Oct 22, 2007 5:46 pm


Dr. Judith Apter Klinghoffer is an affiliate professor at Haifa University, Member of the International Advisory Board for Academic Freedom of Bar-Ilan University and was the 1996 Fulbright professor at Aarhus, Denmark. She is the co-author of International Citizens' Tribunals: Mobilizing Public Opinion to Advance Human Rights and the author of Vietnam, Jews and the Middle East: Unintended Consequences.

So, here we go again. Getting ready for yet another round of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. This time it is different, this time it is serious, insists Condi Rice."We have better things to do than invite people to Annapolis for a photo op," she announces with a straight face. Really?

Worried Israelis listening to their hapless prime minister announce that Jerusalem is on the table cannot but join Barry Rubin in asking: And what do we get? "After all," as he points out,"Israel is negotiating with people who have no control over much of the territory or people on whose behalf they speak." So how can it give Israel what it wants, security, i.e., peace? It cannot even if it wanted and it is doubtful it wants.

But, then, of course, this round of negotiations as previous ones are NOT designed for the benefit of either Israel or the Palestinians. It is designed for the benefit of America's Middle East allies, most especially Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Gulf,inc. These are the very same countries which are sold 1.6 billion dollars worth of advanced weapons and are about to be honored with a visit by Laura Bush. The woman who in 2001 talked about women's rights in Afghanistan, is going to talk about breast cancer rather than support Saudi women's right to drive or warn about the dangers posed by the proliferation of the"morality" police forces.

Why does the US kow tow so to these distasteful monarchies? Because mistakes extract a price and by failing to exploit its early victories in Afghanistan and Iraq, Washington came close to snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Triage was needed to forestall defeat. The US had to decrease the number of its Middle Eastern enemies which ultimately meant a choice between Sunni and Shia religious autocrats. Judging the post Saddam weakened Sunni ones to be the lesser of two evils, the Bush administration moved to secure Sunni help. That meant that democracy, Human rights and women's rights had to be shunted aside.

Sunnis anxious to demonstrate their usefulness rewarded Washington by pulling back their Sunni Jihadist attack dogs in Iraq. To enlist actively in the anti-Iranian cause, the Sunnis demanded that Washington help them recapture the Palestinian cause which has fallen into Iranian hands in the past few years. In other words, they demanded that Washington play its Israeli card. Note Condi Rice's effort to deny such linkage:

QUESTION: Has the strike in Syria at all affected this process going forward?

SECRETARY RICE: You mean the press reports that have been around? Okay, I'm not going to comment on the press reports. But the issues of proliferation I think are -- don't affect the Palestinian-Israeli peace efforts that we're making. The issues of proliferation concern us because the President has been -- as you know, it's been one of his highest priorities.

So, what does Israel get from the deal? It gets continued American support despite its failures in the second Lebanon War and hopefully it will not have to take out the Iranian nuclear systems solo or at least get help in surviving the heat such action would generate.

Has the price for such support become exorbitant? You bet. I have little to add to Rubin's list:

These risks are enormous yet they are largely ignored by others. . . . The Palestinian side has a bad record of not trying, and certainly not succeeding in meeting commitments. Even now, PA-Fatah makes literally no effort to stop incitement, end terrorism, or even push its own officials or members to respect past agreements.

It is also clear that any agreement would be extremely fragile. Hamas would reject any settlement and do everything possible to wreck it, including killing PA leaders and launching terrorist attacks to force Fatah to choose between guarding Israel’s borders or throwing away the arrangements.

Beyond this, if Hamas were to take over the West Bank or any Palestinian state, it would not be bound by any treaty and would immediately restart the conflict, using Israeli concessions to be more deadly. And there’s more bad news If Abbas and Fayyad made a deal along the above lines—or ones even better for the Palestinians—not only all the supporters of Hamas and smaller radical groups but also between 50 and 80 percent of Fatah itself would denounce them as traitors and reject the agreement.

Unfortunately, none of it matters as it would take stronger backbone than Olmert's to say no to the US at this particular junction. What does matter is that though some Palestinians would genuinely yearn for peace, their Arab allies want the issue. Hence, this conference will end up doomed just like its predecessors. Peace will follow, not precede regional democratization. Hence, the retreat of democracy in the Middle East is bound to mean a retreat for peace prospects. In the meantime, all we can do is pray that the Jewish state will do what it has succeeded in doing in the past perilous 60 years, survive and even flourish.

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N. Friedman - 10/24/2007


I understood your point. There is no reason to integrate into a barbaric, fanatical, backwards, illiterate region that has exactly nothing to offer other than turmoil and oil. And, to add: we live on ONE Earth. The Israelis are happy to be integrated into the the non-barbaric portions. Maybe the Arab regions might also join.

omar ibrahim baker - 10/24/2007

Mr Friedman
Once again you seem to miss the WHOLE POINT!
It is NOT the question of integrating with the Arabs or Turks or Iranians or Kurds; it is the question of integrating INTO the REGION or stay out and stand out permanently as the ALIEN non indigenous element; the colonialist relic!

In an earlier post I have noted something to the effect that JEWISH historical and understandable desire for non integration , as a means of cultural self preservation, is NO LONGER the issue now with a nation/state, Israel, yielding political power and claiming domination over other people's lands and lives.

What was an internal Jewish affair, Jewish self preservation, is no longer an internal Jewish affair but is now an issue that pauses a genuine existential challenge to others .

I was hoping to read a reaction from you about that, still do .

N. Friedman - 10/23/2007


Israel has good relations with Turkey. Israel has good relations with Kurds. Arabs, of course, are another story.

But again: the Arabs have nothing of substance to offer. A large number of them behave like primitive barbarians, and large numbers of them are, at the moment, in the thralls of religious lunacy. Arab countries show no technological prowess at all, are societally backwards to the extent that bigotry is rife, are politically backwards, etc., etc.

What Arabs offer is oil and that, in a very short while, will run out along with the power to which it translates. At that point, the world will cease tolerating what is intolerable, namely, fanaticism by Arabs in the name of religion and in the name of events that occurred generations ago.

Israel does not need to integrate into the region. It needs only to maintain good relations with countries that have need for Israel's remarkable intellectual prowess. After all, after the US, the Israelis are the next biggest filers, worldwide, of patent applications. Which is to say, the Israelis have something valuable to offer. That, of course, was a point made by Fahrettin and is why Turkey has normal relations with Israel.

Now, it would be nice if the Israelis and Arabs could settle their dispute. And, perhaps someday, the Arabs will wake up. Alternatively, perhaps someday the Arabs or the Persians will destroy Israel - likely with the Palestinian Arab population as well -, in the name of primitive fanatical beliefs that refuse all efforts at compromise, as if the only wrong that mattered is the alleged wrong that occurred to a generation of people who, on both sides, is quickly dying off.

But, of course, to Arab fanaticism, all that matters is that at some point in history, Arabs got the wrong end of the stick, in this case in their effort to annihilate the Israelis.

omar ibrahim baker - 10/23/2007

Mr Friedman
You miss the MAIN point!
It is not a question of integrating with the ARABS.
It is a question of integrating into the REGION which happens to have a predominance of Arabs and other major indigemous nations ; the Turks, Iranians and Kurds.
Whether the Arabs have anything to offer or NOT is NOT the point; the point is integrate into the region in which you live and plan to stay, if you plan to stay, or stay out as a permanent ALIEN outsider.

I sense and suspect here a shy attempt at a cost benefit analysis of the issue of integration into the region .

That, in itself, is proof positive of an ALIEN nature which is undecided about its own intrinsic character and is weighing the pros and cons before deciding what it, itself, TRULY IS.

In that, cost /benefit sense ,it surely is much more profitable for Israel to have been part of and integrated into Eastern Europe or the eastern seaboard of the USA , where it should have been implanted in the first place and where the Israeli people would feel much more at home !

N. Friedman - 10/23/2007


Even if everything you say about Israel were true - and, objectively, pretty much everything you say is incorrect -, the Arabs have nothing to offer Israelis. That seems to be something you fail to recognize.

No one - and not just Israelis - wants to integrate into the Arab fold because Arab countries are probably the most bigoted, intolerant and backwards countries on Earth.

The one thing Arabs have is oil. And, that is an accident of geography such that, if the Arabs do not wake up, when the oil runs out, the influence of Arabs ends.

Frankly, it is Arabs who have something to gain from the Israelis, as has been argued by Fahrettin. It is Arabs who are being fools and who, rather than looking to get their own house in order, spend their time fighting problems rather than trying to solve them. And, no rational people want to be part of such childishness.

omar ibrahim baker - 10/23/2007

To dealienate itself , to stop being the aggressive ALIEN that conquered and colonized Palestine.

Why are white South Africans demanded to integrate in the new South Africa?
Or, for that matter, emigrants to the USA from Italy, Ireland, Arabia etc are expected to integrate in American society?

Obviously with the Jews it is another matter, but that should not, in theory, exclude them from what is expected from every body else particularly now that it is NO LONGER a question of cultural identity preservation but a question of an Alien sovereignty and political domination over an indigenous population..

Should Israel refuse to integrate, as it seems destined to, it will have to be at the cost of SUBMITTING the whole region to its own will, which is highly improbable and extremely expensive; counter productively expensive. And shall remain the Alien besieged enemy.

Integration ,however, could well mean either total dissolution as a worst case output OR could also mean de alienation and assimilation in a wider human context while preserving one’s cherished values.

One is either in or out!

N. Friedman - 10/22/2007


Why would Israel want to integrate into the Arab fold?

omar ibrahim baker - 10/22/2007

I do note that to you and yours "Israel's" integration in the region is, as we suspect, out of the question .

Total and complete isolation and alienation will be the outcome and ALIENS will remain aliens until such a day in which they have to integrate or risk NOT remaining at all.

A Zionist West oriented and allied Israel is too hostile, too Alien to be accepted as it is and too small to impose itself on the region.

It will have to integrate and be assimilated, except culturally, or stand alone and fall.

It is NOT me that condemns the region to strife it is Israel’s barbaric mode of birth:(dislocate, dispossess ,disfranchise , subjugate and supplant the indigenous people) its very nature (aggressive and racist) and its designs and ambitions (to dominate and exploit ) that condemns the whole region to strife._

N. Friedman - 10/21/2007


In other words, you would condemn Palestinian Arabs to fighting instead of making a life. Such is a positively Medieval view.

N. Friedman - 10/21/2007


What you have written is so far afield from fact that it is difficult to know where to begin.

But let us start. 856,000 Jews were FORCED out of Arab lands.

And, there was no plan to massacre Arabs.

omar ibrahim baker - 10/21/2007

Mr Friedman
Half and quarter truths as usual.
However two points must be stressed:
1-Not a single Jew residing in an Arab country was forced or coerced to leave; do you know of any Arab planned and executed Deir Yassin?

Most Jews did leave out of their own free will and desire to reside in a "Jewish Homeland."
(Some were pushed into leaving by the Zionist movement/Israel itself bombing their homes, businesses and synagogues .As for the Pinhas Lavon (?) affair!)

As a matter of historical fact several Arab countries DID NOT allow Jews to migrate to Palestine;restrictions were imposed ; international pressure was brought about them to allow it; most recently for Syria to allow Syrians Jews to leave.

Another point is that Arab Jewish refugees into Palestine are WELCOMED back to retrurn to their Arab countries if they so desire.
Some did back to Morocco.

2- The indisputable fact, confirmed again and again by all methods of public opinion gauging is that it is the PALESTINIANS themselves who refuse to settle anywhere except in their own homeland.
It is the Palestinians themselves that have kept the cause of the RIGHT of RETURN alive and vibrant.

The matter is very simple: they want to go back to their own homeland and homes.

Neither exchange nor barter nor compensation will be accepted in lieu of their inalienable right to RETURN to their own HOMELAND.

Does it surprise you Mr. Friedman that NOT everything is negotiable?
That some things in LIFE are NOT negotiable!
It should NOT!

Does it surprise you that there are people who will go on combating aggression, usurpation and injustice no matter how long it takes and that their children and their grand children will follow in their foot steps .

It should NOT although I suspect that the Zionist colonialist movement never anticipated the unending resistance it will be met with and is now pretty surprised !
That was, is, an oversight for which many new generations will have to pay very heavily.

N. Friedman - 10/21/2007


Palestinian Arabs lost homes in their effort to drive Jews from their homes. You somehow always leave that out of your version of the story.

And, you also somehow always leave out the fact that Jews who had nothing to do with the dispute lost their homes all over the Arab regions when Arab took revenge on Jews; in fact, in larger numbers of Jews than Arabs lost their homes in the dispute. You always leave that out of your version of the story.

As you say, Arabs will never accept Israel but, also, Arabs have rendered themselves a dishonest people by refusing to accept their role in creating the dispute and in creating other problems. And, they did create problems by starting a war to destroy the Jewish community, by throwing Jews out of their homes all over the Arab world, by not resettling Palestinian Arabs who were displaced - something Jews did for Jews displaced by Arabs - and by making believe that Palestinian Arabs suffered something unique while doing something even worse to Jews who had no part in the dispute between Palestinian Jews and Palestinian Arabs.

But, you can dream anything you want. The reality is that what occurred in the 1940's was long ago. New generations have been born. They bear no responsibility at all to a dispute created by their grandparents. That means, all involved need to reach a compromise. Otherwise, Palestinian Arabs will continue to rot indefinitely.

omar ibrahim baker - 10/21/2007

Mr Friedman

Israel is the enemy because it dislocated, dispossessed, disfranchised and subjugated the indigenous Palestinian Arabs in their own homeland Palestine and SUPPLANTED them with ALIENS selected and gathered on a strict racial basis to establish an aggressive racist Alien colony/state on another people's land and at the heart of the region it hopes to dominate.

Israel is the one major enemy because it denies the Palestinian Arab people his right to return to his homeland, to repossess his property and to reside therein and rule himself in his own native land while admitting into his homeland any body with a real or tenuous relation with Judaism.

Israel is the enemy because it is the front base of imperialism planted in the Middle East to frustrate any effort at anti imperialism progress and act as imperialism's regional, local, policeman.

Israel is the last surviving colony whose colonists forced themselves on the indigenous Palestinian Arab people, robbed them of their most precious properties, mainly land and other real estate, ethnically cleansed, killed and dislocated as many of them as they could and is presently ruling over some 3.5-4 millions of them

Israel, in brief, is the alien thief, gangster and mobster that occupied a home, assumed exclusive ownership of it , lives in it with his kin while denying its owner his right to return to it, repossess it and to dwell in it .

To accept Israel is to:
-forgo all national rights
-submit to the will of the alien mobster
-accept the presence of a lurking cancer
-allow the triumph of evil go unchecked.

That is Israel as far as the overwhelming majority of Arabs and Moslems are concerned, and it WILL NEVER, EVER be accepted by them.

N. Friedman - 10/20/2007


Israel is only an enemy because Arab states want her to be. Were such states to accept Israel, that would be the end of the dispute and all the issues between them would likely be resolved quickly.

Kate Wagar - 10/20/2007

I wish Tony Blair was the most impatient person in the world. Enough talk. Let's see some action. Do you see any signs of the Palestinians preparing for a new state? Will the world have to do that for them also?

The history of Israel is replete with other cultures trying to take over the Jewish state of Israel. In Jerusalem's history there have been at least 25 attacks since antiquity to conquer it, but the land returns to the Jews. I've read that Arabs were not much interested in Israel until it began to bloom and turn lush. If the Muslims want Israel so much let them buy it, as huge amounts of money are invested there.

I am suspicious enough to believe that Muslims would like to duplicate this land grab all over the world. The line is drawn in Israel.

I have gone from admiring these people in art, architecture, literature, etc. to believing the worst of them.

omar ibrahim baker - 10/20/2007

Of course NOT; however ISRAEL is the one real enemy of BOTH!

omar ibrahim baker - 10/20/2007

As one of those rare all out confrontational conflicts that brooks no middle course nor can conceive of potential reconciliation between the seminally irreconcilable nor foster mutual acceptance between the reciprocally negating, nullifying, parties (Apartheid and Majority rule come to mind as an other ) the PalestinianArab-Moslem/Israeli-Jewish confrontation is bound to linger, fester and poison , directly and indirectly, everybody’s life for generations to come.

