An exceptionally disturbing op-ed was published in the Washington Post two days ago by Robert Bernstein, founding member of Human Rights Watch (HRW) who has recently turned against the organization. Bernstein’s op-ed opens with the allegation that the Arab World is “defined” by autocracy and anti-Semitism, then goes on attacking the UN for “fueling… anti-Semitism” and accusing human rights organizations of being “accomplices” of the UN. It is not readily clear how such hateful garbage made it into one of the country’s most respected papers, but since it did, it merits a response.
Bernstein’s grievance with human rights organizations is that they criticize Israel’s blatant violations of human rights and international law (or “Israel’s defensive measures” as he calls them), but do not condemn “hate speech and incitement to genocide” by Israel’s enemies. Setting aside the distinction between hateful words and violent actions, you’ll notice Bernstein is not upset that human rights organizations were silent when Israeli rabbis referred to Arabs as “evil camel riders,” or called for the killing of their women and children, he’s only upset when the hate and vitriol is directed at Israel.
Continue reading “Injustice, not hate, is what drives Middle East conflict” »
Daniel Nisman - Meddling in the internal affairs of other nations, sending warships on provocative patrol routes, and threatening regional neighbors with war were, just a short time ago, actions which characterized only the Iranian regime’s pursuit of regional domination. Amidst the sweeping changes brought about by the Arab Spring, Turkey has found a window of opportunity to demonstrate its competency and capability for assuming a lead role in the Middle East, effectively abandoning its previous “Zero Problems” foreign policy in the process.
The “Zero Problems” approach to foreign policy was spearheaded by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu when the AKP party first came to power in 2002. The term refers to Turkey’s pledge to maintain peaceful relations with its neighbors, as long as they respect Turkey’s interests in return. For many years, Syria seemed to be the major benefactor of this policy even though the two nations almost went to war in the early 1990′s over Assad’s alleged support of Kurdish Separatists. Under the “Zero Problems” policy, Syria became one of Turkey’s primary trading partners, and at one point the two nations were conducting joint cabinet meetings.
Continue reading “Erdogan Means Business” »
I write this letter on the eve of your request for full UN membership. I feel compelled to express my support, not as a Palestinian sympathizer or as a pro-Israel supporter, not even as a political scientist, but as an average human being that knows the difference between right and wrong, integrity and hypocrisy,morality and national interests.
I have been following your government’s PR campaign for weeks, if not months now. Your conflict with the Israelis has been an endless source of professional and personal interest to me.
I can imagine the tremendous amount of pressure you are under at the moment; taking on the most powerful state in the world cannot be easy. Even if you knew ahead of time what the general tone of the president’s speech at the UN General Assembly would be, it could not have made you feel good to hear that on the one hand, the U.S. supports the uprisings in Tunisia, Libya, Syria and Egypt, and on the other hand, your pursuit for a UN seat is somehow unworthy of American support.
Continue reading “Letter to President Abbas” »
Presidential hopeful Rick Perry asks a great question, “If they [Palestinians] perceive they can get what they want from the U.N. without making any concessions why should they negotiate with Israel?
It is a great question. But let’s take a more balanced look at it. If Israel can get what it wants— land, water, and prevention of violent attacks— by delaying any real compromise, why should it negotiate with the Christian and Muslim families of Palestine?
It seems that Israeli leaders have figured out that they can achieve security and control of the natural resources of Palestine through settlements, separations walls, and disproportionate violence, so why should Israel even consider serious negotiations—negotiations that would address the right of return of Christian and Muslim Palestinian families who were violently expelled from their homes and villages in 1948, negotiations that would demand equal treatment of Jews, Christians and Muslims—with Palestinian leaders.
Continue reading “"If they can get what they want without concessions, why negotiate?"” »
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is wearing thin the patience of the international community. As we creep closer to the date when the majority of UN member states officially lend their support to the Palestinian bid for statehood, Israel will find itself in a far tougher, more isolated position than it has since its creation 63 years ago.
The Palestinian initiative involves applying for full UN membership to the 15 member states at the Security Council. With the United States set to use its veto and effectively quash the request, it is believed that the Palestinians will then turn to the General Assembly where they would have secured the necessary two-thirds majority for a successful resolution, which would see Palestinian status upgraded to non-member state. While the General Assembly’s resolutions are non-binding, in contrast to the Security Council’s, the upgrade in status opens the door to many international legal forums, including the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court. Practically speaking, this means that the Palestinians will be able to bring cases against Israeli officials, perhaps for West Bank settlement-related activities, seen as illegal by the international community.
Continue reading “Internationally recognised Palestine in Israel’s best interest?” »