Was Arafat Really the Obstacle to Peace?





Mr. Gordon teaches politics at Ben-Gurion University, Israel.

The leader and symbol of the Palestinian people is dead. His departure from the political scene has far-reaching implications, particularly for Israeli-Palestinian relations.

The official Israeli line for the past four years has been that there is no Palestinian partner and that Yasser Arafat is persona non grata. Arafat has been blamed for being personally involved in planning and encouraging terror attacks. He has been accused of using funds donated by the European Union to finance terrorist activity and of establishing close links with those "forces of evil" -- Iran and Iraq. There has also been criticism for mismanaging and embezzling public resources and of using authoritarian methods to control the Palestinian administration and security apparatus.

While some of these allegations are no doubt true, they have been disseminated again and again by the Israeli government and media in order to create a "no-partner" myth. This was designed to convince the world that Arafat was an obstacle to peace, the major reason why the Oslo process collapsed.

Had it not been for Arafat, it was asserted, negotiations could have been resumed, the cycle of violence broken and ultimately peace attained. World leaders like Bush and Blair and many other shapers of public opinion all sang from the same hymn sheet, helping to promote the notion that Arafat was the primary hindrance to a just settlement.

Like every political myth, the "no-partner" one has been used to conceal rather than to reveal. It aimed to obscure the fundamental grievances fueling the conflict, namely that Israel has been occupying Palestinian land for thirty-seven years and that the number of Jewish settlers actually doubled during the Oslo process -- the years Israel was ostensibly preparing to withdraw from the territories.

The "no-partner" myth was also used to undercut basic Palestinian demands, which Arafat represented: Israel's full withdrawal to the 1967 borders, the establishment of a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem, and the recognition of the rights of Palestinian refugees. Finally, it sought to destroy Arafat's persona, for he had become an international symbol of resistance, a symbol of the Palestinian struggle for self-determination. And as the embodiment of this struggle, he had managed to unify Palestinian society -- both exiled and occupied -- and thus strengthen his people's national identity.

This potent myth accordingly suggested that the escalating conflict was due to the absence of a partner, rather than to Israel's unwillingness to address Palestinian grievances and demands.

Israel's problem is that Arafat's death will not resolve anything. The reasons for the conflict will persist. Prime Minister Sharon must therefore choose between two radically different courses of action. He can decide to address Palestinian claims, which undoubtedly would entail painful compromises by Israel but could eventually lead to peace in the region. Alternatively, he can fashion a new myth, one that would again divert the public's gaze from the real issues, and enable Israel to continue expropriating Palestinian land and destroying the population's infrastructure of existence. This latter option is the one Sharon will most likely embrace. The question then becomes: What new myth will be created?

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Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 11/19/2004

You may be right, or the Palestinians will opt to select non-corrupt terrorists to lead them. What a choice! Politicians who only care about lining their pockets- but may be a partner for peace... OR leaders who only care about murdering innocent men, women, and children, but are remarkably honest.


Vernon Clayson - 11/18/2004

Not really, he was a thief and liar of unbelievable proportion and evil incarnate. Israel should have made him a martyr when they had the chance, now it is too late, now all the Palestinians have is the memory of him hunkered down in the crumbling remains of his office, greedy and grasping to the last. No one wants the Palestinians in their country, not Syria, not Jordan, not Saudi Arabia, why should the Israelis? A new leader will emerge for the Palestinians but he will also conceal his ever growing treasury as Arafat did while telling the miserable populace that the Israelis are the cause of their torment. The $150,000.00 a month provided his wife is likely only the tip of the iceberg, does France count
Arafat Inc., as one of their premier industries?


N. Friedman - 11/17/2004

Adam,

There is an error in my paragraph which reads: "If you read the most pertinent document, namely, Security Council Resolution No. 242, you will see that it calls for working out "recognized boundaries" with the states (and there were none at that time) that already exist and not for the creation of a Palestinian state. In fact, the notion of the Palestinian state was, in 1967, not on the International agenda including the agenda of the Arabs."

That paragraph should be changed to read:

If you read the most pertinent document, namely, Security Council Resolution No. 242, you will see that it calls for working out "recognized boundaries" (and there were none at that time) with the states that already exist and not for the creation of a Palestinian state. In fact, the notion of the Palestinian state was, in 1967, not on the International agenda including the agenda of the Arabs.




N. Friedman - 11/17/2004

Re: law rises above political biases... (#46895)
by Adam Moshe on November 17, 2004 at 8:33 AM

Adam,

1. "I am merely suggesting that to the extent Israel does not participate in UN resolutions (by following them, in other words) it should have no relevance to whether the UN passes resolutions that are actually fair and credible rather than flagrantly one-sided, as Chris suggested."

While no doubt my point here will receive noxious lists of resolutions which Israel allegedly fails to follow, I believe that, in the main, Israel has, in fact, followed the main resolutions related to its disputes with the Arab world.

If you read the most pertinent document, namely, Security Council Resolution No. 242, you will see that it calls for working out "recognized boundaries" with the states (and there were none at that time) that already exist and not for the creation of a Palestinian state. In fact, the notion of the Palestinian state was, in 1967, not on the International agenda including the agenda of the Arabs.

You will further note with respect to UN 242 that it calls for the withdraw from territories captured in that war. That proposition, if you read reasonably carefully, is part of a statement of two guiding principles, one of which being the determination of recognized boundaries, ending the state of war, etc. and the other one being the withdraw from captured territory. Which is to say, there were no unilateral demands on anyone but instead working principles for settleling the dispute.

In fact, Israel negotiated with Egpyt and worked out a recognized boundary and then with troops to that boundary. In addition, Israel negotiated with Jordan and came to an agreement on the recognized boundary. [Not known to many people is that the recognized boundary between Israel and Jordan is along the Jordan River.] Lastly, Israel negotiated with Syria but failed, for whatever reason, to come to terms.

So far as UN 242 is concerned, Israel has followed its stated precepts. It has also sought, as indicated under UN 242, to work toward a settlement regarding the refugees. As I have previously note, UN 242 does not require Israel to take in any refugees and UN 242's precepts also apply to the states at war with Israel. Nothing in the treaties with Egypt and with Jordan alters the main point.



