Archive for May, 2011

May 31, 2011

Israel’s Borders and National Security

by Gedalyah Reback

Israel’s Borders and National Security (from STRATFOR)
Created May 30 2011 – 20:37

By George Friedman

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said May 30 that Israel could not prevent the United Nations from recognizing a Palestinian state, in the sense of adopting a resolution on the subject. Two weeks ago, U.S. President Barack Obama, in a speech, called on Israel to return to some variation of its pre-1967 borders. The practical significance of these and other diplomatic evolutions in relation to Israel is questionable. Historically, U.N. declarations have had variable meanings, depending on the willingness of great powers to enforce them. Obama’s speech on Israel, and his subsequent statements, created enough ambiguity to make exactly what he was saying unclear. Nevertheless, it is clear that the diplomatic atmosphere on Israel is shifting.

There are many questions concerning this shift, ranging from the competing moral and historical claims of the Israelis and Palestinians to the internal politics of each side to whether the Palestinians would be satisfied with a return to the pre-1967 borders. All of these must be addressed, but this analysis is confined to a single issue: whether a return to the 1967 borders would increase the danger to Israel’s national security. Later analyses will focus on Palestinian national security issues and those of others.

Early Borders

It is important to begin by understanding that the pre-1967 borders are actually the borders established by the armistice agreements of 1949. The 1948 U.N. resolution creating the state of Israel created a much smaller Israel. The Arab rejection of what was called “partition” resulted in a war that created the borders that placed the West Bank (named after the west bank of the Jordan River) in Jordanian hands, along with substantial parts of Jerusalem, and placed Gaza in the hands of the Egyptians.

Israel’s Borders and National Security
(click here to enlarge image)

The 1949 borders substantially improved Israel’s position by widening the corridors between the areas granted to Israel under the partition, giving it control of part of Jerusalem and, perhaps most important, control over the Negev. The latter provided Israel with room for maneuver in the event of an Egyptian attack — and Egypt was always Israel’s main adversary. At the same time, the 1949 borders did not eliminate a major strategic threat. The Israel-Jordan border placed Jordanian forces on three sides of Israeli Jerusalem, and threatened the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem corridor. Much of the Israeli heartland, the Tel Aviv-Haifa-Jerusalem triangle, was within Jordanian artillery range, and a Jordanian attack toward the Mediterranean would have to be stopped cold at the border, since there was no room to retreat, regroup and counterattack.

For Israel, the main danger did not come from Jordan attacking by itself. Jordanian forces were limited, and tensions with Egypt and Syria created a de facto alliance between Israel and Jordan. In addition, the Jordanian Hashemite regime lived in deep tension with the Palestinians, since the former were British transplants from the Arabian Peninsula, and the Palestinians saw them as well as the Israelis as interlopers. Thus the danger on the map was mitigated both by politics and by the limited force the Jordanians could bring to bear.

Nevertheless, politics shift, and the 1949 borders posed a strategic problem for Israel. If Egypt, Jordan and Syria were to launch a simultaneous attack (possibly joined by other forces along the Jordan River line) all along Israel’s frontiers, the ability of Israel to defeat the attackers was questionable. The attacks would have to be coordinated — as the 1948 attacks were not — but simultaneous pressure along all frontiers would leave the Israelis with insufficient forces to hold and therefore no framework for a counterattack. From 1948 to 1967, this was Israel’s existential challenge, mitigated by the disharmony among the Arabs and the fact that any attack would be detected in the deployment phase.

