I suppose Yasir Arafat’s death and the reaction on “the Palestinian street” will give rise to a few discussions about the concept of political “irrelevance”. Benny Morris starts.
Writing in the New York Times, the recently turned hawkish Israeli historian and author of “The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem“, is already missing the man, in spite of his past.

Mr. Arafat’s death most certainly will result in a succession struggle, between the generations inside the Fatah and between the Fatah and the Islamic fundamentalist parties (which may lead to complete anarchy in the Hamas stronghold of Gaza). But it is unclear whether it will bring the Middle East any closer to peace. His disappearance removes a major rejectionist obstacle from the scene.

But it also leaves us with a paradox. For Mr. Arafat was probably the only Palestinian of our time, given his historical and political stature, capable of persuading the Palestinians, or most of them, to accept the concessions necessary to achieve a two-state solution. On the other hand, his successors – Mahmoud Abbas, Ahmed Qurei and some of the younger Fatah leaders – may be more amenable to a territorial compromise but they lack the stature to intimidate or persuade their people to accept a two-state settlement or to crush their terror-minded colleagues. So Yasir Arafat’s death may have done us no good at all.

Anti-Semitism in Europe, take two

This was all over the blogosphere a week ago. I didn’t get around to finishing this post until now. EU body shelves report on anti-semitism

I’m with Eugene Volokh, we should withhold judgement. It may be that the report was no good. This pasage makes me suspect so:

“When the researchers submitted their work in October last year, however, the centre’s senior staff and management board objected to their definition of anti-semitism, which included some anti-Israel acts. The focus on Muslim and pro-Palestinian perpetrators, meanwhile, was judged inflammatory.

‘There is a trend towards Muslim anti-semitism, while on the left there is mobilisation against Israel that is not always free of prejudice,” said one person familiar with the report. “Merely saying the perpetrators are French, Belgian or Dutch does no justice to the full picture.”

Some EUMC board members had also attacked part of the analysis ascribing anti-semitic motives to leftwing and anti-globalisation groups, this person said. “The decision not to publish was a political decision.”‘

Bullshit anti-semitism charges are frequently used by likudnik partisans and various other elements as a rhetorical bludgeon, and it sort of sounds like this was the case here. Note that this was the spin of the ones critical of the EUMC.

However, this passage makes me fear a good report would also have met with restistance: ‘”Merely saying the perpetrators are French, Belgian or Dutch does no justice to the full picture.”‘

I hold that there is a fair amount of anti-semitic sentiment among some of the arab immigrants in Europe, and this is something many have been reluctant to acknowledge, out of a misplaced concern about fuelling anti-muslim xenophobia. We must deal with this problem, and we can’t do that if we pretend there is no problem.

Update: Apologies for all the typos.
Continue reading