Some may recall Terje Roed-Larsen as the UN envoy who in 2002 gave the world the impression that Jenin was the site of an Israeli massacre of Palestinians. Of course, this was proven to be a ridiculous lie, if very successful propaganda. Among other things, he said, using a public and prominent platform as a UN envoy:

“Combating terrorism does not give a blank check to kill civilians. However just the causes, there are illegitimate means, and the means that have been used here are illegitimate and morally repugnant.”

There was nothing illegitimate or immoral about the manner in which the IDF attacked Jenin, first circling the camp for three days and warning residents to leave thereby giving time for Palestinian militants to rig up the camp and prepare for a fight. Then, instead of using artillery or air force attacks, the Israelis used ground forces to attack the town, the largest source of suicide bombers in the previous year, so as to cause minimal damage. As one of the Palestinian fighters later said, they were surprised at the manner in which the Israeli soldiers exposed themselves to danger despite knowing that ambushes were set. 22 Israeli soldiers were killed in total, until finally Israel decided to bulldoze the heart of the town to prevent further losses. Total Palestinian losses were 30 militants and 20 civilians although Saeb Erakat went on international TV and claimed 500 Palestinian dead while Arafat claimed 3000. There is an amusing video of Palestinians moving a “body” away from the camp, except that the “body” falls off the stretcher and gets on again really fast.

Roed-Larsen called it

“horrific beyond belief” and “”We have expert people here who have been in war zones and earthquakes and they say they have never seen anything like it.” That’s correct, they had never seen anything like it because it was a mild and fair attack in response to brutal Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians.

By the way, as an aside, it turns out that Roed-Larsen and his wife, Mona, the former Norwegian ambassador to Israel each received a $50,000 gift from the Peres Center for Peace in 1999. I’m not sure anybody ever explained effectively why they received the gift, but we can safely assume that it did not purchase Israel any positive propaganda.

Anyway, I bring up Roed-Larsen, currently serving the UN as envoy for Lebanon-Syria issues, because he made an incredible statement to the UN today:

“A few years ago, as it had been over many, many decades, the center of gravity for all the conflicts were the Israeli-Arab conflicts. Now, there seems to be four epicenters of conflict in the region with their own dynamics, the Iraqi issues, the Iranian issues, the Syrian-Lebanese issues, and of course the heart of hearts, the traditional conflict, the Palestinian-Israeli issue.”

Would somebody please ship him off to Darfur or Chechnya or Tibet or, if he prefers Europe, Bosnia already? Let’s review some of the past conflicts of the Middle East: Egypt-Yemen, Ethiopia-Eritrea, Iran-Iraq, Lebanon-Syria, Lebanon civil war, Syria-Jordan, Iraq-Kuwait. And that’s off the top of my head.

Those conflicts had nothing or little to do with Israel and Israel was not at the heart of any of them. In addition, current Iraq, Iran, Syria-Lebanon situations are distantly or indirectly related to Israel. The Iraq war isn’t connected in any way and neither is its resolution. Iran’s issues with the US and Iraq are related to its ambitions as a Shi’ite theocracy and have nothing to do with Israel. Iran’s ambitions regarding Israel are a minor issue in contrast with their ambitions in the Gulf. Iran is dangerous to Israel and its nuclear program could hurt Israel severely and could bring about war, but Israel is not what drives Iran and its policies. In fact, if the US attacks Iran, it will also have little to do with Israel. The magic word here is: oil. As for Syria-Lebanon issues, they are linked to Israel in that it’s a convenient target for Syria’s leaders while they seek to show the Lebanese who is the master and who is the vassal. However, the heart of that conflict is Syria’s ambition and its dictatorial first family. When Syria attacked Jordan a couple of decades ago, it had little to do with Israel and everything to do with Syria’s territorial ambitions.

In none of these conflicts does the Palestinian-Israel conflict play any significant role other than fodder for mass consumption or a tool to achieve a different goal. Syria doesn’t care about the Palestinians other than as tools for Israel’s destabilization, which happens to be precisely the way that Iran perceives the Palestinians. Iraq couldn’t care less about Israel right now, it’s got bigger problems. If Roed-Larsen were honest about the situation, he’d mention the Palestinian-Israel conflict as another important conflict in the region, nothing less and nothing more.

It is the dark heart of nothing. Israel didn’t create the region and its national or religious conflicts.

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  • The Iraq Study Group Report made similar claims. Peace in Iraq was linked to peace between Israelis and Palestinians. A good friend of mine, who is otherwise quite intelligent, agreed with these assertions. I asked him, “Do you really think that if the Palestinians had a state tomorrow that this would help diminish or ease tensions between Shi’ites and Sunnis in Iraq?” He thought that it would.

    One member of the ISG who disagrees with the notion that struggles in Iraq and Israel are linked (i.e. “the road to Baghdad is through Jerusalem”) is Clifford May, a National Review correspondent and President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. When I saw him on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal (“Clifford May, Military and Security Adviser for the Iraq Study Group, discusses troop levels in Iraq and building up Iraqi security forces.” December 7, 2006) he stated:

    “I don’t see how Israel having negotiations say with Hamas or with Fatah at this point makes Sunni and Shia kiss and make up back in Iraq. I don’t think their basic problem with one another right now–in this sectarian violence or civil war–I don’t think Sunnis are killing Shia and Shia killing Sunnis because they are so upset about the treatment of Palestinians in the Gaza or the West Bank.”

    I agree with May on this point. The examples TM brought up expose similar flaws in the UN diplomat’s thinking. Israel is not the cause of all the problems in the region, despite what many Europeans and most Muslims may think.

    As far as the UN, it still does some useful work around health and humanitarian issues, but its diplomatic efforts—let alone peacekeeping—do not seem to be worth the money we are wasting. At the minimum, the organization is in need of serious and drastic reform.