In his latest article in Time Magazine titled “Roadmap to Reform” Joe Klein has made several malicious allegations. He claimed that the U.S. can support democracy and redress historic wrong in Egypt only if Israel respects the territory and demographic rights of the Palestinians. He went on to claim that the West Bank settlements are illegal. He was wrong on both accounts.
Joe Klein and others like him who are obsessed with Israel’s “wrongdoings” find reasons to blame Israel for any natural or political disaster regardless of whether there is any logical connection. Shark attacks, bombing of Christian churches in Egypt, the global great recession, the Iraq war, even 9/11 are all claimed to be Israel’s doings by these “experts.” How one can link the Egyptian revolt — the citizens’ call for democracy, the insistence on better standard of living, the desire for elimination of corruption — to Israel’s policies in the West Bank, is beyond reason.
Does Joe Klein even know that Israel’s policies in the West Bank and Gaza strip brought about a huge immigration by Arabs to that territory, tripling its population from 950,000 to 3,000,000+ between 1967 and 1994 due to an Israeli “Marshal Plan” which brought about an exponential increase in the area residents’ standard of living?
Does he know that in the years of 1967-1994 there were no roadblocks, there was free movement by Arabs, who traveled to Israel for work, shopping, and pleasure?
Does he know that it all ended following the Oslo Accords and Yasser Araft’s return to the area, his taking control of a Palestinian autonomy and his initiation of a terror war?
Does he know that in consequence of Araft’s rule, corruption, and terror management, the West Bank’s GDP in 2003 was reduced by 90 percent comparing to its 1992 level?
Klein’s conjectures are not only contrary to logic; they are the perfect reversal of common sense. The PA regime is more like Mubarak’s, given its leaders’ corruptive culture and the impact of their terror atmosphere on their residents’ standard of living, while, on the other hand, Israel’s influence and control in 1967-1994, in the absence of the PA’s incitation and encouragement of terror activities has been a blessing to the Palestinian Arabs.
Klein’s assertions regarding the illegality of Israeli settlements in the West Bank are simply incorrect.
Israel conquered the West bank in a defensive war. International law, spelled out by the charter of the League of Nations, states that the status of territories occupied in consequence of a defensive war shall remain in dispute as long as there is no peace agreement between the warring parties. Accordingly, the conquered territory is disputed rather than occupied. And Israel’s control over the West Bank is legal.
What’s more, international law states that a territory conquered in a defensive war may be used to maintain security in the absence of a peace treaty. The conquering party may resettle it if it had been driven out of the area (like East Jerusalem, Hebron, Gush Etzion) in an earlier war. Besides, UN Resolution 242 states clearly that in the absence of peace between Israel and the Arabs, Israel may develop and settle any public unoccupied land.
This public unoccupied land was never owned by a Muslim Palestinian state, since no Muslim Palestinian state had ever existed. Four hundred years prior to the end of Word War I in 1917 this land was occupied and owned by the Ottoman empire; then between 1917-1948 it was controlled by the British, and following the 1948 war between Israel and the Arab states, the kingdom of Jordan occupied — and, I must say, illegally absorbed — the same territory.
An Arab Palestinian authority has never owned public land in Judea and Samria, (a.k.a. the West Bank) or the Gaza strip. The Jews were the only legitimate local resident owners before the Roman Empire’s conquest of the land. After the Romans drove the Jews out of Israel and renaming the territory, the only owners were foreign imperialists who took control of Palestine after defeating a former imperialist occupier.
Public unoccupied land in Judea and Samaria had never been in possession of a Palestinian Arab authority or government. Israel captured the land from its illegal possessor, the Jordanian Hashemite kingdom, in a defensive war.
In the absence of peace between Israel and any Palestinian authority, it has been Israel’s legally justified right to maintain its sovereignty over these territories, develop and settle them, as long as the Israeli government has not deported or displaced the original residents.
