ACARA's 4th and 5th dot points have been spared Wertheim's criticism:
*The significance of the Iranian Revolution for relations within the Middle East and with the West.
*Reasons for, and consequences of, other conflicts in the Middle East, with particular reference to the Lebanese Civil War, the Iran/Iraq War, and the Gulf Wars I (1990-1991) and II (2003)
But not the 6th:
*The role of the Arab League in establishing peaceful cooperation among the nations of the Middle East.
I would amend this as follows: The role of the Arab League in establishing peaceful cooperation among the nations of the Middle East and seeking a measure of justice for the dispossessed Palestinian people.
Wertheim, of course, will have none of this, seeing the Arab League as merely another impediment on the road to Israel's normalization in the region:
"The sixth dot point refers to 'The role of the Arab League in establishing peaceful cooperation among the nations of the Middle East'. This suggests that the role of the Arab League has always been a positive one. In fact, for many decades the Arab League led a primary and secondary boycott campaign against Israel (which technically remains extant) and committed its members to maintaining a state of war with Israel. We would suggest that the dot point be amended to read: An assessment of the role played by the League of Arab States as a regional organisation in the Middle East."
A key feature of Zionist propaganda, of course, is its hypocrisy, the Zionist movement happily deploying the boycott tactic to further its interests when required. For example, the Zionist leadership of Palestine's colons advocated and enforced the boycott of non-Jewish labour during the period of the British mandate. And more recently, we have the ongoing spectacle of Israel's crippling blockade of the Gaza Strip.
As for the Arab League's primary and secondary boycott of Israel, correctly imposed in response to the Palestinian Nakba over 60 years ago, this was indeed a positive strategy, as was the League's adoption of the famous 3 No's (no peace, no recognition, no negotiation with Israel) of the Khartoum summit in the wake of Israel's 1967 occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, Sinai and the Golan Heights.
Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, the boycott is now a shadow of its former itself, as is the Khartoum Resolution, dealt a catastrophic blow by Egypt's President Sadat in 1979 when he broke Arab ranks and made peace with Israel.*
As Egypt's most famous journalist, Mohamed Heikal wrote in 1983:
"Egypt's opting out had a centrifugal effect on all other Arab countries, diverting their attention from what had for long been the dream of unity - however imperfectly understood or pursued, yet a noble and stimulating dream - into barren territorial rivalries, religious conflicts and social strife. The Arab world had become well and truly balkanized. No contrast could be greater than the increased practical support by all Arab governments for the Palestinians in general, and for the PLO in particular, during the 1960s and 1970s, and the reluctant agreement by these same governments in the summer of 1982, under American pressure, to receive some of these same Palestinians, after they had fought the Israeli army for nearly 3 months without support, as permanent and unwanted exiles. On foreign insistence the Arabs were dismantling all they had tried for the past generation to achieve. Nor is the Palestinian cause the only one to suffer by Egypt's defection. The Arab League, removed from Cairo to the periphery of the Arab world in Tunis, has lost most of its former authority; the Organization of African States and the non-aligned movement are shadows of what they once were. Under Nasser the 3 circles of which he saw Egypt as the centre - Arab, Islamic and African - had a reality; Sadat made Egypt the centre of nowhere." (Autumn of Fury: The Assassination of Sadat, Mohamed Heikal, 1983, p 285)
[*See my 15/2/09 post A Likud Peace.]
To be continued...