For the better part of the last century, three Arab states — Egypt , Iraq and Syria — dominated Middle East politics in matters of war and peacemaking and shaped the region's relations with the great powers. Not anymore. It's the new world of the non-Arabs — Iran, Israel and Turkey — that will now increasingly shape that stage for both good and ill. No matter how long it lasts, the eclipse of the Arabs will carry important consequences for the Middle East and the United States' interests there.
After a year in which Assad has made war on his own country, the Obama administration still believes he is capable of the reform that would lead to a peaceful political transition and a dialogue with those he’s raped, tortured, and murdered. The administration’s Syria policy represents a total collapse of the declared U.S. position that Assad has lost legitimacy and should leave power.
I am deeply disturbed by the willingness of Harvard University to host a conference on the so-called one state solution. The event calls for the dissolution of the State of Israel. The speakers have, in the past, denied the Jewish people’s right to self-determination and compared Israel’s policies to those of Nazi Germany, both of which are defined as anti-Semitism by the U.S. State Department. This is not academic discourse, but pure and simple hatred, and Harvard should have no part in it.
In the past 40 years, the United States has intervened to go after autocrats in Afghanistan, Grenada, Haiti, Iraq, Libya, Panama, Somalia, and Serbia. We have attacked by air, by land, and by a combination of both. In the post-Vietnam, post–Cold War era, are there any rules to guide us about any action envisioned against Syria or Iran — patterns known equally to our enemies?
Hamas finally comes out against the Assad regime, its longtime patron, striking a major blow against Iran’s bid for Shia regional dominance. But rather than seeing Hamas’ defection as a reflection of the Sunni-Shia conflict, the White House will read Hamas’ distancing from Iran as a sign of moderation—and it will work tirelessly to nurture Hamas as a peace partner. If Obama wins again in November, this will be a pillar of the White House’s Middle East policy.
When Lawrence Summers rejected divestment at Harvard, he raised the question as to whether those who were unfairly singling out Israel were motivated by anti-Semitism. He assumed that some probably were and others probably were not, but either way, he reasoned, the consequences of such activity were to make anti-Semitism more acceptable and more likely. His words can be also used about a conference based on the idea that the only Jewish state in the world, the home of the Jewish people for 3,000 years, should disappear.
The avowed mission of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, host of the upcoming conference, "is to strengthen democratic governance around the world by preparing people for public leadership and by helping to solve problems of public policy." How farcical that instead of seeking to strengthen democratic governance, its students hijack its forum for "studying" how to destroy the hardiest democracy in the Middle East.
George Orwell once said, “England is the only great nation whose intellectuals are ashamed of their country.” Orwell never met Israeli intellectuals.
To students of Jewish history, with its one constant feature of internal divisiveness, it is not at all surprising that both the world’s most passionate Zionists and anti-Zionists should be found … in Zion. There is truth in the old joke that Jews are exactly like everyone else — only more so.
Speakers in the 'One State Conference' send a letter to Harvard President Faust and HKS Dean Ellwood: "The charge that the conference is 'one-sided' is completely and entirely baseless." Baseless! "It is wholly unacceptable for the university to distance itself from the ideas expressed in the conference," because it is "defamation" to "portray us as extremists who hold repugnant ideas." The deceit continues.
It was not right that the attention of the Tal Law's cancellation has all been focused on the ultra-Orthodox community's absence from the IDF, while the Muslim and Christian community has been effectively disregarded; equality is indivisible.
After the Osirak attack and the destruction of the Syrian reactor in 2007, the Iraqi and Syrian nuclear programs were never fully resumed. This could be the outcome in Iran, too, if military action is followed by tough sanctions, stricter international inspections and an embargo on the sale of nuclear components to Tehran. Iran, like Iraq and Syria before it, will have to recognize that the precedent for military action has been set, and can be repeated.
