September 17, 2014

Middle East Media Sampler for February 28, 2012


1) Lara in wonderland

On February 26 and 27, there was an International Conference on Jerusalem in Doha Qatar. It featured participants from all over the Middle East.

Among those speaking was Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority and Israel's supposed peace partner. Elder of Ziyon analyzed his speech.

In 1967, the eastern part of Jerusalem was essentially a neglected slum. There was even a UNRWA refugee camp called Mascar in the old Jewish quarter that UNRWA closed – in 1965! – because conditions there were so horrendous and unsanitary.

Between 1948 and 1967, Jerusalem was a neglected backwater of the Arab world. There were essentially no Muslim pilgrims going there. And while thousands of Christians would indeed visit Jerusalem every Easter, that number increased dramatically after Israel regained possession of the holy city.

Abbas is pushing lies and incitement, and his speech is filled with hypocrisy about things like freedom of worship when he would ban (or, at best, severely restrict) Jews from ever visiting their holy sites in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron and elsewhere if given half a chance.

This speech reveals the ugly face of Mahmoud Abbas and how he is not interested in peace or co-existence at all, let alone the truth.

Nadav Shragai wrote in Israel Hayom:

You can’t sink any lower than that. Abbas is apparently relying on the world’s short memory – so here is a reminder: The kind of freedom of religion that thrives in Jerusalem today is unprecedented. Before 1967, things were different. The Arabs had vowed in writing (Article 8 of the 1949 Armistice Agreement with Jordan) to allow the Jews access to holy sites beyond the border, but in practice they prevented the Jews from visiting the Western Wall, Rachel’s Tomb and the Mount of Olives.

Incidentally, Bethlehem, which, in contrast to Jerusalem, was handed over to the Palestinians, did in fact become “Muslim.” The Christian majority there was severely oppressed by the Palestinian Authority and eventually became a minority.

The myth that the “Al-Aqsa Mosque is in danger,” which Abbas and his followers repeat like a mantra, isn’t only a despicable lie, it is also the direct opposite of the truth. It is precisely with the Temple Mount that Israel made an unthinkable concession — it essentially handed the Muslims the holiest Jewish site, even though it is only the third-holiest site in Islam. Archaeological excavations that supposedly attempt to “Judaize” Jerusalem have actually uncovered entire chapters of Muslim history alongside the Jewish and Christian findings. The archaeological park on the south side of the wall is just one example of this.

PM Netanyahu responded:

This is a harshly inflammatory speech from someone who claims that he is bent on peace. The time has come for the Palestinian leadership to stop denying the past and distorting reality. For thousands of years Jerusalem has been the eternal capital of the Jewish People. Jerusalem, under Israeli sovereignty, will continue to be open to believers of all faiths. There is freedom of worship for all and Israel will continue to carefully maintain the holy places of all religions.

Abu Mazen knows full well that there is no foundation to his contemptible remarks, including his baseless and irresponsible claims regarding the Al Aqsa Mosque. The State of Israel expects that one who supposedly champions peace would prepare his people for peace and coexistence and not disseminate lies and incitement. This is not how one makes peace.

Netanyahu's point about "denying the past," is especially important.

The Palestinian Authority committed itself to removing the sections of its charter that were inconsistent with the agreements it made with Israel. After one such session in which those sections were supposedly nullified, Yasser Arafat wrote:

We would like to put to rest these concerns. The Palestine National Council's resolution, in accordance with Article 33 of the Covenant, is a comprehensive amendment of the Covenant. All of the provisions of the Covenant which are inconsistent with the P.L.O. commitment to recognize and live in peace side by side with Israel are no longer in effect.

As a result, Articles 6-10,15, 19-23, and 30 have been nullified, and the parts in Articles 1-5, 11-14, 16-l8, 25-27 and 29 that are in consistent with the above mentioned commitments have also been nullified.

Included in the nullification is article 20, which reads:

The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine, and everything that has been based upon them, are deemed null and void. Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the true conception of what constitutes statehood. Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own; they are citizens of the states to which they belong.

The denial of a historical Jewish connection to the land of Israel, is a blatant violation of the terms of Oslo Accords. Unlike the building of apartments in Jerusalem, no creative interpretation is necessary to reach this conclusion. Yet there's been precious little comment about this obstacle to peace declared by the "moderate" leader of the Palestinians.

One American who was at the conference, was Lara Friedman of Americans for Peace Now. Though she denies that she went as a representative of her organization, she is identified as being with APN on the list of participants. Her presence at this anti-Israel hatefest discredits her and her organization.

It was however an eyeopening experience for Dr. Friedman, as she wrote after the first day of the conference in Jerusalem isn't just for Arabs either:

If representatives of the organization that sponsored the Arab Peace Initiative cannot bring themselves to acknowledge the legitimacy of Jewish equities in Jerusalem, they should know that they discredit their own professed interest in peace. Their framing of the future of Jerusalem as a zero-sum game only makes it more likely that Israel will continue asserting its current power over East Jerusalem to hinder the vision of two states living in peace with a Jerusalem as a shared capital.

All throughout the day, it was unfortunately the same story. Participants talked about Jerusalem as if Jewish history did not exist or was a fraud — as if all Jewish claims in the city were just a tactic to dispossess Palestinians. Here I do need to acknowledged the one person the entire day who I heard speak in a serious, credible way on this matter: veteran Palestinian diplomat Afif Safieh. In closing one of the afternoon sessions, Safieh emphasized the international consensus around the idea that in Jerusalem it is necessary to reconcile two national narratives — Israeli and Palestinian — and three religious narratives, Jewish, Muslim, and Christian. Safieh made clear that he thought this was still possible with a two state solution with two capitals in Jerusalem, an Israeli capital in the west and a Palestinian capital in the east.

It is my hope that the rest of the conference will deal more honestly and more constructively with the reality that Afif described and that I, as a Zionist who knows that the two-state solution is vital to Israel’s survival as a democracy and a Jewish state, believe is critical to any meaningful discussion of Jerusalem. I regret that the conference so far has not taken the issues related to Jerusalem more seriously, and I am proud that I am here representing a truly pro-peace — and thus be definition pro-Israel — perspective. Much of the discourse here thus far has been personally objectionable and even painful to me, but I believe my presence here is important for the cause of peace.

What Lara Friedman heard at the International Conference on Jerusalem is nothing new. The commitment of the Arab League and the Palestinian Authority to peace is dubious, as evidenced by statements they continue to make eighteen years after Oslo. If Friedman cared to know about them, she would. But her career as a "Zionist" is marked by holding Israel mostly (if not completely) to blame for the failure of peace despite the many concessions even the most "right-wing" governments of Israel have made.

Will this serve as a wake up call to Friedman? It hardly seems likely. Her response to the hatred and denial she heard was disappointment not outrage. No doubt she will return to the United States and continue finding fault first with Israel.

What will Americans for Peace Now do? Will it disassociate itself from Friedman? Or will it continue functioning without apologizing for the actions of its officer.

2) Why the Sorbonne is better than Harvard

Did you know that Harvard is sponsoring a one state solution (Imagine there's no Israel) conference?

Did you know that the Sorbonne is refusing to host an Israel Apartheid week event? (h/t Israel Daily News Stream)

About Daniel Goldstein

Daniel Goldstein is a media critic and recovering blogger. He has been critiquing media bias against Israel since his first letter to the editor in 1987.