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COLUMN SEVENTY-FIVE, SEPTEMBER 1, 2002
(Copyright © 2002 The Blacklisted Journalist)
TWO BY THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
1. THE END OF SOMETHING
NYTimes.com Article: The End of Something
Date: Mon, 1 Jul 2002 11:18:29 -0400 (EDT)
This article from NYTimes.com
June 30, 2002
The End of Something
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Recent events in the Middle East leave me wondering whether
we're witnessing not just the end of the Oslo peace process, but the end of the
whole idea of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
When the Palestinians' Intifada II began over a year ago,
in the wake of a serious proposal for a Palestinian state by President Clinton,
I argued that Palestinians were making a huge mistake. When the party to a
conflict initiates an uprising, then suicide bombing, at a time when the
outlines of a final peace are on the table?as the Palestinians did?it
shatters everything, present and future. In this case it shattered the Israeli
peace camp, it blew apart all the fragile confidence-building measures that took
years to build, and it generally left the Israeli public feeling it had opened
the gates to a Trojan horse.
This is particularly true in the case of the Palestinians
because they never articulated why their uprising was necessary, given the
diplomatic alternatives still available, or what its precise objectives were.
They seem to have been heavily influenced by Hezbollah's success at driving
Israel out of Lebanon and seem to have bought into the fantasy that they could
give birth to their own state in similar blood and fire. And Yasir Arafat went
along for the ride.
"This Intifada II was Yasir Arafat's 1967 war,"
says the Middle East expert Stephen P. Cohen. "Like Egypt's President
Nasser, Arafat got completely swept up in the fantasies of the moment and failed
to distinguish between what was real and what was not. And like Nasser, it will
be the beginning of his end."
But here's the rub: Even if Mr. Arafat went away, and even
if a majority of Israelis were ready to give his successor all of the West Bank,
Gaza and East Jerusalem, the security requirements and limitations on
Palestinian sovereignty that Israelis would insist upon " in the wake of the
total breakdown in trust over the last year?would probably be so high that no
Palestinian leader would be able to accept them.
If that is the case, it means that a negotiated two-state
solution is impossible and Israel is doomed to permanent occupation of the West
Bank and Gaza. And if that is the case, it means Israel will have to rule the
West Bank and Gaza permanently, the way South African whites ruled blacks under
apartheid. Because by 2010, if current demographic patterns hold, there will be
more Palestinians in Israel, the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem than Jews.
And if that is the case, it means an endless grinding conflict that poses a
mortal danger to Israel.
Because there are three trends converging in the Middle
East today. The first is this vicious Israeli-Palestinian war. The second is a
population explosion in the Arab world, where virtually every Arab country has a
population bubble of under-15-year-olds, who are marching toward a future where
they will find a shortage of good jobs and a surplus of frustration. The third
is an explosion of Arab satellite TV stations, the Internet and other private
Basically what's happening is that this Arab media
explosion is taking images of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and beaming them
to this population explosion, nurturing a rage against Israel, America and Jews
in a whole new Arab generation. Of that new generation there are going to be 10
who will go to dad one day and say, "Dad, there is a Pakistani gentleman at
the door selling a suitcase nuclear bomb. He wants a check for $100,000, and I
would like to personally deliver the suitcase to Tel Aviv." And dad is
going to write the check.
The only hope for Israel is to get out of the
territories?any orderly way it can?and minimize its friction with the Arab
world as the Arabs go through a wrenching internal adjustment to modernization.
I applaud President Bush's call for Mr. Arafat to be replaced, in what amounts
to Mr. Bush's last-ditch attempt to "re-accredit" the Palestinians as
a partner for a two-state solution with Israel. But it is a travesty that Mr.
Bush did not act to "re-accredit" Israel, too, as a peace partner for
a two-state solution with the Palestinians by insisting that Israel begin
pulling back from some of its far-flung settlements in Gaza and the West Bank.
It would help the Palestinians undertake their reforms, and it would put Israel
in a better position to withdraw unilaterally, if it has to.
