x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Israel fails democracy by barring Chomsky

Israel failed a democracy test when it denied entry rights for Noam Chomsky to lecture on American politics at the Palestinian Birzeit University in the West Bank, remarked Khalil Qandeel in a comment piece.

Israel failed a democracy test when it denied entry rights for Noam Chomsky to lecture on American politics at the Palestinian Birzeit University in the West Bank, remarked Khalil Qandeel in a comment piece for the Jordanian newspaper Addustoor. The founding father of generative linguistics was interrogated for five hours by border guards. Surprisingly, Mr Chomsky has visited Israel more than once without being subjected to any kind of harassment. But this time he was forced to return home because he came in response to an invitation from a Palestinian academic institution.

That he was questioned for hours was a disgraceful act towards a man who has changed the scientific study of language. It was a gesture aimed at punishing him for accepting to share his thoughts with his Palestinian peers. Yet the western media turned a blind eye to the incident, showing their biased attitude towards Israel. Such an act of humiliation should bring world attention to the propaganda that Israel is a "haven of democracy" in the Middle East. This should also prompt us to wonder if the same thing happened on an Arab country's border, what would be the world media's reaction?

Commenting on the agreement among Iran, Turkey and Brazil that was concluded on Monday over the enrichment of a quantity of uranium in Turkey, Tariq Alhomayed argued in the pan-Arabic daily Asharq al Awsat that the deal had not reassured the international community. Rather, it raised more suspicions about the real intentions of Tehran. The UN demands that Iran comply fully with international resolutions. The US expresses its continuing concerns, while Europe says the agreement would not likely dissipate fears surrounding the Iranian nuclear programme. Explicitly, France called for a framework agreement that should involve exclusively Tehran and the International Agency for Atomic Energy (IAEA).

The lack of international confidence in Tehran is largely due to the counterproductive policies it has adopted for the last nine months outside the scope of the IAEA's control. Others believe that the recent agreement is yet another manoeuvre to escape imminent punitive measures. This is because the agreement, which stipulates the processing of 1,200kg of low enriched uranium in Turkey, does not meet the IAEA's requirements.

Inside Iran, many analysts maintain that Iran had felt cornered, which forced it to opt for such a solution. For these reasons, it is too early to say that the Iranian nuclear crisis is nearing its end. Upstream countries cause Nile crisis The crisis over the Nile River basin between the downstream countries, Egypt and Sudan, and those of the upstream, has entered a critical turn following the signing of a framework agreement among Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania on new terms to regulate the water flow, wrote Samir Saeed in an opinion piece for the UAE newspaper Al Khaleej.

Encouraged by Israel, Ethiopia also inaugurated a hydropower dam at the river upstream this week. Downstream countries are still insisting on respecting an agreement signed earlier regulating the Nile River waters. "Officials in Egypt still think of the Nile waters as an existential right. Egypt is the only country in the Nile basin that fully relies on the Nile. Other countries in the basin receive enough precipitation, plus they have various hydraulic sources."

Surprisingly, the World Bank reportedly has a role in funding such water programmes and in advising upstream countries to sell their surplus water. The crisis does not appear to emerge as result of a rising need by the upstream countries for more water to meet their ends, but rather of a desire to sell it as a commodity. And the first in queue to buy would be Israel. Thus Ethiopia and its neighbouring countries  would serve as an alternative to Turkey, which appears to have changed many aspects of its policy with Isreal.

"The formal approval of Israel's full membership at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is a politically biased decision, one that does not serve peace in the Middle East and simply shores up the occupation of Palestinian land," commented Mohammed Qarsh in the Palestinian newspaper Al Quds. How can the OECD accept the membership of Israel, a state that has been violating all internationally recognised resolutions, including the one against the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan Heights, including one which was issued by the OECD itself? And what kind of explanation does the organisation have for the Palestinian people?

The Palestinians don't have a clue about the reasons behind this new development. "For them, it is just an incongruous reward for Israel's occupation of Gaza, takeover of Jerusalem and demolition of homes. The best pretext the OECD can come up with is to say that the move will actually encourage Israel to engage more seriously in the peace process. "This lullaby record has been played so often that it's now totally scratched and awful to hear." The OECD has no leg to stand on whatsoever.

* Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi @Email:melmouloudi@thenational.ae