BREAKING: Foreign journalist shows openness to criticism

Earlier today, we posted about an article in the Independent on Gaza post-war reconstruction which included the claim that the only construction materials permitted to enter Gaza are those which come from Israeli sources.

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CiF Watch prompts Guardian correction over Arab Israeli population stats

We recently commented on a Guardian editorial, ostensibly about Jerusalem’s recent municipal elections, which managed to legitimize the extremist view that the Jewish state should be replaced with a bi-national one – a final ‘solution’ to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict which, we noted, would be violently resisted by Jewish Israelis and lead to endless war.  

Here are the relevant passages:

As a thought experiment, however, it is fascinating. Extrapolating from the local situation in Jerusalem, what if all Palestinians made a strategic decision to seek full voting rights within the reality that is Israel, rather than demanding a separate Palestinian state? In other words, what if they transformed their struggle from a nationalist one into a civil rights one? 

Amid deepening despair as to the viability of a two-state solution, this is an option that is only going to attract more attention.

In addition to the profound immorality of denying Jews, and only Jews, their right to self-determination – a rejection of universal human rights implicit within the Guardian’s little “thought experiment” – there was also a factual error in the following passage:

Seventy-five per cent [of “Palestinians”] voted in the 1999 elections. Ten years later, it was 54%. The fact that it didn’t dip below half earlier this year was put down to a last-minute intervention by the Arab League urging the million or so Palestinians living in Israel to get out and vote [see footnote].

“Palestinians” is the Guardian term of choice for Israeli citizens who are ethnically or linguistically Arab – typically described as ‘Arab Israelis’, or ‘Arab citizens of Israel’ by most news outlets.  More importantly, contrary to the claim made in the sentence underlined above, there are actually over 1.6 million Arab Israelis, per Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics.

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 The Guardian undercounted this population by 600,000or so

After contacting Guardian editors, the following correction was added:

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Whilst we commend editors on this narrow revision, there’s no word yet if the ‘theorists’ within their London salon – known, perhaps ironically, as their “editorial board” – have had second thoughts over their legitimization of the position that, just perhaps, the Jewish state shouldn’t exist. 

Harriet Sherwood ‘Likes’ Facebook group which ‘pokes’ at Israel’s legitimacy

Harriet Sherwood’s latest post ‘Israelis use Facebook to deliver poke at democracy during elections‘, Jan 17, is about a Facebook initiative, called Real Democracy, which has “allowed hundreds of Israelis to ‘donate’ their votes to Palestinians as a symbolic protest at what they perceive as a lack of democracy.”

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Lack of democracy? In Israel?

Let’s see what they’re referring to.

Sherwood writes:

“[The scheme] matches Israeli voters who are willing to give up their vote with Palestinians who decide how – or whether – the vote should be cast. The organisers say it is “an act of civil disobedience against … the undemocratic nature of the Israeli elections … elections of a government which controls four million Palestinians without a voting right”.”

Note that Sherwood’s protagonist cites “four million” Palestinians “without a voting right’.  So, we’re not only talking about Palestinians in the West Bank, but, evidently, those in Gaza, too.

Perhaps the organizers are unaware that Palestinians in the West Bank are being ruled by a President, Mahmoud Abbas, who recently began serving his 9th year of a 4 year term, and that Palestinians in Gaza are citizens of an independent polity governed by Hamas – the masters of statecraft who expelled all political opposition in a violent coup over 5 years ago.

Sherwood continues:

Shimri Zameret, one of those behind the scheme, hopes that the numbers participating will be in the thousands by polling day. The aim is to give Palestinians a potential say not just in the next Israeli government but also in its “de facto control over the United Nations security council“. [emphasis added]

Since Israel doesn’t have veto power at the security council, let me venture to guess that Zameret, an Israeli “peace” activist imprisoned for refusing to serve in the IDF, is suggesting that Israel ‘effectively’ controls the UN security council by exercising de-facto control over a nation which actually does has veto power – an Israeli vassal known as the United States.

Here he is on Twitter proudly announcing the Guardian promotion of his campaign:

Finally, the goals of the program become a bit clearer in the penultimate paragraph.

“Ayah Bashir, 24, a university teacher in Gaza, has asked her Israeli counterpart, Dror Dayan, to boycott the election on her behalf. “I call for boycotting Israel at all levels, not just the election but academic, cultural and sporting boycotts,” she said. “The Israeli system is an apartheid system, and the Israeli Knesset [parliament] is a Zionist and racist institution.””

