Friday, January 11, 2013

11-Jan-13: When pundits or commentators next tell us Israel must relax its anti-terrorism measures, here is what they are hiding or ignoring

Head of Fatah celebrates "birthday" [Image Source]
Living in one of the world's most contentious places, Israelis and Jerusalemites like us have grown accustomed to prescriptions from 'experts' that begin with some variant of "Israel is not doing enough and must agree to X so that there can be peace". This X tends to vary over time - see Rogers Plan, Madrid PlanGeneva Accord and so many others.

But the condescension of the advice, as if Israelis did not want peace, rarely does.

Even rarer is a peace formulation that takes honest and accurate notice of what the Arab side is doing and saying. (We believe the doing is far more important than the saying but we have always asserted that when those Arab voices advocating terrorism speak up, they absolutely should be heard and their message understood.)

A week ago today, the head of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas, who is also, it is often overlooked, leader of the PLO and of the Fatah terrorist movement, delivered a major speech. It was given in Arabic of course, and since hardly a single one of the many Western journalists covering this area is fluent in that language, there was little media coverage other than what reporters from the major international news syndication agencies chose to reprint from the English-language handouts provided to them by Abbas' circle.

Israel, while it does not have enough people proficient in the Arabic language, does have many. So when a keynote speech like that of Abbas goes out on the airwaves, there are people here who understand it and have the political sensitivities to give it a context.

One of them, Jonathan Dahoah-Halevi, a retired career Intelligence officer who specializes in research on Palestinian and Islamic affairs, yesterday published an analytical report for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs where he serves as a senior researcher of the Middle East and Radical Islam, as well as being a fellow at the American Center for Democracy.

Dahoah-Halevi's important paper, entitled "Abbas Reinstates a Radical Political Doctrine", looks behind the silliness of Western summings-up of Abbas and his policies, and points to what he actually represents. None of it is encouraging. None of it fits with the "moderate" label that is so frequently attached to the name of the man who was elected to serve as PA head until January 9, 2009, and who "unilaterally extended his term for another year and continues in office even after that second deadline expired" [Wikipedia]. And none of it suggests that in Abbas, Israel has a 'partner for peace' who knows how to lead his people away from their generations-long addiction to terrorism at the individual-person level... or even wants to.

From the January 4 Abbas speech. "Abu Ammar" is the nom de guerre
of Arafat, whom Abbas misleadingly calls a "martyr" 
Last Friday's Mahmoud Abbas speech was said to mark the 48th anniversary of Fatah's establishment (but this was mis-reported too; see our comment below) and to express the political and national vision that the great man bequeaths to the Palestinian people. From Dahoah-Halevi's analysis, here is a summary:
  • The key element in the Abbas speech is on the Palestinian people remaining on the path of struggle to realize "the dream of return" of the Palestinian refugees and their millions of descendants.
  • Abbas avoids all mention of historic compromise with Israel in order to bring the conflict to an end.
  • Neither the land-for-peace formula nor the establishment of a Palestinian state beside Israel are mentioned even once. 
  • Abbas pledges to follow in the footsteps of "previous Palestinian leaders" and to continue their struggle. What struggle? What footsteps? Which leaders? So here they are:
  • The Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, who entered into a strategic partnership with Hitler and spent the war years living in Nazi Germany
  • The Palestinian Arab terror organizations and their leaders (he names them) whose 'great achievements' are the murders by terrorism of thousands of Israeli civilians
  • Such 'leaders' as Halil al-Wazir Abu Jihad of Fatah; Abd al-Aziz al-Rantisi and Sheikh Ahmed Yassin of Hamas; Fathi al-Shikaki of Islamic Jihad; Abu Ali Mustafa and George Habash of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine; Abu al-Abbas of the Arab Liberation Front; Izzadin al-Qassam who lead the campaign of jihad against the Jews and the British Mandatory rulers of Palestine in the 1930's. It's notable that this pantheon of "fighters for liberation" never achieved or even sought a Palestinian Arab state, but devoted themselves exclusively to the killing (in which they were successful) and expulsion (in which they totally failed) of Jews from the Jewish homeland
  • The Abbas view is that the ideology of these 'leaders' serves as a source of inspiration for the Palestinian people. That it is rooted in terrorism and/or radical Islamism is of zero consquence.
  • Dahoah-Halevi notes that if people expected Abbas to follow a more moderate course after the UN General Assembly resolution of November 29, 2012 that "upgraded" the status of the PLO's Observer Mission to that of an observer state, they must have been disappointed: "He was not preparing the Palestinian people for making peace, but rather reverting to rhetoric perpetuating and even escalating the conflict."
A note about the timing of the Abbas address: though almost every online news report in the past week says it came to mark the 48th birthday of the Fatah terrorist organization, this is untrue - though it's convenient to say and here's why. Fatah was actually established by the arch-terrorist and Nobel Prize winner Yasser Arafat in Kuwait in the late 1950's, years before there were any 'occupied territories'. What was actually commemorated last week was the anniversary of a terror attack conducted by Arafat's followers on the night of December 31, 1964. That attack was directed against Israel's national water carrier, a phenomenal engineering achievement that brought water to places (many of them Arab villages) that had never had any. The Arafat plan was to deny water to the Jews. The columnist Caroline Glick wrote about this last week, pointing out that this showcase terror attack failed:
Is it really necessary still to point out that a group that celebrates the anniversary not of its establishment but of its first terrorist attack is not a moderate organization? That is, it isn't moderate except for those who define "moderate" as violent, murderous, intractable, and evil. []
Thanks to the excellent translation service of MEMRI, extracts of the unlovely Abbas's mostly-ignored pro-terror speech can be seen and heard in this video link.

Experts continue to say this man is the address for Israel's efforts to make peace, and his political mainfesto serves as the basis for a compromise agreement. But that calls for a view of terrorism that simply does not stand up. And if you ask: why don't more people understand this? we say: it's because it's not their children who are in the crosshairs of the weapons held by Abbas and his forces in their "path of struggle". It's ours and we have so much to protect.

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