Caroline Glick: The Fatah-Hamas peace process
On Monday afternoon, the Palestinians destroyed officially whatever was left of the concept of a peace process with Israel.
When PA Chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas signed a deal with Hamas terror-master Khaled Mashaal in Doha, Qatar, the notion that there is a significant segment of Palestinian society that is not committed to the destruction of Israel was finally and truly sunk.
But before the ink on the agreement had a chance to dry, the peace processors were already spewing bromides whose sole purpose was to deny this inarguable conclusion. Both the Obama administration and the EU claimed that the agreement is an internal Palestinian issue. The EU actually welcomed the deal.
Netanyahu's statement was a nice start. But it didn't go nearly far enough. In speaking as he did, Netanyahu obscured the fact that Abbas already made his choice. He has cast his lot and that of Fatah with Hamas. In so doing Abbas once more exposed the dirty secret that everyone knows but no one likes to discuss: Fatah and Hamas share the same strategic goal of destroying Israel. Fatah is not a moderate force that accepts a peaceful resolution of the Palestinian conflict with Israel. It is a terrorist organization and a political warfare organization. Fatah's strategic goal remains what it has been since it was founded in 1959: The obliteration of the Jewish state.
It is a testament to the weakened state of the US in the region that in his hour of distress, Abbas opted to turn to Hamas. Not only does this signify that Washington is no longer considered a serious power broker. It indicates that for weakened leaders, peace with Israel is a far less attractive option than peace with jihadists.
Like Abbas, Arafat was a liar. The consequence of Arafat's move towards Washington was a two-decade-long phony peace process that left Israel in a strategic position far weaker than that it enjoyed in 1992.
The consequences of Abbas's move towards Hamas will in all likelihood be far worse.
FP: This is exactly what I’ve been predicting and I rest my case. Now starts the pressure on Israel to commit suicide in three ways (1) concession of everything to the Palestinians without them renouncing to the right of return and a termination of a state of war (2) refraining and preventing Israel from action against Iran (3) continuing to fund Islamist regimes who are proving themselves anti-Semitic and anti-Western (see next).
And, as I also predicted, Bibi’s reaction does not inspire confidence. Ignore his declarations and focus on what he actually does. It is unlikely that the latter will match the former.
To reiterate: the Palestinians had a strategy, Israel did not and, consequently, the Oslo blunder pushed the West to support the Palestinian strategy.
Walter Russell Mead: Saudis Sing It Too: Bomb Bomb Iran
Over at The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg says that the “most consequential news from the Middle East today” is Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s promise to keep oil prices under $100 a barrel. Why does this matter? Argues Goldberg:
Because it clears the way for an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. I’m not suggesting coordination between Israel and Saudi Arabia on this, any more than I would ever suggest that Superpacs coordinate with presidential campaign staffs. I’m merely noting that one factor that inhibits Israel from striking at Iran is fear that an attack will cause Iran to retaliate against Persian Gulf shipping (among other things), which would cause oil prices to skyrocket, which would, of course, generate a fair amount of anger directed against Israel.
The “blame Israel first” crowd continues to interpret the Iran-US crisis as an example of a sinister Israel lobby pushing the US into a war to serve the ambitions of the Jewish state. Not only does this analysis miss the vital US interests at stake in the region and the threat Iran poses to a balance of power the United States needs, it misses the reality that for several years now some of the strongest, most consistent pressures on Washington to act against Iran have come from the Arab world.
The Arab Lobby’s strong pressure for war against Iran is a major factor in French, British and even German hawkishness as well in this crisis.
But the blame Israel firsters don’t care; if we have a war with Iran they will know who to blame.
FP: See what I mean? BTW, who exactly are the “Israel firsters” if not the liberal left? And they are in the Obama camp. Given that Obama has been eager to engage rather than attack Iran, what do you think will Obama do if he ultimately decides to fight, possibly incompetently, and loses?
Guy Bechor: Palestinians? Who cares!
Mideast upheaval shatters myth, Arab-Israeli conflict unrelated to region’s troubles
The first to realize their stock crashed were the Palestinians. Abbas’ decision to approach the United Nations last September was a desperate move. He knew developments were not playing out in his favor. After all, if the region’s real problems are finally being addressed, there is no longer any need for the Palestinian facade.
