More on Palestine-related diplomacy

My ‘Delicious’ tagging system is not working. I found this fascinating article today by my very well-informed old friend Jihad Khazen on the recent Arab Foreign Ministers’ gathering and Condi’s meeti8ng with the ‘Arab Four’ (I hate the word ‘Quartet’ at this point.)
He writes:

    According to my information, the Arab group’s talks with Dr. Rice were confined to the Palestinian Cause. Rice heard once again that all the region’s issues are linked to the fate of this Cause, which is the core of all issues.
    Neither did Rice ask for the amendment of the Arab Peace Initiative, especially the refugees’ right to return, nor did the Arab ministers think of it.

This latter point is in direct contradiction to some Israeli whisperings and general hasbara to the contrary.
He also writes this:

    Two days ago, the main-story headline of Israel’s leading newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth was: ‘New Initiative to Coordinate an Overt Israeli-Saudi Summit’, with efforts exerted by EU Policy Chief Javier Solana and Rice. However, when I read the story, I found that it talked about a possible meeting between the Arab Quartet with Israeli officials. A meeting between officials is not a summit; and it certainly isn’t a Saudi-Israeli summit, if a meeting occurs in the first place. In an article a day before this, US renowned political commentator, Thomas Friedman, called on King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz to follow in the footsteps of the late president, Anwar Sadat, and visit Jerusalem.
    I can say that King Abdullah will not visit Jerusalem or deliver a speech in the Knesset, not tomorrow, or even after a thousand years. I also say the same for myself, although I always prefer to speak or write as a historian, not a fortune teller. But I’m sure of my information and my knowledge of King Abdullah and Saudi policy.

Also on the current Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy, read this from IPS’s Jim Lobe.
I’ve spent most of today at a meeting on Palestinian affairs at the venerable London foreign-policy think tank, Chatham House. I did tell them this morning that I now see new possibilities for real, constructive political change within the US political firmament. Many of the others there seemed skeptical. But the point Lobe makes in his last para there– namely, that even strongly pro-Israeli American members of the ICG board like Ken Adelman and Steve Solarz have signed on to the recent ICG Board Statement calling for engagement with the new Palestinian government, etc etc– seems strongly to prove my point.
Strikes me that the once firm-seeming ice-cap that the extremist pro-Israeli discourse-suppressors were once able to maintain over all aspects of the political discourse within the US has been melting gratifying fast… So now, the world might see some significant movement in the diplomacy over this long-frozen issue.

11 thoughts on “More on Palestine-related diplomacy

  1. Joshua

    “Strikes me that the once firm-seeming ice-cap that the extremist pro-Israeli discourse-suppressors were once able to maintain over all aspects of the political discourse within the US has been melting gratifying fast.”
    Helena assumes that if she repeatedly posts a counter-factual statement, that it somehow turns true.
    Thee has been no other country whose affairs have been debated within the U.S. as much as Israel.
    There’s a sad narcissism in Helena’s repeated moaning about the “Israel lobby.” Essentially, she assumes that if people don’t adopt her grossly misguided (and rather racist) views, that it must be because those pesky American people aren’t getting all the information.

  2. bevin

    It all depends what one means by “debate”, I suppose. My understanding of the term is that both sides of a dispute are put forward in order to elucidate the matter. I suspect Joshua means something rather different because what strikes me about the issue is that the Palestinian position is rarely heard, usually distorted and ignored.
    As to racism, it is surprising that, at this late date and given what is going on in the occupied territories (which is to say those occupied after 1948) the matter is raised. Joshua may not know what “debate” means but he can define chutzpah.

  3. vadim

    Joshua may not know what “debate” means but he can define chutzpah.
    what’s with the third person? How rude!
    I’d term countless articles and books on Israeli-Palestinian conflict, even AIPAC itself “debate.” What you’re doing is “pretending the debate hasn’t happened” because you don’t like its outcome.
    Less important than how many US citizens hear and understand the Palestinian position is the decision making environment of the combatants themselves; Israelis and their many hostile neighbors. Its noteworthy that Reporters without Borders consistently ranks Israel (37th) well above the Palestinian authority (127th), Syria (155th), SA(159), , even Lebanon (87th) on this critical measure – the freedom of the press. So who here really lacks understanding of “the other side?”

  4. John C.

    “What you’re doing is ‘pretending the debate hasn’t happened’ because you don’t like its outcome.”
    Oh yes, we can all debate ourselves silly. Meanwhile, it is illegal for Americans to provide financial support to Hamas, while it is mandatory for Americans to provide financial support to Israel. But history ain’t over yet. We have not seen the “outcome.”

  5. Joshua

    If you want to see what a lack of debate means, go to the Arab and Muslim world, where journalists advocating interfaith dialogue face trial and possible execution for “sedition” and where Zionism is a capital crime.
    In America, haters of Israel may face counterspeech. And that counterspeech tends to be persuasive and convincing to most Americans. That’s due to the strength of the discourse, not the lack of it.

  6. Helena

    Oh Joshua, bless you, here you are, always seeking to be first off the block to try to ‘refute’ whatever I write. I wonder what your evidence is for all the assertions you make? For my part, I have considerable evidence of the discourse-suppression efforts in the US of groups like ‘CAMERA’, ‘FLAME’, ‘Campus Watch’, etc.
    Or you can go read the excellent new Muzzlewatch blog.
    Or you could ask the editors of Atlantic magazine why they refused to publish the Walt/Mearsheimer article that they themselves had earlier commissioned…
    And then your ref to: the Arab and Muslim world, where journalists advocating interfaith dialogue face trial and possible execution for “sedition” and where Zionism is a capital crime.
    Your evidence for this extremely broad accusation is–?
    You can make all the assertions and crackpot claims you like. But without evidence they amount to nothing.
    Meanwhile, all these accusations look very much like an attempt to change the subject from the topic of the main post. There is new diplomatic dynamism toward entering a high-speed negotiation for a final peace agreement between Israel and its neighbors. Don’t you find this exciting?

