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 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 21-Aug-2010
21-Aug-10 News -- Mideast peace talks to begin on Sept 2

Web Log - August, 2010

21-Aug-10 News -- Mideast peace talks to begin on Sept 2

Is President Barack Obama a Muslim?

Mideast peace talks announced for Sept 2, to beat Sept 26 deadline

How many times have I written about the dance? The first major Generational Dynamics prediction that I made on this web site was that the "Mideast Roadmap to peace" would fail, and that Jews and Palestinians would be re-fighting the genocidal war that occurred following the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. Well, the peace plan never went anywhere, but it's been resuscitated several times for new "peace talks," with the resuscitations alternating with the three Mideast wars (Israelis vs Hizbollah in Lebanon in 2006, Palestinian Fatah vs Hamas in Gaza in 2008, and Israelis vs Hamas in Gaza in January, 2009) since then.

So now the dance begins again. On Friday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that new face to face peace talks would begin between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Former Sen. George Mitchell, who is President Obama's envoy to the Mideast, said that the goal of the negotiations was to end the Middle East conflict "for all time," according to CNN. I have no way of knowing whether the reporters listening to this rolled their eyes or even chuckled at this statement. This would be accomplished, as in the Roadmap to Peace, with side-by-side Israeli and Palestinian states. Mitchell added, "I believe the two leaders ... are sincere and serious and believe it can be done and will do everything possible to see that it is done."

The first meeting will be held on September 2 in Washington. An early date was desired because there's a kind of deadline: Last year, Israel agreed to a 10-month moratorium on building new settlements in the West Bank, and the moratorium expires on September 26.

However, that already has become a point of contention that may sink the meetings before they even start. The Israelis have said repeatedly that they would not extend the moratorium, and Reuters quotes chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat as demanding that the moratorium be extended: "If the Israeli government decides to announce new tenders on Sept. 26, then we won't be able to continue with the talks,"

However, according to EurActive, while a majority of Netanyahu's inner cabinet oppose extending the settlement freeze, a minority are seeking a compromise. The proposal might be that Israel would be allowed to build settlements in areas that Israel expects to keep in a peace deal, but not in areas that it would hand over in a land swap with the Palestinians. Whether the Palestinians would consider this an acceptable compromise to continue the peace talks remains to be seen.

In May, 2003, when the Roadmap to Peace was announced, it was widely assumed that peace was at hand, once Yasser Arafat retired or died. I wrote at the time that Arafat was not the one preventing a peace agreement; it was the younger generations that didn't want it. That's still true today.

Unlike in 2003, skepticism about the peace talks today is very high. The same issues that prevented peace talks in the past are just as much issues today -- the building of settlements, the right of return of Palestinians to their grandparents' and great-grandparents' property, the protection of Israelis from Palestinian suicide bombers, and so forth. It's not that the old folks don't want to compromise on these issues; it's that the young Palestinians -- and even many young Israelis -- don't want to compromise on these issues.

According to an editorial in Haaretz, the agreement to hold peace talks is a small diplomatic victory for Netanyahu, because he demanded peace talks "without precondition," and got his way. However, that victory could dissolve very quickly, over the settlement issue or any of the other issues we discussed.

And what about Abbas? Agreeing to face to face talks with the Israelis, after he had said that it would never happen without certain guarantees, is a bit of a humiliation, and surely he must know that there isn't a snowflake's chance in hell that the peace talks would succeed. So why did he agree to it?

Abbas was born in 1935, and lived through the genocidal war between Arabs and Jews, and has spend his entire life with the objective of never allowing anything like that to happen again.

It's worth repeating some extracts from an interview, translated by Memri, in which Abbas stressed his commitment to the peace talks:

"We don't want to take [the initiative] off the table. We talk at length with many people who have been disappointed. Because it is the only call for peace, the initiative cannot be rescinded; the alternative is war. We do not want war, no one wants war. No country seeks war – I speak at least for the Arab states.

Thus, there is one path before us, and that is peace, by means of a clear and defined initiative with no obscurity, ambiguity, or opaqueness. We hope that it will resonate with the Israeli leadership [as well]... Naturally, whether we like [Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu or not, he is the prime minister of Israel, elected by the Israeli people. We must negotiate with him, because we do not choose our partner, just as they do not choose their Palestinian partner. ...

