An artist’s collage juxtaposes the real-life conditions Palestinian workers face in the occupied West Bank with Scarlett Johansson’s role as SodaStream spokesmodel. (Courtesy Electronic Intifada)
Outside the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan, activists demonstrate against U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his peace proposal, Jan. 29, 2014. (Khalil Mazraawi/AFP/Getty Images)
A Jewish settler (unseen at left) places the Israeli flag on a road sign as Israeli troops encircle Palestinian villagers protesting the army’s cutting branches off olive trees on a road leading to the illegal Jewish settlement of Tekoa, south of Bethlehe
Dr. Eyad El Serraj at a 1993 press conference in East Jerusalem denouncing Israel’s use of torture. (Ruben Bittermann/Photofile)
U.N. and Arab League envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi (l) and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the Jan. 22 press conference closing the Geneva II peace talks on Syria. (Philippe Desmazes/AFP/Getty Images)
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, November 2009, pg. 5
Letters to the Editor
Free Speech vs. Despair
In the last 40 years since I began following events in the Middle East (many of those years shared with the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs,) I have never felt so much despair as I do now. The “two-state” solution is beyond realization. There can be only a one-state nation—either democratic, with equal rights to all its citizens or, as I tremble to say, the whole of Palestine for Jewish people only, with all the ethnic cleansing implied in such a concept.
I believe you may indeed need to be publishing 27 years from now, for no just solution is in sight. I have recently watched Alan Hart and Ilan Pappe on YouTube at the 60th anniversary of the Nakba. A most interesting discussion on Zionism, which all your readers would enjoy. The “free pass” the Western nations give to Israel whatever international crimes it commits might well become a “free pass” to hell and damnation.
E. Joan McConnell, Salt Spring Island, BC
At your recommendation, we went to <www.youtube.com>, entered the phrase “hart pappe” and voila! found the six-part interview with Pappe conducted by Alan Hart on his PressTV show, “The Hart of the Matter.” While we’ve only watched Part I (so far), we found it riveting—and refreshingly free of apologetic doubletalk. We second your recommendation, and thank you for it. Surely the fact that ever more such conversations are taking place is a sign of hope. Even The Washington Post—which for months refused even to cite the title of Mearsheimer and Walt’s book The Israel Lobby (available from the AET Book Club, of course)—featured an article by Stephen Walt in its Sept. 20 “Outlook” section, on the front page of which appeared the phrase “Netanyahu, Obama and the Israel Lobby.” Mirabile dictu!
Prince Turki Action Alert
Thank you very much indeed for bringing to my attention the op-ed by Prince Turki al-Faisal. What he says obviously makes a lot of sense. But the concepts of rule of law and justice to which the prince refers seem to have fallen by the wayside in the rough and tumble of present day politics!! Even Security Council Resolution 242 demanding Israeli withdrawal from conquered lands looks so antiquated in the light of the present day vocabulary that governs relations between nations as to be irrelevant. The fact that the Palestine issue no longer is a matter for the United Nations’ active consideration is testimony to the changed times in which we live. One can only hope and pray for better times. Thank you again for all your hard work in support of the rule of law and justice.
M. Habib Quader, Casper, WY
Prince Turki’s op-ed is reprinted on p. 14 of this issue. Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, readers are invited to sign up for “action alerts” on our newly redesigned Web site, <www.wrmea.org>. See p. 12 for U.N. correspondent Ian Williams’ column on the Goldstone report regarding Israel’s war on Gaza, which a reader summarizes below:
The Goldstone Report on Gaza
A United Nations fact-finding mission has just released its report accusing Israel of committing the most horrific war crimes in its assault on Gaza last December. The mayhem that ensued included the deliberate targeting of civilians holding white flags, U.N. bomb shelters, hospitals, ambulances, and mosques. The U.N. mission found Israel to have committed “grave breaches” of the Geneva Conventions by “punishing and terrorizing” the civilians of Gaza. One-third of the 1,400 who died were woman and children.
Perhaps the most damning indictments were voiced by Israeli soldiers whose collective testimonies can be found by searching “Breaking the Silence.” These testimonies confirm that “Operation Cast Lead” was a deliberate policy by the Israel Defense Forces to cause wanton destruction of Gaza’s infrastructure and its people. This was confirmed by Israel’s leading newspaper, Haaretz, which reported, “The soldiers describe the killing of innocent civilians, pointless destruction, expulsions of families from homes seized as temporary outposts, disregard for human life and a tendency toward brutalization.”
London’s Guardian concurred in its report of March 22 that the testimony “suggests widespread abuses stemming from orders originating with the Israeli military chain of command.”
The U.N. report also apportioned blame on Hamas for firing rockets on Israel’s civilian population.
