Debating the “False Religion of Middle East Peace”

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Yesterday, the New America Foundation and Foreign Policy hosted a great program focusing on the state of play in Middle East peace restart efforts and launching the new “Middle East Channel” at FP (which is a joint project of the Project on Middle East Political Science at George Washington University and the New America Foundation’s Middle East Task Force).
Everyone was brilliant — but Aaron David Miller set a compelling tone for discussing what was “serious” and was not in the Middle East Peace business. Miller authored this month’s cover story of Foreign Policy titled “The False Religion of Middle East Peace.”
Excuse my room organizing directions at the beginning — all fun — but the content of the meeting was excellent all through.
Susan Glasser, Editor in Chief of Foreign Policy, also offered worlds of welcome and introduced the Channel. George Washington University Professor Marc Lynch and the original driver of the Middle East Channel then moderated a discussion including Aaron David Miller, the International Crisis Group’s Rob Malley, and New America Foundation’s Daniel Levy.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

27 comments on “Debating the “False Religion of Middle East Peace”

  1. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “JohnH, I could show you all the checkpoints Netanyahu lifted…blahblahblah….”
    Well, that makes lyin’ about a settlement freeze OK then, eh? And its really not such a bad trade-off, is it? I mean hey, open a checkpoint or two, and ya get to be forgiven for sauteing the little heathen bastards and their raghead mommies in white phosphorous.
    Cool.
    I’m a little curious, Nadine. What slang name do you and your fellow ghouls have for the Palestinians?? C’mon, we can keep a secret, you can tell us. What do you call them when you’re sitting around the coffee table being happy little brother and sister bigots?

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  2. nadine says:

    JohnH, I could show you all the checkpoints Netanyahu lifted, or his cooperation with Fayyad to improve the Palestinian economy, or the speech where Netanyahu accepted a Palestinian state for the first time and laid out his conditions for it. But I’d just get another round of ‘nyah nyah boo boo’ from you, so what’s the point?
    Say, why don’t you show me something the Palestinians have done for peace? oops, I forgot. They’re helpless babies who are excused from all responsibilities. They’re even excused from settling their own internecine quarrels. 2,000 dead in the Hamas-Fatah fighting (according to Khalid Abu Toameh) and never a peep from you or anybody else from leftist crowd who are SO concerned for the welfare of the poor, poor Palestinians. Just imagine the headlines, if Israel had done it. But they can die by the thousands without a murmur from you, just so long as they kill each other.

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  3. JohnH says:

    As usual, the Likud strategy is to TALK a good game, and then DO ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Yes, “Netanyahu…in a major speech promised a 10 month West Bank settlement freeze.”
    But, as POA showed, it was all a bald faced lie, like so much of the hasbara posted here.
    Nadine, why don’t you try showing me some evidence of facts on the ground that Netanyahu implemented to advance peace? Answer: because you can’t…

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  4. nadine says:

    Khalid, don’t you ever get tired of running up to toss a small stinkbomb as your entire participation in the discussion? Who knows if you can even string two thoughts together, because nobody has ever seen it happen? You are the small dog that runs in to nip somebody’s ankle, then runs away again.
    As for that spewer of sewage, POS, he wouldn’t know an honest argument if it bit him on the ass. He is a pure regurgitator of Pal agitprop. Any relation to the truth is accidental.
    I don’t know whether Peace Now is whining over a real issue or a made-up one (like for example, the Israeli government permitting units that were ready to start construction to squeeze in under the wire before starting the freeze), and I don’t care. YOU may consider Jews building a new building in Maale Adumim as a crime against humanity surpassing the last million dead in Darfur; but I don’t have to.
    Like Aaron Miller said from his twenty years of experience: settlements are not the core issue. Everybody knows it. The Israelis and Pals agreed to the ‘growth within footprint’ compromise in Oslo, and talked for 16 years that way, until Obama opened his stupid mouth. If the Palestinians hate the settlements so damn much, they can agree to a border and get rid of them. But that’s just it. They never wanted to agree to a border, and now they’re too divided to try. Settlements are a whining issue, not a real issue.
    As for the actual discussion I was having with Dan, it was as to whether Netanyahu had said a blunt “NO” to Obama or had given partial compliance. He declared the freeze, so that is partial compliance.

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  5. David says:

    At least POA keeps the thread honest by reporting the facts on the ground, the foundation for any discussion worth having.

