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Monday, March 12, 2007

Tenured Deceit

The LA Times published an Op-Ed piece, Why Does The Times Recognize Israel's 'Right To Exist'?, by Saree Makdisi. The piece is a toast to drivel,absurdity and deceit, masquerading as 'informed thought.' Mr Makdisi provides a textbook look at malignant narcissism and the consequences of that behavior (an accurate, if unflattering review by his peers can be found here).

In the Op-Ed piece, Makdisi begins his remarks with outright and characteristic deceit:

First, the formal diplomatic language of "recognition" is traditionally used by one state with respect to another state. It is literally meaningless for a non-state to "recognize" a state. Moreover, in diplomacy, such recognition is supposed to be mutual. In order to earn its own recognition, Israel would have to simultaneously recognize the state of Palestine. This it steadfastly refuses to do (and for some reason, there are no high-minded newspaper editorials demanding that it do so).

It is not "meaningless" when a 'non-state' not only refuses to 'recognize' a state, but also insists on destroying that state, her inhabitants and publicly promises a new genocide (Mr Makdisi cannot make those pesky audio tapes, video tapes, newspapers, school curricula and 'religious' broadcasts go away).

In addition, Mr Makdisi also cannot make the opposite true- if the Palestinians are a non-state, they are not automatically entitled to any kind of special recognition or support by Israel or the international community any more than are the more deserving Kurds or a thousand and one other indigenous groups.

The Palestinians are a recent political construct and no more, who came into being after Egypt and Jordan washed their hands of them. Makdisi would predictably argue that Israel too, is a recent political construct, and to some extent, he would be correct. The reality of course is that the Palestinian political entity came to the show later on and as such, are a day late and a dollar short. Mr Makdisi is free to adopt an Orwellian dance of historical revisionisim and deny Jewish history and ties to the Holy land as do some of his colleagues, but it seems clear he wants to maintain the facade of intellectual credibility.

Makdisi continues:

Second, which Israel, precisely, are the Palestinians being asked to "recognize?" Israel has stubbornly refused to declare its own borders. So, territorially speaking, "Israel" is an open-ended concept. Are the Palestinians to recognize the Israel that ends at the lines proposed by the 1947 U.N. Partition Plan? Or the one that extends to the 1949 Armistice Line (the de facto border that resulted from the 1948 war)? Or does Israel include the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which it has occupied in violation of international law for 40 years — and which maps in its school textbooks show as part of "Israel"?

For that matter, why should the Palestinians recognize an Israel that refuses to accept international law, submit to U.N. resolutions or readmit the Palestinians wrongfully expelled from their homes in 1948 and barred from returning ever since?

What mindless drivel! Makdisi is attempting, in his own words, 'recycle meaningless phrases than to ask — let alone to answer — difficult questions.'

Israel's borders were absolutely define until the Arab world insisted that they would redefine them, permanently, in 1967.

In 1967, Egypt kicked out UN peace keepers from the Sinai Peninsula. They massed troops on Israel's borders and threatened her destruction. Radio broadcasts at the time, monitored and recorded, exhorted Arab troops to an orgy of destruction, rivers of blood and rape- literally, saying these was Islamic destiny. Syria followed suit, massing borders on Israels northern flank. The Gulf of Aqaba was blockaded (an act of war in itself) and despite pleas from Israel to Jordan's King Hussein, he too was to enter the fray.

In response, Israel called up it's armed forces and reserves and on June 5, 1967, launched a preemptive strike against Egypt, Syria and Jordan. It was over in 6 days. By then, Israel has crossed the Suez Canal and had taken Gaza (Dayan said, "Give me 12 hours and I can be in Cairo..."

Israel offered the land back, for peace, secure borders and mutual recognition. The Arab countries said no and ratified that 'No' in The Khartoum Declaration of 1968. There it was decided that violence would not cease until Israel and her inhabitants were destroyed.

Further, Makdisi makes no mention of Palestinian and Arab world textbooks that make make no recognition of Israel at all. Nor does he deal with the reality that the Palestinian curricula and media have made the physical destruction of Israel- and Jews- a reality. Makdisi also does not address the perverted religious component of that reality.

Makdisi's concern for the Palestinians is touching. That said, his concern for the equal number of Jews booted out of Arab nations at the time is non existent. He seems to conveniently forget that UN Resolution 194 was intended to address the rights of all refugees in the region.

Saree Makdisi and UC Berkeley's Sandy Tolan (we wrote about Tolan here) share a similar ideological platform. They differ in a few significant ways, however.

Tolan is self serving- that is, Sandy Tolan has found a niche to exploit and does so with great solemnity and with an all knowing, didactic approach ("let me explain what is really happening"). That is ideal for the NPR pablum that allows Tolan a showcase for his shallowness. That he needs to break with reality is a necessary trompe L'oeil, much like that of the Three Card Monte huckster that needs to deceive to make a living. He knows he's deceiving everyone watching, but hey, it's a living and besides, he means well.

Saree Makdisi is another story. His kind of deceit is much more significant, because his deceit is predicated on defending and then promulgating an agenda of hate.

Makdisi wants you to believe he 'speaks our language' and shares 'our cultural values,' his ideas are meritorious and his interpretation of events in the Middle East are correct. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.

He says say the Palestinians are ‘just like us,’ only misunderstood, because of the Israel, AIPAC, and the conspiracy theory du jour. They have kids, go to work, come home and have dinner, and they want the exact same thing we do. Sounds reasonable, right. The Palestinians are just like the Israelis, right? They are the same, right?

