Perception and reality still at conflict in Arab world

Yalla peace: Female beauty in West is considered important factor, while in Islamic world has been considered haram, a sin.

There has always been a battle over the issue of beauty pageants involving Arabs and Muslims, representing the clash between modern Westernization and the growing influence of extremism among the religious. It has even become a battleground between Arabs and supporters of Israel, especially among those pro-Israel extremists who turn every Arab positive into a terrorism-related negative. Female beauty in the West is considered an important factor, while female beauty in the Islamic world has been considered haram, a sin. The battle over beauty pageants illustrates how the Arab and Islamic world have failed to understand issues of public relations, perception, stereotypes and the power of communications. The Arab and Islamic worlds put the emphasis in a debate on the issue of facts, while in the West, public understanding of Middle East issues is defined not by facts or reality but rather by fears, perceptions and issues related to familiarity, and also beauty. In the Western media, it is not about what you say but how you say it. In the West, you don’t win the argument, you battle to win the audience. Whoever “wins” the audience, ends up winning the argument. It’s one reason why so many in the West have turned their backs on the reality of the Arab-Israeli conflict to blindly support Israel.

A movie called Exodus sealed the fate of that argument in 1960 in the United States, defining Israel as the victim and the Arabs as the forever-sinister terrorist hordes. Hollywood has churned out hundreds of movies that distort and twist the facts of Middle East history and factually misrepresent Arabs as the region’s only terrorists. This year, Israel-supporter Sacha Baron-Cohen has produced a movie that goes to the jugular of this debate, using humor and Arab characteristics to present a dictator who symbolizes everything that is wrong with the Arab World. Though The Dictator is intended to be funny, it reinforces the hatred that the West has nurtured against Arabs in this battle over perception. Western audiences base much of their understanding on familiarity and comfort. If they feel familiar and thereby comfortable with you, they are more likely to embrace your arguments. Human nature is such that you will sympathize more with someone you know than with someone you don’t. Beauty pageants are much like books and movies in that they convey feelings of familiarity to massive audiences in the West. Millions of people in the West have watched international beauty pageants and continue to do so.

And even though by itself winning a beauty pageant will not change Western minds over issues like the Arab-Israeli conflict, they create a foundation for change that once started is impossible to stop. Arabs and Muslims have been AWOL over the years in the engagement of these fundamental principles of public perception and media relations. Arabs and Muslims have been absent from the Western media, from Hollywood movie production, from the writing of novels like Exodus and from participating in beauty pageants. That absence has allowed the negative perceptions of the Arab and Muslim to be reinforced, especially in the West. Despite the resistance to changing the Arab image in the West, groups and even countries continue to try. Lebanon is one of the most Westernized countries in the Arab World.

This year, Lebanon has begun hosting competitions in 35 other countries to identify the most beautiful Lebanese emigrant, pageants it began in 1950. Last week, Pascal Abi-Samra, a Lebanese American living in Texas, was crowned the winner of the 2012 American pageant, held in Dearborn, Michigan. Abi-Samra will compete with pageant winners from 35 other countries August 11 at Castle Assouf in Dhour Shweir. American Rima Fakih won the Lebanon Emigrants Beauty Pageant in Dearborn, Michigan, in 2008 and she went on to be named Miss USA in 2010. Fakih did not win the Miss Universe Contest, though.

Only one Arab has ever won the Miss Universe Contest, and that was Georgina Rizk, who won in 1972. Rizk was present in Dearborn where Abi- Samra was crowned before a gathering of more than 600 American Arabs organized by Lebanese American attorney Joumana Kayrouz. Kayrouz, who has conferred with President Barack Obama, understands the power of public relations and media perceptions. Kayrouz is by far the first Arab you will meet when you enter Dearborn. She has promoted her law firms’ successes on dozens of billboards that also include her photograph. Conservatives, especially in the Arab and Muslim worlds, will continue to frown on beauty pageants, arguing that women should submit to “modesty” and refrain from showing off their natural, physical beauty. But that same imprisonment of freedom by these radicals is exactly what has undermined the ability of Arabs and Muslims to argue their case in the “court of public opinion.”