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  6. ... says:

    once again nadine is the moron.. this gets tiring…

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  7. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “JohnH, I could quote you the direct words of Prime Minister Netanyahu, who in a major speech promised a 10 month West Bank settlement freeze”
    Which was, as exposed by “Peace Now”, a bald faced lie.
    http://www.peacenow.org.il/site/en/peace.asp?pi=61&docid=4564&pos=1
    Ministry of Defense Acknowledges: One Quarter of all Settlements Breached the Settlement Freeze
    Hagit Ofran
    February 2010
    In response to the parliamentary question posed by MK Haim Oron (Meretz) the Deputy Defense
    Minister Matan Vilnai admitted that 29 settlements breached the settlement freeze order.
    Peace Now has recorded at least 5 additional settlements (not included in the list provided by the Deputy Ministry of Defense) in which violations of the freeze were documented.
    Violations of the Freeze Order in at Least 33 Settlements
    The freeze order published on November 26, 2009 prohibited any new construction in the settlements, but allowed the continuation of construction in the cases where foundation work had already begun.
    In the majority of settlements construction work is taking place daily, but only works that begun after the order was published are considered a violation of the freeze.
    Peace Now has documented at least 14 cases where new foundations were laid after the freeze announcement. It should be noted that these cases are all documented cases with the settlers caught in the act. Some violations were also discovered by the Defense Ministry as indicated in the response by the Deputy Defense Minister to MK Haim Oron (see the complete list below).
    Working on Weekends and at Night
    Peace Now discovered that in some of the settlements construction work was being carried out on Saturdays (Shabbat), for example in Talmon and Neria.
    In addition construction work after dark was also documented.
    continues….
    http://www.peacenow.org.il/site/en/peace.asp?pi=61&docid=4490&pos=2
    Construction Freeze? – A report on Construction in the settlements – December 2009
    Peace Now Reveals: Even during the freeze, more housing units are being built in the territories than on average in the rest of Israel
    Hagit Ofran
    According to data gathered by “Peace Now” construction in the settlements approved by the government, as part of the agreement in the freeze, is still higher on average then construction currently approved and taking place in the rest of Israel.
    3,492 housing units in the settlements were approved for construction to take place during the freeze, while in the territories live approximately – 300,000 settlers, which averages to approx -1,167 units for every hundred thousand inhabitants.
    However, according to the Israeli CBS, at the time of this freeze, Israel is currently building 836 housing units for every hundred thousand inhabitants within the Green Line.
    Examples:
    1) Ma’ale Adumim – 476 units are being built in the 10 months freeze period
    Compare this with the small number of housing units in cities similar in size in Israel:
    Rosh Hayin – 149 units
    Kiryat Bialik – 160 units
    Dimona – 59 units
    Or Yehuda – 12 units
    2) The settlement of Ariel will build during the freeze 146 units
    Compare this with the small number of housing units in cities similar in size in Israel:
    Beit Shean – 21 housing
    Sderot

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  8. nadine says:

    JohnH, I could quote you the direct words of Prime Minister Netanyahu, who in a major speech promised a 10 month West Bank settlement freeze, excluding Jerusalem, in partial compliance to President Obama’s request. But then you’d say, ‘Oh no, he didn’t say it, or if it he did, it doesn’t count, it doesn’t exist, Likud, Yitzhak Shamir, nyah nyah boo boo’
    You seem to think this is clever, when actually it makes you look like an utter moron.

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  9. JohnH says:

    Nadine said that Obama got “got partial compliance from the Israelis” one settlement freeze.
    Show where Israel officially agreed to any major settlement freeze in the West Bank and East Jerusalem! All I’ve see is a lot of blather about settlement freezes but absolute and total intransigence when it comes to actually implementing one.
    This is consistent with Likud’s historical policy of appearing reasonable but behaving with total intransigence. Do I need to paste in former PM Yitzhak Shamir’s description of Israeli tactics yet again? Do I need to repeat that Likud has NEVER initiated peace talks? Do I need to repeat that previous peace processes ended when Likud (Oslo, Taba) ended the moment Likud took office?
    Show me where Israel is complying with Obama’s requests.

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  10. nadine says:

    Dan, as usual you have conveniently “forgotten” that Obama asked for things from the Egyptians, Saudis and Palestinians at the same time he ordered Israel to make concessions, and while he got partial compliance from the Israelis, he got “Hell, no!” from the Arabs. Where are the gestures to improve the tone? Where is a PA willing to sit down and negotiate? And as for Hamas, let’s not even go there.
    Or maybe you haven’t forgotten. Maybe you really can’t even see Egypt or Saudi Arabia or the PA, because as a member of the Far Left you cannot even look at the actions of anybody who isn’t the US or Israel. The Left are like stroke victims who have lost half their field of vision.

