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Amitai Etzioni David Katz Harsh Pant - Middle East Forum

Amitai Etzioni David Katz Harsh Pant - Middle East Forum

The Dutch government

The Dutch government funds the radicalwebsite The Electronic Intifada, whosecofounder Ali Abunimah considers PA presidentAbbas a “collaborator” and advocatedthe “one state solution”—the replacementof Israel by an Arab and Muslim state in whichJews would be reduced to a permanent minorityas dhimmis.RIGHTS DEFENDERSOR PEACE AVERTERS?The two-state solution—Israel plus a Palestinianstate in most of the West Bank and theGaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital—has long been identified by the majority of theinternational community, or at least by the West,as the key to Arab-Israeli peace. In these circumstances,one would expect the internationalcommunity to help remove the main obstaclesbetween the two sides by allaying Israel’s securityfears and by devising economic and demographicproposals for the resolution of thePalestinian refugee problem. Yet an examinationof the international intervention in the conflictreveals a highly disturbing pattern: The greaterthe intervention, the more both sides harden,not moderate, their positions. Rather than facilitatingpeace and reconciliation, the internationalfunds invested in the conflict have producedan organizational and ideological infrastructurethat inhibits the chances for a futureagreement.More specifically, the European Union asa whole and the European states individuallyfinance a long list of associations dealing withthe Palestinian-Israeli conflict that are part ofa wider conglomerate seeking to perpetuatethe conflict. 8 The political discourse has fundamentallychanged, and this is no longer theera of peace organizations but rather that ofhuman rights organizations, many of which aredeeply involved in protecting Palestinian“rights.”Granted, there are Palestinian rights thatdeserve support and protection. But there arejust as many false claims for rights that are designedto harm Israel and prevent reconciliationrather than improve the Palestinian condition.Foremost among them is “the right of return”—thestandard Arab and Palestinian euphemismfor Israel’s destruction through demographicsubversion. For example, in an internalmeeting in March 2009, Palestinian Authority(PA) president Mahmoud Abbas acknowledgedthat the repatriation of even onemillion Palestinian refugees “would mean theend of Israel.” 9 In fact, there is no such right. Itdoes not exist; nor has it been recognized orimplemented on the political level virtually anywherein the world, and certainly not as a tool todestroy an existing nation-state. Only last year,the European Court of Human Rights ruledagainst a Greek demand for a “right to return” tothe Turkish part of Cyprus stating that there isno such absolute right. 10 But this does not preventmany groups from cultivating this destructivefantasy.For argument’s sake, imagine that the internationalcommunity convinces Israeli prime ministerBenjamin Netanyahu and PA presidentAbbas to return to the negotiations table, and8 Steven J. Rosen, “The Arab Lobby: The European Component,”Middle East Quarterly, Fall 2010, pp. 17-32.9 The Jerusalem Post, Jan. 24, 2011; see, also, Saeb Erekat,“The Returning Issue of Palestine’s Refugees,” The Guardian(London), Dec. 10, 2010.10 Demopoulos v. Turkey, European Court of Human Rights,Strasbourg, France, Mar. 1, 2010.68 / MIDDLE EAST QUARTERLY SPRING 2011

that news of an agreement leaks out. The broadcontours of such an agreement would presumablybe along the principles laid down by PresidentBill Clinton in December 2000 (about 95percent of the West Bank given to the Palestinianswith Israeli compensation in kind for annexedterritories; Jerusalem partitioned on ademographic basis; no return of refugees toIsrael with the problem solved by an internationaleffort) or the not-so-different Ehud Olmertproposals at the 2007 Annapolis summit, mostof which were apparently accepted by the Palestinianleadership in the ensuing negotiations. 11Would this breakthrough be welcomed bythese NGOs? Hardly. A significant number ofhuman rights groups will do precisely what theyhave been doing in previous years: They willconduct an international campaign against theagreement claiming it “fails to address the basicrights of the Palestinian people,” first andforemost, the “right of return.”These groups are part of a new empire—an empire comprised of official, internationalbodies such as the Human Rights Council ofthe United Nations in Geneva, the U.N. GeneralAssembly, and the many “human rights”groups that voice a similar position. The automaticmajority bloc of nondemocratic states ininternational bodies is a sad testament to thestate of the world community; the identificationof human rights organizations with this dark majorityis a tragedy for world human rights. Thereis little discussion of the lack of human rights insuch brutal dictatorships as Syria or Libya; butthere is a disproportionate focus on Israel bythese bodies, 12 which in turn creates the falseimpression that Israel, and not such states asSudan or Iran (or North Korea for that matter), isthe foremost threat to world peace.How has this come to pass? The West financesan extensive network of NGOs with fundingoften going to projects feigning defense of11 Ha’aretz (Tel Aviv), Jan. 24, 2011.12 See, for instance, Bat Ye’or, “Delegitimizing the JewishState,” Middle East Quarterly, Winter 2011, pp. 3-14. It wasonly on January 26, 2011, after Mu‘ammar al-Qadhafi had beenslaughtering his subjects in full view of the world for some time,that Libya was expelled from the U.N. Human Rights Council.Photo will not display.Omar Barghouti is a Palestinian doctoralstudent at Tel Aviv University and aprominent activist in the anti-Israel BDS(Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions)movement. Despite lip service to humanrights, the driving force behind the movementis rejection of the two-state solution andcastigation of any Israeli-Palestiniancooperation or Palestinian concessions forthe sake of peace.human rights. In reality, the absolute majority ofthese groups has a radical, political agenda,which at times is not only anti-Israel or anti-Zionistbut also anti-West. 13 There are many inthe West who hope that a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict will help resolve the wider conflictbetween East and West. This is an illusion.The Afghan and Pakistani Taliban or al-Qaedaterrorists would have difficulty finding Israel onthe map.REJECTIONIST NETWORKThe EU supports dozens of Israeli groupsdealing with the conflict, but only a handful ofthese deal with the conflict’s political dimension,13 Gerald M. Steinberg, “NGOs Make War on Israel,” MiddleEast Quarterly, Summer 2004, pp. 13-25.Yemini: NGOs against Israel / 69

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