Saturday, April 09, 2005

Fallout from the funeral

As some commenters observed following my post yesterday, some leaders of otherwise unfriendly countries were chummy at the funeral. A little too chummy for the folks back home, it turns out.

News wires reported that the presidents of Iran and Syria both shook hands with the president of Israel. The day after, those two leaders began backtracking. From BBC News:
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami has denied speaking to Israel's president at the funeral of Pope John Paul II.

Moshe Katsav says they exchanged words, but Mr Khatami told Iranian media the "allegations are false" and that they had not shaken hands.

Syria has confirmed that its leader shook hands with the Israeli president, but added that this did not change Syria's position on the Jewish state.

Iran and Syria do not recognise Israel. Syria and Israel are officially at war.

Mr Katsav, who was born in Iran, said he had exchanged words in his native Persian with Mr Khatami.

"These allegations are false... I have not had any meeting with a personality from the Zionist regime," the official Iranian news agency quoted Mr Khatami as saying.

In other words, the Arab leaders forgot their acting lines when it came to Israel. I've always suspected that the animosity towards Israel has very little to do with Israel itself (though Syria complains about the Golan Heights). This anti-Zionism is largely a ploy to distract from local problems at home. I would not be surprised if this erupts into a major scandal for President Khatami; a moderate, he has always been under pressure from the conservative clerics back home. It will also be interesting to see how this plays out in the rest of the Arab world.

UPDATE: The New York Times has a nice article on the politics of shaking hands at the funeral.


Blogger The Critics said...

I'm not surprised. Backtracking is common with regards to the Middle East. This is how I see the whole scenario:

Imagine a hypothetical situation, where you live in a neighborhood in which a drug dealer is plying his trade. Soon, someone dies from the drugs. What happens now? Do you "take revenge" on the drug dealer by going after him, or do you let the FBI/DEA go in and do what they do best? What about just sitting back and hoping the drug dealer's people will take care of the situation?

This is akin to Israel and the Middle East. Terrorists and suicide bombers and those who support them are the drug dealers. When someone decides to go and be a "martyr" and suicide bomb the Jews, Israel is often accused of taking revenge for any lives. What the world does not consider is that Israel is not seeking revenge. Israel is attempting to stop the scourge at its source.

In ancient times, and even now in Middle Eastern countries, a person who steals gets the hand that he used to steal cut off. Repartitions are considered afterwards. When someone deals drugs, we don’t go after them because we want to get back at them. We go after them to cut off the offending hand. We want to put them in jail or at least stop them from continuing their actions. Our intent is not to make them feel bad. Our intent is either to rehabilitate or to correct, depending on which theory of criminal justice you adhere to.

Israel's actions in defending itself are predicated on a long standing history of suicide bombings at the hands of the Palestinians. Several Palestinian children didn’t heed the warning of armed Israeli soldiers when they went to get their ball after playing with it close to the army outpost. This is especially interesting to consider in the Palestinian culture where it is known that Israeli army soldiers will shoot to kill if they feel their lives are in danger. I question the supervision of the parents who clearly did not train their children to listen to Israeli soldiers and to tell them to stay away from the outpost.

The loss of lives that occur when Israel attempts to enact corrective measures to prevent future attacks and to cut off the offending appendage at its source is unfortunate. However, this becomes a necessity when mere reparation or rehabilitation does not work. Palestinians released from jail usually return to the trade they once engaged in. This is not to say that Palestinians don't have rights. They are certainly entitled to living conditions equal to the rest of us, but as long as the extremists continue to operate within the Palestinian society, there is not much hope of that.

In the U.S., we have the death penalty, permitted by the Supreme Court and it is up to each state to decide whether to implement it. Israel has its own method of the death penalty. Human rights activists cannot fault Israel as long as the worst instance of a human rights violation continues to be carried out by the Palestinians; suicide bombings. Any human rights activists who decry Israel's actions but don’t speak out against suicide bombings are frauds.

4/09/2005 08:04:00 PM  
Blogger The Critics said...

Furthermore, as long as the Palestinian society continues to be as corrupt as it is today, there is no hope that "the drug dealer's people will take care of the situation?". The Palestinians see no real advantage to putting their own people behind jail for engaging in terrorism. The leaders of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah, Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, etc continue to operate in that society without any restraints. When terrorists openly operate in a society like this, there can be no hope for rehabilitation. How can Israel be expected to negotiate with terrorists when the U.S. has that same policy? I know that Abbas is attempting to rectify the situation, but if he were to take a hard-line stance, with the help of Israel and with the support of the Palestinian people, he could do so. However, he is letting his fear of these terrorist groups control him. Until he can step out from under their shadow, he will be nothing more than a puppet.

4/09/2005 08:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guh, can you try staying on topic?

- Needlessly Side-Tracked

4/09/2005 10:03:00 PM  
Blogger The Critics said...

I'm not trying to stick to the context, I just wanted to put out there, once and for all, my views on the matter.

4/11/2005 09:26:00 AM  
Blogger bum said...

i used to have such respect for world leaders. lol, i knew nothing as a kid.

4/11/2005 05:46:00 PM  

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