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  11. David says:

    “Obama needs to start at home, by defining the nature of the problem for the public in a way which cuts through the usual euphemisms, and that puts his adversaries on the defensive.”
    I think you’ve hit the mark, Dan.

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  12. Carroll says:

    Oh for God’s sake!..end this f***ing eternal “peace talk Bizness”. Blah, blah blah…over and over and over. Stupid, and stupider and stupidest.
    Blow the fricking Israeli nazis to hell, get out of Afghan and Iraq and leave the ME leaders to solve the ME problems. It doesn’t a rocket scientist to see how screwed and absurd the US position is.
    As I said over and over and over.
    And WORSE…they don’t listen to those in the ME who do ACTUALLY know something.
    Prattle, prattle,prattle 24/7…it’s all just verbal masturbation and noise.
    Plezzzee!…someone go dig up Eisenhower so we can get some actual action to end this FUBAR.
    Sic Semper Tyrannis
    (A Committee of Correspondence) Turki al-Faisal and US performance. – Kiracofe
    “a catastrophic political failure (for the U.S.A.)” Anna Missed, 1. This is what those of us opposed to the Bush policy were saying in 2002. But Washington wants to listen to “pro-Israel” advice and conduct “pro-Israel” foreign policy. My own view is that it will have to get considerably more catastrophic around the world to get a minimal debate going in the US on the real problem of pro-Israel influence in the US. And it is, perhaps, too late for that anyways. 2. Prince Turki’s speech to diplomats in Riyadh seems to be almost screened out of US media. Here is a report in extenso from Agence France Presse: “RIYADH (AFP)

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  13. PissedOffAmerican says:

    I see the Nazi-like fascists and bigots in Israel have now barred Noam Chomsky from entering the West Bank “because of his opinions”.
    And this is “the only democracy in the Middle East”???
    So the jackboots are rounding up peaceful protesters, siccing dogs on them, and occassionally murdering one or two of them for good measure, arresting journalists, and allowing entry into the West Bank based on someone’s “opinions”. And these pieces of shit differ from the Nazis how? Seems to me like Hitler wrote Israel’s playbook.

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  14. Thomas L.Sjovall says:

    IS pace working for the Mideast right now?
    The fact is no. Will peace ever can to that part of the world I don’t know.
    Stave that was an importent meeting to have!

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  15. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “He seems to have been utterly unprepared for the possibility that a far right Israeli government would resist his demands, and that he would have to apply some tangible form of pressure”
    I disagree. I think he anticipated that Netanyahu would push back. Where he was naive and inept, was in his failure to anticipate the degree of pushback he would get from his own party, and in his ridiculous assumption that Hillary Clinton would actually pursue and endorse policies she is ideologically opposed to. I can just imagine the stories we could tell if we could be a fly on the wall when Hillary meets one on one with Israeli leaders. In EVERY ASPECT of Middle Eastern affairs, she has been reading from the Israeli script. Do we really think she has strongly pushed for Obama’s stance on settlements and East Jerusalem?
    Obama is too much the political animal to react strongly to the treasons and mutinies of the Israeli firsters in his Administration, such as the pieces of shit Reid or Schumer, and Hillary is too much the political animal to risk her “most favored” status with AIPAC and the defense industries. The hurdles Obama would have had to of jumped ARE NOT in Tel Aviv, they are in Washington DC. And he is too much the political coward to jump them.
    He underestimated the degree of scumminess and sleeze he is swimming in when he gets into politics involving the Racist State Of Israel and the Congressional whores she employs.

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  16. Dan Kervick says:

    My initial response to this panel was to think,

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  17. Dan Kervick says:

    “The conditions for a successful ‘end of conflict’ negotiation don’t exist now and won’t exist for the foreseeable future, meaning that the proper goal of an American mediator should be some kind of incremental ‘de-occupation’ or improvements in Palestinian conditions, not a settlement.”
    Hmmm. Isn’t that how the administration started off? Their initial move was to request a simple moratorium on settlement activity. They didn’t even ask for any settlements to be dismantled, so they didn’t even go as far as asking for a beginning of de-occupation. That simple request was opposed strenuously.