An interesting feature of this type of historical confrontation is that victory by the Alien side over his indigenous adversary only magnifies inherent native animosity and paves the way for future bloodier conflicts.
Therefore: It is correct to assert that:
"So, that sort of makes the exercise of going to the UN ( or any where else for that matter)pointless."

This conflict will ultimately boil down to whether Israel will or will NOT assimilate and integrate into the regional or shall insist on retaining the special, non peripheral, location it now occupies and on which it claims exclusive rights , prerogatives and unshared sovereignty.

It will come down to whether Israel ,and the region, can achieve an Israeli/Jewish act of reconciliation through integration in a manner that provides the sought after security while simultaneously ceding, relinquishing, any vestige of its ALIEN political exclusive sovereignty claims over Arab land ,lives and future in and of Palestine.

With its historical complexes and universal grievances Non integration, the likely outcome, will stand for and denote constant alienation, substantial separation, minimal interrelations and cooperation and unending reciprocated suspicions and the constant look out for an opportunity to scale down the adversary.

In a way it will be the Islamic/Jewish replay of the Capitalism/Communism cold war with the relentless, unmitigated, seminal and noncompromising DOCTRINAIRE hostility that totally negates the ALIEN adversary any "right" to sovereignty over one’s land and rejects his very existence ..

There is no way, conceivable or non conceivable including a nuclear Holocaust, for Israel to nullify the presence of the Arabs and Moslems from the region nor reduce their total rejection of its claim to any form of exclusive political/national sovereignty over Arab own historical land .

Israel's fall back will have to be Fortress Israel .

History shows that few fortresses survive millenniums of siege and strife and always end up by falling.

The alternative scenarios, as far fetched and unlikely to be acceptable, are de alienation, assimilation and integration through De Zionization.

N. Friedman - 10/20/2007


So, all that killing in Iraq of Shi'a by Sunni and Sunni by Shi'a signals a love fest between the sects? OK.

omar ibrahim baker - 10/20/2007

Mr Friedman
If it makes you feel good that "..the Sunni Arab side is primarily concerned, at present, about the rise of Iranian Shi'a (and forgot all about Israel)" you can go along and enjoy.
Except that you are wrong; 100% wrong.
Despite the sad events in Iraq never has the two major factions of Islam been closer than they are now with Iran's unequivocal position re Israel's legitimacy, its pursuit of nuclear technology and Hizbu Lah recent stand against Israel.

Look up the recent "fatwa" of Al Kardawi , the importance and influence of the man and then go back to your wishful thinking.

omar ibrahim baker - 10/20/2007

Klinghoffer's remark is pertinent; why the negotiations now, in the lame duck phase of Israel’s prime American support.
Why the Anapolis? November? Conference? Meeting? That is patently pointless and decidedly fruitless??

More than ever before both regional and international conditions seem to disfavour the possibility of a Palestinian/Israeli understanding.

Neither the USA nor Israel is in a mood, or under the pressure, to concede anything meaningful that could possibly lead to a "settlement".

What could be construed as a pressure is the potential of an American/Israeli attack against Iran and the need to show some American interest in regional stability!

This interest will have to wane with the imminent resolution of the Iran affair which could range from cataclysmic regional upheaval, in which case the whole Palestine/Israel issue will diminish significantly , to a quiet diplomatic entente .ALL that has to happen before Bush departs from the White House.

The Annapolis? November? conference? meeting? will go down in history as another periodical public relations exercise by the US administration of the day that Israel has come to expect and ,with a wink and a nod, to expertly derail .

Except that we are dealing with an epoch forming and universally polarizing issue that should command intense and serious international involvement( despite its low priority according to Pipes formula of number of casualties) the whole thing looks well worn and "deja vu" to the point of boredom.

N. Friedman - 10/19/2007


While I am not an ancient history buff, I do not doubt that Arabs come from Arabia. And, it is important to get out in front of some of the nonsense which, no doubt, will find its way into papers.

