Tuesday, April 27, 2010

James Zogby on Arab Waiting

James Zogby of the Arab-American Institute is a consistently pro-Palestinian HP blogger, but his posts have never been as out there as Narwani or MJ Rosenberg. In his most recent post, Waiting...And Wasting Time, he approaches the peace process from a different point of view from us but arrives at the same conclusion, Arab leadership and especially the Palestinian Authority need to start become active participants in the peace process instead of waiting for Obama to do their jobs for them.

Zogby points out that when the controversy about building in Jerusalem occurred last month, Israel did its best to advocate for its position. Meanwhile, "All during this time, not a single Palestinian leader visited the U.S. to make the case for Jerusalem. Hollow protests were issued from afar, but these said nothing new and did not register here. The Arab League met and adjourned, but without offering anything newsworthy, and so many Americans were left wondering what the fuss was all about." In my opinion, this is because the Palestinian "case for Jerusalem" amounts to nothing more than 'we want it too!', and thus doesn't seem like it's worthy of any further explanation. Therefore many Americans did wonder what all the fuss was about, since the Palestinian claim for Jerusalem is not greater than the Israeli claim, and thus the Palestinian demand to stop construction is no more convincing than the Israeli desire to continue construction.

Zogby points out that, " Our polls also show that while most Americans will support the President, they simply do not understand the Palestinians' case or their concern with settlements." Now, this is most likely true, because as Zach and I have discussed in the past, the Palestinian "case" is two contradictory positions that do not work together. On the one hand, the Palestinians wave the bloody shirt and talk about how oppressed they are by the Israelis and how they just want peace and to be left alone. On the other hand, they talk about how they deserve "justice" and what they consider to be "their land" back. Zogby's right, the American people see the Israelis and Palestinians as two groups of people who both want parts of the West Bank, but neither group has a greater right to the land than the other. So, the Palestinians need to decide which they are: a group of oppressed innocents who just want to be left alone by Israel, or a group of people fighting for their rights and won't stop until they get what they deserve.

Zogby laments the lack of initiative the Palestinian leadership showed during the conflict between the Netanyahu and Obama governments, and encourages them to get involved in the negotiation action. He writes, "As long as the Arab side is absent and/or passive and waiting, the game will be defined and won by others." But unfortunately for Mr. Zogby, this is all the Palestinians know how to do. They waited for Arafat and now Hamas to liberate the rest of Palestine, they wait for their population to grow comparable to Israel's, they wait for the absolutely perfect peace offer to fall into their laps. The Palestinians don't know how to help themselves, they only know how to react to other people's initiatives. I say this not to stereotype, but to learn from the Palestinians' history.

I would love for the Palestinians to clearly outline their goals and what they want, and then negotiate for it. But unfortunately for everyone involved in this conflict, the Palestinians don't know what they want. Their extremists want Israel gone, their doves want Israel to leave them alone, and the leadership shows little indication of which side they are on. Until the leadership picks a side and starts pursuing that side's goals, the American people in general simply won't support the Palestinians, because they don't know who they are supporting. 

1 comment:

  1. The PalArabs just rejected a statehood offer from Israel. No one knows what they want and James Zogby may be correct that not even they know what they want. No one can really help them.