If we had more beauty pageants and better communications in books and films and even in our activism, and less terrorism and violence, Arabs wouldn’t be wondering why the West doesn’t understand their claims to Palestine or their battles for justice. The writer is an award-winning columnist and Chicago radio talk show host. By RAY HANANIA

The Best Foreign Policy Saudi Money Can Buy

Let’s say that there are three Muslim countries in the Middle East, which, facing a domestic insurgency, use ruthless tactics to suppress it. Which one gets a pass?

The answer is easy. The Saudi ally gets the pass; the others get invaded. But “pass” is too mild a word, because after bombing Libya into submission, while preparing to do the same thing to Syria, the Obama administration has actually resumed arms sales to Bahrain. And the only real reason those arms sales were originally halted, was because of objections from Congress.

What’s the difference between Libya, Syria and Bahrain? Not all that much. All three had rulers widely hated by the people for being unrepresentative tyrants. All three responded to domestic protests with armed force. In Syria, there is a Sunni majority being ruled over by a Shiite splinter group minority, while in Bahrain, there is a Shiite majority being ruled over by a Sunni minority. Why pick one over the other? Because Saudi Arabia is the big brother of the Bahraini monarchy, and so a Sunni tyranny over a Shiite population is legitimized, while a Shiite tyranny over a Sunni population is delegitimized.

While the Obama administration is dancing around the edges of arming the Syrian rebels, it is also arming the Bahraini government. While the United States participates in the Friends of Syria group, whose goal is to overthrow the Syrian government and replace it with the Muslim Brotherhood, it has renewed security cooperation with Bahrain. While Syrian diplomats were being expelled from Washington, the Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa came to Washington and met with Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and Leon Panetta—nearly every important foreign policy figure in the administration with the exception of Obama.

The optics of having Obama shake hands with a tyrant while handing out Medals of Freedom might have come off as a little tacky, even from an administration that jumps when the House of Saud tells it to, without asking how high. But while the Crown Prince may not have left with Obama’s fingerprints on his palm, he is leaving with Seahawk helicopters, AMRAAM missiles, F-16 parts, a frigate and an option on some armored personnel carriers, for the next time things get hot down in Manama.

What’s even more extraordinary is that the State Department’s press statement on the renewal of arms sales to Bahrain appeared to blame both protesters and Bahraini authorities for the violence, and even teetered on the brink of placing the weight of the blame on the protesters.

“We are concerned about excessive use of force and tear gas by police. At the same time, we are concerned by the almost daily use of violence by some protestors,” the statement reads. “We urge all sides to work together to end the violence and refrain from incitement of any kind, including attacks on peaceful protestors or on the Bahraini police.”

The statement could hardly have had more wriggle room or a softer condemnation of the regime, if it had actually been written by the Crown Prince or one of his flunkies. It is all the more startling to compare this to State Department bulletins on Libya and Syria, which lack any such moral ambiguity or strained refusal to take sides in the conflict between government and anti-government forces.

The deciding factor isn’t Bahrain’s reliability as a regional ally or base space. If that was the issue then Mubarak wouldn’t have been sold out to the Muslim Brotherhood and Yemen’s President Ali Saleh would have enjoyed the same backing as the Crown Prince of Bahrain. Not to mention lesser allies like Tunisia’s President Ben Ali, whom the Obama administration triumphantly jeered to the exit only to see him replaced by Islamist Al-Nahda terrorists. It’s not about how good an ally of America a given country is, but how good an ally of Saudi Arabia it is.

The only Arab Spring resister to earn a shrug from the Obama administration was Bahrain. When Saudi tanks rolled into Manama, there were a few uncomfortable shrugs in Washington D.C., but no fiery speeches or demands for action. Obama did not take to the airwaves to announce that he would be violating the War Powers Act, with a sustained bombardment of the Saudi Peninsula Shield Force, which was doing the killing. It would have been far easier for Obama to force the Saudis to take their tanks and go home, than it was to bring down Gaddafi or than it will be to bring down Assad. And the fact that it was not done reveals who really pulls the strings on foreign policy in the White House.

The limited suspension of arms shipments to Bahrain was not met with an equivalent suspension of arms shipments to Saudi Arabia, because the United States is not allowed to tell the Saudis what to do. Instead it’s the Saudis who slapped Uncle Sam around by suspending their arms purchases as a sign of displeasure. The myth that Saudi weapons are defensive is used to give the regime a blank check in Washington D.C., but it’s so much nonsense. Saudi Arabia’s military is there to expand its territory, whether in Bahrain or Yemen, with timely interventions from a military machine supplied and trained by the United States. The House of Saud has always been imperialistic and it has never had a problem with killing civilians.

