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A Middle East Summit? Yeah, Right. We've Seen This Rerun Before

October 18, 2007
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Columnist John Podhoretz writes in The New York Post (www.nypost.com) on Oct. 12 about the folly of America trying to be peace-broker:

"Here we are again, on the verge of another Middle East peace conference -- this one in Annapolis, starting Nov. 1. And so, again, here we are, with Israeli politicians leaking possible territorial concessions and Palestinian politicians loudly insisting they won't change their position -- the position that Israel must give while they need only take.

"Again, we are here, with the State Department imagining that because so-called 'moderate Arab states' say some reasonable things about Israel's existence to American diplomats behind the scenes, those same principalities will come out from behind the curtain, take the Palestinians by the hand -- and openly seek the cessation of hostilities between Jew and Arab.

"It's Madrid in 1991 all over again. It's Camp David and Taba in 2000. It's the 1983 Shultz plan from the Reagan administration. It's the 1969 Rogers plan from the Nixon administration all over again.

"In broad outline: America tries to mediate when there's absolutely no reason to think that most Arabs have any real interest in making peace with Israel.

"Just as in 1969, U.S. diplomats in Annapolis will try to anchor the discussion in two U.N. resolutions that Israel accepts, but whose implicit assertion of Israel's right to exist is rejected by at least some of the states that will attend.

"Just as in 1982, U.S. diplomats will seek to place areas of the Old City of Jerusalem under Jordanian control. Just as in 1991, proposals for multi-nation negotiations on sticky regional issues like the use of water will be hailed as breakthroughs in regional cooperation.

"And just as in 2000, U.S. diplomats will encourage Israel to draw the lines for a new Palestinian state -- lines that, no matter how favorable, are almost certain to be rejected by the Palestinian side.

"Or let us say they are accepted by the Palestinian side. Which Palestinian side? Right now, there are effectively two governing bodies in the Palestinian territories. The regime led by Mahmoud Abbas controls the West Bank; Hamas controls Gaza.

"And the two are at war. Acceptance by the Abbas regime won't constitute acceptance by the entirety of the Palestinians in governing positions. And so a deal will do nothing to provide Israel with security -- it might, as it did at Camp David in 2000, achieve the opposite.

"Israel is encouraged to surrender land and security. In exchange, it is to receive words. And its adversaries will surrender a claim: 'the right of return,' according to which Palestinians own the land on which Israelis live.

"U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice believes the time is right for a major regional initiative because a deeply worried Saudi Arabia understands the need to counter Iran. That gives the Saudis a powerful reason to back Abbas as a counterweight to Hamas, which is an Iranian client and wholly paid subsidiary.

"Perhaps Saudi Arabia does believe this. But it doesn't stand to reason that the Saudis or Abbas will be best served by making a deal with Israel, since that might give Hamas just the populist fuel it needs to step up its war with Abbas on the grounds that he's a Zionist puppet and sellout.

"Perhaps Rice has determined that it is the fate of every secretary of state to 'crave nothing more fervently' than the endless recapitulation of failed past Mideast policies."

Terror Supporters Seek to Silence Scholars Who Write About Them

Author Matthew Levitt writes in The New Republic (www.tnr.com) on Oct. 12 about the legal counterattack against those who speak against terror:

"Scholars beware: A wave of libel lawsuits threatens to stifle open and honest discussion of issues related to the financing of terrorism. Instead of competing on the battlefield of ideas, where facts speak louder than rhetoric, several individuals and organizations have sued scholars researching the financing of terrorist groups.

"I know firsthand. I was sued, stood my ground, defended my research and won. To their immense credit, my campaign to defend my free speech and academic rigor enjoyed the full and unconditional support of both my employer, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and my publisher, Yale University Press.

"Not all scholars have been so fortunate.

"In Great Britain, Cambridge University Press recently agreed to recall and destroy all unsold copies of Alms for Jihad: Charity and Terrorism in the Islamic World, following a libel suit filed there. Choosing not to defend the scholarship of its authors, two highly respected experts, Cambridge quickly published a public apology on its Web site and agreed to pay what it described as 'substantial damages.'

"In 2004, a British court granted a default judgment against another author for statements in Funding Evil: How Terrorism Is Financed -- and How to Stop It. The book was published in the United States and only sold 23 copies in England, but a British court awarded $225,900 in damages and a public apology, and ordered unsold copies of the book destroyed. The author, Rachel Ehrenfeld, has countersued in the United States, arguing that a British default judgment should not be enforceable in the United States.

"These cases are part of a disturbing trend of lawsuits targeting scholars that appear to be an effort to intimidate authors and suppress free speech. Such suits threaten to have a chilling effect on scholars conducting serious, careful and peer-reviewed research into critical and sometimes contentious policy debates.

"In August, KinderUSA and Laila al-Marayati, a Texas-based charity and the chair of its board of directors, dropped their suit against me, the Washington Institute and Yale University Press. Filed in California Superior Court in April 2007, the suit challenged statements in my book, Hamas: Politics, Charity and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad. In the book, I reported on the arrest and deportation of two KinderUSA officials in Israel in 2002, and noted the links between KinderUSA and the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development. The Holy Land Foundation, which has been designated by the U.S. Treasury as an entity that finances Hamas, was indicted in July 2004 by the U.S. Attorney's office in Dallas, Texas, for providing material support to a terrorist organization, among other charges.

"Soon after the suit was filed, the Washington Institute and I filed a motion under California's anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) provisions, which provide a mechanism for quickly resolving lawsuits designed primarily to chill the valid exercise of constitutionally guaranteed rights, including free speech.

"The dropping of the suit meant a complete victory for the Washington Institute, Yale University Press and me. The case was dismissed with prejudice. The contrast between my experience with Yale University Press and the recent capitulation by Cambridge University Press could not be starker.

"Finding charities that conduct proper due diligence to prevent association -- either willful or inadvertent -- with terrorist entities, and identifying those that do not, is critical. This was one of the reasons I wrote Hamas. It is a great loss that the protections I enjoyed in the California Superior Court are not available in the United Kingdom."

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