Jagjit Singh, Los Altos, CA
The report recommends that, if it fails to conduct a credible investigation of its actions, Israel be referred to the International Criminal Court. Americans who believe in international law might want to demand that their government not stand in the way by issuing yet another U.N. veto to protect Israel. See “Other People’s Mail,” p. 51, for contact information.
While it is practiced by almost everyone, consciously and unconsciously, hypocrisy has been elevated to its highest historic levels right here in the U.S. Not only has it become a staple element in almost every aspect of our foreign policy, it seems to have totally escaped being noticed, by either the practitioners or those upon whom it is practiced.
A classic example, worthy of attention if not acclaim, was an editorial in The Washington Post on the occasion of the low-key visit of President Hosni Mubarak. The Post spent both words and space underlining the failures of this weak reed, who has not delivered on three objectives he has publicly said he would work to accomplish: broker an agreement to cooperate between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority; end the flow of arms into Gaza; get the Arab states to make a gesture to encourage Israel to play nice. Well, talk about gross failure to get other people to do things that they may not really want to do.
Contrast his shameful lack of success with America’s glowing achievements in its own commitments; to broker an agreement—just to start talking—between Israel and the Palestinians; end the flood of arms into Mexico (or the tsunami of people coming the other way); encourage Israel to play nice. We know how to get it done, which justifies heaping public scorn on those who stumble.
Surely, somewhere in our government there is someone, somewhere, who can understand the potentially counterproductive impact of sending Hillary out to urge other nations to: seek peaceful solutions to problems (as we have done in Iraq and Afghanistan); talk to each other for this purpose (as we do with Iran); stamp out corruption (no comment); to do all sorts of good things which have largely eluded us.
OK, let me say it, since it is my phrase: this is Dynamic Hypocrisy, writ large. It does not, repeat not, advance our interests.
Of course they are worthy objectives, worthy of being urged upon others, but our claim to righteousness falls flat if we clearly are not following a similar approach or attaining the same goals. Far worse, we look like arrogant hypocrites...oh.
Ed Peck, via e-mail
We learned from traveling with you on our 2004 delegation to Palestine (see October 2004 Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, pp. 42-61) that, despite your humorous demeanor, you take words very seriously indeed. It was after that trip, which was a revelation to us all, that we first heard you insist, “It’s not a conflict, it’s an occupation!”
For the revelations experienced by more recent visitors—in this case, six schoolteachers from the Los Angeles area—see p. 36.
A Tale of Two Elections
I am presumably not alone in having noticed, in the immediate wake of Afghanistan’s elections, certain similarities (apart from the very low participation) to other elections held nearby a couple of months earlier. Both the incumbent president and his principal opponent declared their victories, by runoff-avoiding absolute majorities, even before the votes had been counted. Allegations of fraud were flying. Perhaps, if the “independent” electoral commission does announce a first-round victory for the incumbent, people will take to the streets of Kabul to demonstate against the obvious “stealing” of the election and in favor of true democracy.
It has been interesting to note the inconsistency in the response by Western governments and media to the election results in Afghanistan in comparison with their response to those other “disputed” and “controversial” elections in Iran.
Personally, I find it far easier to believe that a majority of Iranians could feel some enthusiasm for Mahmoud Ahmedinejad than to believe that any substantial number of Afghans could feel any enthusiasm for either Hamid Karzai or the current, no-end-in-sight Western military occupation of their country which he, as the hand-picked man of the occupiers, personifies.
John V. Whitbeck, via e-mail
Perhaps if the citizens of Afghanistan had a color of their very own...
Today, I visited the local library in my town as I wanted to see if they had started receiving copies of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, subscription that I ordered for them. I spoke with the head librarian and she said that because they get samples of lots of magazines, they just toss them. Unless the subscriber (me) has let them know that it is a donated subscription, magazines are tossed. I just thought I would let you know so that in the future, perhaps a notice could be sent with the first Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, issue to a library indicating that this is a gift subscription. Heaven knows how many libraries have tossed your magazine.
I found it interesting that I was asked if this magazine would offend anyone; also, were the political views contrary to other magazines in this library? (So much for freedom of speech in America.) I told the librarian that the magazine would inform Americans and counter what is being published in Time and Newsweek, for example. In the end, she said that would be OK.
Barbara Gravesen, via e-mail
We do include a note inside the first issue saying that the library has received a donated gift subscription. However, we encourage donors—and all library users—to let librarians know that they read the magazine and want their libraries to make it available. Since there are those who do not want their fellow citizens to have access to the information we provide, it’s also important to be on guard against attempts at sabotage—by removing issues from library shelves, for example (otherwise known as stealing), or hiding them behind other titles. These are not hypothetical occurrences, and we urge our readers to be ever vigilent and ever vocal!