How the Abraham Accords Can Ease the Israel-Palestinian Conflict

June 28 2022

According to numerous critics, many of whom have positions at prestigious think tanks and publications, the normalization agreements the Jewish state reached with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain constituted an abandonment of the Palestinians. Peter Berkowitz argues that, to the contrary, the Abraham Accords can help to improve the lot of the Palestinians, and to reduce the intensity of their conflict with Israel:

Such tendentious claims—which presuppose that the Israel-Palestinian conflict stands at the center of Middle East politics and that unless Palestinians’ maximal demands are met, the region must stand still—reflect the all-or-nothing stance that has for decades impeded Palestinian progress. Contrary to [the] assertion that Israel embraced the Abraham Accords to disguise its reign over Judea and Samaria, it was the Iran threat and commercial opportunities that impelled Bahrain and the UAE to break with the past and establish official diplomatic ties with Israel.

Notwithstanding Palestinian intransigence, signatories to the Abraham Accords should in the words of the Israeli commentator Micah Goodman, take steps to “shrink the Israel-Palestinian conflict.” They could start with building roads, bridges, and tunnels to connect directly the many noncontiguous parts of the West Bank largely under Palestinian Authority (PA) control—the areas designated A and B by the Oslo Accords. This enhanced transportation network, which would become part of the PA, would improve Palestinian mobility by reducing the need for Israeli checkpoints while maintaining Israeli security.

Other measures to shrink the conflict include providing more West Bank land for Palestinian building to accommodate population growth, enhancing the Allenby Bridge border crossing on the Jordan river to make it easier for Palestinians to reach Amman’s international airport and to travel abroad, promoting economic development throughout the West Bank, and enabling Palestinians to transport goods for international trade more efficiently to Israeli ports in Haifa and Ashdod.

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Read more at RealClear Politics

More about: Abraham Accords, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Palestinian economy, West Bank

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter