Palestine

Punishing Israel

In light of recent events an adage needs updating:

Benjamin Netanyahu never seems to miss an opportunity, to miss an opportunity.

I am not the only one annoyed at Netanyahu’s maladroitness.

Two astute Middle East analysts, Meir Javedanfar and Hussein Ibish have noticed the issue, how Netanyahu has succeeded in isolating Israel and himself from potential allies by his own clumsy actions.

Ibish remarked on the UN vote:

Israelis must ask themselves how they lost their “quality minority” and why so many European and Western states that have been historically supportive of them or neutral moved rather dramatically today in the Palestinian direction. The war between Israel and Hamas shows that the situation on the ground is fundamentally unstable and untenable. The dramatic shift in the diplomatic landscape at the U.N. today demonstrates that the international community understands that and is losing patience.

Javedanfar puts his finger on it:

“The Iranian regime was hoping that the recent Gaza conflict between Israel and Gaza based militants would create a diplomatic crisis for Israel.

Unfortunately for the regime, this did not happen.

Ayatollah Khamenei must have been very disappointed to see that his regime’s military support for Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist groups did not lead to an Israeli military response which created a diplomatic crisis in Israel – EU and Israel – US relations.

What Iran could not achieve in Gaza, Netanyahu achieved for the Iranian regime with his latest plans for new settlement homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank: diplomatic crisis in relations between top EU countries and Israel. As Barak Ravid reported in Haaretz: “Europe threatens to withdraw support for Israel over settlement building plans”. According to the article the top 3 EU economic powerhouses Germany, UK, and France are protesting, so are the Dutch. More countries could follow.”

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The New Statesman’s Faulty Cartography

One noticeable aspect of the debate on the Middle East is not the lack of opinions, rather the inability to render history with any competence or accuracy.

I can understand polemics, they might be unhelpful but that’s what people do.

The problem in the West is the shaky grasp of facts that comes out whenever the Middle East is discussed.

One example of that phenomenon is the strikingly poor cartography found recently at the New Statesman, as shown below:

The top left image purports to show Palestine under the British Mandate between 1920-48.

However, it misses off over 32,000 square miles, ceded to Transjordan in the early 1920s.

That is a major omission for a modern publication.

After all it is entitled: Palestine British Mandate.

Missing a few miles might have been acceptable, but losing more than 32,000 sq. miles is incredibly sloppy for the New Statesman.

This Dartmouth College’s map of the region, just prior to division of the British Mandate in 1922:

UNESCO And Settlements

David Schraub makes an excellent point:

“In response to Palestine’s successful bid to gain membership in UNESCO, Israel has approved a wave of new settlement construction, apparently on the theory that hacking off one’s own nose is worth it to spite someone else’s face. Seriously, one gets the sense that radical Palestinians can just play Israel like a flute at this point. Do something Israel doesn’t like, and watch as they furiously self-destruct.”

I am not keen on the tone of this article at HuffPost, but it makes some pertinent points:

“But the end of U.S. involvement in one lesser-known UN body, the World Intellectual Property Organization, may pose the most direct consequences for American business interests. If the U.S. is forced to stop funding the group, it would open the door to a possible contest for the attention of lawmakers between the pro-Israel and Silicon Valley lobbies.

WIPO hosts forums for the negotiation of international treaties on copyright protection. It is an essential outlet for Hollywood and Silicon Valley businesses seeking to prevent infringement in the developing world, such as from those who pirate DVDs in China and elsewhere.

The consequences of a diminished US presence in WIPO could be devastating, experts on intellectual property law predict.

“You’re trying to engage developing and developed countries in enhancing intellectual property protections where there are already barriers to your success,” said Suzanne Stoll, the former WIPO representative in Washington and now COO of the IP lobbying firm Raben Group. “Now you add that you can’t vote in the annual governing bodies as the result of a 20-year-old legislative provision involving Palestine. It’s not a good position for the U.S government to be in. You have to anticipate some diminution of your influence in that body. There are always people and interests and nations waiting to fill a void there.”

The State Department has said it recognizes these consequences, and is looking for a way to work around them. Yet it has also indicated they cannot see a way forward without new legislation.”

UNESCO, Palestine, Syria And Julian Assange.

I think that the ultimate desire for a Palestinian state should be supported, as it is a very worthy aim. I won’t go over the arguments as Marko Attila Hoare does it far better than I could in his post, Israel and the West should embrace Palestine’s independence.

The decision today at UNESCO was a good one, however, the sour reaction from the US was not.

In related news, Tunisia has issued an arrest warrant for Mrs Arafat, presumably related to her connections with the dictator, Ben Ali.

Abuses against protesters in Syria is detailed at NBC.

Americans are worried about the gap in wealth.

The SPLC tries to help reformed Neo-nazis put their racist past behind them.

According to this report, weapons from Libya has leaked into Gaza.

George Brock looks at Julian Assange’s autobiography.

And a reflection on failing memory.