Fisking D.J. Deeb

In these days of quasi-war in the Middle East, all kinds of “takes” on the situation find their way into print. Here’s one by a man named Deeb, author of a book on why the Oslo Processs failed, and, as you will see, an ardent proponent of PCP2 (Post-Colonial Paradigm). According to his own self-description he is

an Adjunct Professor of History and Government at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston, MA, and at Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill, MA. He teaches Social Studies fulltime at Reading Memorial High School in Reading, Massachusetts. He also serves as an elected member of the Greater Lowell Technical School Committee and Dracut School Committee in Dracut, Massachusetts. D.J. is the author of The Collapse of Middle East Peace: The Rise and Fall of the Oslo Peace Accords (New York: IUniverse, 2003).

I fisk him here because, like Robert Fisk, almost everything he says is a systematic misrepresentation that reflects his dogma, but he presents as “facts.” Mr. Deeb is a high school teacher. I pity his students.

NOTA BENE: Mr. Deeb’s article and mine appeared in the Valley Patriot as a Point Counter-Point. My piece appeared under the unacceptable title: Local Social Studies Teacher has Anti-Semitic World View. I do not think that title appropriate at all. I never either accused Mr. Deeb of such an attitude (which is, to my mind an extremely grave accusation), nor have I even suspected him of such delirious hatred. Misguided ideologue, perhaps, but hardly anti-semitic. I apologize to Mr. Deeb, and call on the Patriot Ledger to change the title. My recommendation: “Local Social Studies Teacher Misleads the Public with Palestinian “Victim Narrative”.

[Deeb in bold.]

YO BLAIR & BUSH: ISRAEL MUST ACCEPT SOME BLAME FOR MIDDLE EAST ESCALATIONS!!
By D.J. Deeb

The tragic recent events in Lebanon are sad, but were a predictable outcome of Israeli government policies and the lack of interest and leadership from the Bush Administration in facilitating a peace settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians. The Bush Administration has two standards: One for Israel; and one for the rest of the world.

Nice opening. No pussy-footing here. Blame where it belongs: On Israel and on the USA. If only we would change, everything would go swimmingly.

Space will not permit me to give a comprehensive historical account of the events leading up to these tragic developments however, my book, The Collapse of Middle East Peace: The Rise and Fall of the Oslo Peace Accords (New York: IUniverse, 2003), does just that. I urge all of you who are interested to obtain a copy through Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, or order it through your favorite bookstore.

I do not have the book available to me. The editor’s blurb at Amazon presents it as “objective” and blaming “both sides.” Two of the three reviews are bizarre to say the least.

Lebanon, like Israel, is a parliamentary democracy in the Middle East. Unfortunately, the Lebanese military and government has been left in a weakened state following more than 25 years of civil war. Syria also occupied and controlled much of Lebanon until just last year. In addition, Palestinian refugees and their descendents who fled Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip during the 1967 war and subsequent conflicts constitute nearly 10 percent of Lebanon’s population. Permanent peace and stability in Lebanon requires a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Okay, here we go. Aside from the small detail that the refugees in Lebanon fled in 1948, it seems worthwhile noting that the refugees after 1967 came as a result of Black September, 1970 when Jordan chased out of its territory a population of Palestinian “guerillas,” led by Yasser Arafat, who tried to take over the government, and that when they arrived in Lebanon, they promptly created so much tension as to trigger the civil war (1975-82) in which over 150,000 civilians died. Israel’s only participation in this was to spare the Palestinian guerillas who fled the Jordanian troops’ slaughter and allow them to pass into Lebanon, and not to accept such a vicious and remorselessly belligerent population — towards Arabs as well as Israelis — within their own territory. You wouldn’t guess it from Deeb’s summary.

As for Lebanon’s status as a parliamentary democracy, if Israel in its national boundaries had as bad a record as Lebanon — Palestinians Arabs in refugee camps denied citizenship, armed militias, occupation by a major dictatorship across the border, very limited freedom of press — then I think people could justifiably claim Israel is not a democracy. The hard truth is that Lebanon was destroyed long before this latest incident. As one Lebanese has put it:

Lebanon a victim? What a joke!

Before the Israeli attack, Lebanon no longer existed, it was no more than a hologram. At Beirut innocent citizens like myself were forbidden access to certain areas of their own capital. But our police, our army and our judges were also excluded. That was the case, for example, of Hezbollah’s and the Syrians’ command zone in the Haret Hreik quarter (in red on the satellite map). A square measuring a kilometer wide, a capital within the capital, permanently guarded by a Horla army [1], possessing its own institutions, its schools, its crèches, its tribunals, its radio, its television and, above all… its government. A “government” that, alone decided, in the place of the figureheads of the Lebanese government – in which Hezbollah also had its ministers! – to attack a neighboring state, with which we had no substantial or grounded quarrel, and to plunge US into a bloody conflict. And if attacking a sovereign nation on its territory, assassinating eight of its soldiers, kidnapping two others and, simultaneously, launching missiles on nine of its towns does not constitute a casus belli, the latter juridical principle will seriously need revising.