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  18. Mr.Murder says:

    False religions, well we must deal in redundancy.
    What about the sham electoral results in some key areas of these puppet colonies? Which oil industry mogul can we prop up next?
    Throwing around the religion talk in those actual places, in a time where outside presence inspires reaction, is likely to be a catastrophic success at best.
    If BP can fork out so much money to forego safety measures offshore here, why can’t they foot the bill for our coalition of the bribed?
    The underpinnings of every action we’ve taken part of in the region are so abysmal in the sense of balance or levity. This stuff is going to implode and the only country funding the bailout, in the long run, is China.
    Say hello to your superiors. Learn to order from the McMenu in Mandarin, sometime very soon.

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  19. nadine says:

    Y. Hamid, Robert Malley has been one of Arafat’s chief apologists (he wrote a whole bunch of articles with Hussein Agha, one of Arfat’s aides, in the years following Camp David & Taba. He was on the panel. Aaron Miller was never known for warmth to Israel either. Actually, the panel had Malley arguing the pro-Palestinian position, but nobody arguing the pro-Israeli position. Levy may call his positions pro-Israel, but they are not recognized as such by 99% of Israelis.
    “If Palestine unilaterally declares statehood now, the biggest problem I see is that they would then immediately have to tell Israel to withdraw its troops for Palestine (I am assuming the Occupied Territories as Palestinian), which Israel would then refuse to do.” (David)
    No, David, this is a misunderstanding of the situation. Did you get to listen to the part where Robert Malley (who is absolutely pro-Palestinian) explained that right now the Israeli Right would be pleased with a declaration of Palestinian statehood in indefinite borders, figuring that would take the pressure off Israel for more immediate concessions? And that Israel wants the two-state solution more than the Palestinians do?
    Besides, the Palestinians have told a lot of people that they want a state NEXT TO Israel, which is not true; they want a state INSTEAD OF Israel. If they declared a state now, many of their European supporters might recognize it and figure they should be happy since they got what they wanted. That prospect has to terrify them.
    The other dirty little secret of the situation at the moment is that Israel is staying in the West Bank to keep terrorism down and Fatah up; Fatah is so incorrigibly weak and corrupt that it would probably fall to Hamas if Israel left, just as it did in Gaza in 2007. So Fatah doesn’t want Israel to leave, despite their ritual protests to the contrary. This is why Palestinian statehood is not going to be declared anytime soon, and why Mahmoud Abbas is shooting down PM Fayyad’s suggestions to do so.
    Now if General Dayton actually manages to train enough Palestinian troops who can function on their own, this might change; but it would be a novelty in Palestinian history, to have anything that functioned like an army and not a bunch of gangster militias.

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  20. Y. Hamid says:

    I am not sure I agree with Aaron miller. I think he is too gloomy. Daniel levy on the other hand is always a light weight’s light weight. i am glad to see that he is honest about his only concern: The security of Israel. What a joke? a panel on middle east peace by FP by three Jews one of them an Israeli, and Lynch? Not a single Arab or Palestinian?

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  21. A Lashinsky says:

    The smartest question was asked by Fadi Elsalameen. A smart Palestinian that should be leading his people one day. All the panelist knew him and they seemed to respect him.

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  22. David says:

    Got to watch the first 40 minutes via your Facebook link, Steve, but then it froze. What I was able to see and hear was pretty damned interesting. De-occupation has a fascinating ring to it, and would create facts on the ground that are a reversal of current facts on the ground. De-occupation is the lynchpin. It is the reality which must come into being for anything else to happen besides the colonization of the Occupied Territories and the continuation of the inhumane downward spiral.
    If Palestine unilaterally declares statehood now, the biggest problem I see is that they would then immediately have to tell Israel to withdraw its troops for Palestine (I am assuming the Occupied Territories as Palestinian), which Israel would then refuse to do. Palestine has absolutely no security apparatus that could even begin to contemplate securing its own borders from a foreign country, so the current Israeli government would simply continue to do what it is doing now, becoming however violent it needed to to force its will on Palestine.
    I think perhaps the suggestion that de-occupation has to be set as the goal is the best suggestion, and then every manner of statecraft available or imaginable has to be brought to bear to get Israel to say yes to de-occupation. I do not see any other realistic solution, and I found all of the points raised by the panelists in what I was able to watch to be compelling. This was a first-rate panel discussion by people worth hearing.