We do not have the capability to confront Israel militarily, and this point was already discussed at the Arab summit in Sirte [Libya] last March, when I told the Arab countries: If you want war, and if everyone will fight Israel – then we will support it. But the Palestinians will not fight alone, because they have no capability to do so. The West Bank was completely destroyed [in the Al-Aqsa Intifada], and we will not let it be destroyed again."

Abbas also expressed much sadness during the interview, and explained why he would not run for another term as Palestinian president: "I cannot go on ruling, and I need to rest; I'm at the age where I can't continue to lead."

And so, at the end of his career and possibly his life, Abbas is making one last try to prevent a recurrence of the bloody 1948 war, even though a part of him knows that a recurrence can't be avoided.

Is President Barack Obama a Muslim?

A growing number of Americans believe that President Barack Obama is a Muslim, according to a recent Pew Research poll.

The belief that Obama is a Muslim has increased most sharply among Republicans, but even among Democrats, only 46% say that Obama is a Christian, down from 55% in March, 2009.

One thing that surprised me as I researched this article is that, although Obama is not a Muslim today, he USED TO BE a Muslim.

According to a May 12, 2008, article in the NY Times:

"As the son of the Muslim father, Senator Obama was born a Muslim under Muslim law as it is universally understood. It makes no difference that, as Senator Obama has written, his father said he renounced his religion. Likewise, under Muslim law based on the Koran his mother’s Christian background is irrelevant.

Of course, as most Americans understand it, Senator Obama is not a Muslim. He chose to become a Christian, and indeed has written convincingly to explain how he arrived at his choice and how important his Christian faith is to him.

His conversion, however, was a crime in Muslim eyes; it is “irtidad” or “ridda,” usually translated from the Arabic as “apostasy,” but with connotations of rebellion and treason. Indeed, it is the worst of all crimes that a Muslim can commit, worse than murder (which the victim’s family may choose to forgive)."

The article goes on to say that Obama's apostasy would cause complications in dealing with the Islamic world if he became President. "But of all the well-meaning desires projected on Senator Obama, the hope that he would decisively improve relations with the world’s Muslims is the least realistic."

Additional links

A gloomy state unemployment report on Friday says that more states posted rising jobless rates in July than in the previous month. CNN Money

Reports of cybercrime in Switzerland in 2009 were much higher than in 2008. Swiss Info

Shale oil extraction in the United States has gotten off to a slow start, but there is one little-publicized success story: In the course of three years, oil production in the North Dakota's Bakken formation has jumped to 135,000 barrels per day in 2009 from recoverable reserves now estimated at nearly 4 billion barrels. Reuters

Food prices have been following an upward trend since 2000, and the recent droughts in Russia and Ukraine have focused attention on the coming food crisis, caused by rising global populations and demand for food, climate change-related crop failures, higher fuel and fertiliser prices, speculation on commodity markets, dysfunctional global agricultural markets and greater biofuels production. Africa and Afghanistan are the two regions that will be hit the hardest at first. EurActiv

Women activists would like to set sail in a ship from Cyprus next week, with the intent of breaking the Gaza blockade, but the Cyprus police say that they won't allow the ship to leave. Reuters

After many days' delay, Pakistan is finally agreeing to accept $5 million in flood aid from India. Pakistan snubbed a similar offer after the tsunami in 2005. Dawn

Pakistan is clamping down on Islamist militant charities that hope to exploit anger against the government and undermine the fight against groups like the Taliban. Reuters

Protests and violence are continuing in Indian-controlled Kashmir, as two people were killed by Indian security forces on Thursday. Separatist sympathizers have strongly condemned the killing of an 8 year old boy by Indian troops, saying that police were targeting the young boys to suppress the pro-freedom sentiment in the occupied territory. South Asia News Agency

Radical Islam continues to spread in Russia's province of Chechnya, and now women are being threatened and harassed if they don't wear headscarves. Analysts say that the growth of Islamic Sharia law in the Russia's Caucasus regions are a major blow to Kremlin efforts to control the region. Reuters

A fascinating story about how Adolf Hitler snubbed Winston Churchill for dinner in 1932, and how the war between Britain and Germany was also a personal war between Hitler and Churchill. Spiegel

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Aug-10 News -- Mideast peace talks to begin on Sept 2 thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Aug-2010) Permanent Link
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