2. “The reality is that Israel is so heavily resented in the world either because they are Jewish, or because they are a predominantly white people against a predominantly non-white people. This, in my opinion, explains why non-white people slaughtering other non-white people in the millions receives no attention, no outrage, and little concern. Nowhere is this seen more flagrantly than the story of Israel in Lebanon. The anarchy, the massacres, the human rights violations on all sides, indeed the entire tragedy has produced, not surprisingly, one simple narrative: Israel went into Lebanon and is responsible for a massacre. The murders, rapes, and sheer chaos has been totally forgotten, and thus forgiven by the international community."

I think there is more to this than what you suggest. Which is to say, there is, as Bat Ye'or's book Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide, the sustained campaign against Israel, while one thing in Europe - an attack on Israel and its legitimacy - is a very, very different thing entirely to Muslim Arabs in the Middle East.

The issue to these Muslim Arabs is the non-legitimacy of ***any*** non-Muslim rule and ***any*** form of equal rights for non-Muslims. Or, to put the matter differently, the objection to the Maronite Christian push for independence - really an effort, like Israel, for the survival of a non-Muslim minority within the Muslim dominated part of the world - is exactly the same objection to Israel, namely, that the rulers are not Muslim. The Europeans, in their ignorance, ignore entirely the actual rhetoric from the Muslim Arabs which views both Jews and Christians the same.

On her analysis, the focus on Israel's actions in Lebanon is, in fact, something central to Europeans. By contrast, in the political discussions of Muslims in the Middle East, the focus on Israel is within the saying, First comes Saturday (i.e. the Jews) and then comes Sunday (i.e. the Christians). [I note that the Saturday Sunday saying is not her analysis but actual quoted rhetoric from the region.]

I happen to think her analysis on this point is rather interesting and, quite possibly, correct. If she is correct, the real issue is the protection of non-Muslim interests in the Middle East and surrounding regions.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 11/17/2004

1) “However, the notion that International Law is anything other than a fiction is, so far as I can tell, ***objectively*** untrue. Which is to say, decision are rendered but, unless the parties involved actually agree to be bound by the results of the decision, the decisions are mere words.”

I suppose what it comes down to is how one defines a law. However, even if law requires some mechanism for enforcement, international law still exists for much of the world, but obviously not as much for the enforcers (i.e. the Superpower). The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of international law does exist and is followed quite reliably. This includes treaties regarding trade, international travel arrangements, extradition, and other issues. It is really when it comes to war and peace and human rights that the tenets of international law break down. This is because these issues do not benefit the countries who are targeted by international law. Unlike, say, treaties allowing overhead flights through another country’s airspace, Sudan has no reason to participate in a law that calls for the fundamental reorganization of its social system.

So, does international law exist? I would say most definitely, but not in every instance, and certainly not when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For this and other issues, I would readily agree with your designation of law as “a mere political arrangement.”

2. "With due respect, Israel has not rejected its own participation in the International Community. The facts are more the other way around.”

I do not disagree at all. I am merely suggesting that to the extent Israel does not participate in UN resolutions (by following them, in other words) it should have no relevance to whether the UN passes resolutions that are actually fair and credible rather than flagrantly one-sided, as Chris suggested.

3) “The world's indifference to the narratives of those who are victims of the the world's current Muslim/narrative folly is astounding because the world, instead - faced with a true genocide in Sudan - thinks that the Arab Israelis dispute, where 4,000 people, not 2 million as in Sudan, is the central issue of our time.”

I could not agree more. The reality is that Israel is so heavily resented in the world either because they are Jewish, or because they are a predominantly white people against a predominantly non-white people. This, in my opinion, explains why non-white people slaughtering other non-white people in the millions receives no attention, no outrage, and little concern. Nowhere is this seen more flagrantly than the story of Israel in Lebanon. The anarchy, the massacres, the human rights violations on all sides, indeed the entire tragedy has produced, not surprisingly, one simple narrative: Israel went into Lebanon and is responsible for a massacre. The murders, rapes, and sheer chaos has been totally forgotten, and thus forgiven by the international community.


N. Friedman - 11/17/2004

That sounds logical. I would, however, not hold my breadth waiting for success.


E. Simon - 11/17/2004

Removed at request of the poster.


N. Friedman - 11/17/2004

Mr. Simon,

There are issues with Shari'a, at least as it has thus far been understood, which make me rather doubtful of Noah Feldman's theory - at least if I have correctly understood your explanation -.

First, Shari'a is not merely a source of law. It is treated, except by real reformists, as divine and perfect such that it, unlike the common law, is immutable. This means that looking to Shari'a, unless a large reform movement somehow arises, means taking the good with the bad.

It is worth noting that most of the efforts to introduce Shari'a as a mere source of law have failed dreadfully. Thus, in Egypt, there is steady slippage to traditional Shari'a including its worst features. The same is true in Pakistan, etc., etc.

Second, and following from the first comment, when Shari'a is implimented, that includes an entire group of laws and not merely law that is common to Judea-Christian civilization. More specifically, Shari'a has an entire group of laws directed to non-Muslim minorities which, you will note, are divided into various groups.

Those groups include protected minorities (i.e. dhimmis) and non-protected infidels (e.g. Bahá'ís). Dhimmis are, in the best case, treated worse than under apartheid in South Africa. Which is to say, under Shari'a, if a Muslim kills a Dhimma or an unprotected person, the penalty is a mere slap on the wrist, if that much. Such means, as anywhere else that murder has no penalty, substantial violence against those without real recourse to the courts.

Moreover, dhimmis are forced to wear special clothing and to (dismount and) move to the left side of the road when a Muslim passes near; such persons cannot testify against a Muslim in court; dhimmis are forbidden to maintain their religious institutions or to build new ones; they are forbidden to pray in a manner, even at home, such that a Muslim might somehow hear the prayer.

Further, Dhimmis are required to pay both a special tax called a Jhirza - basically legal consideration for the protection contract (i.e. the dhimma) by which the protected non-Muslim is tolerated - as well as a land tax. The money from this tax is called a Fey (i.e. war booty - because the dhimma contract is the legal result of a successful Jihad war -) and is for the use of the Muslim part of the community.

Of critical importance, while the dhimma (i.e. protection contract) is a contract in one sense, Muslims may declare the contract null and void without any justification. It is to be noted, that breaking the dhimma is basically the norm since, in fact, dhimmi then has no recourse so there is a built in incentive for heads I win, tails you lose. And such means, as a practical matter, the prohibition on forced conversions - which, in fact, is commonplace in Islamic history - is observed primarily in the breach and, moreover, it means that there have been endless series of massacres against dhimmis.