Israel’s strategy in this situation had to be the pre-emptive strike. Unable to absorb a coordinated blow, the Israelis had to strike first to disorganize their enemies and to engage them sequentially and in detail. The 1967 war represented Israeli strategy in its first generation. First, it could not allow the enemy to commence hostilities. Whatever the political cost of being labeled the aggressor, Israel had to strike first. Second, it could not be assumed that the political intentions of each neighbor at any one time would determine their behavior. In the event Israel was collapsing, for example, Jordan’s calculations of its own interests would shift, and it would move from being a covert ally to Israel to a nation both repositioning itself in the Arab world and taking advantage of geographical opportunities. Third, the center of gravity of the Arab threat was always Egypt, the neighbor able to field the largest army. Any pre-emptive war would have to begin with Egypt and then move to other neighbors. Fourth, in order to control the sequence and outcome of the war, Israel would have to maintain superior organization and technology at all levels. Finally, and most important, the Israelis would have to move for rapid war termination. They could not afford a war of attrition against forces of superior size. An extended war could drain Israeli combat capability at an astonishing rate. Therefore the pre-emptive strike had to be decisive.

The 1949 borders actually gave Israel a strategic advantage. The Arabs were fighting on external lines. This means their forces could not easily shift between Egypt and Syria, for example, making it difficult to exploit emergent weaknesses along the fronts. The Israelis, on the other hand, fought from interior lines, and in relatively compact terrain. They could carry out a centrifugal offense, beginning with Egypt, shifting to Jordan and finishing with Syria, moving forces from one front to another in a matter of days. Put differently, the Arabs were inherently uncoordinated, unable to support each other. The pre-1967 borders allowed the Israelis to be superbly coordinated, choosing the timing and intensity of combat to suit their capabilities. Israel lacked strategic depth, but it made up for it with compact space and interior lines. If it could choose the time, place and tempo of engagements, it could defeat numerically superior forces. The Arabs could not do this.

Israel needed two things in order to exploit this advantage. The first was outstanding intelligence to detect signs of coordination and the massing of forces. Detecting the former sign was a matter of political intelligence, the latter a matter of tactical military intelligence. But the political intelligence would have to manifest itself in military deployments, and given the geography of the 1949 borders, massing forces secretly was impossible. If enemy forces could mass undetected it would be a disaster for Israel. Thus the center of gravity of Israeli war-making was its intelligence capabilities.

The second essential requirement was an alliance with a great power. Israel’s strategy was based on superior technology and organization — air power, armor and so on. The true weakness of Israel’s strategic power since the country’s creation had been that its national security requirements outstripped its industrial and financial base. It could not domestically develop and produce all of the weapons it needed to fight a war. Israel depended first on the Soviets, then until 1967 on France. It was not until after the 1967 war that the United States provided any significant aid to Israel. However, under the strategy of the pre-1967 borders, continual access to weapons — and in a crisis, rapid access to more weapons — was essential, so Israel had to have a powerful ally. Not having one, coupled with an intelligence failure, would be disastrous.

After 1967

The 1967 war allowed Israel to occupy the Sinai, all of Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. It placed Egyptian forces on the west bank of the Suez, far from Israel, and pushed the Jordanians out of artillery range of the Israeli heartland. It pushed Syria out of artillery range as well. This created the strategic depth Israel required, yet it set the stage for the most serious military crisis in Israeli history, beginning with a failure in its central capability — intelligence.

Israel’s Borders and National Security
(click here to enlarge image)

The intelligence failure occurred in 1973, when Syria and Egypt managed to partially coordinate an assault on Israel without Israeli intelligence being able to interpret the intelligence it was receiving. Israel was saved above all by rapid rearmament by the United States, particularly in such staples of war as artillery shells. It was also aided by greater strategic depth. The Egyptian attack was stopped far from Israel proper in the western Sinai. The Syrians fought in the Golan Heights rather than in the Galilee.

Here is the heart of the pre-1967 border issue. Strategic depth meant that the Syrians and Egyptians spent their main offensive force outside of Israel proper. This bought Israel space and time. It allowed Israel to move back to its main sequential strategy. After halting the two attacks, the Israelis proceeded to defeat the Syrians in the Golan then the Egyptians in the Sinai. However, the ability to mount the two attacks — and particularly the Sinai attack — required massive American resupply of everything from aircraft to munitions. It is not clear that without this resupply the Israelis could have mounted the offensive in the Sinai, or avoided an extended war of attrition on unfavorable terms. Of course, the intelligence failure opened the door to Israel’s other vulnerability — its dependency on foreign powers for resupply. Indeed, perhaps Israel’s greatest miscalculation was the amount of artillery shells it would need to fight the war; the amount required vastly outstripped expectations. Such a seemingly minor thing created a massive dependency on the United States, allowing the United States to shape the conclusion of the war to its own ends so that Israel’s military victory ultimately evolved into a political retreat in the Sinai.