Truly surreal.

Ayah is a Palestinian living in a Palestinian controlled territory tyrannically governed by the undemocratic Islamist movement which calls for Israel’s destruction.

Ayah calls for the complete boycott and international isolation of Israel.

Ayah evidently believes that she is being disenfranchised, not by Hamas, but by Israel.

Ayah believes she should have a say in Israel’s election.

Of course, anything less would be completely undemocratic! 

The Czech Persuasion: Against grandiose ideas & miraculous solutions in the Mid-East

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H/T Evelyn Gordon

Following the annexation of Austria into the Third Reich in March 1938, Hitler assumed the role of advocate for ethnic Germans living in Czechoslovakia, triggering the “Sudeten Crisis”. In April, Sudeten Nazis demanded autonomy.  

In September that same year, French Prime Minster Édouard Daladier and British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain agreed to Hitler’s demand on the immediate occupation of the Sudetenland. 

The Sudetenland was relegated to Germany between October 1 and October 10, 1938.  However, the Nazis weren’t appeased for long.

The Czech part of Czechoslovakia was invaded by the Nazis in March 1939.

There was not to be “peace in our time”.

The question of why the Czech Republic, alone among the 27 EU countries, voted with Israel and only seven other countries at the UN on November 29 against upgrading the Palestinian status at the UN is likely related to Czech history, but is also informed by a broader understanding of the world – one quite at odds with the modern political zeitgeist,

In an interview following the recent Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference in Herzliya, Czech Ambassador Tomas Pojar responded to the suggestion that there are historical parallels between Czechoslovakia in 1938 and the pressure exerted on Israel today to agree to partition Israel and create a Palestinian Arab state.

He cautioned on imputing too great of a political parallel with the situation in 1938 in Central Europe, but still, he said, there are similarities.

“There are certain parallels in that Czechoslovakia was the only democratic country in the entire region at the time…There are parallels about how much guarantees you can get from outside, and how much you should rely on them.”

Pojar said that in addition to his country’s tragic experiences during World War II, it also had experiences under the yoke of Soviet totalitarianism. 

However, more intriguing that the historical questions are the cognitive-political habits which Czechoslovakia’s dark history seems to have imbued in the modern Czech Republic.

Pojar added:

“We don’t believe in miracles, and we don’t believe in political miracles and the solutions of ideologies that [posit that] something can be easily implemented and solved.

It is not only either war or peace… Even some interim solutions are sometimes better than crumbled expectations because of grandiose ideas.”

Pojar’s political temperament seems to be shared by an increasing number of Israelis in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian (and Israeli-Islamist) Conflict – political sobriety about the limits of big, radical solutions to the intractable problems of war and peace in the Middle East.

The paternalistic, imperious and often hubristic lectures by Americans and Europeans on the pressing need for Israelis to be “saved from themselves”, rescued from the morass of short-shortsightedness, shown the enlightened path towards co-existence and reconciliation with the Palestinian “other” within the framework of the “New Middle East”, seem frighteningly unmoored from the reality of our existence in the region.

Putative peace agreements, sweeping final-status proposals and unilateral withdrawals have not appeased, nor in the very least even-tempered, our neighbors’ insatiable Judeophobic antipathy.

Pojar, when asked if Europe takes Hamas’s statements calling for the destruction of Israel seriously enough, said he could not speak about the EU, but that he did not feel the “mainstream European elites” did so. The elites, he added, were “sometimes detached from reality”, and not only about the Middle East and the threat posed by Islamists.

After two decades of “noble and naïve ideas” that left the country “battered and bloody”, Israelis understand with a lucidity unburdened by puerile dreams or illusions that land is not valid political currency in the quest to acquire peace for Jews in the Middle East. 

The margin for error in such political calculations are minuscule, and the stakes are enormous.

While the comparison between Czechoslovakia in 1938 and Israel in 2013 can, of course, be overblown, our friends in the democratic West should at least view the dangerous failure, in the first half of the 20th century, of Europe’s stubborn belief in universality of reasonableness, the assumption of good will and the projection of our own positive-sum calculus to zero-sum political actors as a cautionary tale.

The wisdom of the ‘Czech Persuasion’ simply can not be easily ignored.