Bahrain is the first country on the menu for inclusion into a Saudi super-state. The tanks in Manama were the leverage to push Bahrain into that union. A union that is the dawn of a planned Caliphate, carried out with American weaponry. The United States has counted on the Saudis to secure the region, but the House of Saud is only interested in securing the region for itself. It has always been imperialistic, but its most reliable tool of empire building has not been military, but political. The local monarchies have ably bought or co-opted a sizable percentage of Western political, diplomatic and military elites into building their empire for them.

The Arab League, Saudi Arabia’s puppet, backed the invasion of Libya and is championing regime change in Syria. If the Obama administration goes along with this latest war cooked up in Riyadh, that will be the fourth war that the United States has fought for Saudi interests. And the wars never seem to end. While the great hypocritical cry of the humanitarian interventionists in Washington and London goes up over Syria, no sanctions are leveled against the Saudis, and no matter how many people end up under the treads of Saudi tanks, no arms shipments are interrupted.

Truly the Obama administration has the best foreign policy… that Saudi money can buy.By Daniel Greenfield

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Thousands of Salafis in Tunisia: Obama, We Are All Osama

Thousands of Tunisians Salafis: “Obama, We Are All Osama”; MC Calls US President “The Ape Obama” – The Internet – May 20, 2012
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Obama’s Syria Policy: Ask Putin

Some have argued that last week’s massacre in the Syrian city of Houla, where Bashar al-Assad loyalists killed more than a hundred people, a third of whom were children, may in time come to mark the moment when world opinion turned irrevocably against the Syrian strongman, and the democracies finally decided to bring down the regime in Damascus. Perhaps, some say, it will be Assad’s Srebenica. Maybe. But not if Obama keeps deferring to the Russians.

The U.N. Security Council criticized the slaughter, as did the White House and State Department. Many world capitals, from Paris and London to Canberra and Berlin, expelled Syrian diplomats, and the Obama administration followed suit, giving the highest-ranking Syrian diplomat in Washington, charge d’affaires Zuheir Jabbour, three days to leave the country.

Syria has not had an ambassador in Washington since the departure of Imad Mustapha several months ago. Mustapha was reportedly under investigation after evidence surfaced that he and his staff at the embassy were spying on Syrian dissidents in the United States. That alone should have compelled the administration to expel Mustapha and the rest of Syria’s diplomatic mission. But that would have meant taking a stand; it would require, as Douglas Murray writes in the Wall Street Journal, American leadership.

Instead Obama has premised America’s role in the world on an abstraction, an Orwellian euphemism standing for the lack of leadership—leading from behind. Thus, the administration’s actions regarding Syria and its statements, its condemnations of the massacre “in the strongest possible terms,” are incommensurate with the reality of the situation. In response to a bloodbath, the White House has joined a coalition of diplomatic expulsion.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, hinted that atrocities like the Houla massacre might trigger military intervention—but why? What, from either a strategic or a humanitarian point of view, has changed with Houla? Sure, it’s believed that many of the casualties were children, but the uprising started after the regime tortured teenagers in Deraa. And what did the Obama administration do then or in the 14 months since the uprising first began? Yes, more than 100 people were killed in Houla, but by some estimates, the regime has already killed 15,000. So from the administration’s point of view what’s really changed? Nothing.

And indeed, as if to qualify Dempsey’s statement, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters yesterday, military action against Syria “is always an option”—but he cautioned that the administration believes that “it would lead to greater chaos, greater carnage.” In other words, the people of Houla should consider themselves fortunate that the Assad regime kept the casualties relatively low. If the United States actually did something to try to stop Assad, who knows how many the regime might kill?

That is to say, from Obama’s perspective, the United States is, at best, impotent. And therefore the administration has plenty of reasons not to do anything about Assad. First there was the idea that the Syrian opposition may have been infiltrated by al Qaeda. Which is to say, the American intelligence community is incapable of distinguishing between al Qaeda and other members of the opposition, so we shouldn’t arm anyone. Then there was the notion that the Syrian army, with 600,000 armed men and air defenses, is a powerful fighting force, indeed mighty enough to give American military planners pause. Nonetheless, the opposition refers to this ragtag sectarian militia fighting at a very small fraction of its stated power as “the army of the sandals.”

