Daniel Pipes: Count Palestine Refugees?
Worse: those alive in 1948 are dying off and in about fifty years not a single real refugee will remain alive, whereas (extrapolating from an authoritative estimate in Refugee Survey Quarterly by Mike Dumper) their fake refugee descendants will number about 20 million. Unchecked, that population will grow like Topsy until the end of time.
This matters because the refugee status has harmful effects: It blights the lives of these millions of non-refugees by disenfranchising them while imposing an ugly, unrealistic irredentist dream on them; worse, the refugee status preserves them as a permanent dagger aimed at Israel's heart, threatening the Jewish state and disrupting the Middle East.
The fetid, dark heart of the Arab war on Israel, I have long argued, lies not in disputes over Jerusalem, checkpoints, or "settlements." Rather, it concerns the so-called Palestine refugees.
So called because of the nearly 5 million official refugees served by UNRWA (short for the "United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East"), only about 1 percent are real refugees who fit the agency's definition of "people whose normal place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948, who lost both their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict." The other 99 percent are descendants of those refugees, or what I call fake refugees.
FP: Indeed, the core of the conflict are the refugees, because short of a military victory, or effective Western pressure on Israel to commit suicide, the right of return is the only way to destroy the Jewish state, which is the true strategic goal of the Arabs. Pipes also notes, as I did earlier, that there are a lot of fake refugees with their own descendants.
There are already too many of them to be effectively resettled in a Palestinian state, something which they are not particularly keen on. Resettling them in place can destabilize and change the character of Arab states (this is obvious for Lebanon and Jordan); no Arab state is interested in digesting millions of frustrated, militarized Palestinians. Surveys show that they would prefer to resettle in the West, which already has serious immigrant problems and don’t need any exacerbation.
Which is why the right of return to Israel is the most convenient option for all and why the West does not care much anymore if Israel survives. And as Pipes observes, the more time passes, that option turns from the most convenient option to the only alternative.
Israel Matzav: A constitution by judicial fiat?
In an article that is behind the JPost's paywall, Evelyn Gordon examines the Israeli Supreme Court's efforts to legislate a constitution. I got this one by email and will post most of it.
Former Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch made a truly shocking comment last week. Speaking at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, she began, reasonably enough, by arguing that Israel needs a complete constitution to protect democracy and human rights. Then came the bombshell: “She said that the goal of completing a constitution could either be undertaken by the court itself through its decisions or by the Knesset through passing additional Basic Laws,” The Jerusalem Post reported.
In short, our former Supreme Court president thinks “democracy” is perfectly compatible with having unelected judges write a constitution and then impose it by fiat. In real democracies, constitutions require ratification by the people or their elected representatives. But Beinisch evidently prefers Soviet-style democracy, in which unelected officials makes the real decisions while the “elected legislature” is merely for show.
FP: I was always suspicious of Israel’s Supreme Court in the absence of a constitution and its constant ability to undermine governments and the Knesset validated my suspicion. What is considered in America judicial activism is nothing compared with that.
The battle over Syria has descended into sectarian strife led by extreme Salafists and other Islamic splinter organizations in a carefully orchestrated uprising coordinated and fueled by al-Qaeda operatives.
The Syrian National Council, the main opposition group, could well be in a process of disintegration, as the Free Syrian Army (FSA) did not recognize its authority. Yet the FSA is no longer the sole force in the fight against Assad.
As in Egypt, in Syria the Muslim Brothers have succeeded in appropriating (some would call it hijacking) the revolt and ultimately becoming its backbone. Moreover, Muslim fighters from around the globe are coming to join the ranks in the battle against Assad.
The gradual transformation of the Syrian opposition into a movement led by extremist Muslims allied with al-Qaeda does not serve the opposition well. The majority of Syrians do not identify with those radicals. The more the opposition wears the mask of al-Qaeda, the more there is cohesion in the ranks around Assad.
Recent street fighting in Tripoli, Lebanon, between Alawites and Sunnis is a reflection of the wider war between two alliances, with Syria, Iran, and Hizbullah opposed by an alliance led by Saudi Arabia and its allies, including its Salafist and Muslim fundamentalist troops.
In addition, the battle over the future of Syria is symptomatic of the revival of the Cold War between the West – with the U.S., UK, France, and Turkey backing the anti-Assad forces – and Russia, steadfast behind the Alawite regime.
FP: It was predictable and it is exactly what I predicted. I used the term “Arabs reverting to their natural state”, which Luttwak also uses in his interview.