Mr. Bush blinked because he didn't want to alienate Jewish
voters. Sad. Because George Bush may be on Israel's side, but history,
technology and demographics are all against it.
* * *
2. ARABS AT THE CROSSROADS
Arabs at the Crossroads
Date: Wed, 3 Jul 2002 11:18:29 -0400 (EDT)
This article from NYTimes.com
July 3, 2002
Arabs at the Crossroads
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
President Bush was right to declare that the Palestinians
need to produce decent governance before they can get a state. Too bad, however,
that he didn't say that it's not only the Palestinians who need radical reform
of their governance?it's most of the Arab world.
By coincidence, though, some other important folks had the
courage to say that just this week: The U.N. Development Program, which
published, along with the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, a
brutally honest Arab Human Development Report yesterday analyzing the three main
reasons the Arab world is falling off the globe. (The G.D.P. of Spain is greater
than that of all 22 Arab states combined.) In brief, it's due to a shortage of
freedom to speak, innovate and affect political life, a shortage of women's
rights and a shortage of quality education. If you want to understand the milieu
that produced bin Ladenism, and will reproduce it if nothing changes, read this
While the 22 Arab states currently have 280 million people,
soaring birthrates indicate that by 2020 they will have 410 to 459 million. If
this new generation is not to grow up angry and impoverished, in already
overcrowded cities, the Arab world will have to overcome its poverty?which is
not a poverty of resources but a "poverty of capabilities and poverty of
opportunities," the report argues.
Though the report pays homage to the argument that the
Arab-Israeli conflict and Israeli occupation have been both a cause and an
excuse for lagging Arab development, it refuses to stop with that explanation.
To begin with, it notes that "the wave of democracy
that transformed governance in most of Latin America and East Asia in the 1980's
and early 1990's has barely reached the Arab states. This freedom deficit
undermines human development." Using a standard freedom index, the report
notes that out of seven key regions of the world the Arab region has the lowest
freedom score?which includes civil liberties, political rights, a voice for
the people, independence of the media and government accountability. In too many
Arab states women can't vote, hold office or get access to capital for starting
businesses. "Sadly, the Arab world is largely depriving itself of the
creativity and productivity of half its citizens," the report says of Arab
On education, the report reveals that the whole Arab world
translates about 300 books annually?one-fifth the number that Greece alone
translates; investment in research is less than one-seventh the world average;
and Internet connectivity is lower than in sub-Saharan Africa. In spite of
progress in school enrollment, 65 million Arab adults are still illiterate,
almost two-thirds of them women. No wonder half the Arab youths polled said they
wanted to emigrate.
The report concludes that "What the region needs to
ensure a bright future for coming generations is the political will to invest in
Arab capabilities and knowledge, particularly those of Arab women, in good
governance, and in strong cooperation between Arab nations. . . . The Arab world
is at a crossroads. The fundamental choice is whether its trajectory will remain
marked by inertia . . . and by ineffective policies that have produced the
substantial development challenges facing the region; or whether prospects for
an Arab renaissance, anchored in human development, will be actively
Well said " and here's the best part: The report was
written by a "group of distinguished Arab intellectuals" who believed
that only an "unbiased, objective analysis" could help the "Arab
peoples and policy-makers in search of a brighter future."
There is a message in this bottle for America: For too many
years we've treated the Arab world as just a big dumb gas station, and as long
as the top leader kept the oil flowing, or was nice to Israel, we didn't really
care what was happening to the women and children out back " where bad
governance, rising unemployment and a stifled intellectual life were killing the
It's time to stop kidding ourselves. Getting rid of the
Osamas, Saddams and Arafats is necessary to change this situation, but it's
hardly sufficient. We also need to roll up our sleeves and help the Arabs
address all the problems out back. The bad news is that they've dug themselves a
mighty deep hole there. The good news, as this report shows, is that we have
liberal Arab partners for change. It's time we teamed up with them, and not just
with the bums who got them into this mess.
* * *
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