Virtually every expert on the Middle East believes that Iran will use a nuclear weapon if it is able to gain one. When historians review this period, they will compare the performance of our leadership to that of either British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, who failed to confront Hitler, or his successor Winston Churchill, who saved the West when he had the courage to stand up to the fanaticism of the Nazi regime.
"Israel was not created in order to disappear—Israel will endure and flourish. It is the child of hope and the home of the brave. It can neither be broken by adversity nor demoralized by success. It carries the shield of democracy and it honors the sword of freedom; and no area of the world has ever had an overabundance of democracy and freedom.
"It is worth remembering, too, that Israel is a cause that stands beyond the ordinary changes and chances of American public life. In our pluralistic society, it has not been a Jewish cause--any more than Irish independence was solely the concern of Americans of Irish descent. The ideals of Zionism have, in the last half century, been repeatedly endorsed by Presidents and Members of Congress from both parties. Friendship for Israel is not a partisan matter. It is a national commitment."
The implications of the “One-State Conference: Israel/Palestine and the One- State Solution” at Harvard are far reaching. Conference organizers have already won a victory by holding the symposium at the university without suffering a formal university disavowal. Despite its limited protestations, Harvard’s sanction of this event provides the moral and academic underpinnings for the so-called “One-State Solution” conference to be held as mainstream academic event at universities worldwide. This would be a colossal failure of moral conduct and responsibility.
It would be preferable if Baylor fired Ellis for being a fraud, a pseudo-academic, an imposter with no knowledge of “Jewish Studies,” someone unqualified to serve as a professor of anything. But the United States got rid of Al Capone by convicting him of income tax evasion. So I suppose Baylor could do worse than firing Marc H. Ellis because of sexual misconduct.
After the onset of the Arab awakenings, it was reasonable to be, at worst, agnostic and, at best, hopeful about the prospect of these countries making the difficult transition from autocracy to democracy. But recently, looking honestly at the region, one has to conclude that the prospects for stable transitions to democracy anytime soon are dimming. It is too early to give up hope, but it is not too early to start worrying.
When confronted with choices about what kind of events can take place on campus, there are various approaches a university could take. One is called “the taxi cab rule.” Taxis must pick up all potential customers and generally do not refuse service to anyone. A university could adopt such an approach, but if it did, it would have to make its facilities available to the Ku Klux Klan, to the Westboro Baptist Church, and to other racist, sexist, and homophobic groups.
By funding this one-sidedly offensive conference, Harvard has essentially committed itself to the taxi cab approach. I hope it will maintain that commitment when other students sponsor equally controversial events.
Given the four decades of family tyranny and mass murder in Syria, the reluctance of the most powerful Arab state, the most powerful monarchy in the world, to take out these killers is pusillanimity. I’m afraid that President Obama is also pusillanimous on this matter. Now, this should not be surprising. The president is not touched, not touched at all by mass violations of human dignity. Moreover, he is not touched by mass takings of human life … anywhere. I dare my readers to challenge this dismal assertion.
Give Americans for Peace Now’s Lara Friedman a little credit. After schlepping to an Arab League conference on Jerusalem, she at least had the wit to notice that just about everybody else there was focused on delegitimizing Israel, denouncing its existence within any borders and denying thousands of years of Jewish history.
We completely reject the premise of this conference, which runs counter to the very existence of a Jewish state as enshrined in international law. A majority of experts across the political spectrum agree that despite difficulties in reaching an agreement, a two-state solution is far preferable to a one-state non-solution. Accordingly, we ask the Harvard community and all supporters of peace to recognize the implications of this “solution” and decry such calls for the dismantlement of a sovereign state.
"The one-state idea is a recipe for Israel's destruction," said AJC Executive Director David Harris. "Those promoting this proposition, including the Harvard conference organizers, should be honest and transparent about their motives. They are not remotely offering a peace option.... The one-state idea, using language that may be deemed more palatable to Western ears, has become a favored vehicle for continuing the bitter struggle to bring an end to the Jewish state."
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