Reforming the Middle East: Time Pundit Opts for Bash Israel Approach

As one of Time Magazine’s experts in international affairs, Joe Klein appears to be woefully misinformed as he jumps “in the arena” — as his column is called — to weigh in on the role he thinks the U.S. should play in the Middle East.

In giving advice on how to reform the region, Mr. Klein falls into the pitfalls of many other unoriginal pundits who, rather than analytically addressing the genuine issues in the region, prefer to take the opportunity to denigrate Israel. He questions U.S. support for Israel, casting aspersions on the Jewish state by stating that “Israel’s illegal behavior in the occupied territories stands at odds with the values the U.S. is trying to promote in the region.”

Occupation refers to the holding and control of an area by a foreign force. Given that the land of Israel was never the sovereign country of any nation but the Jewish one, Jews cannot be deemed “occupiers” in their own land, a fact affirmed by international law. The San Remo Conference of 1920 was a meeting of the Allied Powers of WWI, convened at San Remo, Italy, to decide the future of the former territories of the Ottoman Empire. At that conference, a binding agreement was reached between these world powers “to reconstitute the ancient Jewish State within its historic borders from Dan to Beersheba.” The agreement was incorporated into the Treaty of Sevres and the Mandate for Palestine. With its formal approval by the League of Nations in 1922, the Mandate for Palestine tasked the British with “reconstituting” the Jewish people in their historic homeland. The desire to restore the Jewish people to their native land was ratified by a unanimous vote of The League of Nations, which then entrusted Great Britain with facilitating Jewish immigration and encouraging “close settlement by Jews on the Land,” as explained in Article 6 of the Mandate. This document gave Jews the legal right to settle anywhere in the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. This right has never been superseded by any other legal document.

Had Mr. Klein wished to offer constructive advice on reform in the Middle East, he might have resisted repeating tired, anti-Israel mantras about “occupation,” and instead, promoted Israel, the only bastion of liberal democracy in the Middle East, as a useful example to the surrounding countries. He missed an obvious opportunity.

Israel has forged a thriving country that protects the rights of its citizens, freedom of religion, minority rights, and women’s rights, in a part of the world where such rights and protections are alien. It includes its minorites in all areas of civic life.

Israel’s Arabs serve as professionals in all fields, as justices, and as diplomats.

Ishmael Khaldi, Israel’s first Bedouin diplomat states in the San Francisco Chronicle:

My perspective is unique, both as the vice consul for Israel in San Francisco, and as a Bedouin and the highest-ranking Muslim representing Israel in the United States. I was born into a Bedouin tribe in Northern Israel, one of 11 children, and began life as shepherd living in our family tent. I went on to serve in the Israeli border police and later earned a master’s degree in political science from Tel Aviv University before joining the Israel Foreign Ministry.

I am a proud Israeli — along with many other non-Jewish Israelis such as Druze, Bahai, Bedouin, Christians and Muslims, who live in one of the most culturally diversified societies and the only true democracy in the Middle East. Like America, Israeli society is far from perfect, but let us deals honestly. By any yardstick you choose – educational opportunity, economic development, women and gay’s rights, freedom of speech and assembly, legislative representation — Israel’s minorities fare far better than any other country in the Middle East.

Unlike other countries in the area, Israel enjoys a free press. As Khaled Abu Toameh, an Arab reporter for the Jerusalem Post says, “we, the Arabs living there, we always admire the Israeli media because of its openness and its freedom. We used to say, ‘We hope one day we’ll have a free media like the Jews.'”

With his clichéd, anti-Israel rhetoric, Mr. Klein misrepresents Israel and does a disservice to his readers. While he suggests that Israel “stands at odds with the values” the US is trying to promote, it is really Mr. Klein’s misleading journalism that stands at odds with the values trusting readers expect.

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