Joseph Mutik - 10/19/2007

Power and Politics: Policy trumps presidential personality

Elliot Jager, THE JERUSALEM POST Jan. 2, 2007

Joseph Mutik - 10/19/2007

The Israelis and the Jews in general are expendable. Before 1967 USA didn't help Israel, the weapons came from Europe where a number of countries (France, UK etc.) were engaged in colonial wars and helping Israel was in the interest of the colonial powers. USA begun to help Israel in 1967 only to force Soviet Union to spend many billions of dollars in Egypt (after the 6 days war) and not in Vietnam. The same is true till the end of the cold war, keep the soviet financial power busy in the middle east.
Because of the inept planing of the war in Iraq the results are not very good, so the U.S. administration tries to give the Arabs some Jewish blood and also some old ghosts try to revive the old "protocols of the elders of Zion" saying that American Jews have too much power and supporting Israel it is against the national interest of the U.S. Israel has no choice but to accept the reluctant help of the U.S.
I have quite a few relatives of my parents who died during the Holocaust, and that's probably one of the main causes of my pessimism. One thing I am not sure about, if Israel will be in real danger of destruction, U.S. will not put in danger the relation with the Arabs to save Israel. There is a precedent to this kind of behavior. In 1956 USA (under president Eisenhower) forced Israel out of Sinai promising in a letter signed by the president to keep the straits of Tiran open. When in 1967 Egypt blocked the straits for Israel, the State Department "couldn't find the letter" and in spite of the fact that Israel provided a copy of the letter, USA didn't send the fleet to open Tiran. The rest is history.
An interesting article describing "the slippery slope" can be found here:
Power and Politics: Policy trumps presidential personality

Elliot Jager, THE JERUSALEM POST Jan. 2, 2007

Kate Wagar - 10/19/2007

N. Freidman

Thanks for the rundown. I am talking about the time frame 1200-2000 BCE. Scholars have determined that the people in Canaan/Israel at that time were Jews, Canaanites, Philistines, Phoenicians and other Sea People. Many joined up with the Jews. But the Arabs were not there. There's more signs of cavemen than there are of Arabs.

The Jews lived there 2000 years before the advent of Islam. The Romans stole the Jewish land in 135CE and changed the name of Judea/Israel to Palestine in an effort to cut off Jewish identity with the land.

The Muslims took it by force in the 7th century. The Ottoman Empire controlled it for 400+ years, but lost control and rule in WWI to the British, who then under UN auspices gave it back to the Jews. Legally, the Palestinians don't have a leg to stand on.

Morally, the Palestinians could have peace if they stop killing Jews and bombing Israel. They do not stop which keeps Israel on war alert. These people don't use reason and common sense to make decisions. They do what they are told by leaders and clerics, even if thousands of miles away. Arafat ruined several generations of them.

What were 700,000 refugees from 1948 now amounts to 4-5M+. This is the Jews fault also, they say. They are not able to be responsible or independent. Further, that land is the Holy Land of the Christians and Jews. Muslims have their holy land in Arabia. All the religious sites are Jewish or Christian. As for the land known as the Temple Mount, Jews and Christians had left it in ruins from the Romans' destruction of it in 70 CE, waiting for a sign from God to rebuild.

The Jews are on the front line of fighting extremist Muslims, who want to take over the lands of the world. The attacks of 9-11 and in Britain and Spain leave no doubt about that.

I want to establish these facts before peace talks are held. We can't let a people get away with lying up a storm for their own advantage. There are one billion Jews and Christians who want continued access to their religious sites.

Arafat encouraged Palestinians to have so many children they are squeezed out of the West Bank and Gaza. Let that be their responsibility and the responsibility of Muslim countries to handle.

N. Friedman - 10/19/2007


There are 52 nations in which Muslims are the majority and of those, 23 are Arab countries. So far as I am aware, all of them are in the UN and a number of them are rather influential members of the UN - if for no other reason than the fact that there are more than a billion Muslims in the world and around 320 million of them are Arabs, situated in a vast swath of land spanning multiple continents. Of course, the major reason for their influence is OIL, of which a number of Arab states are major world suppliers.

