The shorter James Zogby

Dr James Zogby could have saved a barrel or two of ink when writing the article that appears in today’s Gulf News:

The situation unfolding in Gaza and the West Bank is, in some significant ways, an inevitable consequence of factors beyond the control of the Palestinians.

The lawlessness, the intra-Palestinian violence and the general social unrest, were all predictable. When any society has been subjected to prolonged repression and deprivation, it usually reacts with violence, first directed against the perceived source of the oppression. Only in later stages, after this repressive situation has been sustained over a long period of time, does the violence turn inward in self-destructive and anti-social behaviour.

In large measure, of course, Israel bears significant responsibility for this tragedy.

A shorter version could have read:

Palestinians cannot help shooting the shit out of each other, and it’s wrong to expect any better of them. But it’s all Israel’s fault anyway.

Dr James Zogby is the president of the Arab American Institute in Washington, DC. Shame he thinks so little of his Palestinian brethren that he considers them unable to do anything other than carry out acts of violence.


As surprising as Christmas

In June 2004, the Gulf News reported the following:

10 leading Palestinian militant groups have called upon Egypt – and Jordan – not to interfere in the internal security affairs of Palestine. Their reasoning is that with neighbouring Arab states assisting in the security of Gaza, it will imply that it is the Palestinians who are the problem, not the Israelis.

It would do well for Egypt and Jordan to accept the violence from Palestinians is due to Israeli occupation and the heavy-handed measures meted out by its troops. Once the Israelis withdraw from the Occupied Territories and return the land to the rightful owners, there will be no need for further violence.

My comment at the time consisted in its entirety of: Let’s see shall we? Let’s just wait and see.

We need wait no longer, for Gloria Salt has been rounding up the latest news from Gaza, now free of Israel’s heavy-handed troops.

– In the first attack by Palestinians on a UN target inside the territories, gunmen descended on the United Nations Club after last night’s New Year’s celebrations, tied up the security guard, pistol-whipped him, set explosives, and blew the place up

– Fatah gunmen opened fire on the car of their own administration’s ambassador to Pakistan, Yussef al-Rabi, injuring the driver and terrorizing the ambassador and his wife, who was with him in the car. They snatched al-Rabi’s diplomatic passport, smashed the windows of the car and forced him to run for his life

– About 100 Palestinian police went “on a rampage” at the beleaguered Rafah crossing in violent protest against the clan-warfare murder of one of their colleagues

– “Dozens of gunmen” besieged a Palestinian police station in Gaza to forcibly free a friend, and in the process accidentally killed a 14-year-old Palestinian boy

– a passionately pro-Palestinian British aid worker and her visiting parents were kidnapped at gunpoint and held until their kidnappers “receiv[ed] assurances that Britain and the European Union would seek an end to the Israeli buffer zone”, a no-go area in the northern Gaza Strip that the gunmen find inconvenient

– foreign election monitors were forcibly thrown out of their Nablus hotel by a group of Fatah gunmen

– warnings were issued by said gunmen to any other lingering foreign election monitors to get out of town

– Fatah gunmen occupied several government buildings in Gaza, demanding “jobs and money”

– Fatah gunmen blockaded the Rafah border crossing and stated that they will forcibly prevent foreigners from crossing until further notice

No need for further violence, eh? Gloria has more:

Today’s embarrassment was the storming of the Rafah crossing into Egypt – only just handed over to the Palestinians – by about 100 irate, weapons-wielding Palestinian policemen. They were upset by the murder of one of their number in an intra-Palestinian family feud. In a collective action that I don’t think is in the playbook of too many police forces, they demanded that the perpetrator be seized and immediately executed. The EU observers on the spot at Rafah did the logical thing: they hightailed it to the nearest Israeli army base until the mess blew over.

Murderous family feuds, policemen running amok, election offices stormed and robbed, gangs ruling local streets in Nablus and Tulkarem: this is the face of Fatah, and its purported leader is a well-coiffed empty suit.

Remember, neighbouring states should keep their noses out. To do otherwise would imply that it is the Palestinians who are the problem, not the Israelis.


Gloria on Gaza

A great post by Gloria Salt on the non-reaction of the sections of the West to the recent violence in the Gaza Strip:

But what about the rest of the world? All those activists on campuses in Britain, for example. And those editorial writers at the Guardian. Where is Sue Blackwell, champion of the anti-Israel academic boycott by the British Association of University Teachers? Where is Mona Baker, Egyptian-born editor of the British academic journal The Translator, who was so offended by the occupation that she forcibly removed two Israeli academics from the editorial boards of her publications (now that’ll teach ‘em)? Where is the International Solidarity Movement, sponsors of flag-burning “peace missions” to occupied Gaza? I could have sworn they all held some pretty strong views on the basic human right of Palestinians to live in safety and build their nation. Innocent Palestinians — little girls, taxi drivers, civilians of every stripe — have been dying in Gaza since disengagement was completed. Don’t these people have anything to say?

Well, no. The problem is not, and has never been, Palestinian suffering per se. The problem is Palestinian suffering at the hands of Israelis. And just as the Palestinians cannot be blamed for their acts of grotesque violence against Israelis, nor can they be blamed for their acts of grotesque violence against each other. Why not? Because unlike the Israelis, who, like “us”, should know better, they just can’t help it. This is how “they” behave. It is not for us to interfere, or even comment.

The great irony, of course, is that these arbiters of righteousness — these staunch defenders of the moral high ground — class us, the contemptible Israelis, along with them. We are to be held to what (in a weak moment) they might define as a civilized standard of behavior, while the Palestinians do not warrant such an exacting standard. In the view of their advocates abroad, the Palestinians are simply not capable of meeting it. So for all their cringing at the sight of their own names next to Israeli ones on journal mastheads, the Sue Blackwells and Mona Bakers of the world believe we’re in their club.

(via PooterGeek)