Surveys, Trees, and the U.N.

A lot is going on, folks.

First, the New York Times ran something of an irresponsible piece by (the somewhat irresponsible) Efraim Karsh, whose pro-Israeli literature is only matched by his anti-Palestinian literature. Given his background, it’s not surprising that Karsh, on the basis of an unofficial, let’s-get-some-reader-interaction survey run by Al Arabiya, has decided that Palestinians need to take whatever peace deal Israel gives them because no one else in the Arab world cares about their problems.

News of the poll is flying around quickly because it allegedly contradicts the progressive party line that the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is crucial to wider Middle East peace. To clarify, it doesn’t do that: It was an unscientific poll that specifically asked about readers’ interest in “the Middle East peace process,” and not their interest in Palestinians’ right to self-determination, right of return, human rights abuses, leadership, or anything else that might be relevant. And then Karsh peppers his illogical argument with some very interesting interpretations of some very cherry-picked historical events. Not only does this all amount to a silly conclusion that contradicts hard data, but it’s a dangerous stepping-stone along a path to a lack of commitment to the Palestinian cause (what would that look like, I wonder?). While it’s true that Palestinian refugees face considerable obstacles to equal rights in most Arab countries, Karsh uses the survey results to corroborate a largely unsubstantiated conclusion:

The sooner the Palestinians recognise that their cause is theirs alone, the sooner they are likely to make peace with the existence of the State of Israel and to understand the need for a negotiated settlement.

In other news, Lebanon is literally up in arms over some bushes that Israeli soldiers attempted to chop down today. Said bushes might have been on the Lebanese side of the border, or perhaps it was on the Israeli side. They were peeking through a fence. In any case, three Lebanese soldiers and a journalist are dead, and an undetermined number of Israeli soldiers have been wounded. In true ominous fashion, Israel claims that there will be “consequences” if skirmishes continue in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 (which ended the 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon). Meanwhile, a few hours ago, Nasrallah telecast a speech in Beirut assuring everyone that no, y’all, it wasn’t his bad this time.

Finally, Mondoweiss has an excellent piece discussing why the appointment of outgoing Colombian president Álvaro Uribe Vélez to the U.N. flotilla investigation is worrying. Uribe, who has a history of dodgy leadership, will be the Vice Chairman of the four-member committee tasked with investigating Israel’s response to the Gaza flotilla from May 31st. Considering his prior lack of empathy for civilian deaths, I can’t imagine Uribe will suddenly decide the activists who died on the Mavi Marmara really matter.

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