>1) Jerusalem the panoramic
Of particular interest is a project titled, Jerusalem in International Diplomacy, by Dr. Dore Gold. The executive summary is here.
The July 2000 Camp David Summit was clearly a diplomatic failure. It resulted largely, though not exclusively, from the insurmountable gap between Israel and the PLO over the issue of Jerusalem. Prime Minister Ehud Barak and President Bill Clinton insisted on holding the summit apparently assuming that the diplomatic gaps between the parties could ultimately be bridged. Were they equipped with a more accurate assessment of the positions of the principal parties on the Jerusalem question, they might have anticipated that the summit would not succeed. For the PLO, the various Clinton proposals were a non-starter. But for Israel, as well, Barak's readiness to even consider concessions on Jerusalem led to the collapse of parliamentary support for his government, a massive public demonstration against the U.S. proposals, and finally, when combined with Palestinian violence, Barak's loss in national elections by an unprecedented majority to Ariel Sharon.
Israel suffered from a more fundamental diplomatic failure of its own, beyond its misreading of the Palestinian position on Jerusalem. The structure of the peace process, whereby Israel has focused all its energies on an abstract, albeit worthy, goal of peace, while the Palestinians' diplomatic energies were concentrated on a concrete goal of achieving a Palestinian state with a capital in Jerusalem, inevitably led the negotiations in the direction of the party with the more articulated objective — namely, the Palestinian goal of sovereignty in Jerusalem. This diplomatic asymmetry led to a clear-cut erosion of Israel's own claims.
Yet, a careful reading of the historical record of the Jewish presence in Jerusalem and an understanding of the international legal rights of the Jewish people to their historical capital might have led negotiators to take a stronger stand on behalf of Israel's rights in the city. This study was conceived with the purpose of providing both a more realistic understanding of the actual positions of the principal parties to the Jerusalem question and a deeper appreciation of the rights Israel possesses in Jerusalem for any future negotiations.
Gerald Steinberg and Naftali Balanson explain what the JCPA is fighting in How the EU-NGO alliance destabilizes Jerusalem.
It is bad enough that the EU funds a group whose leaders promote “one-state” polices and use demonizing rhetoric that incites hatred – the fact that this becomes the basis for policy is even worse.
While the EU/NGO reports are filled with false or misleading allegations targeting Israeli policy in Jerusalem, other basic information that contradicts this bias is entirely missing. Thus, there is no discussion of the role of the Jerusalem municipality in providing building permits for Arab residents of Jerusalem at a level comparable to Jewish residents; in opening post offices, public clinics, and classrooms; in inaugurating the light rail systems, which serves both Arab and Jewish neighborhoods; and with respect to other programs for the benefit of Arab neighborhoods.
The EU, again following the lead of these fringe NGOs that are their “advisors” on Jerusalem affairs, also erased the central security context and the historical background. For instance, both EU documents regarding Jerusalem assert an “institutional and leadership vacuum in East Jerusalem created by the prolonged closure of those institutions, in particular that of the Orient House.” They erase the background to the Orient House closure in August 2001, when, as part of Israel’s defense against mass terror, including the horrific Sbarro pizzeria bombing in the center of Jerusalem, Israeli security forces found stolen weapons in the Orient House and documents proving that Palestinian officials had been operating illegally from the building.
The Jewish Press takes you on a tour of Ir David. (The City of David)
2) The "debate" over Megrahi
The New York Times had a headline Libyan’s Death Brings Up Debate Over His Release. The article has precious little about the debate over the convicted Lockerbie bomber's release three years ago; it's more about doubts of Megrahi's incarceration – or guilt. In the debate over his release, the New York Times (on its op-ed page anyway) came down in favor of the release by allowing Saif al-Islam Qaddafi to argue (probably falsely) that Megrahi received No Hero's Welcome in Libya. Though about a year and a half ago the New York Times finally discovered that the Qaddafis were not nice people; it wasn't that long ago it allowed the family to avail itself of precious op-ed space.
3) Why there's no Arab spring
Simply put, a rosy outlook for countries like Egypt cannot be assumed on the basis of exhilarating images on CNN or Al Jazeera, or the fact that masses of young, well-educated, English-speaking men and women are connected through Facebook and Twitter. The great majority of Egyptians were not in Tahrir Square, and many of them lack not only access to online social networks, but also electricity and safe drinking water. Democracy and free speech are not at the top of their agenda.
Egypt's silent majority also identifies with the authenticity represented by various Islamic groups, while principles of democracy and civil rights seem to them to be imported Western abstractions. So the tremendous victory of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Al-Nour Party in Egypt — as well as that of Ennahda in Tunisia — should come as no surprise.
However, the Saudi royal family was not content to simply enforce its draconian media laws as a means to prevent unrest in the kingdom. In an attempt to buy the loyalty of his subjects, King Abdullah pledged more than $35 billion to the Saudi people upon returning from his three-month convalescence in Morocco on February 23rd. This package included increased funding for housing, studying abroad, and social security. State awarded its employees a 15 percent salary increase, and infused $10.7 billion into the country's development fund, which offers interest-free loans for Saudis to build homes, marry, or start small businesses. The measures were further designed to alleviate unemployment, believed to be around 40 percent for Saudis between 15 and 24.
These measures conspicuously lacked any indication that the king was considering the political reforms that masses were calling for around the region. The government proved as much when it arrested founding members of the Islamic Umma Party, a self-professed "moderate" party that blatantly flaunted the state's long-standing ban on political parties.
Nevertheless, based on the relative calm that prevailed, the financial package appeared to allay some of the concerns of Saudi citizens, at least for the time being. On the other hand, they may have been afraid of protesting due to the expected response of the Saudi state.