Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Ambassador and the Message

Regular readers may remember that I was very approving of the decision to name Michael Oren as our ambassador to the US. Here's vindication in a WSJ article about how things are getting so much better in the West Bank.
The West Bank's economic improvements contrast with the lack of diplomatic progress on the creation of a Palestinian state. Negotiators focus on the "top down" issues, grappling with legal and territorial problems. But the West Bank's population is building sovereignty from the bottom-up, forging the law-enforcement, civil, and financial institutions that form the underpinnings of any modern polity. The seeds of what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called "economic peace" are, in fact, already blossoming in the commercial skyline of Ramallah.
The vitality of the West Bank also accentuates the backwardness and despair prevailing in Gaza. In place of economic initiatives that might relieve the nearly 40% unemployment in the Gaza Strip, the radical Hamas government has imposed draconian controls subject to Shariah law. Instead of investing in new shopping centers and restaurants, Hamas has spent millions of dollars restocking its supply of rockets and mortar shells. Rather than forge a framework for peace, Hamas has wrought war and brought economic hardship to civilians on both sides of the borders.
Rational and informed observers (that sort of narrows the field, I'm aware) will have to notice that when Israel is faced with a reasonable Palestinian partner it behaves one way, even as it behaves another way when faced with an unreasonable Palestinian partner. Someday this ought to strengthen the perception that Israel, even under a right-wing government, would eagerly welcome a peaceful prosperous sovereign Palestinian neighbor; moreover, the Palestinians can impact Israel's positions. Peace seeking Palestinians will encounter different Israelis than war mongering ones.


Anonymous said...

Saw him interviewed by Fareed Zakaria today on CNN. He did a splendid job.


Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

Rational and informed observers (that sort of narrows the field, I'm aware) will have to notice that when Israel is faced with a reasonable Palestinian partner it behaves one way, even as it behaves another way when faced with an unreasonable Palestinian partner.

Whether the partner is reasonable or unreasonable, Israel always responds in the same way: grabbing ever more Palestinian land.

This summer, 30 new illegal outposts are being set up by Jewish settlers in the West Bank. The IDF stands aside as 11 are built on one and the same day.

Also, Israel keeps building in the "legal" settlements. Of course, you'll answer that they're settlements that will remain in Israel under any agreement, but there's a small problem: Israel has never defined the boundaries of those settlements! For all Fayyad's good behavior, Israel hasn't drawn a line on a map and said: this is the border of Maaleh Adumim and we will not build beyond it.

The reasonable PA administration in the WB has not been rewarded in any way. Israel has continued with its typical equivocation, removing one isolated outpost just as it allows a dozen others to be built, denouncing the settlers but providing them with full military protection when they invade private Palestinian property, jailing Daniella Weiss for six hours just as it declares the lands grabbed by the settlers Closed Military Zone, and promising evacuations that never happen.

And you know all of this is true. You know that however the Palestinians behave, Israel does nothing to stop its settlers from stealing further land, and keeps transfering its own population to the "legal" settlements, creating a non-natural growth that is forbidden both under the Road Map and under its "understandings" with Geroge Bush.

Sorry for the outburst; I just wanted to point out the nakedness of the emperor.

Anonymous said...

With the situation of land grabbing so dire, one would think that the Palestinians would have signed an agreement yesterday, forcing Israel to evacuate the hundred tiny settlements, consolidate the large blocks, and finalize that permanent status map. After all, that is what was offered them in 2000 and 2007.

In fact, one would think that the final status issues would have at least gotten a hearing at the Fatah conference, to finalize, normalize, pragmatize the Palestinian position.

Instead, all we heard was resistance, resistance, resistance. I think cessation of incitement was also somewhere in that Roadmap.

Yaacov said...

You know, Fake-Ibrahim, I was against the settlements before you even knew how to find Israel on the map. Yet one of the many things that distinguish between us is that I try to discuss things I know about, and when I wish to talk about something new I try to inform myself. You don't. On the contrary, you have no inhibitions of setting yourself up as an ingoramus.

Just out of curiosity: can you tell me hw many buildings were set up in those outposts last year? And how many were taken down?

Anonymous said...


Engaging people like 'Ibrahim' is a waste of your life and an absolute waste of space on your wonderful blog.

Let him think we are all for monster settlement blocks under the rubble of a bull-dozed Ramallah.

The emporer truly has no clothes.


Anonymous said...

Michael Oren on book-tour in January 07 with Power, Faith and Fantasy
and here when promoting the paperback in March 08
on video he doesn't look quite as great as he does in fotos but he sure got a voice and a style of delivery which got me addicted right away - lets hope his charisma works for a lot of Americans also
- and I can't imagine that anything he said then would be irrelevant today, quite the contrary

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

Yaacov, you stated that Israel behaves one way when it faces unreasonable Palestinians and another way when it faces reasonable ones.

I give the example of a very important point of friction: the illegal outposts.

When the Palestinians were unreasonable, Israel allowed its settlers to freely set up outposts.

Now that the Palestinians are reasonable, Israel allows its settlers to freely set up outposts.

Before, the IDF removed the Palestinians from Closed Military Zones, but it allowed the settlers to remain there even if it was private Palestinian property.

Now, it does exactly the same.

So that nothing has changed, contrary to your claim.

Anonymous said...


You didn't answer yaacov's question.

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

You didn't answer yaacov's question.

No, I didn't, because it's irrelevant. Even if you set up a single tent in an outpost, you're swallowing more than a dunam of Palestinian land, because that tent needs a "security zone" so that the IDF can protect it against the Palestinians who want to pick their olives.

The IDF didn't crack down on the settlers when the Palestinians were behaving bad, and it doesn't crack down on them now that the Palestinians are behaving good. The Palestinians are already delivering peace; Israel isn't stopping its settlers' violence.

Israel provides services and military protection to the settlers who attack Palestinian schoolgirls and burn down olive trees. Is that a partner for peace?

Joe in Australia said...

You may think the question is irrelevant, but your interlocutor doesn't. Here's another question: which places do you consider to be illegal settlements? For example, is Neve Yaakov an illegal settlement? How about Maale Adumim? How about Kiryat Arba?