It should be noted here that Palestinian Arabs were able to challenge the Israeli government concerning land use and ownership and that several of these challenges were successful. Consequently, the Israeli Supreme Court ordered the Israeli government to reverse position and hand the land over to its rightful owners whenever it found such land grab illegal or unjust.
Klein should do his homework before publishing his erroneous conclusions. He was not only wrong when it came to the question of legality; he was dishonest when it came to the issue of logical reasoning. He did not understand international law concerning legality of Israel’s sovereignty over territories captured in a defensive war, and he conditioned U.S. support for democracy in Egypt on Israel’s ceasing its “occupation” of the West Bank.
The only part Joe Klein has forgotten is the fact that the U.S. foreign policy is driven by self-seeking interests rather than distorted morality. If any moral conditions are needed for U.S. support of an Egyptian democracy it is a call for democracy in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Syria, Jordan, Iran and any other Muslim dictatorship that enjoys American support
Dr. Avi Perry, a talk show host at Paltalk News Network (PNN), is the author of "Fundamentals of Voice Quality Engineering in Wireless Networks," and more recently, "72 Virgins," a thriller about the covert war on Islamic terror. He was a VP at NMS Communications, a Bell Laboratories - distinguished staff member and manager, a delegate of the US and Lucent Technologies to the ITU—the UN International Standards body in Geneva, a professor at Northwestern University, as well as an Intelligence officer at the IDF and the Israeli Government. He may be reached through his web site www.aviperry.org
Since the early 80's the US has been arming and training the Egyptian army as if it were the most vital member of NATO. What's more, the US has done so free of charge to the Egyptians as the American taxpayer shelled out the bill. This Egyptian military machine is now the most formidable Muslim force in the Middle East, a close second to Israel. It is a military machine to be proud of, to be scared of, to be intimidated by. But why? Why does Egypt require this kind of lethal power? Does anybody pose a threat to the Egyptian nation? Are they subject to potential genocide? Does Iran want to wipe them off the map? What is the purpose of this arms buildup? And why has the US been gifting it?
Egypt does not need all these weapons, unless, of course, the Egyptian regime falls and is taken over by warmonger Islamists who hate the US, the West and Israel, then deploy its military machine against the hated infidels, against the ones who "stole" the holy land from its "true owners"—the Muslims.
This American policy of beefing up and training the Egyptian armed forces is downright unjustified. True. It serves the American arms industry. It's an indirect subsidy, designed to keep the production line full of zip. But so is a policy, which lets Afghans grow opium and cocaine in order to keep their economy going, or a hypothetical course of action allowing Latin American drug lords operate freely, since their venture boosts their country's balance of payment. Does the end justify the means? Does arming the military dictatorship in Egypt serve world peace?
In fact, it could have, if the Egyptian government were stable, secular, rational and democratic. But as recent events have proven, other than being secular, it's not stable and it is in conflict with US human rights ideals.
And this is where US policy has been failing.
Recent events in Egypt have confirmed that a peace agreement between Israel and an Arab dictator may not be a stable state of affairs. It could easily turn into a short-lived episode if the people, over whom these dictators rule, replace their chief with a new government via a popular revolt, a military coup, or with an American model of a peaceful process. Even before the recent revolution in Egypt, when events pointed out to a peaceful transition of leadership due to Mubarak's age, the Israeli anxiety was moving up the Richter scale, owing to the uncertainty involving the next leader's stance towards peaceful relations with the Jewish state.
Unlike a secular democratic regime—where continuity of foreign policy, observance of international agreements signed by an earlier administration, and a rational political process involving checks and balances—an autocratic rule is a one-man-show—where policy discontinuity, in the face of regime change, is the rule rather than the exception.
And when this man, this dictator, rules over a Muslim mob, many of whom view Jihad, Sharia Law, supremacy, suppression of women, anti-Semitism as their guiding light, then the emergence of the next Islamic militancy is highly probable. It would not matter that a democratic regime may replace Mubarak's. It would not matter that the Muslim Brothers may not capture the top job in a newborn democracy. These radical Muslim extremists will be able to manipulate the next democratic government and dictate policy behind the scene, especially if Muhammad Elbaradei, an adversary of Israel, captures the top job. And they will control a powerful military, built and propped up by the American tax payer, only to have this army turn on the hand that feeds it.