You will note that such is a major reason why the practice of Christianity and Judaism declined under Islamic law wherever practiced. Which is to say, such people were so harrassed that they fled, or they were forced to convert (as is now occuring, by means of witholding food in Sudan) or they were killed en masse.

Those not under the dhimma or not eligible to be protected by the dhimma are mere infidels and may be forced to convert or, if they refuse, killed. Such, you will note, places groups like the Bahá'ís and animists at great risk wherever Shari'a emerges, as it now has in Iran and Sudan.

While I tend to agree with you if you are saying that the law, within Islamic society, will have to run in accord with tradition, I think such will prove very, very difficult and is, likely, centuries away from occurring in any meaningful way. Amd again, such is because the law is considered entirely immutable.


E. Simon - 11/16/2004

I think it's possible that Mr. Petit's assertion regarding "the three headed monster of politics, nationalism, and religion” is even less accurate than is being pointed out. If one believes in natural rights, then regardless of the nature of an ostensible diety, the fact remains that that their philosophical development and justification were midwived into the pantheon of human understanding from Locke's Treatise(s) of Government or related works - works which specifically invoke biblical motifs to justify the inviolability of the individual and individual rights.

John Locke. Two Treatises of Government, Book I. Chapters 3 through 6.

This kind of talk is also extremely disparaging to figures such as the Dalai Lama. Further, Mr. Petit might be familiar with Noah Feldman, who argues that sharia can form the basis of an equivalent in the Muslim world to English common law, as a loose framework (as opposed to a solid bedrock) upon which the institution of freely self-governing and tolerant societies might be more easily grafted, in similar fashion as was the case in British society - the same society which played such a crucial role in advancing the precursors of the ideas that he holds in such high esteem.

Opposition to slavery received heavy support in Congregational-Presbyterian, Quaker and Methodist churches in the U.S., as well as Evangelical sects in Great Britain, even if in the case of the former their stance was unmatched by strong leadership on the issue in the face of a desire to maintain relationships with their Southern equivalents. It seems that if the right elements are available in the larger society, religious institutions can be as helpful as they can be a to facilitating an additional hindrance in the setting of a society that is less tolerant.

So of course, one can't conclude that religious elements don't ever play a role in perpetuating intolerance, extremism, deprivation of liberty or ambiguously supporting an unjust status quo. Indeed, they often do. But I think his statements regarding religion are as much an oversimplification as are his comments on law and politics.


N. Friedman - 11/16/2004

Derek,

Once people understand that merely folding minority groups into the greater Muslim fold is not an adequate understanding of the situation of such minority groups within Muslim dominated regions, then, most critically, ventures such as Israel and that of the, now doomed, Maronite Christians are seen as being rather just endeavors and, hence, good policy. And such endeavors are just.


Derek Charles Catsam - 11/16/2004

Thanks.


N. Friedman - 11/16/2004

Derek,

Well said. I agree.


Derek Charles Catsam - 11/16/2004

If one believes in the right of return, one also must believe in the rights of settlers in Gaza and the West Bank. One cannot honestly believe in one without the other. And if you believe ardently in both, then you do not support a two state solution. And if you do not support a two state solution, you support one of two things: eradication of the state of Israel or a state of Israel that extends from the Jordan to the Meditteranean. Any other assertion is merely artifice.
dc


Derek Charles Catsam - 11/16/2004

Let's be clear -- those who claim to be anti-Zionist but not anti-semites either do not understand what Zionism is or else are admitting to a rather galling fact: They do not believe in israel's right to exist. That is all Zionism is -- the belief in the right of a state of Israel. If you are anti-Zionist, you are anti-Israel.
dc


N. Friedman - 11/16/2004

Adam,

1. "This is not in dispute. However, laws may exist without legitimacy. After all, we created a law prohibiting alcohol in this country, even enshrining it in our Constitution. What good is a law however, when it is not obeyed, lacks any moral credibility, and is made by an institution with no legitimacy to the people who are the target of such a law? International law does exist. What that means to the peace process however, is another matter entirely."


What you have written is very, very well considered, at least in the domestic law setting.

However, the notion that International Law is anything other than a fiction is, so far as I can tell, ***objectively*** untrue. Which is to say, decision are rendered but, unless the parties involved actually agree to be bound by the results of the decision, the decisions are mere words. And, even then, if the decisions find disfavor at home, they are ignored or subverted. Or, to put the matter differently, the decisions are often more akin to mediation.

I would welcome actual historical evidence that International law, in the sense meant by Chris (i.e. as it affects internal politics in a country), represents something other than the interests of countries which benifit from such a system of law. Which is to say, International law is a mere political arrangement.

I might add, the ICJ decision against Israel is exactly of that ilk. The decision, based on no sworn and cross-examined testimony and no fact finding mechanism (other than a list of facts, many of which are innacurate and/or incomplete, from the UN and statements from non-witnesses), included findings of fact that were literally made up (e.g. by the Egyptian judge) and are an attempt by one group, which has business and political interests involving oil, to force its political will on another group.

2. "I would agree with the second precondition, but not the first. Since when has Israeli participation in the international community been a precondition for the UN to take action? Why should Israel abdicate its responsibility to its citizens in order to appease a community that places no such obligation on the Palestinians? The UN must demonstrate that it is an institution of sanity and reason before Israel should truly participate, not the other way around."

With due respect, Israel has not rejected its own participation in the International Community. The facts are more the other way around.

If there is an International Community, then it has rejected Israel's participation in it. There is, I think, overwhelming historical evidence supporting that view.

As I see it, the world has for now bought into to an historical narrative which requires political and other interests, where Muslims are involved to any extent, to be justified with reference to the Islamic population. At the same time and due to such point of view, the world now thinks it expedient to ignore the interests of the Jewish, Christians (e.g. Copt, Armenians, Maronites, Southern Sudanese Christians) and animists (e.g. in Southern Sudan) who suffer terribly at the hands of the Muslim population of the region.