It is impossible to argue that Israel, fighting on its 1949 borders, was less successful than when it fought on its post-1967 borders. What happened was that in expanding the scope of the battlefield, opportunities for intelligence failures multiplied, the rate of consumption of supplies increased and dependence grew on foreign powers with different political interests. The war Israel fought from the 1949 borders was more efficiently waged than the one it fought from the post-1967 borders. The 1973 war allowed for a larger battlefield and greater room for error (errors always occur on the battlefield), but because of intelligence surprises and supply miscalculations it also linked Israel’s national survival to the willingness of a foreign government to quickly resupply its military.

The example of 1973 casts some doubt around the argument that the 1948 borders were excessively vulnerable. There are arguments on both sides of the issue, but it is not a clear-cut position. However, we need to consider Israel’s borders not only in terms of conventional war but also in terms of unconventional war — both uprisings and the use of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) weapons.

There are those who argue that there will be no more peer-to-peer conflicts. We doubt that intensely. However, there is certainly a great deal of asymmetric warfare in the world, and for Israel it comes in the form of intifadas, rocket attacks and guerrilla combat against Hezbollah in Lebanon. The post-1967 borders do not do much about these forms of warfare. Indeed, it can be argued that some of this conflict happens because of the post-1967 borders.

A shift to the 1949 borders would not increase the risk of an intifada but would make it moot. It would not eliminate conflict with Hezbollah. A shift to the 1949 line would eliminate some threats but not others. From the standpoint of asymmetric warfare, a shift in borders could increase the threat from Palestinian rockets to the Israeli heartland. If a Palestinian state were created, there would be the very real possibility of Palestinian rocket fire unless there was a significant shift in Hamas’ view of Israel or Fatah increased its power in the West Bank and was in a position to defeat Hamas and other rejectionist movements. This would be the heart of the Palestinian threat if there were a return to the borders established after the initial war.

The shape of Israel’s borders doesn’t really have an effect on the threat posed by CBRN weapons. While some chemical artillery rockets could be fired from closer borders, the geography leaves Israel inherently vulnerable to this threat, regardless of where the precise boundary is drawn, and they can already be fired from Lebanon or Gaza. The main threat discussed, a CBRN warhead fitted to an Iranian medium-range ballistic missile launched from a thousand miles away, has little to do with precisely where a line in the Levant is drawn.

When we look at conventional warfare, I would argue that the main issue Israel has is not its borders but its dependence on outside powers for its national security. Any country that creates a national security policy based on the willingness of another country to come to its assistance has a fundamental flaw that will, at some point, be mortal. The precise borders should be those that a) can be defended and b) do not create barriers to aid when that aid is most needed. In 1973, U.S. President Richard Nixon withheld resupply for some days, pressing Israel to the edge. U.S. interests were not those of Israel’s. This is the mortal danger to Israel — a national security requirement that outstrips its ability to underwrite it.

Israel’s borders will not protect it against Iranian missiles, and rockets from Gaza are painful but do not threaten Israel’s existence. In case the artillery rocket threat expands beyond this point, Israel must retain the ability to reoccupy and re-engage, but given the threat of asymmetric war, perpetual occupation would seem to place Israel at a perpetual disadvantage. Clearly, the rocket threat from Hamas represents the best argument for strategic depth.