Well, there are a few differences Saree Makdisi neglects to mention. He would have you believe that just because Palestinians agree that hamburgers, fried chicken and pizza are terrific, we are all the same

The same Palestinians who come home and have dinner and worry about report cards are also teaching their children to hate and sometimes, even to kill some people of different races or religions. They believe in the racist and bigoted rhetoric of their society and swell with pride as their children march to the latest Hamas marching ditty, 'Hamas! Hamas! Jews to the Gas!' and they listen attentively as Palestinian media reinforce racism, bigotry and hate as 'honorable' expressions of Palestinian 'dignity.'

That is like saying the Ku Klux Klan is a fine and upstanding organization because they have bake sales and sponsor Little League baseball teams. Truth be told, there is very little, if any, difference between what is taught in Palestinian schools and what is KKK ideology.

Makdisi and his ilk blur the the lines in the Middle East out of contempt for democracy and freedom and to further a racist agenda.

His claim to be motivated by 'justice' or ‘peace’ is laughable. In supporting causes whose fundamental underpinnings are hate, intolerance and for the denial of participation by those who are different from themselves, he is exposed for who and what he is and who and what he believes in.

Saree Makdisi is no more concerned about ‘justice’ or ‘peace’ than is the Ku Klux Klan- and he knows it.

From a political standpoint, Israel has every right to demand recognition and renunciation of violence from the Palestinians. For decades, the 'occupation' of the West Bank and Gaza, brought on by the Arab world and their subsequent refusal to negotiate for peace, has been the most benign occupation in history.

That said, Israel does not need recognition from the Palestinians or even the Arab world. They are among the most backward, corrupt and dysfunctional regimes in history. Israel stands to gain absolutely nothing from diplomatic ties with the Arab world.

Outside the Arab world, Israel has relations with almost every single nation on earth. Even nations that do not have formal relations maintain a not so discreet 'open door policy.' Israel and the rest of the civilized world maintain world class exchanges of scientific, educational, technological and cultural programs.

According to the UN Human Development Report, the Arab world is at the bottom of the education barrel. If Saree Makdisi really cared about the welfare of the Palestinians or the Arab world, he would be demanding that the Palestinians and Arab world forge ties with a nation that could offer them so much- and would, despite their mistreatment. That alone speaks volumes about the differences between western democracies and democratic values and the dysfunctional Arab world.

Instead, Makdisi and his ilk are only to happy to see the Palestinians rot. He's quite the Arab champion. He displays the characteristics of a malignant narcissist:

"The malignant narcissist is presented as pathologically grandiose, lacking in conscience and behavioral regulation with characteristic demonstrations of joyful cruelty and sadism."

He may like burgers and pizza, but he is nothing like us at all.

We wrote,

Nowadays, much is being made of the stress and indignities that have been heaped on the Palestinians by the Israeli 'occupation.' That stress and those indignities, we are asked to believe, is the reason the Palestinian behavior.

Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. When the Jews emerged from the ovens of the Holocaust, they too, were under stress. Unlike the Israelis, the Nazis took no great pains to avoid civilian causalities (that or the Israelis have proved to be remarkably inept as killers).

Those wretched and ragged Jews did not choose to behave like the Palestinians. Rather than glorify and amplify dysfunction, they built a democratic state, with world class institutions and infrastructure. Rather than glorify hatred and bigotry, they built a functioning state. That truth has not been lost on the Arabs in the region or in Israel herself. Time and time again, those Arabs make clear they would rather live under Israeli control than under the Palestinian Authority. When the Israelis pulled out of southern Lebanon, the Alawites (the privileged clan that claims the Assads of Syria), made clear they too, wanted to remain under Israeli jurisdiction.

Can anyone imagine, any circumstances under which Israelis would indoctrinate their children to believe that killing was a religious obligation? Can anyone imagine Israelis instructing their children to act as human shields for gunmen? Can anyone imagine Israelis publishing textbooks instructing children to hate and slaughter? Can anyone imagine Israelis devoting media programming to extol the virtues of death and murder?

Notwithstanding the overuse and misuse of the concept of 'self esteem,' there is such a thing as healthy self esteem and destructive self esteem.

To be clear, self esteem is determined by identity. We look in the mirror of our innermost selves and ask, 'Who am I?' We can answer by saying, 'I am who my parents say I am.' We can also answer, 'I am who my peers say I am because of they perceive me.'

In fact, our identity is determined by the choices we make.

Healthy self esteem comes about as the result of great efforts in the expression of our humanity and acts of selflessness. Healthy people feel good about themselves because of the efforts and inclusiveness they extend toward others. Our efforts to do good are the direct result of choices we make. Self esteem is reinforced with every act of selflessness.

Our heroes and the people we look up to, all have that in common, too.

Unhealthy self esteem is nurtured by hate, bigotry and destruction. The evil men of this world all have that in common. Unhealthy self esteem needs deceit, hatred and bigotry to sustain itself. Those are clear and deliberate choices.

In the Arab-Israeli conflict, notwithstanding all the billions of words expended in the misguided effort to be 'even handed' (as if evil and barbarism had equal standing with civilized behavior and standards), the actions speak louder than words. It is clear that the Palestinians find self esteem in destruction. They find their worth in killing, hatred and bigotry. That is not subject to interpretation or debate. Their own words make that clear. In Palestinian society, the worth of political movements is often determined by how many Israelis that group has killed.

No amount of tenure can make Saree Makdisi's deceit go away and no amount of tenure can make his choices be unrecognizable. We have noted many times that

When nations that are that are led by or are under the influence of tyrants or dictators, attempt to justify those actions, we can rightly assume that justification is false. Tyrants and dictators do not make moral choices, because moral choices can only lead to the demise of the tyranny.

Anyone that comes to the defense of tyrannical regimes and their leaders, have themselves made a conscious choice to defend and stand by what is immoral. They themselves consciously adopt an immoral posture.

Dance, Saree Makdisi, dance.