Monday, July 25, 2011

The Very Low Value of International Guarantees; The Very Low Standards of the "International Community"

This is my column from the Jerusalem Post but my version and with a bit more added. I own the copyright so please link to this site. To see all my PajamasMedia articles go here:

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By Barry Rubin

Israel is constantly urged to put its trust in the international community, an idea that hasn't worked out too well in the past. Now the UN special envoy for Lebanon has given another reason why Israel shouldn't take risks and make concessions based on the hope of support from international guarantees.

While he did about the best he could given his situation, Michael Williams, the British diplomat working for the UN in this job, said the UN-sponsored ceasefire that ended the Hizballah-Israel war in 2006 is holding up "very well."

Technically, this is quite true. There hasn't been a new war or cross-border attacks. But that's merely because Hizballah has been too busy taking over Lebanon successfully and preparing for the next war. As Williams admits, arms have flowed to Hizballah (from Syria, though he doesn't say that). Williams only says that Lebanon's borders are "porous," a wonderful diplomatic euphemism for state-sponsored arms smuggling. The Gaza Strip's borders with Egypt, by the way, have become porous in the same way.

Hizballah has also moved back into southern Lebanon--something the UN was supposed to prevent--and rebuilt its system of tunnels and military strongpoints. In five years, the UN force has never interfered with these Hizballah activities--not once.

Imagine if you will how UN and international guarantees would work with a Palestinian state. Would the General Assembly vote to condemn Palestine for breaking its commitments? Would any foreign force that was part of a peace agreement deal ever act forcefully to stop weapons or terrorists from crossing the border into Palestine? Would they fight to stop terrorists from crossing the border from Palestine into Israel?

Of course not. Yet that point is not taken into account by any Western government, academic study, or mass media coverage. But it is taken into account by Israel. Otherwise we will read about the UN special envoy for Israel-Palestine peacekeeping talking about how well things are going as incitement, terrorism, and violations of the agreement take place daily.

But here’s an example of what can be expected.

When you arrive at the 'Palestine in the Eyes of the Children of Martyrs (Shahids) Summer Camp' you  are assigned to be in one of four groups, as a Palestinian Media Watch report translating the story about it in a PA-connected Palestinian newspaper:

Dalal Mughrabi group: In 1978 she led the most lethal terror attack in Israel's history, in which 37 civilians were killed, 12 of them children.

Salah Khalaf (Abu Iyad) group: He was the head of the Black September terror group. He planned many terror attacks including the murder of two American diplomats in Sudan, as well as the murder of 11 Israeli athletes in the 1972 Munich Olympics

Abu Ali Mustafa group: General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). He planned numerous terror attacks against Israeli civilians.

Yasir Arafat group: He was boss for all of the others.

This is roughly the equivalent of a political group having a summer camp where children were put into an Anders Breivik group, the man who murdered adults and children in Norway. Such an organization would then not be very likely to receive huge amounts of Western funding, favorable media coverage, and the near-universal labeling as "moderates."

Yet this is a project not of Hamas but done by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and not just by the PA but under the sponsorship of everyone's favorite Palestinian moderate, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who visited the camp to participate in the closing ceremonies, which he also sponsored.

Now do keep in mind that the PA could easily name these groups after, say, Palestinian doctors and educators or even politicians of the past who weren't directly involved in anti-civilian terrorism. Arafat is going to be a name much used (though he was a disaster for the Palestinians as even many PA people admit privately) but Mughrabi has become Fatah's iconic terrorist and hero. The real argument being made to Palestinians is not, "We can get an independent state and raise living standards higher," but rather, "We can kill more Israelis than Hamas can."

Good news, though. If the PA is admitted to the UN as a member it can join UNICEF and receive UN money for….sending kids to summer camp.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, and Middle East editor and a featured columnist at PajamasMedia His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is His articles published originally in places other than PajamasMedia can be found at

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