But the Middle East is littered with a hundred Houlas, their dead children piled among the statistics, with knives and ropes as well as guns among the murder weapons. And what if Assad's soldiers let their Alawite militia do their dirty work? Didn't the Algerian FLN regime use "home guard" units to murder its opponents in the 1990s? Didn't Gaddafi have his loyalist militias last year, and Mubarak his jailbird drugged-up ex-cops, the baltagi, to bash opponents of his regime? Didn't Israel use its Lebanese Phalangist proxies to intimidate and kill its opponents in Lebanon? Wasn't this, too, "rule by murder"? And come to think of it, wasn't it Bashar al-Assad's uncle Rifaat's Special Forces who massacred the insurgents of Hama in 1982 – speak this not too loudly, for Rifaat lives now between Paris and London – and so who thinks Bashar can't get away with Houla?
FP: Do you notice something that is out of pattern? Well, Fisk just cannot help himself. He cannot possibly expose the murderous nature of Arabs without taking a stab at Israel too. One may question whether the comportment of Israel allowing Lebanese Christians to enter camps and massacre Palestinians, but this was clearly an inter-Arab event that validates the flaw in Arab culture that does not exist in the Israeli culture.
If you have a tough time understanding this statement, here it is in plain English:
Yes, our public witness about the Middle East is pretty one-sided, but we do a lot of stuff behind the scenes that doesn't make it onto our website. Trust us.
Palestinian Christians ask us to make a lot of statements about Israel, so we do.
Christians elsewhere in the Middle East don't want us to speak up about abuses in their countries because it might make people, Muslims especially, angry, so we don't.
With this statement, Global Ministries tacitly acknowledges that will speak truth to Jewish, but not Muslim or Arab power. With its one-sided witness, the organization rewards hostage taking on a grand scale. Countries where Christians are murdered and oppressed by Islamists on a regular basis are given a pass for fear that criticism will encourage more violence against these communities – as if violence isn't already a problem. Israel on the other hand, is regularly condemned because it is safe to do so.
Eventually, human rights activists will have to come to grips with the role Islamist violence plays in distorting indigenous Christian witness about peace and human rights issues in the Middle East. Christians living under the threat of Islamist violence have every reason to stay quiet about the misdeeds of the rulers who can either protect or oppress them and have every reason to exaggerate the sins of the Jewish state, which has become the designated scapegoat in the region. By pointing the finger of blame at the Jewish state, these Christians can achieve a modicum of safety, at least for the short term.
By cooperating with this process, Global Ministries and other mainline institutions encourage the spread of a culture of impunity – which is so evident in places like Egypt and Iraq – into the international arena.
FP: This is not much different than the Catholic Church’s silence during the Holocaust in order to protect its interests and members in Germany. And they keep telling us that religion is the principal if not the sole source of morality and truth.
Silly me. I thought the influence of Arab Americans in the US was based upon their middle and upper class status. Apparently not. The US Commerce Department is now considering labeling Arab-Americans a 'disadvantaged minority' (Hat Tip: Joe L).
The Commerce Department is considering naming Arab Americans a socially and economically disadvantaged minority group that is eligible for special business assistance.The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) petitioned Commerce earlier this year to ask that Arab Americans be made eligible for the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), which helps minority entrepreneurs gain access to capital, contracts and trade opportunities.
The ADC petition cited “discrimination and prejudice in American society[,] resulting in conditions under which Arab-American individuals have been unable to compete in a business world.” The group claimed discrimination against Arab Americans increased after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
You have until June 27 to let the Commerce Department know how you feel about this.
FP: I was wondering what took them so long.
Deep-pocketed financiers have abandoned President Obama and are flocking to Mitt Romney in droves, providing more donations to his campaign than any other industry except retired workers. (And that's not really an industry.)
Individuals who work in the securities and investment industry have given the Romney campaign $8.5 million through the end of April, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.
Over the same time period, Obama has brought in only $3 million from securities and investment workers, and the industry is only the campaign's fifth largest source of funds.
"They have basically ditched Obama," said John Dunbar, the managing editor for politics at the Center for Public Integrity. "Romney is just a much friendlier candidate if you are a banker."
FP: No matter who is president, Wall Street rules. I still think Obama will be re-elected, and if he is don’t expect him to go against Wall Street.
FP: The dark side of the corporate welfare state. Examples of capitalist senility.
Bret Stephens: On Iran, We'll Probably Get Fooled Again
George Friedman: Egypt Now Stuck Between Army and Islamists