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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Links, snippets, video

Possible next leader of Labor Party does not see establishing Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria as a crime:
In its time, it was a completely consensual move. And it was the Labor Party that founded the settlement enterprise in the territories. That is a fact. A historical fact....I am familiar with the worldview that maintains that if we cut the defense budget in half there will be money for education. It's a worldview with no connection to reality....I reject it; it is simply not factually correct, even though it is now perceived as axiomatic. A school that is located in a settlement and has X number of students would be located inside the Green Line and have the same number of children at the same cost. I don't say that the settlements themselves did not cost more money. But even if the defense budget were cut in half, and even if the settlement costs were cut in half, the economic ideology that led us to them would not seek to divert the newly available funds to the service of the state.

The always excellent Richard Landes talks about the West's problem with criticizing Islam in a new blog in The Telegraph:
In an honour culture, it is legitimate, expected, even required to shed blood for the sake of honour, to save face, to redeem the dishonoured face. Public criticism is an assault on the very “face” of the person criticised. Thus, people in such cultures are careful to be “polite”; and a genuinely free press is impossible, no matter what the laws proclaim.

Modernity, however, is based on a free public discussion, on civility rather than politeness, but the benefits of this public self-criticism – sharp learning curves, advances in science and technology, economic development, democracy – make that pain worthwhile.

But such a system represents a crucible of humiliation for alpha males, especially those who believe that the social order depends on the honour of ruling elite, like the anti-Dreyfusards around 1900, ready to sacrifice a single man for the honour of Army and Church.

This is particularly true for Islamic religious culture. In Dar al Islam, a Muslim’s contradiction/criticism of Islam was punishable by death, a fortiori did this hold true for infidels. Modernity has been a Nakba (psychological catastrophe) for Islam, and Islam in all its variegated currents has yet to successfully negotiate these demands of modernity.

On the contrary, the loudest voices in contemporary Islam reject vehemently the kind of self-criticism modernity requires. Criticism constitutes an unbearable assault on the manhood of Muslims.

Khaled Abu Toameh on the Arab uprisings:


Elliot Abrams: Will Ariel block peace?
If there is a single issue that explains the failure of Obama policy toward Israel, it is settlements. And this week the administration once again indulged itself in a knee-jerk reaction that displayed incomprehension in a way that harms U.S.-Israeli relations without doing the slightest bit of good for the Palestinians.

This week Israel announced a plan to construct 277 more housing units in Ariel, a settlement that is a town of 18,000. The new units are to be constructed in the center of the town, it was also announced. This is a significant fact, for construction of new units at the edges of the town would mean that the security perimeter would need to be extended to protect the new housing and the people in it. But this will not happen, and Ariel will expand in population but not in land area. It is not, in the usual Palestinian Authority parlance, “taking more Palestinian land.”

When I worked on these issues in the Bush Administration, we discussed settlement expansion thoroughly with the government of Israel and (as I have explained elsewhere) reached agreement on some principles. These were that Israel would create no new settlements and that existing settlements would expand in population but not in land area. New construction, that is, would be in already-built-up areas, and the phrase we used was “build up and in, not out.” The usual complaints about new construction in the settlements were that “it is making a final peace agreement impossible” or at least more and more difficult by “taking more Palestinian land” that would have to be bargained over in the end and whose taking would right now interfere with Palestinian life and livelihoods. We understood that there would never be a long construction freeze even if there might be some brief ones, for the settlements–especially the “major blocks” that Israel will keep–are living communities with growing families. So we reached that understanding with the Israelis: build up and in, not out. That way whatever the chances of a peace deal were, construction in the settlements would not reduce them.

This agreement the Obama Administration ignored or denounced, suggesting at various times that it never existed or that, anyway, it had been a bad idea and all construction must be frozen–even in Israel’s capital, Jerusalem. (To be more accurate, construction by Israeli Jews was to be frozen; construction by Palestinians could continue). No Israeli government could long accept such terms and though the Netanyahu government did agree to a short and partial freeze, when that failed to bring the PLO back to the negotiating table the freeze was ended. This Obama fixation with a construction freeze proved disastrous because the president and his secretary of state took the view that it was a precondition for negotiations without which the Palestinians could not be expected to come to the table. Of course once that American position was announced the Palestinian leadership had to adopt it, lest they appear weaker in asserting Palestinian “rights” than Washington.

(h/t O, CHA, jzaik)