Great and Less than Great Writers Make Themselves Dishonest Tools of Anti-Israel Propaganda

June 19 2017

The recently published Kingdom of Olive and Ash is a collection of essays written by high-profile literary types—including Mario Vargas Llosa—who report on their visits to Israel and the horrible misdeeds they saw being committed by “the occupation.” Organized by the husband-and-wife team of Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman, the tours took place under the auspices of Breaking the Silence, an unscrupulous Israeli organization dedicated to defaming the IDF. In their introduction Chabon and Waldman describe themselves as belonging to “the ambivalent middle” with regard to the Israel-Palestinian conflict and disingenuously confess to having “averted [their] gaze from its details.” Daniella Greenbaum points to the dishonesty in these statements—a dishonesty that permeates the entire volume:

This claim [to ambivalence about Israel] is belied by the fact that Chabon wrote a novel ten years ago featuring an entire counter-history of the Jewish state, while Waldman, the daughter of a sabra émigré, has spent a decade fulminating about Israel’s misdeeds on social media.

No, Chabon and Waldman are neither ambivalent nor in the middle. Their insistence to the contrary is an attempt to gull the uninformed reader into believing they came into the project in innocence and came away sadder and wiser and ready to speak truth to power. . . .

[Glaring] omissions are peppered throughout the book. In her essay, “Mr. Nice Guy,” the novelist Rachel Kushner profiles Baha Nababta, whom she describes as a “twenty-nine-year-old Palestinian community organizer beloved by the kids of Shuafat.” . . . Less than a month after Kushner left Shuafat, Nababta was murdered in front of a crowd of people. She ends her essay with a heartbreaking account of the widow and newborn baby who will live the rest of their lives without their husband and father.

Kushner’s vague conclusion creates the impression that the Israelis were responsible for Nababta’s murder. Reporting has been scarce, but there seems to be a working theory that the murderer was Palestinian. Kushner’s omission of this theory, in a book determined to blame Israel for anything and everything, is morally unforgivable.

Needless to say, the book pays scant attention to the murderous violence of the second intifada, Palestinian terrorism, or Hamas’s rockets, not to mention the corruption and tyranny of Palestinian rulers.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Anti-Zionism, Breaking the Silence, Israel & Zionism, Literature

 

If Handled Correctly, the Quarrel between Qatar and Its Neighbors Presents an Opportunity

June 29 2017

Last week, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt sent Qatar a list of demands, some quite extravagant, as preconditions for the restoration of relations. The U.S., John Hannah argues, must get these countries to temper some of their demands, especially because America has a crucial airbase in Qatar, even while helping them to curb some of the Gulf emirate’s bad behavior:

The fact is that among the thirteen demands contained in the Saudi-led list are several items that, properly reformulated, Washington should absolutely be insisting on if it’s serious about winning the war against jihadism. That includes an end to Qatari support for the radical Islamist agenda across the region—politically, financially, militarily, and ideologically (read: a dramatic revamping of Al Jazeera’s systematic campaigns of Islamist incitement and regional subversion). No more safe haven for U.S.-designated terrorists or operatives from extremist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and the Taliban [and Hamas] that seek to undermine key U.S. partners and overturn the region’s American-led order.

[Other musts include a] curtailment in Qatar’s dalliance with the Iranians to the bare minimum necessary to safeguard Doha’s vital economic equities—[the two countries share the world’s largest natural-gas reserve]—while forgoing any significant military or intelligence ties; reversing the decision to let an Islamist-leaning, America-bashing Turkey deploy several thousand troops to the Arabian Peninsula for the first time since the Ottoman Empire’s demise; and a strict but fair-minded monitoring regime that ensures Qatar’s commitments are actually implemented and sustained.

All of these changes are self-evidently in U.S. interests. All of them can be culled from the Saudi-led list of demands and appropriately recast by a serious mediation effort. This crisis presents a unique opportunity to achieve many of them and score a seminal victory for the United States in its battle against radical Islamism. The Trump administration should not let it go to waste. . . .

The longer the crisis drags on, [however], the greater the risks that bad actors will be able to take advantage. An extended, all-consuming conflict that leaves critical U.S. partners preoccupied with battling each other rather than Iran and other common adversaries is not a scenario that’s likely to favor U.S. interests over time.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Egypt, Iran, Middle East, Persian Gulf, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign policy, War on Terror