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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Palestinian Territories’

The Palestinian Authority’s ‘Israeli Affairs Committee’

Friday, August 30th, 2013

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

Instead of preparing Palestinians for peace with Israel, the Palestinian Authority leadership has decided to focus its efforts on winning the support of the Israeli public for a peaceful settlement based on the two-state solution.

In the context of its efforts to “convince” Israelis to accept the two-state solution, the Palestinian Authority recently established a special “Israeli Affairs Committee” with the goal of promoting the idea among the Israeli public.

The committee’s main task, in fact, is to scare Israelis that failure to accept all Palestinian demands would plunge the region into another cycle of violence and bloodshed. The Palestinian Authority is hoping that to avoid another intifada, intimidated Israelis would put pressure on their government to comply with Palestinian demands.

Over the past few weeks, in a bid to “influence” public opinion in Israel, this committee organized a series of meetings between Palestinians and Israelis, Palestinian sources told the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper.

The Palestinian committee, formed by Mahmoud Abbas, includes top PLO and Fatah officials Yasser Abed Rabbo, Nabil Sha’ath, Jibril Rajoub, Hanan Ashrawi and Mohamed Madani.

Last week, the committee organized visits by Israeli parliamentarians to Ramallah, where they held talks with Abbas and other Palestinian officials to discuss prospects for peace in the Middle East.

One of the committee members explained, “Those we are meeting are the leaders of Israeli society and they will decide its fate. The Israeli public no longer knows what is happening here in the Palestinian territories.”

It is always nice, of course, to see Israelis and Palestinians meeting and talking to each other.

But instead of devoting its efforts and energies to trying to persuade the Israeli public to support peace, it would be more helpful if the Palestinian leaders in the West Bank also tried to win the backing of their own people for the peace process.

Why should any Israeli believe the Palestinian Authority when most Palestinians appear to be opposed to the resumption of the peace talks?

Abbas does not even have the backing of the PLO and Fatah leaderships for his recent decision to return to the negotiating table with Israel, and returned to the peace talks with Israel against the advice of the PLO leadership.

Instead of inviting Israeli parliamentarians to Ramallah, Abbas might have tried to persuade the PLO and Fatah to support his efforts to achieve peace with Israel.

The Israeli parliamentarians who met with Abbas in his office last week already support the two-state solution and the peace process.

But most PLO and Fatah leaders remain opposed to the resumption of the peace talks.

As Abbas was meeting with the Israeli parliamentarians, thousands of Palestinians in the streets of Gaza City were demonstrating against the peace talks and two-state solution.

These are the people with whom Abbas needs to work to change their hearts and minds. These are the people who need to be told that peace with Israel will only do good for the Palestinians.

Why should any Israeli believe Abbas when his own supporters continue to wage a campaign to combat “normalization” with Israel?

While Abbas feels free to receive Knesset members in his Ramallah office, other Palestinians continue to receive threats for talking to, or doing business with, Israelis.

What is needed is a special “Palestinian Affairs Committee” that would work toward preparing Palestinians for peace with Israel.

The committee members should be asked to go to every mosque, school and university in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to talk about peace and coexistence with Israel.

The members also need to visit every village and refugee camp to talk to as many people as possible about the importance of peace.

They should also meet with representatives of all Palestinian factions to try to win their support for the peace process.

It would also be a good idea if such a committee would ask the Palestinian Authority to “lower the tone” and stop rhetorical attacks against Israel that drive Palestinians towards more extremism.

Inciting Palestinians against Israel through the media and mosques only serves the interests of Hamas and other radical Palestinians. Moreover, the anti-Israel rhetoric eventually undermines Abbas and anyone who conducts peace talks with Israel.

Obama’s Foreign Fiasco

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Originally published at Daniel Pipes.

It’s a privilege to be an American who works on foreign policy, as I have done since the late 1970s, participating in a small way in the grand project of finding my country’s place in the world. But now, under Barack Obama, decisions made in Washington have dramatically shrunk in importance. It’s unsettling and dismaying. And no longer a privilege.