The way the White House sees it, there’s little we can do to help the opposition, or for that matter advance American interests by helping to topple Assad. The Iranians boast that they’re sending reinforcements to sustain the regime in Damascus, and the administration seems to admit as much. So why won’t Obama counter Tehran’s moves? If the administration believes it can contain and deter Iran that will mean not only presenting a credible threat of military action but the actual support of proxy forces to take on Iranian allies. Tehran gets it, which is why it is throwing its weight behind Assad; why doesn’t the White House? Perhaps it’s because Obama has invested so much in engaging the Iranians that he fears getting them angry now. After all, he’s made good on another pointless promise from the 2008 campaign so why risk it now, in the midst of very delicate negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear weapons program, by backing the Free Syrian Army?

Instead, the White House is betting on Russia. The premise is that Moscow is close enough to the Assad regime that it could pull off a soft coup that would get rid of the Syrian strongman. What should make it attractive to the Russians, the administration contends, is that such a coup would preserve an Alawite minority regime and ensure Russia’s interests in the eastern Mediterranean. The problem here is that Vladimir Putin doesn’t want to get rid of Assad, and even if he did, it’s not at all clear he has the ability to do it.

The administration hopes that it is possible to appeal to the better angels of Moscow’s nature and that Houla compels them to change their position on Assad. Instead, the Russians are sending more arms to the regime. It’s hardly surprising, then, the Russians won’t even admit that Assad is behind the massacre. Russian deputy U.N. ambassador Alexander Pankin “rejected the idea that the evidence clearly showed Damascus was guilty.”

The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, has served as the administration’s point man in the public campaign meant to shame Russia into doing the right thing, but all the White House has proven is that it knows nothing about the men who rule Moscow. Almost a decade ago, Chechen separatists stormed a theater in the Russian capital, and the Russian security services responded by filling the theater with a chemical compound that killed at least 33 Chechens and close to 200 hostages. If Putin cares so little for his own people, why would he be shamed by using the Syrian opposition to leverage his own prestige?

David Ignatius, a sort of Obama White House press surrogate, writes in today’s Washington Post that the Syria situation “is Russia’s failure, not America’s.” But this is incorrect. It is Obama’s failure for leading from behind in the first place and then leaving the matter in the hands of the Russians. The only question is whether the administration is culpable because of its cynicism or naiveté.

“Russia wants to have a continued influence in Syria,” one administration official told the New York Times. “Our interest is in stabilizing the situation, not eliminating Russian influence.”

The fact is that Russia has very little, if any, influence in Syria. Even if Putin wanted to dump Assad in exchange for some Alawite security or military chief, the Alawites can’t possibly afford a fissure in their community right now. As Tony Badran, research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, explains, an intramural Alawite conflict between Assad loyalists and pretenders to the throne would make the entire Alawite sect yet more vulnerable to the Sunni-majority rebels.

Moscow is simply playing the spoiler and thereby enjoying the sort of international prestige that it has not been afforded since the end of the Cold War. The Russians are not going to engineer a coup against Assad, or in any way work to resolve the issue, because it is precisely the conflict that has given them influence in Syria—the conflict, that is, and Obama, who for no good reason has handed Moscow the reins.


We Are All Persian Grammarians Now

Sohrab Ahmari and James Kirchick//As the Iranian mullahs’ nuclearization drive reaches its end goal, Western policymakers face a narrowing range of bad options. There are difficult choices ahead, and those choices are made all the more difficult by Tehran’s long track record of vicious rhetoric directed at Israel—the most notorious example of which was Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s call in 2005 for Israel to be “wiped off the map” (as the phrase has frequently been translated in the English-speaking world). It’s no wonder that some in the West, faced with such venom, seek palliatives.

How do you palliate a call for another country’s destruction? Simple: You quibble over minor points of grammar. Instant experts in Persian grammar have been doing this to Ahmadinejad’s speech ever since he delivered it in 2005 (at a conference ominously titled “The World Without Zionism”). The latest round of grammatical henpecking came a short while ago, when Israeli intelligence minister Dan Meridor told Al-Jazeera English that Ahmadinejad’s 2005 utterance did not signal an immediate intent to nuke Israel. In response, Robert Mackey took to his New York Times blog to underline the apparent concession:

A senior Israeli official has acknowledged that Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, never actually said that Israel ‘must be wiped off the map.’ . . . Although there is general agreement . . . that Mr. Ahmadinejad did not commit his country to the project of destroying the state of Israel in [his] 2005 speech, the phrase that was wrongly attributed to him then remains so firmly rooted in the popular imagination that it is frequently used as evidence of Iran’s genocidal intentions.