American policy in the Middle East is blind. Sometimes, I feel, its planning and reasoning are functioning at half speed. Despite their painful Iranian experience, American leaders are unable to see the teeth of that Islamic jaw trap. They do not understand that democracy and political Islam are contrary to each other. Jimmy Carter, pushing the Shah out and insisting on democracy in Iran, was responsible for the rise of Khomeini and his religious thugs. Barak Obama's silence and lack of support for the latest attempt by Iranians to free themselves of Ahmadinejad's dictatorship made it easier for the Ayatollah's regime to solidify its hold on oppressive power through hubris and violence. Obama's insistence on Mubarak's departure and transfer of power to the "people" may very well give rise to a regime, hostile to America, to the West and to Israel.
The concept that the enemy of my enemy is my friend is a shortsighted vision that comes back to bite the believer, once the common enemy is defeated. The post-Mubarak regime in Egypt may not be the enemy of the enemy anymore. Whether in charge or behind the scene, the Muslim brotherhood will play an important role. They may facilitate the fashioning of an anti-west Egyptian policy towards Iran. The massive American military aid to Egypt may turn into a boomerang, just as American support of the Mujahidin forces in Afghanistan in their fight against the Soviet army smoothed the progress to breeding the al Qaeda monster.
Both, Obama and Clinton have claimed that they were putting pressure on Mubarak. They kept telling him to move faster on the road to greater freedom, higher standard of living for his people. They have claimed that they could foresee the danger; they could foresee the approaching unrest; they could hear the hissing sound of the escaping air of frustration; they warned Mubarak of the eruption of the volcano lest he lets out gradual measures of democratic and human rights policies.
But to no avail. They could not "help" Mubarak see the light. Why? Why is the inconsistency? Why did the US administration invoke a policy of transforming the Egyptian army into the most formidable Muslim force in the Middle East, a force that might turn against the US and Israel? Why did they do it while fearing an uprising, which might give rise to a hostile leadership?
There is no doubt that US foreign policy in the Middle East is misguided. The Obama administration has a propensity to rely on the unreliable. The American administration keeps on pressuring Israel: "Make tangible concessions; make peace with Abbas; do your part in fashioning a Palestinian state."
And here we go again. Is the Palestinian leadership stable? Is it democratic? Will the peace document they sign live beyond the existing Palestinian Authority? How long will this unstable Palestinian regime take hold? Will the next leadership be peaceful and secular?
The answer to all of the above is "probably not."
Democracy cannot take hold in a society consumed with a sharply ingrained corruption, or in a culture filled with widespread, deep-rooted Islamic religious devoutness. Putting pressure on Mubarak to leave now, before he has a chance to ensure that the next regime is governed by secular democratic principles is a huge mistake.
President Obama may want to listen to the people who know best—the Iranian people. They know they made a mistake back in 1979; they understand the consequences of a hasty departure of a dictator who leaves behind no democratic infrastructure; they know that a political vacuum at the top provides an ideal opportunity for a small, but organized group to move in and hijack the revolution. They regret it now, yet it's too late for them.
Still, Mr. American President, it may not be too late for you! Short Bio
Dr. Avi Perry, a talk show host at Paltalk News Network (PNN), is the author of "Fundamentals of Voice Quality Engineering in Wireless Networks," and more recently, "72 Virgins," a thriller about the covert war on Islamic terror. He was a VP at NMS Communications, a Bell Laboratories - distinguished staff member and manager, a delegate of the US and Lucent Technologies to the ITU—the UN International Standards body in Geneva, a professor at Northwestern University, as well as an Intelligence expert. He may be reached through his web site www.aviperry.org
Dr. Avi Perry