Returning to your point, when the world eventually reconsiders its effort to placate the Muslim world and considers the harm that the current placation policy represents, then the world will naturally see the Jewish, Christian and animist historical narratives as such groups see themselves, namely, as forces seeking freedom from supression by the dominant Muslim group. At that point, the UN will, in fact, care what Israel, the Copts, the Maronites, etc., want and ***also*** consider them part of the International community.

In the meanwhile, we shall continue to watch the multi-decade Jihad in Sudan against Christians and animists (2 million invisible deaths), the ongoing radical suppression and murder of Copts in Egypt (of interest, evidently, to almost no one except me) and Christians and other minorities in Iran, the annihilation of Maronite Chrisian interests in Lebanon (a matter of indifference other than to the 100,000 people killed to prevent Maronite independence) and the effort to destroy Israel by the Palestinian Arabs and their Arab and European friends.

The world's indifference to the narratives of those who are victims of the the world's current Muslim/narrative folly is astounding because the world, instead - faced with a true genocide in Sudan - thinks that the Arab Israelis dispute, where 4,000 people, not 2 million as in Sudan, is the central issue of our time.

So, again, it is the world's understanding which needs to be adjusted, not Israel's.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 11/16/2004

1) “Law was created and exists...especially internationally...to overcome the biases created by the three headed monster of politics, nationalism, and religion.”

This is not in dispute. However, laws may exist without legitimacy. After all, we created a law prohibiting alcohol in this country, even enshrining it in our Constitution. What good is a law however, when it is not obeyed, lacks any moral credibility, and is made by an institution with no legitimacy to the people who are the target of such a law? International law does exist. What that means to the peace process however, is another matter entirely.

2) “Adam...I actually fully agree with your analysis of the right to return and think that there should be a relevant SC resolution or something (ICJ decision perhaps is Israel finally decides to join the rest of the world?) that recognizes the steps taken and historical facts on the ground that dictate that the right to return is infeasible.”

I would welcome such a resolution but if it never comes (and let’s face it, it will never come), I am not prepared to give any credence to those who believe that only with the presence of such a resolution should the Palestinians give up such a so-called right. They should give it up the same reason they should give up the demand for the destruction of Israel: because so long as the demand remains, there will never be peace.

3) “Unfortunately, that will take two things 1) Israel actually joining the international community and utilising legal means to properly overcome the hurdle and 2) the Palestinians actually finding a leader who is not a piece of human waste who, like the Dalai Lama has done in regards to Tibet, can recognize that the historical and cultural reality is that the right to return is infeasible, and enough cultural erosion and change has occurred (in some cases cultural genocide, but that is another discussion) that reality dictates the right to return be blunted in one way or another.”

I would agree with the second precondition, but not the first. Since when has Israeli participation in the international community been a precondition for the UN to take action? Why should Israel abdicate its responsibility to its citizens in order to appease a community that places no such obligation on the Palestinians? The UN must demonstrate that it is an institution of sanity and reason before Israel should truly participate, not the other way around.

4) “What I have done is lay out the legal fact that the right to return, as it currently stands, is an inalienable right that cannot be overcome through political rhetoric or non-binding accords.”

I disagree. They may have the legal right to return but it is hardly an inalienable right, especially since this so-called right is denied to every other refugee group on the planet earth. Legal rights are what you are arguing, and I do not disagree, although I maintain that legality must give way to reality at some point. As for a moral right, there is nothing in my value system that tells me that a country who acquires land in a defensive war must repatriate a hostile population that composes the descendents of those who MAY have willingly left on their own accord.

5) “The argument you make logically ends in that there is no such thing as international law, nor law period, since every law is broken at some point.”

I disagree. A law prohibiting shoplifting is often broken, but that law still has legitimacy in society and the belief that it is right and just to have such a law. Society thus feels no moral indignation when a shoplifter is prosecuted. Even shoplifter themselves accept the fundamental legitimacy of law (or at least, every one that I have encountered). However, going back to prohibition, this was a law that was not only ignored, it was seen as illegitimate by much of the population, especially in law enforcement. International law certainly exists, as does domestic law. However, neither have any relevance so long as they lack the necessary credibility among its subject and moral legitimacy. Otherwise, it may be relegated to those daily desk calendars that display some antiquated law (which is still a law by any definition) that is no longer enforced and marginalized to the point of silliness.

6) “According to your logic, since a minority of the people in the world get away with murder, I could as well and make that argument. It does not hold up under logical or rational scrutiny.”

As I have demonstrated above, your analogy does not hold to the logic. One could just as easily say that by your logic, Dr. Martin Luther King was wrong to argue against the morality or validity of any US laws, but should instead have simply participated in the political process and petitioned the government to change the law.


N. Friedman - 11/16/2004

Chris,

"how many times do I have to beat you over the head with this before you get it? Law was created and exists...especially internationally...to overcome the biases created by the three headed monster of politics, nationalism, and religion."

I do not think your statement is factually accurate. I think International Law was created in order to serve the interests of countries which benifit from such a system of law. I also think such system of law to be an occasionally useful fiction. Which is to say, while I support International law, I take it as a political matter, not something above politics.

However, I think that Hobbes' view of the matter is quite correct. Which is to say,

"Hereby it is manifest that during the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war; and such a war as is of every man against every man. For war consisteth not in battle only, or the act of fighting, but in a tract of time, wherein the will to contend by battle is sufficiently known: and therefore the notion of time is to be considered in the nature of war, as it is in the nature of weather. For as the nature of foul weather lieth not in a shower or two of rain, but in an inclination thereto of many days together: so the nature of war consisteth not in actual fighting, but in the known disposition thereto during all the time there is no assurance to the contrary. All other time is peace.

Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of war, where every man is enemy to every man, the same consequent to the time wherein men live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them withal. In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."


N. Friedman - 11/16/2004

Chris,

You speak of cultural genocide. I would appreciate if you would find me any distinction, pre-Zionism, which distinguishes Palestinian culture - on the West side of the Jordan River - from the culture on the East side of the Jordan River. I would also appreciate if you would find me any document suggesting that there was a distinguishable culture for Palestinians that pre-dates Zionism.

Note: I am not saying that such a culture might not exist. However, in years of study, I have yet to find a distinction between Palestinian and Jordanian culture that pre-dates Zionism. I would, however, be interested, since you think that culture has been subject to "cultural genocide," to have you explain something about that culture.