As a result of their substantial influence at the UN, Israel manages to be a major topic of discussion, with its policies critiqued and condemned while little, if anything, negative is said in the UN about the policies and actions Arab states. So, while Israel is repeatedly condemned for its treatment of Palestinian Arabs, Egypt is not condemned for its treatment of the Copts and Sudan, while it has recently found its way to the headlines, managed to have a near silent war throughout the 1980's and 1990's - a war supported by Arab states - that killed 1.5 million Christians and animists, re-established traditional slavery (i.e. people sold at auctions - more than 100,000 who were sold not only in Sudan but in oil producing Gulf nations), used food as a war weapon, took children from their parents and converted them to Islam, etc., etc.

The point of noting the above is to make clear that what occurs at the UN is politically, not morally, driven. And, I might add that, apart from Arab and Muslim state driven hostility to Israel, there is substantial hatred of Jews that has been uncovered in the bureaucracy that runs the UN. If I might recommend a book by a career diplomat, Pedro Sanjuan, entitled The UN Gang: A Memoir of Incompetence, Corruption, Espionage, Anti-Semitism and Islamic Extremism at the UN Secretariat, you will see my point. Of course, Mr. Sanjuan has a strong bias against the UN that is common among American conservatives but, notwithstanding, his memoir uncovers an extraordinary number of Jew haters of substantial influence within the UN.

So, having the UN decide a matter based on scholarship is, to be blunt, an unlikely proposition.

So far as the actual history of Palestinian Arabs in historic Palestine, it is not an easy one for a number of reasons. The most important of them being that a very substantial portion of that population consists of Muslim refugees from lands out of which the Ottoman Empire retreated during the 19th Century, the fact that the Ottoman Empire was known to move populations from place to place as the needs of the empire required, a fair number Arabs came as colonists after the Muslim conquests in the 7th Century, a fair number of Palestinian Arabs came to the area fairly recently for economic reasons, a large number of Christians from other areas came to historic Palestine at various times in history, a fair number are ethnic Jews who converted long ago from Judaism to Islam, etc., etc. So, there may be some Palestinian Arabs who can trace a very long history in the area but there are also a very substantial number who cannot do so yet are taken to be Palestinian Arabs.

And, the issue is not really who was first - although Jews can surely make a good claim to be first - but how to resolve the dispute. Thus, suppose it were really true that Palestinian Arabs, for the most part, are a distinct people who were first to live in the region. While the claim is a dubious one, the fact is that there are, in any event, two large groups of people involved and they have very different ideas how to govern - which goes to the heart of the matter. Israelis would not want to live as dhimmis in a theocratic Islamic state, which is what the HAMAS, the dominant Palestinian Arab party, demands for all non-Muslims. And, those who would want to be ruled by a theocratic Islamic state surely do not want to live in a more or less secular state such as Israel.

And, for Jews, they do not wish to chance a return to the world that existed prior to Israel where Jews were extraordinarily vulnerable to the violent whims of Christian fanaticism, biological-purity fanaticism (of the Nazi type), Soviet style anti-Jewish fanaticism, Islamic anti-Jewish fanaticism, etc., etc.

And, I doubt that Palestinian Arabs really want to be ruled by Jews for a whole host of reason. In fact, I doubt they want even to share control of the country with Jews.

So, that sort of makes the exercise of going to the UN pointless.

Kate Wagar - 10/18/2007

Why not resolve who were the ancient people who first lived in Canaan/Israel? I see the Palestinians/Muslims/Arabs claiming their rights to the Holy Land goes all the way back to that time. Let each side present it's facts and when this is resolved, peace talks can proceed. If the Palestinians refuse to cooperate, let the Jews go ahead without them. A thought: Could this be presented at the UN? Somehow Muslim's claims need to be made public.

N. Friedman - 10/17/2007

Ms. Klinghoffer,

If there is no negotiating partner - something I also believe is likely to be the case -, then Israel is, by playing along, in a position to improve its world position and, at the same time, to quiet some Arab hostility since the Sunni Arab side is primarily concerned, at present, about the rise of Iranian Shi'a power.

