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September 24, 2007

Avoids issue: Washington Post on 'Mideast Core'


Washington Post editorials on Arab-Israeli and larger Middle East issues have been generally clear-eyed and factual for the past year and more. They often contrast favorably with The Post’s Arab-Israeli news coverage. But “The Mideast Core; Condoleezza Rice nudges Israelis and Palestinians into talking about the terms of a final settlement,�? fails.

Logical contradictions sink this September 24 editorial. The Post:

* Recommends that Secretary of State Rice should “discourage Israel from intensifying the ongoing conflict with Hamas-ruled Gaza by shutting off its electricity and fuel supplies. It’s hardly possible that [Israeli Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert will be able to negotiate peace with one set of Palestinians while waging war against another.�? No. One set of Palestinian Arabs, those in the Fatah-run West Bank, will be unable to negotiate peace while another set, those in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, are waging war on Israel. The Post inverts responsibility for aggression, responsibility for stopping it, and then argues against effective Israeli self-defense.

* Suggests — having confused cause-and-effect — that “Instead, Israel should be open to striking a cease-fire with Hamas and opening peace talks with Syria.�? Hamas has used previous de facto “cease-fires�? to rearm while letting Palestinian Islamic Jihad, “Popular Resistance Committees�? (reportedly including Hamas members), and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades (Fatah) continue attacks. The Post gives no reason to suggest things would be different now. Meanwhile, the government of Syria, like a brazen Mafia family, collaborates in the assassination of Lebanese politicians and journalists; assists Iran with the rearming of Hezbollah; reportedly cooperates with North Korea on nuclear weapons and Iran on chemical ones; and subverts U.S. interests in Iraq. “Peace talks�? with Israel would help Damascus deflect international pressure.

* Proposes that, if Israeli and Palestinian negotiators fail, “the United States could offer its own specific bridging proposals on such issues as Israel’s final borders.�? An agreement based not on compromises negotiated by the parties but rather on outside “bridging proposals�? will lack the political investment of the parties directly concerned. It will present a target to domestic critics and likely be unable to muster lasting popular support. And an Israel that turns issues including its borders over to the United States may undercut its legitimacy in the Middle East and beyond.

Three days earlier, The Post editorial “Shock Waves From Syria; Did Israel bomb a secret nuclear facility equipped by North Korea?�? commented in a measured, illuminating manner on important, if ambiguous, news. Though “The Mideast Core�? uses the same analytical tone as “Shock Waves From Syria,�? and acknowledges that “many of the necessary conditions for a Middle East [Arab-Israeli] settlement are conspicuously absent,�? it illogically asserts that the Bush administration has “set the stage for an Israeli-Palestinian breakthrough�? and so “must spare no effort to make it happen.�? The editorial avoids “the Mideast core�? issue it claims to address: When it comes to Arab-Israeli negotiations, the Arabs still do not want to negotiate — they want a settlement, based on Israeli concessions, pre-cooked by outside powers. A Post editorial on the real core problem would insist A) other concerned Arab states, especially Syria and Saudi Arabia, recognize Israel diplomatically, and B) Arab and Israeli negotiators actually negotiate a compromise, with U.S. mediation, not U.S. initiation.

Posted by ER at September 24, 2007 03:57 PM


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