Here is another question for you. Are 856,000 Jews expelled from Arab countries, since the 1940's, and their 3 million or more offspring entitled to a right of return? And, if so, is that a cause you would represent? And, if not, why not? And, why do you think the International community does not take up the cause of the Jewish refugees from the so-called Arab world?

Lastly, you speak of "cultural genocide." I think that is a BS term. There is such a thing as genocide. Such, you will note, was suffered by the Armenians, at the hands of the Arabs and Turks, and the Jews at the hands of the Nazis and Arabs.


N. Friedman - 11/16/2004

Chris,

What follows first is an extract from the European Parliament. Thereafter, is a comment on it from Haaretz.

******************

Parliamentary Assembly
Assemblée parlementaire


-----------------------------------

Recommendation 1612 (2003)1

The situation of Palestinian refugees


-----------------------------------

1. The Parliamentary Assembly refers to its previously adopted texts on the situation in the Middle East, and in particular to its Resolutions 1245 (2001), 1281 (2002) and 1294 (2002), and reaffirms its strong condemnation of the escalation of violence in the region since September 2000, as well as of all the acts violating human rights, including the disproportionate use of force by the Israeli army and the terrorist attacks in the current wave of intifada.

2. The Assembly deplores the lack of progress so far in the peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Both parties to the conflict must show more flexibility and engage in a true political dialogue. The Assembly expresses its hope that the third phase of the Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict drawn up by the quartet of international mediators (the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia) will bring an end, not only to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but will make a contribution to the rapid settlement of the Palestinian refugee problem.

3. It is a matter of great concern that the question of refugees remains a major obstacle to achieving a sustainable solution. Although the creation of a viable Palestinian state would largely contribute to the sustainable solution of the refugee issue, the situation of the latter, being both a political and a humanitarian problem, cannot wait for the political settlement of the Middle East conflict.

4. The situation of the 3.9 million refugees registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), of whom 1.2 million people are living in camps in miserable conditions, is not only unacceptable from a humanitarian point of view, but constitutes a major threat to stability and security in the region.

5. The Assembly considers that the services of UNRWA must be fully maintained until a permanent solution is found. The international community must step up its voluntary financial contribution to the budget of UNRWA, with a view to at least allowing it to reflect the natural growth of the Palestinian refugee population being assisted by this agency.

6. The Assembly recognises that there has been a new reality in the Middle East since the Arab-Israeli war of 1948 which created the refugee problems. It calls on all the parties involved in these problems to negotiate and achieve a just settlement based on United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 (1967).

7. In particular, a large number of refugees who prefer to stay in host countries in the region should be compensated and provided with financial support allowing them to settle permanently.

8. Third countries, including the Gulf States and the Council of Europe member states, should also contribute to the sustainable solution of the problem by accepting a certain number of refugees. The Assembly reaffirms its call for a new fund to be established by the United Nations with a view to financing the forthcoming cost of resettlement: the Palestine refugee and displaced persons final status fund.

9. The question of the legal status of the Palestinian refugees outside the region remains an issue of concern. Legal status is essential in establishing any person’s legal, social and economic situation: Palestinian refugees are at a clear disadvantage in this respect and must therefore be given a recognised legal status.

10. Accordingly, the Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers call on Council of Europe member states:

i. to review their policies in respect of Palestinian asylum-seekers, with a view to effectively implementing the United Nations High Commission for Refugees’ (UNHCR) new guidelines on the applicability of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, published in 2002;

ii. to ensure that where Palestinian refugees are legally recognised, they are entitled to all the benefits of socio-economic rights normally afforded to recognised refugees in these member states, including the right to family reunion;

iii. to include the information on Palestinian origin in the statistics concerning asylum-seekers and refugees;

iv. to support the activities of the UNRWA by providing or stepping up voluntary financial contributions to its budget;

v. to promote the idea of establishing a Palestine refugee and displaced persons final status fund under the aegis of the United Nations, to finance the forthcoming cost of resettlement;

vi. to make provision in their budgets for donations to this fund;

vii. to contribute to the international debate on sustainable solutions offered to the Palestinian refugees, and encourage and commission political and academic research and studies concerning refugee problems and compensation.

11. The Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers:

i. instruct the appropriate committee to examine the issues relating to the legal status of Palestinian refugees in Council of Europe member states, and devise concrete initiatives to ensure that all Palestinian persons displaced from their country are provided with an appropriate legal status entitling them to all basic socio-economic rights;

ii. review, with a view to harmonisation, Council of Europe member states’ policies in this respect, in particular by effectively implementing the UNHCR’s above-mentioned guidelines;

iii. initiate the organisation of an international conference devoted entirely to the question of Palestinian refugees;

iv. promote research aimed at obtaining statistics concerning Palestinian refugees and their status in Council of Europe member states;

v. support programmes aimed at establishing and strengthening awareness of democratic values and human rights in the region;

vi. invite Palestinian and Israeli NGOs, in particular those active in the youth field, to establish contacts with the Organisation with a view to developing co-operation.


-----------------------------------

1. Assembly debate on 25 June 2003 (21st Sitting) (see Doc. 9808, report of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography, rapporteur: Mr Akselsen; and Doc. 9847, opinion of the Political Affairs Committee, rapporteur: Mr Margelov).

Text adopted by the Assembly on 25 June 2003 (21st Sitting).


*************************

What follows is from Haaretz:

The Council of Europe, representing 45 countries joined together to protect the values of democracy, the rule of law and human rights, on June 25 delivered the first surprise with a resolution it passed on the issue of Palestinian refugees. An initiative by Arab states seeking support for the
Palestinian right of return was rejected and instead a resolution was passed calling for refugees to be settled in the countries where they live, or in other countries, and to grant full compensation and rights to those who remain in Arab countries.

The council did not mention any UN resolutions regarding the right of return, nor any Israeli duty to accept some of the refugees, but there was a demand for European countries to accept some of the refugees.

The council's decision was scarcely reported, but it was a European recognition that what was done in wars 50 years ago cannot be undone. Except for extremist right-wing groups, nobody wants to return Germans who lived for centuries in Poland and Czechoslovakia and were ruthlessly and brutally expelled. Likewise, it seems, there is no room for the Arab demand.

******************

Amnon Rubinstein, "Surprise, Surprise, Surprise," Haaretz, (circa.) July 29, 2003,
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=323139&;contrassID=2&subContrassID=4&sbSubContrassID=0&listSrc=Y

It would appear, Chris, that some people, including the European Parliament, think, as I do, that UN 242, not your crazy idea, is the pertinent document with respect to the Palestinians.


