the misleading impressions given by today's all-too-common highly spun, distorted headlines and news articles, and for those of us who took time to investigate the balancing facts on the modern history of Israel and/or to correct many popular but distorted, deceptive and destructive myths on the Middle East, the substantial points Mr Abbas has conceded are not exactly news.

7 --> It is therefore high time that the sort of intemperate, hateful, blood-libel filled antisemitic, anti-colonialistic rhetoric that stains too many exchanges about the Middle East situation is apologised for [cf. a saddening current Caribbean example here] and laid to one side.

8 --> Then, we can move to a more balanced, informed discussion on the terms of a compromise.

9 --> For that compromise, it is immediately plain that for most of the border with the West Bank, the 1948-9 Green Line with adjustments based on land swaps is an agreed position.

10 --> Gaza is more or less a done deal: 100% is under Arab control, even though there is a lot of misleading description -- even in the UN (which has repeatedly shown itself unreliable and non-credible on matters relating to Israel) -- of this zone as till "occupied." Israel left Gaza in 2005, lock, stock and barrel. (Just as it left Lebanon in 2000.) Period.

11 --> In 2007, Hamas staged a coup, and now constitutes the de facto regime in charge. That it faces an Egyptian-Israeli blockade is due to its own intransigence on seeking the destruction of Israel, its sponsoring the firing of thousands of rockets into Israel at Sderot and other civilian towns, and its related threat to Egypt as a terrorist-harbouring wing of the Muslim Brotherhood that assassinated Egypt's peace Making president, Sadat.

12 --> There is some talk of Egypt giving Gaza enough further land along the coast to double its size, and of Israel giving Egypt an equivalent slice from the Negev. Possibly, this may be useful as an incentive for Gazans to seek reconciliation with the West Bank Palestinian authorities, and to seek peace with Israel. But such an expansion should never be given as a reward to terrorism and intransigence.

13 --> In the case of Jerusalem, the issue is toughest, and I have suggested that a condominium arrangement would be the best solution, one backed by trustworthy peacekeeping troops. (My ideal solution would be an expansion of the Vatican Swiss Guards, but a solid NATO contingent might work.)

14 -->Iran needs to be told in no uncertain terms to stop its mad course now, or face devastating consequences. And, that if it wants to play at nukes, it is now subject to the rules of nuke powers.

15 --> Turkey's current regime, too, needs firm but fair handling. (The ugly Turkish history with both Armenians and Kurds would be a good counterpoint to bring the current overheated rhetoric and military posturing to a stop.)


If such steps were put in place, maybe would get to something sensible with the Middle East mess that has so harmed the world since the 1940′s.

In short, if implemented, the above would probably work, but I have very little confidence that things will happen that way. (And that is independent from my particular views on eschatology. [So far it looks like eschatology wins over common sense solutions in terms of predicting what is likely to happen.])

But, in our call to bear witness to the Prince of Peace, we Christians have a duty to put forth ways and means to peace, reconciliation and reformation, regardless of what we think the likely course of events will be. And regardless of how unpopular the truth that calls us to repent and to seek peace with one another and our Creator and Redeemer, the crucified, risen Saviour, is.

So, the last word on this matter properly belongs to our Saviour, as he spoke in the Olivet end of days discourse in Matt 24; even as he was about to weep over Jerusalem, that ironically named City of Peace that has ever been a city of war. As, it sits astride a pivotal route for would be world conquerors, i.e. at the corner where Africa, Asia and Europe come together:

Matt 24:3As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?"

4Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. 5For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. 6You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8All these are the beginning of birth pains . . . .

14And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

15"So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. 18Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. 19How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. 22If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 23At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it. 24For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible. 25See, I have told you ahead of time . . .

We have been warned. And, we have been commissioned to carry the good news of the alternative to deception and chaos, to all nations.

Will we have the humility, wisdom and courage to heed the warning and carry out the commission? END


PS: A must-read on the oldest collective hatred, anti-Semitism. Also, some useful (but painfully sharp-toned) background corrective reading is here. Let us have done with this devilish delusion and hysteria that led to the shameful events of May 31 to now!

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