Thursday, June 27, 2013

Kerry in Wonderland: The Peace Crusade

Hate, Not Time, Is the Enemy of Peace -Jonathan S. Tobin

With his decision to try to rush the parties into a negotiation with no evidence of common ground for an agreement, Secretary of State Kerry is setting the region up for a blowup that could have been avoided. Instead of listening to the parties and seeing that the Palestinians are not ready to make the sort of sacrifices needed for peace, Kerry is blind to the fact that the real enemy of peace is the hate that fuels the conflict.

A failure to negotiate is bad enough, but negotiations that are doomed to failure are even worse. American diplomats should remember the last time they tried to muscle Israel and the Palestinians into an agreement at Camp David in the summer of 2000. That led to the second intifada and over a thousand slaughtered Jews and even more dead Palestinians.

What's Really Wrong with the Middle East? -Aaron David Miller

I know it comes as a shocker, but the Middle East really isn't the center of the world any more. Many in the Middle East still believe that the world sits on the edge of its collective seat 24/7 wondering what's going to happen next in their region and devising new ways to rescue them. I'm really tired of hammering the United States for not rescuing the peace process and of Arabs waiting for us to punish Israel, which too many ridiculously dismiss as either America's master or its unruly child.
The writer is a distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
(Foreign Policy)

The Myth of the Inevitable Jewish Minority in Israel -Jeff Jacoby

It's an old refrain, erroneous but popular: Israel must make peace with the Palestinians before high Arab birthrates turn the Jews into a minority in their own land. This ominous "demographic argument" rests on an obsolete stereotype of Arab women as baby mills, outbreeding their Jewish sisters.

In the 1960s, the fertility rate for Israeli Arabs (9.2 births per woman) soared far above that of Israeli Jews (3.4 births per woman). Within Israel, the birth rate among Muslims is now at 3.5 children per woman. It is even lower for Palestinians in the West Bank - just 2.9, according to the CIA Factbook.

The bottom line is that the 6.3 million Jews living in Israel and the West Bank represent 66% of the area's population (not including Gaza).
(Boston Globe)

The Bane of Palestinian Infighting - Kimberly Marten
  • The resignation of two Palestinian prime ministers in quick succession has left the PA leadership in limbo. But naming a new prime minister will accomplish little unless the Palestinians can also overcome the patronage, corruption and infighting in their security forces.
The writer is a professor of political science at Barnard College and acting director of the Harriman Institute at Columbia University.
(New York Times)



Honor and Compromise in Middle East Leadership - Harold Rhode
  • In the Middle East, leaders almost never admit that they made mistakes: doing so would bring shame on them. The Western concept of compromise - each side conceding certain points to the other side in order to come to an agreement - does not exist in the Middle East.
  • People will go to any lengths to avoid shame; they are prepared to go to jail, risk death, and even kill family members (usually females) to uphold what they perceive as their honor and that of their family. This battle to avoid shame at all costs indicates why Morsi, Erdogan, Saddam, Assad, Arafat, and Abbas can never back down.
  • Why Secretary of State Kerry and the Obama administration believe they can persuade Abbas to sign an agreement guaranteeing Israel's right to exist in any form is astonishing. It is pointless, therefore, for Western and Israeli political leaders to try to provide Middle Eastern leaders with incentives to reach compromises where, in Western eyes all sides win, but - to their fellow Arabs and Muslims - their side loses.
The writer served in the Pentagon's Office of Net Assessment.
(Gatestone Institute)

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