What is Deeb’s doing in presenting Lebanon as the functional equivalent of Israel when it is barely a state? Is this political “affirmative action” at work here?

The bombardment of Lebanon and its civilians, which constitutes a gross violation of international law, began in the second week of July following the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by pro-Palestinian Hezbollah militants in southern Lebanon. The Israeli government responded by raiding infrastructure targets in Lebanon, killing countless civilians, endangering 25,000 Americans, and practically destroying the Lebanese airport in Beirut. Why would Israel bomb the Beirut airport knowing that it would trap 25,000 Americans? Are Israeli leaders looking to drag the United States into another Middle East war?

The question of legality of the response — here presented as unquestionably illegal — is complex and fraught with unintended consequences. Applied too strictly, international law that aims at the containment of conflicts actually contributes to their perpetuation by denying the stronger side (often democratic and hence committed to legal actions) from finishing the conflict with a clear victory.

The rhetoric of “countless civilians” is typical of Deeb’s inflated language. Largely due to Israeli scruples about warning people to flee target zones (and hence warn the Hizbullah about intentions), the casualties, however regretful are considerably lower than they would be if Arabs flew those bombers. The casualties so far are far fewer than the average per month during the seven-year-long civil war (almost 2000 per month).

To understand these latest developments, one must understand the complicated Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel routinely destroys the homes of innocent Palestinian civilians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, imprisons countless women and children, and regularly confiscates Palestinian land for illegal Israeli settlements. Israel uses American supplied tanks and bulldozers to carry out these operations. Hezbollah has offered to release the Israeli soldiers in return for the release of Palestinian and Lebanese women and children held in Israeli jails.

Here we have Deeb at his best. We must understand the “complicated” Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” he tellls us wisely, and then proceeds to give a completely one-sided account in which Israel is the routine guilty party and the Palestinians the hapless and innocent victims. No mention that the homes destroyed are those of suicide terrorists who have blown themselves up among Israeli civilians as the result of hate-teaching systematically sponsored by the Palestinian Authority; no mention that the legal status of the land “confiscated” is not Palestinian and that the settlements are disputed but only by one partisan school “illegal”; and pure dishonesty in claiming that the prisoner exchange is for — again that word — “countless” women and children.

Up until now negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, culminating with the famous Camp David Talks in the summer of 2000, have all failed to achieve a permanent peace settlement because Israel has refused to acknowledge United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 as the basis for negotiations. These Resolutions collectively call on Israel to return the areas it illegally occupied during the 1967 war (the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights). This will allow for the creation of an independent Palestinian state and lead to a permanent peace agreement between Israel and Syria. In addition, the Arab League unanimously endorsed a Saudi Arabian proposal in 2002 to make peace with Israel and normalize relations if it complies with these two Resolutions. Currently, 4 million Palestinians are living in exile and approximately 1 million Palestinian citizens of Israel are being subjected to Apartheid-like conditions. The creation of the state of Israel in 1948 constituted 78 percent of historic Palestine, while the remaining 22 percent was illegally occupied from the Palestinian Arabs in 1967. It is only this latter 22 percent of the land that is now being disputed.

The litany of Palestinian propaganda in the guise of a “history” of the “complicated” conflict goes on. Let’s take them sentence by sentence:

  • Up until now negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, culminating with the famous Camp David Talks in the summer of 2000, have all failed to achieve a permanent peace settlement because Israel has refused to acknowledge United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 as the basis for negotiations. It was Yasser Arafat who walked out on Camp David, and he who rejected the negotiations much to everyone — including President Clinton’s distress. Nor was this unpredictable: From the very beginning of the Oslo Process, Arafat and others made clear (in Arabic) that the concessions the PLO made were a Trojan Horse permitting them to prosecute the war of liberation of all Palestine — “from the river to the sea.” It was he who set off the “Al Aqsa Intifada” in response to extensive offers to return land. Deeb’s account is, like the Palestinian playbook from which it is drawn, stunningly dishonest.
  • These Resolutions collectively call on Israel to return the areas it illegally occupied during the 1967 war (the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights). This will allow for the creation of an independent Palestinian state and lead to a permanent peace agreement between Israel and Syria. Again Deeb misleads us. The resolutions call on Israel to withdraw from territories (not “the areas”) it occupied, and this in exchange for peace and recognition. The Arabs (Palestinian leadership of Yasser Arafat included) rejected these conditions immediately (Three No’s of Khartoum, September 1967), and have never showed any sincere commitment to revising that position since. When Egypt did, the Israelis promptly returned Sinai, and would have returned the Gaza Strip but Egypt didn’t want it. The notion that Israel’s withdrawal would lead to peace has to be one of the most ludicrous claims around these days. Perhaps back in the 1990s, liberals everywhere could hope that such a development would lead to peace, as long as they didn’t consult the websites that translated Palestinian statements in Arabic.
  • In addition, the Arab League unanimously endorsed a Saudi Arabian proposal in 2002 to make peace with Israel and normalize relations if it complies with these two Resolutions. More deeply misleading information. Saudi Arabia is presented as an honest broker and the return of the refugees which would destroy Israeli democracy goes unmentioned. Deeb makes no mention of the possibility that this is part of the “staged strategy” for destroying Israel.
  • Currently, 4 million Palestinians are living in exile and approximately 1 million Palestinian citizens of Israel are being subjected to Apartheid-like conditions. Aside from the inflation of the statistics, the use of the most grotesque rhetoric of “apartheid” marks Deeb not as an “objective” or impartial observer, but of a radical ideologue. At no point did the Apartheid regime in South Africa have a black supreme court justice, or universities where 20% of the student population was black. The comparison with South Africa is not only deeply dishonest — indeed Israel, especially at the age of 60 — has a better record on treating her Arab minority than say, the Americans and their slaves. But the most terrible irony here is that Israel treats her Arab citizens far better than Arab country’s treat their own Arabs.
  • The creation of the state of Israel in 1948 constituted 78 percent of historic Palestine, while the remaining 22 percent was illegally occupied from the Palestinian Arabs in 1967. It is only this latter 22 percent of the land that is now being disputed. Another classic piece of Palestinian propaganda: historic Palestine (itself a recent phenomenon) included Trans-Jordan which was split off in 1922 to form an Arab nation (Jordan) on 77% of Palestine, where Jews could not settle. Jews at partition in 1947 were offered 16% of “historic Palestine” which they accepted; the Arabs refused the offer of 84% of Palestine and went to war.
  • This past February, we witnessed a new Palestinian Authority emerge led by a Hamas-majority in the Palestinian parliament within the occupied Gaza Strip and West Bank. This development can be directly explained as a Palestinian reaction to Israeli brutality and lack of seriousness in negotiations. Well I guess it “could be explained…” this way if any explanation will do. The tragic issue here is that a disastrously malevolent organization which abuses children by teaching them to love death and killing won an election on a platform that included principally the destruction of Israel. Indeed the real lack of seriousness in negotiations — Arafat’s contribution — has something to do with Hamas’ warning:

    The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. Neither a single Arab country nor all Arab countries, neither any king or president, nor all the kings and presidents, neither any organization nor all of them, be they Palestinian or Arab, possess the right to do that. Palestine is an Islamic Waqf land consecrated for Moslem generations until Judgement Day. This being so, who could claim to have the right to represent Moslem generations till Judgement Day?

    To present Hamas’ victory as the response of an exasperated Palestinian people to Israel’s lack of earnest desire for peace is literally to reverse historical causality.

Deeb continues:

While the Bush Administration rightfully demands that Iran comply with United Nations Resolutions calling for it to disband its nuclear weapons program, it turns a blind eye towards Israel. The Israelis are in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, which call on Israel to return to its June 1967 borders. Instead of complying with these Resolutions, Israel continues to build more settlements in violation of the Geneva Protocol of 1949. More than 54,000 acres of Palestinian land and more than 21,000 new Israeli housing settlements have been constructed illegally since 1993. If the Bush Administration wants to be seen as credible player in the region in the eyes of the international community, then it needs to demand that all sides comply with international mandates.

The entire conflict comes down to the Arab nations’ refusal to recognize the UN’s creation of the state of Israel (which predates by 19 years both the “occupation” and the “illegal” settlements). The idea that the USA should treat a democratic country under siege by irredentist dictatorships (like Iran) in the same manner as it treats those dictatorships, that it should insist that Israel make concessions without corresponding Arab concessions, is not only morally dishonest, but a recipe for disaster. The wars in Gaza and Lebanon right now come from Israeli withdrawals that Arab leaders have treated as signs of weakness and invitations to further aggression.

The United States gives more than $5 billion a year in American tax dollars to Israel. Without our financial assistance, Israel would likely cede to exist as an independent nation. Certainly giving this amount of money each year to Israel affords us some leverage. The Bush Administration has done little to advance the peace negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians. The President likes to talk about spreading “democracy,” yet he refuses to have any contact with the democratically-elected government of the Palestinian Authority. You can’t have it both ways, Mr. President! The United States negotiated agreements with the Soviet Union, which was much more of a threat to our interests, during the Cold War.

