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Where Did It All Go?
Israel - Middle East
Friday, December 23, 2011
Alf Cengia

That much vaunted optimism of a two-state resolution between the Palestinians and Israel – where did it go?  I seem to recall at this time last year, sitting down reading and taking in the excitement and hopeful talk that a great break-through for peace was definitely on the agenda for a miraculous 2011.

Now we’re heading for the start 2012 and what a disappointment!  Am I sounding cynical?

Even while the anti-Israel finger pointers are doing their darndest to make Israel look bad; Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has worked up a lather trying to get attention.  He sort of reminds me of that kid in school, who is the bane of every teacher’s existence; the one who is determined to make the whole class look bad on Inspection Day.

Leading a rally under a banner proclaiming, “Jerusalem, We are Coming”, he vowed to, “to liberate Jerusalem and the Aksa Mosque very soon”.  I wasn’t even aware it needed liberating.  Among his list of things to do (New Year’s Resolution?) he vowed to lead “intifada after intifada” to liberate “all the occupied Palestinian territories,” and “lead the fight to liberate all Palestine.”  He’s going to be a very busy man!

So what else is new?

What isn’t new is that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas still hasn’t enrolled in that speech therapy class.  You know; the one that just might help him get those extremely difficult-to-say words - “I recognize Israel as a Jewish State” – to flow freely out of his mouth.  I know a few “Christian” clerical/academic candidates that might also benefit from that class.

Apparently national recognition doesn’t have to work both ways.  Abbas recently flew the Palestinian flag at the United Nations cultural agency headquarters as a symbolic gesture to that first step for international recognition.

An emotional Abbas proudly stated that, "It is moving to see our flag raised and for it to be flying in this beautiful city of Paris among all the other states.  This bodes well for Palestine becoming a member of other international institutions.”

His part-time friend (in the war against Israel) and overall enemy (when it comes to who’s going to ultimately govern) Haniyeh chimed in:

"We welcome any step that bolsters the Palestinian entity and demand the international community break its silence on the Israeli occupation, end its bias and recognize the full rights of the Palestinian people."

So what changed exactly in 2011?  And where did that wonderful Arab Spring - the liberal media was so elated about - go?

Let’s talk about Egypt.  The pundits talked the ousting of Hosni Mubarak up.  They framed it in a hopeful light and tried to sell it as a positive step forward for freedom. It failed.  As The Australian reports, the Islamist parties have dominated the election.

“EGYPT's largest Islamist parties [read Muslim Brotherhood] have claimed the lead in the second round of a multi-stage legislative election, confirming them as front-runners in the first post-revolution parliament...The results in Egypt fit a pattern established in Tunisia and Morocco, where Islamists have also gained in elections as they benefit from the new freedoms brought by the pro-democracy movements of the Arab Spring.”

One wonders how the Muslim Brotherhood could possibly be classified as pro-democracy when it “opposes secular tendencies of Islamic nations and wants return to the precepts of the Qur'an.” That would mean Sharia Law – right?

While the Obama administration hailed the MB as a potentially positive force in Egypt, another cynic, William Sullivan had a somewhat different perspective:

“The aim of the Muslim Brotherhood, as it is with other anti-Zionist Muslims throughout the world, is to have the followers of Islam hold dominion over the holy land that Israel now occupies, to be governed by Islamic law. ...Therefore, they would much rather see Islamic clerics and mullahs allowing preferential rights to be granted for Muslims, while non-Muslims are subjugated, as Allah intended (Surah 9:29).”

“Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Apostle, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”

Of course, if you don’t happen to agree with Islam you can always leave – which is just what many Christians have been doing.

One of the tragedies of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the way it is been reported and handled.  Sadly, 2011 saw the same bias and myopia rule those reports.

One regular anti-Israel blogger indiscriminately linked to Haaretz.Com (not noted for its objectivity), which featured a finding by the impressively-named Cingranelli-Richards Human Rights Dataset.  That CIRI finding put Israel in the same category as China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan insofar as religious freedom.

That sounds about right doesn’t it?  The elder of Ziyon didn’t think it did, so he investigated a little further.  You can read the exchange HERE.

Interestingly, the original blogger’s article was headed by a photo of Israeli soldiers parading around the Dome of the Rock Mosque.  Someone call Ismail Haniyeh quick!  The obvious irony of it all is that Israeli soldiers are there to enforce peace by preventing Christians and Jews from praying on the Temple Mount - so that it doesn’t upset the Muslims.  But it’s no fun letting the facts get in the way of a good polemic.

Did I mention people were leaving the Middle East in droves?

In an Op-Ed for Arutz Sheva, Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld informs us that under the PA and Hamas, resident Christians have been victims of “intimidation, beatings, land theft, firebombing of churches and other Christian institutions, denial of employment, economic boycott, torture, kidnapping, forced marriage, sexual harassment, and extortion.”

"The problems for Christians in Bethlehem are typical throughout the Middle East. As in Palestinian society, Christian Arabs have no voice and no protection. It is no wonder they have been leaving. Because of emigration – some of it dating back two or three generations – seventy percent of Christian Arabs who originally resided in the West Bank and Gaza now live abroad.”

Gerstenfeld adds that Muslims who have converted to Christianity are in the greatest danger.  That would be because the penalty for apostasy in Islam is death.

2010 ended on an optimistic note for some Middle East observers who hoped for a step towards peace.  Where did it all go?  The cynics among us knew better – it was just a puff of smoke.  It simply can’t work when people insist on indulging that ancient and insane hatred of the Jews while politely ignoring their enemies’ indiscretions.

We haven’t even discussed Syria or Iran, North Korea or Pakistan.  Nor have we talked about the global economy or the US elections.  This world currently reminds me of a colossal Chess board with key pieces quickly changing positions or bowing out.  What will 2012 bring?

But for now it’s time to pack that cynicism away.

Happy Hanukkah and have a blessed Christmas everyone!

About Alf Cengia

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