Israel’s Borders and National Security
(click here to enlarge image)

The best argument for returning to the pre-1967 borders is that Israel was more capable of fighting well on these borders. The war of independence, the 1956 war and the 1967 war all went far better than any of the wars that came after. Most important, if Israel is incapable of generating a national defense industry that can provide all the necessary munitions and equipment without having to depend on its allies, then it has no choice but to consider what its allies want. With the pre-1967 borders there is a greater chance of maintaining critical alliances. More to the point, the pre-1967 borders require a smaller industrial base because they do not require troops for occupation and they improve Israel’s ability to conduct conventional operations in a time of crisis.

There is a strong case to be made for not returning to the 1949 lines, but it is difficult to make that case from a military point of view. Strategic depth is merely one element of a rational strategy. Given that Israel’s military security depends on its relations with third parties, the shape of its borders and diplomatic reality are, as always, at the heart of Israeli military strategy.

In warfare, the greatest enemy of victory is wishful thinking. The assumption that Israel will always have an outside power prepared to rush munitions to the battlefield or help create costly defense systems like Iron Dome is simply wishful thinking. There is no reason to believe this will always be the case. Therefore, since this is the heart of Israeli strategy, the strategy rests on wishful thinking. The question of borders must be viewed in the context of synchronizing Israeli national security policy with Israeli national means.

There is an argument prevalent among Israelis and their supporters that the Arabs will never make a lasting peace with Israel. From this flows the assumption that the safest course is to continue to hold all territory. My argument assumes the worst case, which is not only that the Palestinians will not agree to a genuine peace but also that the United States cannot be counted on indefinitely. All military planning must begin with the worst case.

However, I draw a different conclusion from these facts than the Israelis do. If the worst-case scenario is the basis for planning, then Israel must reduce its risk and restructure its geography along the more favorable lines that existed between 1949 and 1967, when Israel was unambiguously victorious in its wars, rather than the borders and policies after 1967, when Israel has been less successful. The idea that the largest possible territory provides the greatest possible security is not supportable in military history. As Frederick the Great once said, he who defends everything defends nothing.

May 25, 2011

The Palestinians Could Recognize a Jewish State – They Don’t Think They’ll Have To

by Gedalyah Reback

Both Israel and the Palestinians have a precondition for negotiations to continue. The Palestinians want construction in the settlements to stop and the Israelis want the Palestinian Authority to recognize Israel as a “Jewish” state.

The fact that these are the two things that the two governments have to declare publicly demonstrates neither side wants to restart peace talks.

On the Palestinian side, Mahmoud Abbas wants to maximize Palestinian leverage over Israel. Both Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas have rejected genuinely serious offers from Ehud Barak in 2000, then Ehud Olmert in 2008. Israel now faces the diplomatic wrath of the world with only the United States and a smattering of other countries behind her.

Israel has both Netanyahu guarding his political coalition and its psychological insecurity about the physical security of the country adjacent to a territory over which it would not have military control.

As for whether or not Netanyahu’s or Abbas’ government constitutes a “partner for peace,” that depends on whether or not the two sides actually want to negotiate. At that point, either both sides are so-called “partners” or neither is. History would say either side would eventually cave to negotiate, but the Palestinians have never had this much leverage before and they seem set on using it.

May 22, 2011

Obama Can Still Steal Iran’s Thunder: Support Bahrain’s Shiites

by Gedalyah Reback

Originally Posted on New Voices

President Obama missed a major opportunity last week: to become repressed Shiites’ patron and steal Iran’s thunder.

The crackdown in Bahrain, more than any other Arab country, offer a stupendous opening to US foreign policy and the regional balance of power. The United States should consider an aggressive policy against the Bahraini monarchy, solicit the popular support of the oppressed Shiite population, and replace Iran as their potential patron. The gigantic naval base in Bahrain should be moved to Kuwait or India, and the Saudi Arabia should be threatened with losing its contracts with American military suppliers.

Barack Obama did make clear statements about Bahrain, but unless sanctions slip through his slips or threatening to pull out that base, Bahrain’s citizens won’t take him as seriously as he needs to be taken.

