Wednesday, February 9, 2011

MJ Rosenberg Proves Himself Right (by ignoring history)

Sometimes you see an opinion that is so correct, so convincing and so well written. That's of course if you don't know history or willfully ignore it! MJ Rosenberg set out to prove that in any historical debate the Israeli 'Peace Camp' had it right. In order to so, he molests  over 40 years of history.

Let's examine some of his claims. Of course it was the Israeli Peace Camp that could have saved Israel from the dreaded Yom Kippur War. It would have been averted if Israel merely trusted Sadat blindfoldedly. He writes:
The most egregious example of this phenomenon comes from Egypt, where in 1971 President Anwar Sadat offered to begin negotiations toward peace in exchange for a two-mile wide Israeli withdrawal from the east bank of the Suez Canal, which Israel had captured along with the rest of the Sinai Peninsula in the 1967 war.
The Nixon administration told the Israeli government to explore the idea because Sadat was intent on going to war if he did not get his territory back.
The peace camp in Israel and its allies here urged Israel to follow Nixon's advice and hear Sadat out. The lobby, of course, told Nixon to mind his own business.
As for the Israeli cabinet, it told Nixon's emissary, Assistant Secretary of State Joseph Sisco, that it had no interest in discussing Egypt's offer. It voted for keeping all of the Sinai Peninsula and sending Egypt a simple message: no. After all, the Egyptians had shown just four years earlier that they were no match for the IDF.
Two years later, the Egyptians attacked, and within hours all of Israel's positions along the canal were overrun and its soldiers killed. By the time the war ended, Israel had lost 3,000 soldiers and almost the state itself. And then, a few years later, it gave up the entire Sinai anyway - not just the two-mile strip Egypt had demanded in 1971. 

What Rosenberg forgets to mention is that immediately after the Six Days War, the Israeli government declared its willingness to cease the Sinai peninsula for a peace agreement with Egypt. The premise of ceasing strategically important territory to an enemy who is currently actively shooting at you, while your intelligence indicates that he wants to go to war anyway, all for the hope of maybe starting negotiations sounds somewhat ludicrous to me.

A few years later Israel ended up ceasing the territory as it intended all along. That came after a gesture of a lifetime by Sadat and sufficient American guarantees to maintain the treaty. 31 years later and we see the Camp David accord tested by an American administration that seems incapable to to deliver on the guarantees and the prospect of a revolution in Egypt.

Next, Rosenberg talks about the Oslo peace process. And boy! is that a dandy!

This pattern has been repeated over and over again. The Oslo Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which gave Israel its safest and most optimistic years in its history, collapsed after Prime Ministers Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak repeatedly refused to live up to its terms.
During the Oslo process, Yasir Arafat's Palestinian Authority did what it was supposed to do: it combated terrorism so effectively (Hamas had launched a series of deadly bus bombings to thwart the peace process) that Netanyahu himself telephoned Arafat to thank him. By 1999, terrorism was effectively defeated in Israel. It was an amazing time, with the free and safe movement of goods and people from Israel to the West Bank and back again - not the way it is today with a towering wall separating Israelis from Palestinians and dividing Palestinians on one side from Palestinians on the other.
But the temporary end of terrorism did not achieve the transfer of any actual territory to the Palestinians. Netanyahu and Barak nickeled and dimed the Palestinians to death - actually, to the death of the peace process, which for all intents and purposes is now buried. By the time Clinton convened the Camp David summit in 2000, any good will between the two sides was gone.
Netanyahu left office shortly after completing the Wye plantation accord which awarded the PA a further 13% of the WB, in Hebron primarily. Barak just a couple of years later offered Arafat the 'house' at Camp David. What was Arafat's response? Waging a war of terror of course, but don't tell it to MJ Rosenberg because he will not listen anyway. Of course the wall was built after a continuous three year long assault of terrorism on Israel's population centres. What should Israel have done to prevent it, offer Arafat Tel Aviv?

Next he says this about the breakdown of Turkish mediated talks between Israel and Syria:
This incident was a major first step toward the collapse of Israeli-Turkish friendship, which - along with the relationship with Mubarak's Egypt - was the cornerstone of Israel's sense of security.
Will the information that indicated that Turkey was not much of an honest broker mattered? Many in Israel saw the rise of Erdogan to power as the sign of things to come. Friendship was fairly cold for some years by the time this incident happened.

MJ Rosenberg is one of those people that believes that Israel is the root of all of the problems in the Middle East, or so it seems. Why not give the Egyptians the Sinai? They will only spit back the agreement at you in 30 years! Why not let a brutal despot (king Abdullah II) meddle with your domestic security concerns? He is only trying to save his own head from the islamists!

Give me a break!


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