N. Friedman - 11/16/2004

Chris,

The binding document on the Arab Israeli conflict is UN 242 which provides for resolving the refugee issue. Read the document. It addresses the issue. Further, UN 194, a non-binding resolution was - and this is also a fact - speaks of either the return of refugees or their compensation but, in either case, makes such result non-binding.

My understanding of the law is that when a more specific rule is available, it takes precedence. You may find some general principles but, in this case, UN 242 alters the more general rule.

Moreover, the Palestinian situation - and this is well documented - is unique to the extent that, both historically and legally, only refugees, not their offspring, are considered refugees.

Lastly, as I said, the so-called right of return was explicitly denied to Jews by the entire world, Muslim and Christian. Moreover, at the Evian conference in the 1930's, the right of refuge was denied to Jews.

So, you can find me all the precedence in the world. I could care less.


chris l pettit - 11/16/2004

how many times do I have to beat you over the head with this before you get it? Law was created and exists...especially internationally...to overcome the biases created by the three headed monster of politics, nationalism, and religion.

Adam...I actually fully agree with your analysis of the right to return and think that there should be a relevant SC resolution or something (ICJ decision perhaps is Israel finally decides to join the rest of the world?) that recognizes the steps taken and historical facts on the ground that dictate that the right to return is infeasible. Unfortunately, that will take two things 1) Israel actually joining the international community and utilising legal means to properly overcome the hurdle and 2) the Palestinians actually finding a leader who is not a piece of human waste who, like the Dalai Lama has done in regards to Tibet, can recognize that the historical and cultural reality is that the right to return is infeasible, and enough cultural erosion and change has occurred (in some cases cultural genocide, but that is another discussion) that reality dictates the right to return be blunted in one way or another.

What I have done is lay out the legal fact that the right to return, as it currently stands, is an inalienable right that cannot be overcome through political rhetoric or non-binding accords. As much as Mr. Friedman may have faith in his political ideology and positions, the FACT is that I am not dealing in ideologies, but in logic, rationality, and law...which do not require faith and belief, but rather factual arguments and objective support of a decision. You want the right to return to not be legally viable? Go to the UN and get a SC resolution...go to the ICJ and get a legal decision. Until that point, please stop with the political garbage and give me some actual answers. i tire of the useless ideological spats between "believers" in one political ideology and position and another. It is like it is your religion or something and in the end is truly pathetic.

Mr Friedman...you still fail to realise that the Arab states rejection of anything is immaterial to the argument. Palestinians are not Jordanians, nor Syrians, nor anything else. So once again your argument belies your lack of any actual knowledge of the international legal system. The right to return does vest in familial connections...give me a day to find the case for you.

Speaking of cases, you might want to check out the plethora of international law that states that simply because there are violations of a legal norm or inalienable right, the right does not simply cease to exist. The argument you make logically ends in that there is no such thing as international law, nor law period, since every law is broken at some point. Therefore we can ignore all law...which brings us back to Machiavelli, might makes right, and a warped sense of social Darwinism. Glad to see you want to descend lower than animals and not use your ability to reason and tell right from wrong.

As you will note...I do not necessarily look at the right to return as a desirable thing. i simply want you to maybe for once rise above political rhetoric and make a real argument. Showing that something has not happened historically at a certain point does not mean that the law does not exist. According to your logic, since a minority of the people in the world get away with murder, I could as well and make that argument. It does not hold up under logical or rational scrutiny.

International law rises above ideology...and works towards improving life for all. International politics works to strengthen the positions of power of states and the aristocrats that run them, while screwing everyone else and denying universal human rights and equality. unlike your ideological positions, I actually take a position rooted in logic, rationality, and the desire to bring peace and human rights to all, not to a few.

CP
www.wicper.org


N. Friedman - 11/16/2004

Klinghoffer's article is at http://hnn.us/blogs/entries/8281.html


N. Friedman - 11/16/2004

Lest it be said that I have not correctly quoted Chris, the citation for my question is (#45812)http://hnn.us/comments/45812.html and the citation for Chris' reply is (#45883) http://hnn.us/comments/45883.html . The sequence begins with (#45797) http://hnn.us/comments/45797.html and the article is "Déjà vu" by Judith Apter Klinghoffer athttp://hnn.us/blogs/entries/8281.html .


N. Friedman - 11/16/2004

Mr. Simon,

I previously asked Chris, "Have you joined the brigade of Antisemites?", to which he replied:

"Anti-Semite? No... // Anti-Zionist...hell yes..."

Note: Chris does not qualify his statement by saying that Israel's creation made problems for the Palestinians. His view, as stated, is simply that the Jewish liberation movement (i.e. Zionism) is wrong. Hence, if the above represents his real view, he condemns Jews to the same third party whims which have made life for Jews hellish in both Europe and in the Muslim world. Which is to say, unqualified anti-Zionism is, by definition, a form of Antisemitism.

Or, perhaps, Chris has no knowledge of how Jews were treated in Christian Europe and Islamdom.

To Chris:

You write: "The supposed Palestinian state was untenable..." In reply,

The idea, at least as envisioned by then PM Rabin, was for the West Bank and Gaza to form a confederation with Jordan. Such a state would have been viable and, unlike the smaller Palestinian state envisioned subsequent to Rabin's death, would have been far more in line with the wording of UN 242 which, you will note, does not remotely call for an independent Palestinian state but, instead, for Israel and its neighbors to agree, inter alia, on recognized bounderies.

According to the resolution, in pertinent part: "The Security Council, ... Affirms that the fulfillment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles: // Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict; // Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force..."

I note that the provision, "their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force" is critical to understanding the circumstances because, in fact, Israel did not have any recognized boundaries from 1948 until, first, the peace treaty with Egypt (which sets Israel's southern border) and then, with Jordan, which recognizes the Jordan River as the border between Israel and Jordan. Which is to say, Israel had no obligation to withdraw other than to recognized boundaries.

You will also note that UN 242, despite your talk, in other posts, about some requirement for Israel to absorb all of the refugees, actually alters UN 194 rather substantially. Such, you will note, was also noted by the European Parliament in their vote against supporting the Palestinian refugees/offspring demand to be settled in Israel. (UN Parliament, June 2003)

In pertinent part, the UN 242 reads:

"The Security Council, ... Affirms further the necessity ... For achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem..."