Judith Apter Klinghoffer - 10/17/2007

I do not object to a deal as long as there is a negotiating partner. Right now there is not.
No, just as the US should not forgo its interest on behalf of Israel. It is absurd, however, to suggest that Israel should cut a deal from which it derives no benefit. Of couse, mainaining American support may be such a benefit. If so, it is important that it be recongnized as such especially as it involves serious security risks to the vulnerable Jewish state.

Charles S Young - 10/17/2007

What's in it for Israel? -- the author asks. This essentially requests that the White House go against what it perceives as the American national interest. That's a tall order. But I do think she is right in saying that it's the failure in Iraq that is motivating the White House.

But to answer the question, creation of a Palestinian state would reduce the fuel for terrorism. [Insert here retort about Palestinians being constitutionally incapable of compromise.]

N. Friedman - 10/16/2007

Ms. Klinghoffer,

I see the matter somewhat differently. My position follows partially from Bernard Lewis' following comment:

We turn now to the encouraging signs, the good news, such as it is. I would put it at two levels. One is that a number of Arab governments are coming to the conclusion that Israel is not their most serious problem and not their greatest danger.

This is very similar to what happened with [former Egyptian president Anwar] Sadat. If you go back to the Egyptian peace process, Sadat didn't decide to make peace because he was suddenly convinced of the merits of the Zionist case. Sadat decided to make peace because he realized that Egypt was becoming a Soviet colony.

The process was very visible. There were whole areas of Soviet bases and no Egyptian was admitted. Sadat, I think, realized that on the best estimate of Israel's power and the worst estimate of Israel's intentions, Israel was not a threat to Egypt in the way that the Soviet Union was.

So he took the very courageous step of ordering the Soviet specialists out of Egypt, facing the danger they might do what they did in Czechoslovakia or Hungary. They didn't, fortunately. Then he hoped that Washington would help him, instead of which Washington produced the Vance-Gromyko Agreement, a sort of diplomatic carve up, in effect giving Egypt back to the Soviets. That was [former president Jimmy] Carter's real contribution to the peace process. All the rest of it is imaginary; imaginary is the polite word.

That persuaded Sadat that he had to go to the Israelis.

I think that a number of the governments in the region have been through a similar process of reevaluation. During the recent war in Lebanon, it was quite clear that several Arab governments were quietly hoping that the Israelis would go in and finish the job. They were very disappointed that they didn't. That disappointment was certainly not a help, but that mood is still there. There is a willingness to reach some sort of a compromise to enable them to deal with what they see as the more pressing and more dangerous problem. That could be a short-term advantage. It might even lead to some sort of a peace process.

But as the Egyptian example I spoke of shows, that doesn't lead to any real cordiality. There is a peace process with Egypt, there is an exchange of diplomatic representatives and so on, but one would hardly talk about relations between Israel and Egypt, at the present time, as a model that one wants to extend to the rest of the Arab world. So it can bring some benefits, which might be quite substantial in the short range, but one should have no illusions about the long range.

The other encouraging sign, very faint and very distant, is of a genuine change of mood among people in some Arab countries. Talking to people in Arab countries in the last few years, some of those people express attitudes which I have never met before. I do not know how deep this goes and how strong it is, but it is there and it never was before. That is a good sign.

The current circumstances give the Israelis an opportunity potentially to peel off some amount of Arab political support for Palestinian Arabs. In order to do this, the Israelis need to dangle the possibility of something precious to the Arab side, namely, some of Jerusalem.

But consider: the chances of a settlement with the HAMAS on the loose are precious none and less. The HAMAS will kill any deal on principle. So, sounding "reasonable" also has the possibility of undermining European enthusiasm for Palestinian Arabs. And, that can only help restore Israel's outside support which has slipped substantially.

I might also note the view of my friends in Israel. They have kids who are in the military but they do not want them playing ruler over those who do not want their rule. That, on their thinking, undermines Israel's morale, which is needed because, quite obviously, there is no real chance of peace in the foreseeable future. So, they need a country that believes in itself and its policies. So, attempting to resolve the dispute is necessary for the country's internal morale.

You are, of course, correct to be concerned that Olmert will prove as weak a negotiator as he was a war leader. That is a legitimate point.