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  23. nadine says:

    Yes, Wigwag, one thing that struck me as I watched the video was that Aaron Miller and Robert Malley (whom I don’t like one bit) both brought heavy firepower to the table; Daniel Levy, not so much.
    What also struck me was in how many ways and forms Aaron Miller called the Obama administration a bunch of incompetents chasing an illusion in a completely counter-productive fashion. Oh, he used practiced diplomatic language so it didn’t sound so harsh, but if you unpack his points, Miller said:
    – The conditions for a successful ‘end of conflict’ negotiation don’t exist now and won’t exist for the foreseeable future, meaning that the proper goal of an American mediator should be some kind of incremental ‘de-occupation’ or improvements in Palestinian conditions, not a settlement. (The rebuke to Obama’s campaign promises of a quick settlement and seeming belief that he could stroll onto the world stage and achieve one was not said, but was obvious.)
    – Neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians feel a great sense of urgency about negotiations, nor does either side have strong leaders who could agree to the compromises needed for an ‘end of conflict’ settlement.
    – We don’t have a Secretary of State, certainly nothing compared to a strong and competent Secretary of State like James Baker (the implication that Hillary Clinton doesn’t even rise to the level of mediocrity was not voiced, but hung in the air unsaid).
    – The idea that solving the I/P conflict right now is super important to America, or that it would solve any of the other pressing Mideast problems, is an illusion – an illusion that the Obama administration has bought into. In reality, it would be helpful but it’s not that important. (Somewhat to my surprise, even Robert Malley agreed to this point. I thought Malley would be claiming it was important as part of his quest to have Hamas be legitimized as a negotiating partner.)
    – We have limited leverage with the Israelis and none with the Palestinians. And that goes double for Hamas.
    – The Arab governments are not very interested in the I/P conflict either and our Arab allies are suffering declines in power and prestige, as are we in the Middle East. Miller said quite pointedly that he himself was not a ‘declinist’, meaning that he thinks America’s declining power is a result of incompetence and not necessity.
    – Settlements are absolutely the wrong issue to focus on, as they are not the chief stumbling block. Worse, Obama compounded his mistake by making empty threats, so he’s now had to back off and settle for some Kabuki theatre in the place of real Israel concessions.
    – Before the end of the year, Obama, having failed to learn anything from his utter lack of achievement so far, will come up with some new initiative.

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  24. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Now that Dan’s flight of fancy has been considered, debated, ridiculed, joked about, and justifiably discarded, perhaps its time to consider REAL solutions…
    http://palestinenote.com/cs/blogs/blogs/archive/2010/05/14/imposed-solution-can-end-palestinian-conflict.aspx

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  25. WigWag says:

    I look at the Middle East Channel every day and I have to admit that it is really quite good.
    When I first saw that Daniel Levy was involved with it, I assumed that it would feature a series of banalities and muddled thinking that Levy is famous for. The funny thing about Levy is that despite his calls for new approaches to the Middle East, he’s the one guilty of advocating strategies steeped in anachronisms. All his obsessions about “ending the occupation” and the United States serving as the lawyer for the hopelessly weak Palestinians will almost certainly accomplish nothing; not for the Palestinians, not for the Israelis and not for the United States. Genuinely new ideas are in order; but Levy simply has no genuinely new ideas.
    But I have to admit that Levy does good work with the Middle East Channel. It’s fair-minded, diverse, and presents comments that are alot more intelligent than anything Levy has ever written.
    The Middle East Channel is just very good and Levy, the New America Foundation and the people at Foreign Policy are entitled to alot of credit for putting it together.
    On another, somewhat unrelated note, I just finished reading “Europe’s Promise: Why the European Way is the Best Hope in an Insecure Age” by Steven Hill who apparently works at the New America Foundation. The book is available for the Kindle.
    I recommend that everyone read this book; not because it’s good but because in light of everything that’s happened in the past few months, it’s hysterical.
    The book was published in February; by May it’s already hopelessly outdated. All the evidence that Hill mentions as highlighting the promise of Europe has collapsed in an extraordinarily short period of time.
    One would think that Hill would ask the publisher to pull the book to save himself the sheer embarrassment of having people read it.
    Hill and his New America Foundation colleague, Daniel Levy do have one thing in common; they’re walking clich

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  26. JohnH says:

    The analogy with religion is apt. Everyone professes to be for peace. Everyone fervently prays for peace. Everyone genuflects before the icons of peace.
    But nobody behaves according to their religious precepts. The powerful continue preying on the weak because their God has blessed their current behavior, delivering unto them the Biblical promised land of milk and honey. The weak pray for deliverance from oppression and for paradise in the hereafter.
    Only the powerful get into trouble do they begin to hear the words of their religion, return to church, where they pray fervently, begging God’s mercy, forgiveness and assistance.
    The United States finally seems to be there. Israel still believes that they still have God’s favor. Meanwhile the Palestinians, like the Jews of the Roman era, can do little but pray for deliverance or a miracle.

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