Among all the misleading statements above, let me just focus on one as emblematic of Deeb’s dishonest rhetoric: yet he refuses to have any contact with the democratically-elected government of the Palestinian Authority. Either Mr. Deeb, who supposedly teaches History and Government to our high school children, has no real awareness of what democracy entails, or he doesn’t care. It is well known among historians and political scientists, that the great danger to democracy is “one man, one vote, one time.” Would Deeb be insisting that the US recognize Hitler as the democratically elected chancellor of Germany even as he turned the nation into a totalitarian state? Does he care that Hamas shows no trace of democratic intention either where its neighbors are concerned or where its own people are concerned?

I believe that a two-state solution, which acknowledges an independent Palestinian state and a secure Israel rooted in Resolutions 242 and 338, should be the ultimate goal of the parties. In the meantime, the Bush Administration must demand that Israel show restraint in Lebanon. Although the Lebanese government is fragile, it constitutes another democracy in the Middle East, which is in our long-term best interests.

And, after a lengthy and deeply one-sided assault on Israel, the grand finale… let’s all be friends. I pity Deeb’s students, who are subjected to what psychologists call “schizophrenogenic behavior,” in which one minute he’s feeding them dishonest radical anti-Zionist propaganda and then seamlessly switching to liberal, feel good, let’s all be friends, rhetoric.

6 Responses to Fisking D.J. Deeb

  1. Eliyahu says:

    besides the press [msm], many of the so-called NGOs have conributed to misrepresenting international law to Israel’s detriment. The sweeping charge of “Israel has violated international law” or “international humanitarian law,” is often from such as amnesty, hrw, and so on, ad infinitum.

  2. Eliyahu says:

    following up on previous comment. To see how int’l law is misrepresented in order to smear Israel, check Geneva Convention IV, articles 28 and 53.

  3. Yehudit says:

    I thought R 242 says Israel has the right to secure and defensible borders, which is not consistent with the ’67 borders.

    Also don’t most of those resolutions say that final borders should be resolved through negotiations? IOW they don’t define the borders.

  4. Eliyahu says:

    Richard, you correctly refute Deeb’s claim about Israeli “apartheid.” It’s a charge that infuriates me, living in Jerusalem as I do. You mention the Arab students in universities. I estimate that the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus has about 15% Arab students.

    Now, this term apartheid is used very loosely by people who are too ignorant to know what apartheid actually was in South Africa [segregation more thorough-going than American jimcrow ever was] or are ignorant of Israeli conditions or consciously lie. The South African leadership of today may also make that charge, but they are no doubt ignorant of Israeli conditions or lie about Israel anyhow because of their Communist background. South African blacks had to travel on separate trolley cars and buses [whereas under jimcrow they had to sit in the back]. They could not eat in restaurants with whites, etc. None of what you mentioned [exclusion from universities] or what I enumerated is true. Arabs travel on the buses with Jews [how else did the suicide bombers get on the buses?], eat in the same restaurants, work as professionals in hospitals, clinics and pharmacies, treating Jewish as well as Arab patients. Now, as to getting on the buses, the Arabs are not obvious unless they wear an Arab costume [kafiyah, hijab, etc.]. How would the driver know at first glance who’s who? They don’t look so different from us, and as to skin color [one of the big red herrings used by all sorts of Israelophobes], many Arabs are no darker than I am, or lighter. Many Jews are much darker than many Arabs. The skin color red herring first emerged back in the sixties, as I recall, in so-called “leftist” publications, when the Arabs were described as “non-white” [i.e: "the Jews have taken the land of a non-white people" and such like charges], whereas Jews were not described explicitly at all in regard to skin color [thus there was no description of Jews to refute], but the innuendo or insinuation was made that the Jews were “white” in contrast to the “non-white” Arabs. In fact, both Jews and Arabs present a wide range of skin color and skin tone.
    One of those who made the “apartheid” charge against Israel was the late Susan Sontag, who was compulsively politically correct, if I am not mistaken.

  5. Thane Benson says:

    Mr. Deeb is caught in a lie. Nowhere has Hezbollah “offered to release the Israeli soldiers in return for the release of Palestinian and Lebanese women and children held in Israeli jails.” Hezbollah has demanded a prisoner exchange for Lebanese prizoners including [adult male] murderers. This doesn’t even work if one assumes the mistake (by a Social Studies teacher!?) of confusing Hezbollah for Hamas. Hamas holds a lone young Israeli soldier. Mr. Deeb seems to be intentionally conflating recent events. perhaps not clear in the reader’s memory, to make the side he supports seem less despicable.

  6. Please tell me Middle East history and current events are not part of the high school Social Studies curriculum

    Solomonia

    Oh no, not another one. We already have anti-Israel activist Andover, MA high school teacher Ron Francis, but now, not wanting to be outdone, allow me to introduce you to Reading, Mass’s (a couple towns over from Andover), D.J. Deeb…a hi…

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