Whether during the structured Cold War or the chaotic two decades that followed, America’s economic size, technological edge, military prowess, and basic decency meant that even in its inactivity, the U.S. government counted as much or more in world developments than any other state. Sniffles in Washington translated into influenza elsewhere.

Weak and largely indifferent presidents like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton mattered despite themselves, for example in the Iranian revolution of 1978-79 or the Arab-Israeli conflict in the 1990s. Strong and active presidents like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush had greater impact yet, speeding up the Soviet collapse or invading Afghanistan and Iraq.

But now, with Barack Obama, the United States has slid into shocking irrelevance in the Middle East, the world’s most turbulent region. Inconstancy, incompetence, and inaction have rendered the Obama administration impotent. In the foreign policy arena, Obama acts as though he would rather be the prime minister of Belgium, a small country that usually copies the decisions of its larger neighbors when casting votes at the United Nations or preening morally about distant troubles. Belgians naturally “lead from behind,” to use the famed phrase emanating from Obama’s White House.

Obama's 2009 speech in Cairo was a very long time ago.

Obama’s 2009 speech in Cairo was a very long time ago.

Qatar (with a national population of 225,000) has an arguably greater impact on current events than the 1,400-times-larger United States (population: 314 million). Note how Obama these days takes a back seat to the emirs of Doha: They take the lead supplying arms to the Libyan rebels, he follows. They actively help the rebels in Syria, he dithers. They provide billions to the new leadership in Egypt, he stumbles over himself. They unreservedly back Hamas in Gaza, he pursues delusions of an Israeli-Palestinian “peace process.” Toward this end, the U.S. secretary of state made six trips in four months to Israel and the Palestinian territories in pursuit of a diplomatic initiative that almost no one believes will end the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Doha, now more influential than Washington in the Middle East.

Doha, now more influential than Washington in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, the U.S. secretary of defense called Egyptian leader Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi 17 times in conversations lasting 60-90 minutes, yet failed in his pleas that Sisi desist from using force against the Muslim Brotherhood. More striking yet, Sisi apparently refused to take a phone call from Obama. The $1.5 billion in annual U.S. aid to Egypt suddenly looks paltry in comparison to the $12 billion from three Persian Gulf countries, with promises to make up for any Western cuts in aid. Both sides in Egypt’s deep political divide accuse Obama of favoring the other and execrate his name. As dozens of Coptic churches burned, he played six rounds of golf. Ironically, Egypt is where, four long years ago, Obama delivered a major speech repudiating George W. Bush policies with seeming triumph.

Obama’s ambitions lie elsewhere – in augmenting the role of government within the United States, as epitomized by Obamacare. Accordingly, he treats foreign policy as an afterthought, an unwelcome burden, and something to dispatch before returning to juicier matters. He oversees withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan with little concern for what follows. His unique foreign policy accomplishment, trumpeted ad nauseam, was the execution of Osama bin Laden.

So far, the price to American interests for Obama’s ineptitude has not been high. But that could change quickly. Most worrisome, Iran could soon achieve nuclear breakout and start to throw its newfound weight around, if not to deploy its brand-new weapons. The new regime in Egypt could revert to its earlier anti-Americanism and anti-Zionism; already, important elements in Egypt are calling for rejection of U.S. aid and termination of the peace treaty with Israel.

As an American who sees his country as a force for good, these developments are painful and scary. The world needs an active, thoughtful, and assertive United States. The historian Walter A. McDougall rightly states that “The creation of the United States of America is the central event of the past four hundred years” and its civilization “perturbs the trajectories of all other civilizations just by existing.” Well not so much perturbation these days; may the dismal present be brief in duration.