Who would actually care whether Abbas joins forces with Hamas’ Khaled Mashaal or not? Is there anyone actually affected by this? When the entire Mideast is burning, the Palestinian issue comes off the agenda. This is the reason why international networks such as CNN or France2 are leaving Israel at this time or closing down their offices. The Israeli conflict is not longer a story, with the focus shifting to Damascus, Cairo and Tripoli.
FP: I disagree. As I have been maintaining for years and Caroline Glick concurs, it’s precisely because of the Islamization of the Arab “spring” that the West is unwilling to let go of the myth, but rather pushes it against all odds. There is little it can do about the Islamist regimes, it does not even have the guts to terminate the aid, but what it can do is pressure Israel. Thus, if it deludes itself that by doing that it will appease the Islamists. The West is, in fact, in a form of denial as to how to deal with its decline and the Palestinians are shrewdly exploiting it and quite effectively.
Charles Krauthammer: The Gospel according to Obama
At the National Prayer Breakfast last week, seeking theological underpinning for his drive to raise taxes on the rich, President Obama invoked the highest possible authority. His policy, he testified “as a Christian,” “coincides with Jesus’s teaching that ‘for unto whom much is given, much shall be required.’ ”
Now, I’m no theologian, but I’m fairly certain that neither Jesus nor his rabbinic forebears, when speaking of giving, meant some obligation to the state. You tithe the priest, not the tax man.
FP: Jesus, if such a person existed historically, would turn in his grave if either the government or the priest were the receivers of tithing. After all Jesus’ main purpose was to turn Jews away from the Jewish priests collaborating with the Romans back to traditional Judaism. The whole structure, theology and corruption of the Catholic Church are atrocious anathema to what Jesus’ is supposed to have really been about. Catholicism is Paul’s, not Jesus’ invention the purposes of his own myth construction and the two could not be more different. For a lucid and persuasive tale of Paul’ hijacking of Jesus see the excellent THE MYTHMAKER by Hyam Mccobby (available through the Books links of this blog).
Matt Taibbi: Why the Foreclosure Deal May Not Be So Hot After All
However, now that the settlement is finalized, and I've had time to think about it and talk to people who know far more than I do about this, I'm feeling pretty queasy.
It feels an awful lot like what happened here is the nation's criminal justice honchos collectively realized that a thorough investigation of the problem would require resources they simply do not have, or are reluctant to deploy, and decided to accept a superficially face-saving peace offer rather than fight it out.
So they settled the case in a way that reads in headlines like it's a bite out of the banks, but in fact is barely even that. There will be little in the way of real compensation for stuggling homeowners, and there are serious issues in the area of the deal's enforceability. In fact, about the only part of the deal we can be absolutely sure will be honored in full is the liability waiver for the robosigning offenses.
I think the best summation of the settlement is probably Yves Smith's, which can be found here. The piece lists the 12 things that suck the most about the settlement. The most painful is probably #12:
12. We'll now have to listen to banks and their sycophant defenders declaring victory despite being wrong on the law and the facts. They will proceed to marginalize and write off criticisms of the servicing practices that hurt homeowners and investors and are devastating communities. But the problems will fester and the housing market will continue to suffer. Investors in mortgage-backed securities, who know that services have been screwing them for years, will be hung out to dry and will likely never return to a private MBS market, since the problems won't ever be fixed. This settlement has not only revealed the residential mortgage market to be too big to fail, but puts it on long term, perhaps permanent, government life support.
My mistake in looking at this deal a few weeks ago, when details of it first leaked out, was in focusing on how much worse it could have been, instead of thinking about how bad it still is. The only acceptable foreclosure deal had to bring about a complete end to robosigning and the other similar corrupt practices that grew up around it (like for instance gutter service, the practice of process servers simply signing affidavits saying they delivered summonses, instead of really doing it).
But this deal not only doesn't end robosigning, it officially makes getting caught for it inexpensive. Shame on me for ever thinking that might be a good thing.
FP: Pretty surprising Taibbi’s naivete, he of all people. But even the most jaded observers of the US system find it hard to accept that everything is part of the system.
Could the criminal justice system not be a part of the US kleptocracy? Would the welfare corporate state permit, of all its components, independence of the component supposed to keep it honest and legal? Taibbi has exposed the revolving door between government‘s regulatory system and the financial system, but has he done the same for the criminal justice system? Why would that be any different? Even if the consideration was lack of resources, that in itself is an indicator of how the US system works: for had there been interest in justice, the criminal justice system would have had the necessary resources.