Citing the Iranian-American pundit and one-time Ahmadinejad interpreter Hooman Majd, Mackey sought to frame Ahmadinejad’s remark as a dire prediction rather than a threat, noting that “in the original speech, the Iranian president had argued that, while the end of Israeli rule over Jerusalem, the third holiest city in Islam, might seem impossible to imagine, the end of the Shah’s rule and the collapse of the Soviet Union both proved that change on that scale was possible.” Viewed in this light, Ahmadinejad’s remarks don’t sound all that different from those of any other proponent of a two-state solution that includes ending Jewish sovereignty over parts of Jerusalem.

Mackey’s foray into Persian grammar fits into a heated and long-running debate originally sparked in part by the New York Times’s own reporting on the infamous speech. In that piece, the Times’s Tehran correspondent, Nazila Fathi, quoted Ahmadinejad as follows: “As the imam [Khomeini] said, Israel must be wiped off the map.” A day later, the Middle East Media Research Institute provided a more accurate translation of the quote: “Imam [Khomeini] said: ‘This regime that is occupying Qods [Jerusalem] must be eliminated from the pages of history.’ This sentence is very wise.”

Either translation, of course, should be cause for alarm. Whether Israel must be “wiped off the map” or from “the pages of history,” the rhetoric evinces an unmistakably eliminationist bent. Yet because Fathi’s initial, inexact translation (“wiped off the map”) seemed to carry connotations of the horrors of nuclear warfare—and because that phrase has been repeated by journalists and politicians countless times since 2005—some have seized on the mistranslation as a way of downplaying what was otherwise clearly a call for the destruction of the Jewish state. It was as if, by repeatedly pointing out the error, supporters of engagement could set a lower bar for the benevolence of the Iranian regime’s intentions toward Israel: If Ahmadinejad had not really called for Israel to be “wiped off” the map, they seemed to say, then it followed that concerns over Tehran’s nuclear weapons program were exaggerated or unserious.

“I’m not sure there is even such an idiom in Persian,” claimed University of Michigan Professor Juan Cole. “In Farsi, it means not that Israel should be eliminated,” explained author Reza Aslan, “but that the existing political borders should literally be wiped from a literal map and replaced with those of historic Palestine.”

In fact, the pivotal term in Ahmadinejad’s speech was baayad, an injunctive verb meaning “must.” Persian speakers do not use baayad to make passive predictions; the word is used to command action. But the arguments over grammar are just a way of avoiding the central fact: The Iranian regime has repeatedly acted on its murderous rhetoric about Israelis and Jews. Tehran remains the largest sponsor of Hizballah and Hamas, two terrorist groups constitutionally committed to the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews around the world. In 1992, Hizballah bombed the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, killing 29 people; two years later, the city’s Jewish Community Center was rocked by another Hizballah bomb that took the lives of 87. In 2009, one of the authors of this piece attended a Hizballah rally in Beirut that featured a giant poster depicting a nuclear mushroom cloud composed of Arabic letters, translated on the side as, “Oh Zionists, if you want this type of war, SO BE IT.” The Khomeini quotation that Ahmadinejad considered “very wise” has also appeared on banners adorning Iranian missiles during military parades.

Extinguishing the Jewish state has been a central tenet of the Iranian regime since its founding by the Ayatollah Khomeini more than three decades ago. “Ever since coming to this revolution,” Khomeini declared in a televised speech not long before his death, “one of our major points has been that Israel must be destroyed.” Khomeini’s successor, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has been equally clear. Last February, he described Israel as a “cancerous tumor” that must be “cut.” Iran’s military leaders frequently echo such calls. “The Iranian nation is standing for its cause that is the full annihilation of Israel,” the semi-official Fars News Agency quoted Major General Hassan Firouzabadi, chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces, less than two weeks ago. And the unsubtle cry of “Death to Israel” is a regular incantation at Friday prayers. These are not empty threats or nebulous hopes, but murderous exhortations backed up by concrete policies.