  7. Joshua

    Helena, I find it amusing that, whenever I respond to a direct quote or assertion that you make, you complain about it being a diversion or off topic. This is particularly hypocritical of you because you allow plenty of posters to provide off topic links so long as they are derogatory of Israel or the U.S.
    Most of what you insist is “muzzling” is simply counterspeech. There is nothing wrong with individuals or groups pointing out the factual misrepresentations, double standards, and outright racism that is behind many of the attacks on Israel. And if those attacks do not gain currency, that’s not censorship, that’s simply a decision by people who listen that they are not interested in what the speaker has to say, or have simply rejected it. You are not asking for open and honest debate, but rather seek enhanced standing for anything which attacks Israel. Someone who speaks critical of Israel is, in this country, not jailed or beaten, but they may very well face a vigorous response. Facing criticism of one’s speech is not muzzling. Nor is it muzzling if a politician ultimately decides that he or she does not agree with the speaker’s position, or if a publication or public forum decides that the speech is not worthy of being heard.
    As for actual censorship in the arab and muslim world, I’m surprised you question that it exists. The examples I referred to are well known. Salah Choudhury, an independent journalist in Bangladesh, faces a trial for sedition, and possibly the death penalty, because he tried to speak in support of Interfaith dialogue and friendlier relations with Israel. In Iran, innocents, particularly Jews, are often arrested and face the death penalty on suspicion that they are supporters of Israel. Iran has one token Jewish member of parliament who is required to tour the national party line’s racist rejectionism.
    You can pretend to deny that there is no meaningful debate in the Arab world, but in your words, without evidence, it amounts to nothing.

  8. Joshua

    But as an olive branch to Helena, I will courteously respond to this….
    “There is new diplomatic dynamism toward entering a high-speed negotiation for a final peace agreement between Israel and its neighbors. Don’t you find this exciting?”
    Yes I do!!
    Particularly this latest initiative…
    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3382162,00.html
    I guess you’ll have to re-evaluate how “very well informed” your good friend Jihad Khazen is. But that’s a small point. We have an exciting opportunity to make real headway in resolving the problem of the descendants of Arabs displaced in their failed war against Israel. The question is, will you, in your roles of journalist and peace advocate, support this plan or oppose it?

  9. vadim

    Or you could ask the editors of Atlantic magazine why they refused to publish the Walt/Mearsheimer article that they themselves had earlier commissioned…
    Helena, as you should know, editors very often choose not to run articles they’ve commissioned. And the Atlantic is a privately owned magazine, not a public forum. They have no more obligation to publish W/M’s elaborate conspiracy theory than you have to host racist or misogynistic comments on your blog. Refusing to publish either doesn’t constitute censorship.
    For a real example of censorship, I’d recommend this report from RSF:
    http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=17202

  10. Helena

    Joshua, if you’d really engaged with my previous post on the diplomacy you’d have seen that I wrote explicitly there about negotiators crafting a package of different options that could be offered to the Palestinian refugee families– and the fact that this could still be understood as in line with R-194. The content of the ‘resettlement’ portion of this package obviously depends on what host countries (present and potential) might be prepared to offer… and the refugees themselves still retain their right to return to (some version of) their homeland–version yet to be negotiated– and to have full participation in any Palestinian referendum on the final package.
    The fact that Bandar may have been brainstorming this with Israelis and others is not surprising. But last I heard, he is not the Head of State of the Kingdom?? So these meetings by no means constitute a ‘summit’. Thus I am not sure on what grounds you’re calling into question Jihad K’s credentials?
    At a broader level, I find it interesting that you say that info about a possible, partial resettlement scheme for refugees is “particularly” exciting… But how about the prospect of a final end to nearly 60 years of conflict and the opportunity for Israelis and all their neighbors to turn swords into plowshares and rebuild relationships on the basis of equality and reciprocal respect rather than occupier and occupied… Don’t you find those prospects exciting, too?

  11. bevin

    I’d term countless articles and books on Israeli-Palestinian conflict, even AIPAC itself “debate.” What you’re doing is “pretending the debate hasn’t happened” because you don’t like its outcome. writes vadim
    If you really count AIPAC’s activities as debate, I rest my case.
    The truth is that AIPAC is concerned with the suppression of debate in America. We are all aware that as soon as politicians dare to question the AIPAC line massive energy is mobilised to unseat them or change their minds. But, as another comment notes, the outcome is still in doubt, the wheel is still in spin and, with astonishing heroism, the Palestinians manage to hold out, under enormous pressure, in the face of treachery and cowardice abroad. What more pressure can Israel exert? Its bag of tricks is almost empty. Palestine is screaming with pain, its infrastructure has been demolished, its leaders picked off by assassins and snatch squads… surrender is not an option. (Yes W, there is a real world in which such clicheed formulations have a real meaning)
    In the end AIPAC’s power is Israel’s weakness because it creates a false sense of impunity, invulnerability. It is easy to conquer Congress, every industry in America does it annually. Palestine and its brave people are a much tougher nut. It will take more than western disapproval or payoffs in Amman and Cairo to crack them.

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