For anyone who needs specifics, here is the summary: Bahrain is among many other countries that have suppressed popular uprisings (i.e., peaceful protests). Bahrain is different than Libya and Yemen because the government is dominated by a minority (30%) Sunni regime governing over a majority (70%) Shiite population.

It is not so much Bahrain that the US does not want to offend – a number of other countries want the US navy’s business. It’s the Saudis. Saudi Arabia does not necessarily think Iran actually has control of what is going on in Bahrain. In 2009, Saudi Arabia invaded Yemen when a small group of Shiite rebels started making progress against the government there. No analyst thinks Iran was helping them, but Saudi Arabia insinuated it. Saudi Arabia wants to stomp out Shiite uprisings before there is one in their own backyard. Fifteen percent of the country is Shiite, and the Saudi royal family does not want to sacrifice oil profits to pesky things like social and economic concerns of a despised minority.

Saudi Arabia rolls in

The US cannot be Saudi Arabia’s lackey. The entire time the Obama Administration has focused on Israel in the eyes of the Arab world, it ignored the possibility that Arabs might need to contest their own governments first.

But as things build up, Iran will make the effort to establish a foothold in Arab countries. In 1982, Iran took advantage of the Lebanese Civil War and the Israeli invasion there to create Hezbollah. Iran cemented its role as patron to Lebanese Shiites – that does not have to happen in Bahrain, Yemen or Saudi Arabia for that matter.

A consistent American approach, like President Obama asserted the other night when talking about the Arab revolts, will go far for all Arabs. But reaching out to Shiites would give them something far more preferable to the repressive regime of Iran. Bahrain’s citizens want it.

May 22, 2011

by Gedalyah Reback

Originally Posted on New Voices


One would think that you cannot surrender your moral high ground in the Middle East. To do so is suicide so the thinking goes. It would be a display of weakness. And so no country owns up to its mistakes, much less its crimes. The Arab World that admits it created the Israel they whine about – the one military machine that has learned to rely on the gun rather than the spoken word – is the Arab World I never anticipate seeing.

But Israel has the same attitude. There might be solid arguments for hundreds or even thousands of those killed during Israel’s wars, but the dead remain silent and gone from the lives of those they left behind. Hence, resentment is still rife, no matter how many people Israel convinces their actions were justified in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon or anywhere else the IDF might find itself.

Israel’s position in the Middle East will depend on some flexibility and expressed regret over its past at some point. Not necessarily the Nakba, but the massive collateral damage its offensives have caused. I have supported every war over the last ten years, but that does not mean we cannot soften our hearts when we have to. When Israel takes a peace initiative to Lebanon or Syria or the Palestinians, it will have to express some remorse. The same, for sure, goes for the Arab World. The Holocaust, the expulsion of Jews from the Arab World and indisputable aggression against Israeli civilians are stains on Arab honor. Too bad I think we are some distance from that sort of reciprocity.

Middle Easterners argue as if they were primitive tribesmen rather than articulate debaters. Politics in this place seems to be based on trying to delegitimize the opponent. Israel’s trials over it are well known, but Israelis are sucked into the temptation to delegitimize the predicaments of their enemies as well. It is not just about winning a war or defeating terrorism, but undermining their peoples’ narratives also.

Very soon, Israel will have to acknowledge the past to make headway with Lebanese and Syrians, all the more so Palestinians refugees. I am not comfortable with some of it, but we are going to have to lay our pride down about it. The Arab Spring represents both an opportunity and a responsibility to the Arab World. There will be far fewer excuses for the countries that achieve representative democracy. The idea of freedom is not merely the liberation of one tribe at the expense of the other. Jews, Alawites, Shiites and Sunnis – among others – will be tested to reach out to each other under insecure circumstances in the very near future.

May 20, 2011

I Don’t Think Netanyahu is Mad at Obama

by Gedalyah Reback

Originally Posted on New Voices

There is nothing new under the sun.

