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March 25, 2007

The Moral Blindness of Omar Shakir

When I decided to file this under two categories; the Middle East and Moral Clarity I had to smile. Rarely do Muslims or those on the left have moral clarity when it comes to the Middle East. They go to great lengths to excuse the terrorism and human rights abuses committed by every Muslim regime in the region, while complaining incessantly and loudly about their favorite whipping boy; Israel.

I open this mornings paper and find an article titled "Student urges Stanford divestment from Israel".


You just know what such a story is going to be about, and you just know how awful it's going to be. This one didn't disappoint.

Student Omar Shakir wants Stanford University to divest from a country that he says engages in an apartheid-style system of oppression and human rights abuses against a beleaguered minority.

Bosnia? Sudan? Not quite. Mr. Shakir is referring to Israel and its treatment of the Palestinians, and his campaign has become this year's hot political topic on the Stanford campus.

"We don't want our university to profit from abuses of human rights and violations of international law," said Mr. Shakir, a senior international-relations major who heads Students Confronting Apartheid in Israel.

This Omar Shakir sounds about as vile as Jimmy Carter.

Shakir is head of a group caleld Students Confronting Apartheid in Israel. They're beyond disgraceful.

I've no idea whether Shakir will achieve his goals. On the one hand I rather doubt it. The article does mention that he has "legions" of critics. On the other hand these leftists are nothing if not persistent, and if not countered quickly and forcefully they will get their ideas adopted.

Some time ago on this blog I laid out my position on the Israeli settlements. Since there's no point in reinventing the wheel, here it is again

Today we hear from the Arabs that the settlements are the major obstacle to peace. And, if you read the papers, you can be forgiven for thinking that if only the Israelis would give up their settlements a peace could be quickly worked out. The solution, it is said, is to give the Palestinians a country on the West Bank, and to let (demand, really) that Israel live within it's pre-1967 borders.

This is not true for a number of reasons.

1. If the settlements are the problem today, then what was the problem before 1967? Terrorism against Israel did not begin with the end of the Six Day War. The PLO, for example was formed in 1964.
2. If the West Bank is such a perfect home for the Palestinians, why didn't Jordan give them this land as their country when they had the chance (i.e. before 1967)?
3. The fact is that Israel is willing to negotiate with the Arab countries but with the exception of Egypt and Jordan the Arab countries still refuse to recognize Israel's right to exist.
4. The Palestinian "right of return" must be abandoned. This is not something that you read about often (if at all) in your daily newspaper but it is one of the most important things that must be resolved. In short, during the 1948 War of Independence, some 800,000 Arabs fled the area (for reasons that are disputed). Today their ancestors demand the right to return to Israel and claim the land they left, or at least to take up Israeli citizenship. One need not be a demographer to see that these ancestors (and anyone could claim to be one as documentation would be impossible to verify) would now number in the tens of millions. They would simply flood Israel with Arabs, and, in the next election, vote the state of Israel out of existance.
5. In short, if the Arabs had not opposed Israel's right to exist from the beginning, had negotiated a peace, had given the Palestinians a homeland on the West Bank, stopped their terrorism, formed democratic (or at least representative) governments, the present situation could have been entirely avoided.
6. Further, the Security Fence that Israel is building is not preventing peace as some alledge. It is stopping terrorism, and that is a good thing. My only question is why didn't the Israelis think of it earlier. And I don't care what any "world court" has to say about it.

So "the settlements" per se are not really the issue preventing peace.

The Real Issues

The main issues preventing peace are the following

1. Lack of Moral Clarity. I've written on this before here. Here are two of the essential elements of moral clarity lacking in some people:
A. Israel is an imperfect democracy, but it is a democracy. No Arab state is a democracy. This does not mean that Israel may do anything it wishes, but it does mean that we should give them the benefit of the doubt.
B. Israeli forces practice discrimination in warfare. That is, they only attack military targets. Civilians are sometimes killed as a byproduct, but the civilians are not the target themselves. Arab/Muslim terrorists deliberately target civilians. Why this is hard for some people to understand is beyond me.
2. Lack of Democracy among the Arab States. Natan Scharansky wrote about this in his excellent book "The Case for Democracy". Simply put, democracies do not fight each other. We in the west are partly responsible for the current state of affairs, since in the past we did not pressure Arab governments to reform.
3. Palestinian terrorism - until the Arab states and/or the PA put and end to terrorism by organizations such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the others there will be no peace.
4. The expansion of the settlements should stop. Ok, I know I said earlier that "the settlements per se" are not the problem. And that is true. But it is also true that in my opinion Israel does not need new settlements, and by expanding them they give Palestinian extremists a propaganda message that is useful in recruiting terrorists.

I'll even add that Israel should abandon most of the setttlements. Not all, but most.

The Bottom Line

In the end the Arabs have had many opportunities for peace and have blown every one of them. They could have accepted the UN partition in 1948. Jordan could have given the Palestinians the West Bank at any time before 1967. They could have at least offered to join Sadat in his peace talks with Begin. Arafat could have listened to President Clinton at Camp David in 2000 and accepted what Prime Minister Baruk offered him.

And when Israel unilaterally handed over Gaza they could have shown the world what wonderfully peaceful people they were by spending their time trying to make the place better, instead of turning it into a base from which to attack Israel.

But no, they can't do this. And they cry foul when Israel does the only sensible thing and builds a wall to keep the terrorists out. But then, such is the moral blindness of people like Omar Shakir

Posted by Tom at March 25, 2007 8:30 PM

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