Note: UN 242, the closest to anything potentially binding, does not require Israel to absorb a soul. It merely requires a just settlement of the problem. And, frankly, the settlement which would be most just would be for the refugees and their offspring to settle in the countries they now live in.


E. Simon - 11/16/2004

As long as you're going to appropriate self-interest in your arguments, seeing as how you're so concerned with it as the be-all end-all abstraction of evil in the world, let's get some analysis going. In WHAT way is or was it in the interest of the U.S. to keep the conflict going, to prevent it from being resolved? In the same manner in which it was in U.S. interests to prevent peace between Israel and Egypt or Israel and Jordan, or in a different manner? In the same manner or a different manner in which it prevented the Syrian-Israeli disengagement on the Golan Heights? Oh that's right. The U.S. stood there to broker those agreements. Right? Or was it a conspiracy? In what way was it in Clinton's interests for his legacy as a peace-maker to fail? Oh wait - it wasn't. Which part of your brilliant and enlightening analysis is everyone here missing?

Other than, of course, the retarded and banal "Stalinist, Machiavellian, Nazis...etc." labels, lest I forget the script and actually prompt you to directly answer a simple question for once in your life.

Which "side" am I supporting, Chris? I feel reasonably supportive of both Palestinian and Israeli statehood. Your weird claims notwithstanding that nation-statehood is an abomination - and in and of itself a crime, (which would make me, I suppose, a double-war criminal), what's so atrocious about that? Apparently now the thought police have prevented us from even discussing the pros and cons of an issue without being complicit in their "atrocities." And this from a so-called lawyer. Chris, I want you to do me a favor. Please make sure to charge every defendant's attorney with conspiring in the same crime with which his client has been accused. Simply for arguing on his behalf. I'm sure you've got the time on your hands for it. Great system of law you'd be left with.

Not that I have any sympathy for the fact that you've been barred from entering the U.S., but you should check out trial by jury sometime. If you're able to travel to the U.K. (the only other country that practices it) I would recommend you look into it. I think it would bring you down from your loopy high horse claims that considerations about matters of law should be removed from the individuals whose lives they would affect on a daily basis. I don't have time to educate you on Adam Smith, John Locke and Montesquieu, but please read their works as well before ever responding to another post of mine. None of what you do today would be possible without them. And yet, none of what you say or hold to in any way ever accounts for the contributions of their ideas to modern civilization.


N. Friedman - 11/15/2004

Adam,

Chris seems to think that life, international politics and law are all one and the same thing.

As you correctly observe, the Palestinians can seek their idea - I think, fantasy - of cosmic justice or they can settle the dispute. And surely, demanding that people, nearly all of whom have never set foot into Israel or the land where Israel is, have a legal right to live in Israel is a folly - and, I might note, not the law in any event -.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 11/15/2004

Chris,
So long as the so-called right of return is insisted upon, there will be no peace in the region... ever.

All of the legal principles, historical debates, and other important aspects of this debate pale in comparison to that simple fact.

I believe in many things about the conflict, including the rights of Jews to live in the West Bank and Gaza, even if they ultimately end up in a Palestinian state. I believe that Israel has a legal and historical right to all of Jarusalem and should not yield it to the Palestinians.

However, despite my beliefs about the morality of X, Y, and Z, I would without question give up almost all of them for peace. Not because of international law or even right and wrong, but because the practical benefits of a lasting peace between the two sides is more impoatrnt than anything else.

Thus, to return to the issue of the so-called right of return: Since only about 10% of Palestinians would only utilize this "right," and since Israel will never agree to it in any event, it is worth the lives of countless civilians on both sides? That is, should real people be killed because their leaders are too consumed with abtract principles of justice, morality, and history? I think no.


N. Friedman - 11/15/2004

Chris,

You say Oslo was not legally binding. Well, that is news to the Palestinians who claim the Israelis have breached their obligations under it. And it is news to Israelis who claim that Palestinians have breached their obligations.

Again, the Palestinians would be wise to seek a good life rather than spending their efforts to destroy Israel.


N. Friedman - 11/15/2004

Chris,

With due respect, ***historically*** there is no such thing as a right of return.

You might consider the case of Jews who, after WWII, sought to return to their homes. They were not allowed to.

You might take the case of Muslim Indians forced into Pakistan when it became independent. The Indian constitution prevents the return of such people to India.

You might also take the case of the Sudeten Germans. They lived in Poland and Czechoslovakia. They were expelled en masse at the end of WWII. They have not been allowed to return.

The last case, you will note, is a rather interesting one as it has played hand in glove within Europe and the effort to assist the Palestinians. Specifically, the Palstinians sought support from the European Union. The matter came to a vote in the European Parliament which ruled against the Palestinians. The major reason was the reason why refugees are almost never returned when political issues are involved. Specifically, to allow the return of Palestinians would, as a matter of logic, mean that the Europeans would have to force Poland and the Czech Republic to take in 11 million Sudetens.

Another point of law. In International law, refugee status is not usually something that can be passed down from generation to generation. Which is to say, under the rules of law that apply, other than to Palestinians, the children and grandchildren of refugees are not refugees.

I note: the Palestinian negotiating position would, in fact, eliminate the right of return for Jews. Which is to say, in the war of 1948, there were 100,000 Jewish refugees from the West Bank and Jerusalem. The Palestinian position is that such people, now returned (on your theory), must leave.

There are, in fact, a total of 856,000 Jewish refugees from the surrounding Arab countries. Such people were driven from their homes and, in fact, had no role in the conflict. Which is to say, the issue with the Palestinians is more akin to the refugees created between Greece and Turkey, whereby a population exchange in effect occurred.

Lastly, the resolution on the matter, UN 194 was rejected by ***all*** of the Arab states - check the record on this Chris - because it did not require Israel to take in refugees. It merely made a suggestion to take them in or to compensate them. And, moreover, it called for the Arab states to do the same with the refugees they created. The Arab states have not complied so why should Israel?

Lastly, the right of return is predicated on the willingness of the returnees to live at peace with the remaining population. There is no indication that the Palestinians are prepared to do that. Which, you will note, is what Arafat meant when he said that the goal was to make it impossible for Jews to remain in the country.

On the last point, the right of return does not trump the right of the remaining population to live at peace.

I shall point out a basic moral concept. Morality calls for people to live, if possible, a decent life. It does not say that the decent life must be lived in a particular location. Which is to say, the Palestinians have no moral claim that they can only live a moral life in Israel. Which is to say, you are spouting nonsense.




chris l pettit - 11/15/2004

If you paid any attention to international law and the UN, you would know that the right to return is a non-negotiable element, unless the UN passes a resolution dictating that the right can be negotiated upon. As it currently stands, according to relevant UN SC resolutions, the right to return is a collective right that vests in the individuals (and their descendents)...and it is up to them whether this right is to be claimed. It is similar to the universal human right of self determination...in fact, that was the major basis behind the original resolution. The right to return cannot be denied by the occupying nation, or the nation who expelled the inhabitants, and cannot be negotiated away...even by those supposedly representing the interests of the people (which Arafat most certainly did not).

All your spewing about the demolition of the Israeli state is nothing but the usual non-sensical fear mongering garbage, and I hope you might someday rise above the propaganda and rhetoric of sixth graders. Where is the substance? There is plenty of evidence in the international community and international law that Israel is an accepted state whose rights are equal to other states, provided the actions of Israel stay within the UNIVERSAL boundaries of international law. The legal boundaries are those of 1967...the Green Boundary. it is not that difficult. I know the global conspiracy against Jews nuts will probably pop up to whine...sigh

CP
www.wicper.org


chris l pettit - 11/15/2004

The Oslo Accords themselves were a myth...

The supposed Palestinian state was untenable and would either collapse or be perpetually dominated by Israel. There was no real "peace" offering as the only legal solution is for Israel to restrain itself behind the 1967 borders, a fact that has been acknowledged over and over again internationally. Clinton was as good as worthless in these negotiations. I am surprised that a Machiavellian misinterpreter such as yourself, Mr. Simon, would ever actually claim that Clinton was doing anything other than protecting US interests. It never ceases to amaze me...the hypocrisy of those who trumpet US interests and values on the one hand, and then try to claim that there is no self interest involved and that the interests are those of humanity and the international community. The only way this is possible is if one believes that the interests of the US and Israel are the only ones that are good for the international community...if you believe that, you are either dumb as a post, living in a dreamworld, or would fit in real well with the Nazis and Stalinists, along with others out for ideological domination.

Your last comment is absolutely spot on. Arafat was a war criminal, embezzler, and nasty human being. He was as worthless to the pursuit of peace and human rights in the region as Bush, Clinton, Sharon, Allawi (in Iraq), Netanyahu, Arafats successors(whoever they may become), and the other war criminals and human rights abusers in the region continue to be.

Unfortunately, your support for the other nasty side of the conflict makes you complicit in the atrocities taking place.

In other words, please refrain from being such a hypocrite...

One other thing...not that it matters since no one seems to be concerned with what humanity and the international community thinks...or how international law functions...the Accords were not legally binding, they were simply foreign policy agreements. they were not bi-lateral treaties of any type, and were largely symbolic. it amuses me how many people try to present them as some sort of momentous occasion.

CP
www.wicper.org


N. Friedman - 11/15/2004

The issue is not solely Arafat. The main problem is that the Palestinian negotiating position is inconsistent with any settlement.

Specifically, the Palestinians expect, on the one hand, all Jews out of areas where Palestinian are to have a state - which is to say, where there is a Palestinian majority - but, on the other hand, that Israel take in Palestinians.

Several questions arise. First, if the Palestinians receive the majority in Israel, would they then take the view that all Jews must leave as is demanded in the currently Palestinian controlled areas? Such is seemingly implied by the view that the Palestinian controlled areas must be Judenrein. Second, if Israel is to take in the refugees, why does there need to be a Palestinian state?

Or, to put the matter clearly, the Palestinian negotiating position is best explained as the original PLO position to destroy Israel.

Such, you will note, finds support in Arafat's many pronouncements, post Oslo, that he had no intention of making peace with Israel and that Oslo was merely a tactical ruse, a modern version, as he said in 1994 in South Africa, of the Muslim prophet Mohammed's trickery against the ancient tribe in Quraysh.

I also note the following said by Mr. Arafat:

"The PLO plans to eliminate the State of Israel and establish a purely Palestinian State. We will make life unbearable for Jews by psychological warfare and population explosion. Jews won't want to live among us Arabs. ../...I have no use for Jews; they are and remain Jews. We now need all the help we can get from you in our battle for a united Palestine under total Arab-Muslim domination." [Yasser Arafat, January 30, 1996, Arutz Seven News Service, February 14, 1996; "Arafat Gave Speech about Israel's Destruction," Dagen (Norwegian newspaper).]

And this is what Arafat said a mere seven days after PM Rabin was assassinated: "The struggle will continue until all of Palestine is liberated." Voice of Palestine, Nov. 11, 1995.

As Benny Morris recently wrote, in the New York Times, November 12, 2004:

"Mr. Arafat said no because he refused to accept any settlement that did not include a mechanism for its future subversion, a loophole that would allow the Palestinians, down the road, to undermine its two-state core - specifically, the 'right of return' of the Palestinian refugees to Israeli territory. Such a return would, of course, spell Israel's demise. (Israel currently has a population of about 5 million Jews and almost 1.3 million Arabs; there are some 4 million Palestinians registered as refugees by the United Nations.) In short, Mr. Arafat wanted 'Palestine,' all of it, not a watered-down 22 percent solution."


E. Simon - 11/15/2004

if so, he should have replaced fellow "myth-maker," Dennis Ross, with such an illustrious and brilliant, and no doubt, truthful negotiator as Mr. Gordon.

Despite the fact that no one has ever heard of him - at least at such high levels of diplomacy as exists through the auspices of the only recognized broker of durable Middle East peace agreements - the U.S. government.

Your analysis is, thus, at odds with what has been claimed by the only U.S. president to even begin to achieve rapproachement between the Israelis and Palestinians. Don't you think that if you're going to advance such bold, arrogant and revisionist claims you should address Mr. Clinton directly? After all, it was his legacy, not yours, that hung in the balance.

Arafat might have been an effective symbol of Palestinian nationalism and resistance, but not one of competent government. And certainly not one that was capable of effective resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.