There is something deeply pernicious about the attempt to whitewash the grossly anti-Semitic ideology of Iran’s leadership—as if nitpicking over repeated mistranslations of one statement could exonerate Iran when nearly two dozen other choice utterances refer to Israel in eliminationist terms. Reasonable people can disagree about what should be done with respect to Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but not about the overt hostility embedded in the Iranian leadership’s rhetoric on Israel.

Bold Bill in Senate to Stop Palestinian ‘Refugee’ Scam

The US Senate Appropriations Committee has approvedan important amendment to a bill. Proposed by Republican Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois, the amendment would change the definition of “Palestinian refugee” such that the number of people now given that status would shrink from about five million to about thirty thousand.

The U.S. currently contributes annually about $250 million of the approximately $600 million budget of UNRWA, the UN agency that provides housing, education, and welfare to Palestinian “refugees.” The U.S. has funneled a total of $4.4 billion to UNRWA since it was founded in 1948.

Under the Kirk amendment, the funding to those no longer considered refugees would not necessarily end; they could be defined as poverty cases. But only the thirty thousand, instead of five million, would still be designated as refugees.

What explains the vast differential in numbers? Before and during Israel’s 1948-49 War for Independence, about 650,000 Palestinian Arabs (many of them very recent immigrants from other Arab countries) left the territories that became Israel. About thirty thousand of them are still alive today.

But in 1965 and 1982, UNRWA made decisions—unique in history, never applied to any other refugee population in the world—to define children and grandchildren, too, of displaced Palestinians as “refugees.” Hence the swelled numbers of today, with “refugees” kept in “camps” in Syria,Lebanon, Jordan, and even the Palestinian Authority. Jonathan Schanzer notes that, according to a study, if this situation persists their number will reach fifteen million by 2050.

Why define so many people as “refugees,” and why keep them in “camps” indefinitely? The answer, as Shoshana Bryen notes, was given in an interview to Lebanon’s Daily Star by the Palestinian ambassador to Lebanon, Abdullah Abdullah.

Abdullah told the Daily Star “unequivocally” that even if a Palestinian state were to be established in the West Bank and Gaza—that is, the much-vaunted “two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”—the Palestinian refugees “would not become citizens” of it. The reason is that “The state is the 1967 borders, but the refugees are not only from the 1967 borders. The refugees are from all over Palestine.”

And: “How the issue of the right of return will be solved I don’t know…but it is a sacred right that has to be dealt with…. [Statehood] will never affect the right of return for Palestinian refugees.” And: “even Palestinian refugees who are living…inside the [Palestinian] state, they are still refugees. They will not be considered citizens.”

In other words: the reason for keeping so many “Palestinian refugees” around in “camps” indefinitely, at U.S. and European expense, and instead of resettling them in Arab countries or even in an Arab West Bank-Gaza country if one were established, is to keep alive their “right” to “return” to Israel and demographically destroy it—a “right” whose “sacredness” would transcend any “two-state solution.”

Thus Kirk’s amendment seems to make eminent sense. Why fund, as “refugees,” people who are not refugees by any normally accepted parameters, and are defined that way only so as to constitute an eventual fatal weapon against a U.S. ally, Israel?

Yet the State Department is dead-set against the amendment. Bryen quotes Deputy Secretary Thomas Nides: “This proposed amendment would be viewed around the world as the United States acting to prejudge and determine the outcome of this sensitive issue.” But the U.S. is already prejudging the issue by allowing this situation to fester. Continuing to treat this burgeoning population as “refugees” only means cultivating an anti-Israeli, anti-peace time-bomb.

Some proponents of adopting the Kirk amendment as U.S. policy say it would enable the “two-state solution” to progress. With only thirty thousand aged Palestinians defined as refugees, the “right of return” could be implemented and a major stumbling block to an agreement removed.

Such notions, though, miss the point. The whole cynical, grotesque reality of the UNRWA camps stems, in the first place, from a profound, culturally and religiously rooted Arab/Muslim rejection of Israel. Ceasing to define as “refugees” millions of descendants of Arabs who fled Israel in the late 1940s would not change that.

It would, however, be a step in the right direction. It would mean ceasing to play along with a deception of historic proportions, and refusing to keep nurturing ever-growing millions of Arabs trained to believe that Israel is their home. It would also mean affirming that if any truly constructive steps areever to be taken, they will have to be based on truth and not lies.

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