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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Turkey's president lays a turkey of an op-ed

A laughable op-ed from Turkey's president Abdullah Gul in yesterday's NYT:

THE wave of uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa is of historic significance equal to that of the revolutions of 1848 and 1989 in Europe. The peoples of the region, without exception, revolted not only in the name of universal values but also to regain their long-suppressed national pride and dignity. But whether these uprisings lead to democracy and peace or to tyranny and conflict will depend on forging a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement and a broader Israeli-Arab peace.
Really? Even though the Tunisians and Egyptians and Yemenis and Bahrainis and Syrians and Moroccans and Iranians who are protesting are barely saying a word about Israel, the key to their countries turning democratic is based on Israeli policy? How so?

The plight of the Palestinians has been a root cause of unrest and conflict in the region and is being used as a pretext for extremism in other corners of the world.
Now, this is funny. Arab and Islamic regimes - the ones being protested against - are the ones who have claimed that they cannot reform because of Israel's existence. They are the ones who have used Israel as an excuse to repress their own people. Yet the president of one of those repressive regimes is now pretending that the protesters are the ones pushing the Palestinian Arab agenda - even though one would be hard pressed to find a single sign in the protests that mention Israel or "Palestine."

Israel, more than any other country, will need to adapt to the new political climate in the region.
More than the Arab and Muslim countries who will have to become democracies?

In these times of turmoil, two forces will shape the future: the people’s yearning for democracy and the region’s changing demographics. Sooner or later, the Middle East will become democratic, and by definition a democratic government should reflect the true wishes of its people. Such a government cannot afford to pursue foreign policies that are perceived as unjust, undignified and humiliating by the public. For years, most governments in the region did not consider the wishes of their people when conducting foreign policy. History has repeatedly shown that a true, fair and lasting peace can only be made between peoples, not ruling elites.

In these times of turmoil, and the previous six decades of turmoil, Israel has been trying to make peace with its Arab neighbors. This reflected the wishes of Israel's Jewish majority. I don't quite get how this is considered humiliating or unjust to anyone except the Arab masses who are quick to respond to government-initiated incitement against Israel. They are the ones who scream about "dignity."

Just like Gul.

Here's where he tries some sleight-of-hand:
I call upon the leaders of Israel to approach the peace process with a strategic mindset, rather than resorting to short-sighted tactical maneuvers. This will require seriously considering the Arab League’s 2002 peace initiative, which proposed a return to Israel’s pre-1967 borders and fully normalized diplomatic relations with Arab states.

Sticking to the unsustainable status quo will only place Israel in greater danger. History has taught us that demographics is the most decisive factor in determining the fate of nations. In the coming 50 years, Arabs will constitute the overwhelming majority of people between the Mediterranean Sea and the Dead Sea. The new generation of Arabs is much more conscious of democracy, freedom and national dignity.

However, every peace plan that Israel has proposed - and that Palestinian Arabs and the Arab League has rejected - included making a Palestinian Arab state in the vast majority of the territories, thus solving that demographic problem (and also solving the supposedly overriding concern of Palestinian Arabs to have a state!) Why must Israel choose the Arab League plan which does not specifically solve the "refugee" problem and which would involve the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Jews from their homes? Why is the supposed "dignity" of the Arab and Muslim people more important than the lives of so many who legally and voluntarily chose to live in the heartland of their ancestors?

More to the point, if Gul is so concerned about democracy and a solution to the "Palestine" problem, why is he not telling Abbas to accept Israel's peace proposals and move on? Wouldn't a Palestinian Arab state on 96% of the territories fulfill every one of the criteria he lists in this op-ed?

No, this op-ed is not about peace. It is about forcing Israel to accede to Arab blackmail and to harden the Palestinian Arab rejectionist position towards compromise.

(h/t Samson)

UPDATE: Meanwhile, Turkey's leadership probably needs to learn other lessons from the upheavals. (h/t Serious Black)