Sunday, May 23, 2010

"Countering Distortion"

Arlene Kushner

My desire to set the record straight, when it's possible to do so, makes me a bit compulsive. Having worked on another project all day, I was not planning on posting today. And yet... this is important.

The distortion I respond to today is not an Arab one, but from an Israeli official. Inadvertently or not, it covers up some harsh realities.


Once again writing jointly, Khaled Abu Toameh and Herb Keinon reported in today's JPost that Fatah is warning of a return to "armed struggle" if the "proximity talks" fail.

Abbas Zaki, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and the Fatah Central Committee, made threats during an interview with Al Ghad, a Jordanian newspaper. Besides keeping open the option of "armed struggle," Zaki said that the Palestinian Arabs might also demand the implementation of UN Resolution 181, of 1947, which called for the partition of Palestine, with Jerusalem (joined with Bethlehem) controlled internationally as a Corpus Separatum.
The second threat can be dispensed with. For this resolution came from the General Assembly and is thus only a recommendation without force within international law; it cannot be "implemented." What is more, the Arabs rejected it in 1947.

What concerns me is the first threat, of violence: "We shouldn't give Israel more time. We must start thinking of all forms of struggle and taking measures to make Israel pay a price for its aggressive practices."


And here's where things get problematic:

According to this report:

"A senior Israeli official characterized Palestinian threats about a return to violence as a 'serious problem.'

"'The whole peace process with the Palestinians was based on a commitment by Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian leadership that the Palestinian national movement was going to abrogate violence and pursue engagement through negotiations. If they return to violence they are taking us back to the days before the Oslo process.'"


And I'm here to tell you that he's wrong.

Sure the process was based on the illusion of a commitment by Arafat to renounce violence. Undoubtedly our leaders believed it at the start. Or so I assume.

But it was never, ever Arafat's intention. And Israel continued to pretend it was, long after there was reason to know better. When should Israel have first begun to realize what was afoot? A mere ten days after the signing of the Gaza-Jericho First agreement that was a follow-up to the original accord. That is, until May 10, 1994.

That's when Arafat went to Johannesburg, South Africa and gave a speech in a mosque, in English. He spoke off the record, but his talk was discreetly recorded by a South African journalist and then made public.

Arafat said, famously:

This agreement, I am not considering it more than the agreement which had been signed between our prophet Muhammad and Quraysh...

That should have rung some bells, somewhere. Islamic academics would have understood, and everyone else should have rushed to find out what it meant.

The short of it is that in 628, Muhammad, who was not yet powerful, made a 10-year peace pact with the Quraysh tribe that controlled Mecca. Two years later, when he had garnered sufficient strength, he abrogated the treaty, attacked the (unsuspecting) Quraysh with overwhelming force and took Mecca.


That, my friends, was the model for how Arafat viewed the Oslo Accords. This should be noted well, because Arafat set the tone for what is proceeding to this day. Understand: He was Mahmoud Abbas's mentor.

They pretend peaceful intentions (although they're not even doing that very well today), but remain prepared to hit us whenever it suits them. As Dennis Ross, who was a special envoy to the Middle East for President Clinton, later wrote, Arafat never relinquished the "terrorism card."


The lesson we refused to learn back in the mid-90s was that it was time to call a halt to Oslo as soon as it was clear the Arabs weren't sincere. But we kept moving along as if...

"As if..." is very dangerous. It is not a luxury, or a foolishness, we can afford right now.


And then there is the statement, from this Israeli official, that if the Palestinian Arabs return to violence it is taking us back to before Oslo. Now, perhaps he had no clue about the Quraysh. But he knows about what was called the "second intifada," and therefore, surely, he must know that his statement is in error.

Briefly: In 2000, then prime minister Ehud Barak offered Arafat a deal, which, thank heaven, he rejected, even though it would have given the Arabs almost all of Judea and Samaria, all of Gaza, eastern Jerusalem and sharing of the holy sites, etc. Details are not relevant here, except to say that they weren't to Arafat's liking.

So he didn't request further negotiations. He fell back to plan B: He resorted to violence. That's the pattern.

The pretense was that this was a "spontaneous" uprising in response to the "provocation" of a visit to the Temple Mount (OUR Temple Mount, which they insist is theirs) by Ariel Sharon. In point of fact, and I have documentation, it was premeditated. Arafat had put out the word and they were simply waiting for the hook to hang it on, to make it "our" fault.

Arafat surely intended to teach us a lesson. But instead, by 2002, as things got very ugly, he got hit with Operation Defensive Shield, which quieted matters down and took the IDF back into areas from which we had pulled out.


The painful reality is that more Jews died from terror attacks AFTER Oslo than before.


Now, have we learned nothing? Does our government not see that we're headed that way again? They'll pretend to negotiate, and break it off in discontent with protests about our unreasonableness, and they'll hit us again.

We can squash them again, but be aware, good old General Dayton is in there, training PA "security forces." So they'll be better equipped this time.


There was news last night and today about an ostensible agreement between Israel and the PA concerning the principle of a land trade (meaning we would keep some communities in Judea and Samaria and give them some land inside the Green Line). Abbas, who is the one who announced this, is not saying how much he would agree to swap, and Israel is saying that it's not good to talk publicly about what's being discussed. Which leaves us no where in terms of anything definitive. Maybe Abbas is making it up, maybe Netanyahu doesn't want it know what he's saying. I do not intend to belabor this here.


Instead I will close with a good news item, as promised yesterday, and with thanks to Joel K., who shared this with me.

You have here a link to footage from the Steven Spielberg film archives that shows incredible scenes from our pre-state history, our founding, and much more. Enjoy and share, as it is moving and stunning:

see my website

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