Nothing Barack Obama said is dramatic. But Benjamin Netanyahu is making it seem so. “He doesn’t get it,” said one Netanyahu aide:

Referring to the US president’s Mideast policy speech, a Netanyahu associate said: “He (Obama) didn’t deliver the goods…Obama apparently does not understand the reality in the Mideast.”

It is perplexing. Barack Obama confirmed for the first time in his presidency the following:
1) A Demilitarized Palestinian State
2) Pressure on the Palestinian Authority not to seek UN Recognition
3) Support for Israel’s anti-Hamas stance

Gideon Levy, an extremely leftist (to say the least) commentator for HaAretz, was even more “pessimistic.” He said Obama had thrown a Palestinian state to the wolves and that it would be an impossibility to achieve. To be honest though, he usually takes the role of spoiler happily. His editorials tend to be, well, pessimistic.

I think the entire battle between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu is theater. By endorsing a state “based on the 1967 borders” with adjustments, he just decided to use the Palestinian wording and not the Israeli one. Reading Arab headlines shows what might be the Palestinian understanding of those words. Netanyahu acting as angry as he is projects an illusion Obama was tough on the Israeli position. I do not think Obama totally undercut the Palestinian Authority’s plan to go to the UN, but he did validate long-standing Israeli policy. Read the op-edObama the Zionist from this morning to see what I mean.

The 1967 borders are already the basis of negotiations and the assumptions of the boundaries of a Palestinian state. Palestinians will inevitably be disappointed by how flexible Obama’s words are and that he did not actually mean they would get the Green Line as their border nor the entire Old City of Jerusalem.

May 19, 2011

A Quick Read of Arab Reactions to Obama’s Speech: in English and Arabic

by Gedalyah Reback

Originally Posted on New Voices

Scanning the headlines from Barack Obama’s speech about the Middle East, it is compelling the way different newspapers and online sources decided to interpret his words. You don’t need to read the Arabic to see Arab papers are putting words in Barack Obama’s mouth.

Thus far, there is no wide division in the analysis. Barack Obama’s words were crisp, no matter how flexible the policy he expressed with them was; that is, they are hard to misinterpret. At the same time, he left the United States’ options open. He did not demand much, much less promise anything. But he said Palestine should be demilitarized.

He also said this, “The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines, with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.”

Israeli governments usually avoid mentioning the 1967 borders, even more the idea of a “swap.” No Prime Minister wants to 1) commit himself to equally trading land with the Palestinians that’d be politically difficult to provide, and 2) promising that 1967 would serve as a reference point for anything, and 3) create an expectation that Jerusalem would be divided in a certain way (or the Golan Heights for that matter).

Nonetheless, Arab headlines are cherry-picking. The headlines and the images they are posting speak to what Arab writers either want to hear or are trying to impose into Barack Obama’s words. Check out the following English and Arabic samplings. The Arabic headlines are translated next to the originals:

The Arab headlines tend to project Obama’s words as direct and above interpretation. The articles, in English and Arabic, do more justice to the content of the speech. But the theme is relatively consistent: Arabs like the terminology “1967 Borders.” That implies “Jerusalem” for Arab politicos. It is only when you get into the articles that the fact cannot be hidden Barack Obama was much more ambiguous: “based on the 1967 Borders.”

Al-Jazeera (ENGLISH)Obama seeks Palestine state on 1967 borders

Al-Jazeera (ARABIC) ِأُوبَامَا يَشْرَحُ الْرُّؤِيَّةً الْأَمِيرَكِيَّةَ لِلْتَغْيِيرِ بِالْمِنْطَقَة (‘Obama Explains the American Outlook toward the Change in the Region’)
As of 1:56AM Israel time, the Arabic version of the site seems to be digesting all the topics with equal weight.

The Daily Star (Lebanon – ENGLISH): Obama tells Israel: Go back to 1967 borders
“Obama’s urging that a Palestinian state be based on 1967 borders, those that existed before the Six-Day War in which Israel occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, marked a significant shift in U.S. policy and seemed certain to anger Israel.”