State Dept. Program Awards East Jerusalem to Arabs

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

Like all good things, this article started with an innocent press release from the U.S. State Department:

“The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the American Alliance of Museums, announced on Wednesday the selection of 11 new projects as part of the Museums Connect program. Museums Connect links U.S. communities with communities around the world through innovative, museum-based exchanges that foster mutual understanding while focusing on important topics like climate change, women’s empowerment, disability awareness, and civic engagement.”

So far, so good.

The projects, according to the note from my government, pair cultural institutions in the United States with partners from 11 international locales and involve community members, particularly youth, to reach beyond institutional walls.

Also good. Who wouldn’t want youth to reach beyond those institutional walls (especially if they’re well medicated).

The awardees of special attention from our Sate Dept. include a program called “Citizenship Unbound: Flag Stories,” uniting the Islamic Art Museum of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with SOMArts Cultural Center, San Francisco, CA, a kind of community-centered museum.

The program “Common Ground: Connecting Communities through Gardens,” unites this summer the Egyptian Agricultural Museum, Giza, Egypt, with Monterey County Agricultural and Rural Life Museum, King City, CA. Sounds a little lopsided – farming in California together with ancient pyramids, but, hey, whatever fuels your tractor.

There are more, similarly “unique” programs in that press release, and then it becomes even more interesting.

A program called “Design Diaries International” puts together the Minnesota Historical Society, Saint Paul, MN—a fine institution, established in 1849 to tell the story of Minnesota’s past, using the power of history to transform lives—with this other fine institution: the Palestinian Heritage Museum, East Jerusalem, Palestinian Territories.

You see? There goes Secretary of State John Kerry, schlepping around the Near-East trying to promote some compromise over the future of East Jerusalem, with both sides in the conflict holding fast to their demands that it’s a deal breaker – Jews cannot live without the City of David, site of two holy temples, the focus of Jewish aspirations for thousands of years, and Muslims must have that area where Mohammed’s horse possibly flew into heaven – when back at home the good people in his employ have already resolved the problem.

According to our State Dept., East Jerusalem is an inseparable part of the Palestinian Territories. End of discussion. Somebody should tell Bibi, I suppose, but, otherwise, we’re done here.

The Palestinian Heritage Museum resides in the girls’ orphanage Dar al-Tifel al-Arabi, on Abu Obeidah Bin Jarrah Steet in Jerusalem. A May 17, 2012 WAFA story announced that the Palestinian Heritage Museum at Dar al-Tifel al-Arabi in East Jerusalem reopened in ceremonies attended by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and the Assessor for Cooperation at the Italian Province of Pisa, Silvia Pagnin.

With an overall budget of 400,000 euros, the museum “intends to preserve and empower the Palestinian cultural and identity heritage and to train and retrain the museum’s staff.”

According to the Palestinian Visitor Information Center, the museum “displays traditional Palestinian clothing and jewelry previously unseen by the public and will provide courses on the conservation and restoration of antique textiles, jewelry and manuscripts.”

The museum’s other official name is “Empowering Dar al-Tifel Museum and Dar Isaaf al-Nashashibi” project.

In other words, they’re renting space from the girls’ orphanage, they put together a staff and they’re paying them to “train and retrain” with the Italian taxpayer’s hard earned money. Otherwise, it looks like nothing more than an address on which to pin the provocative address “East Jerusalem, Palestinian Territories.”

An EU press release dated July 3, 2013, announced that “The European Union (EU) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) signed on Tuesday a €2.4 million agreement with Al-Quds University aimed at the preservation of Palestinian cultural heritage in Jerusalem’s Old City.”

Among other things, “The program will contribute to the development and protection of Palestinian cultural heritage in the old city of Jerusalem, in addition to the improvement of socioeconomic conditions of its citizens through quality housing and tourism services,” the press release said.

So, the EU and the UN drum up this cockamamie plan, at around two and a half million bucks, to develop and protect Palestinian heritage (like it’s under attack), and our own State Dept. bolsters the same effort by pairing this theoretical museum with a very real one, in Minnesota.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/state-dept-program-awards-east-jerusalem-to-arabs/2013/07/11/

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