But in addition to these things, the Daily Star emphasized the pressure on the Palestinian Authority from the Obama speech to 1) “provide a credible answer” to the question of how they plan to pursue peace with Israel while Hamas refuses to recognize its rights and 2) rejected the PA’s attempt for recognition at the United Nations.

Arab News (Saudi Arabia – ENGLISH): Palestine should have ’67 border: Obama

لاقدس – (Al-Quds [Palestinian]): “ِاُوبَامَا يَدْعُو لِقِيَامِ دَوْلَةٍ فَلَسْطِينِيَّةٍ ضَمِنَ حُدُودِ 1967 وَ”مَنْزُوعَةِ الْسَّلَاح” (‘Obama Calls for Establishment of Palestinian State ~in relation to/in the context of~ the 1967 Borders and “Demilitarized”‘)
The order of wording in the headline is awkward translated directly into English. It would be better said “Obama Calls for Establishment of Demilitarized Palestinian State in relation to the 1967 Borders.” But the paper chose to emphasize the fact he said “demilitarized.” The paper is mincing words and looking for a quarrel. The Arabic headline does not seem to feel any need to embellish on the meaning of Obama’s words. They are more accurate to use the preposition “,” which can be interpreted variously as “in relation to,” “in the context of,” “within,” and of course “on the basis of.”

الْمَصْرِي الْيَوْم – (The Daily Egyptian): نَتَنْيَاهُو يَرُدُّ عَلَى أُوبَامَا: إِقَامَةٌ دَوْلَةٍ فلسطينيةٍ لَا يُمْكِنُ أَنْ تَأْتِي عَلَى حِسَابِ إِسْرَائِيل (‘Netanyahu Responds to Obama: Establishment of Palestinian State won’t come at the Expense of Israel’)
The Egyptian Paper actually had this had a lower rung of the current-events latter. Egypt has its own issues to cover. But the image they chose to publish is much more telling:

Egypt is notorious for its anti-Semitic newspaper articles and political cartoons. Ultra-Orthodox Jews are frequently drawn to represent Israelis. The unflattering grimaces on the front faces in the pic, plus the interpretively-smug expression on Netanyahu’s demonstrate how the paper is trying to frame his persona. Now compare that to the pictures of Obama.

Arab reactions in English are positive: they are making Obama’s words look sharp toward Israel. In Arabic, things are less accommodating. That type of mix is not going to be enough to advance the peace process.

May 17, 2011

Mahmoud Abbas’ Blatant Contradiction in the New York Times: Whose Fault is the Nakba?

by Gedalyah Reback

Mahmoud Abbas claimed today Israel was solely responsible for the Palestinian exodus of 1948. That is not what he has said in the past.

As if Mahmoud Abbas were looking for more ways to risk Palestinian public relations after the coalition deal with Hamas, Abbas remarked today in his editorial for the New York Times that Israel generally expelled 700,000 Palestinians in 1948:

“In November 1947, the General Assembly made its recommendation and answered in the affirmative. Shortly thereafter, Zionist forces expelled Palestinian Arabs to ensure a decisive Jewish majority in the future state of Israel, and Arab armies intervened.”

But he did not say that in 1976, when he explicitly blamed the Arab World (and its “armies”) for forcingPalestinians to leave their homes:

“The Arab armies entered Palestine to protect the Palestinians from the Zionist tyranny but, instead, they abandoned them, forced them to emigrate and to leave their homeland, and threw them into prisons similar to the ghettos in which the Jews used to live.” (Strangers in the Land: Blacks, Jews, post-Holocaust America. Eric J. Sundquist. pp. 325)

In the midst of emotional politics, even someone at the top of the world can royally screw up.

His words, plus Netanyahu’s for that matter, are getting sharper. Violence might be unavoidable this September and onward for a number of reasons. As things develop, everyone should keep their eyes peeled for politicians doing what they do best: contradiction, incitement and lying.

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