Archive for April, 2011

Is Fatah/Hamas reconciliation for real?

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

News item:

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement and its rival Hamas said on Wednesday they had resolved their deep divisions, opening the way for a unity government and national elections. The deal, which took many officials by surprise, was thrashed out in Egypt and followed a series of secret meetings. The two groups hammered out an agreement, setting the stage for forming an interim government as well as fixing a date for a general election. The accord was first reported by Egypt’s intelligence service, which brokered the talks…

Spokespeople for both Hamas and Fatah confirmed that “all differences” have been worked out between the long-feuding Palestinians political movements.

Is this to be believed? Keep in mind, that when Hamas overthrew the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Gaza, some Fatah officials were taken to the top of tall buildings, shot in the knees and dropped off.

Fatah is a secular, Arab nationalist party. It was founded in 1959, and during the period that the Soviet Union supported the Arab states against Israel, took on a Marxist orientation. One of its founders was Yasser Arafat. In 1969, Arafat took over the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which was recognized as the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people” by the Oslo accord and which became the dominant power in the Palestinian Authority (PA), the pseudo-government set up by Oslo. Fatah has a ‘military’ (terrorist) wing called the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades from which somehow it manages to distance itself in order to be treated as a legitimate ‘partner’ by Israel and the West.

Despite the viciousness of Hamas and Hizballah, etc., Fatah has probably been responsible for more terrorist murders of Israelis over the years than any other group. But despite the policy clearly enunciated by Fatah and the PLO (including the most recent Fatah convention in 2009) advocating the violent replacement of Israel by an Arab state, it is considered a ‘moderate’ Palestinian organization because its leaders are prepared to make moderate-sounding statements in English.

Although Fatah claims not to be antisemitic or pro-terrorism, the PA media that it controls is full of antisemitism, incitement to murder, and glorification of terrorist ‘martyrs’.

Hamas is an Islamist party. It is explicitly antisemitic and calls for violent jihad against the Jewish state. Unlike Fatah, its spokespersons do not make moderate noises in English, so it is considered beyond the pale by Israel and the West. Hamas believes in strict application of Islamic law, and its reign in Gaza has been marked by persecution of Christians, limitation of the freedom of women, etc. Hamas has been waging war on Israel from its base in Gaza, launching thousands of rockets and trying to kidnap Israelis. Hamas has been holding kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit incommunicado since June of 2006.

Hamas and Fatah have very little in common from an ideological point of view, except a commitment to violent ‘resistance’ against the ‘occupation’, which means a Jewish state of any size between the Jordan and the Mediterranean. The most significant differences between them relate to the kind of Arab society that they would establish in Israel’s place, and the tactics that they have been employing in the struggle with Israel today.

Fatah and Hamas have negotiated on and off since the Hamas coup in Gaza without result. So why are they suddenly able to reach an agreement?

The PA has recently been quite successful in getting various nations to sign on to the idea of a unilateral declaration of statehood according to the 1949 armistice lines. If they can get the UN to call for such a state and a sufficient number of countries recognize it, then they will have their state without having to make any compromises for the sake of Israel — no recognition as a Jewish state, no secure boundaries for Israel, no demilitarization or other security concessions, and, importantly, no agreeing to give up further claims against Israel, including right of return for Arab ‘refugees’. A state like this would immediately be in a position of confrontation with Israel, and I expect that it would immediately become a locus of terrorism.

This would be a big win for the ‘Palestinian movement’ in general, because it will significantly advance the common goal of both groups, which is getting rid of those pesky Jews for once and for all.

But there is a big problem, which is that the Europeans will not agree to recognize such a state under a PA that does not represent all of the ‘Palestinian people’ (40% of them live under Hamas in Gaza). So in order for this to work, it’s necessary to at least give an appearance of reconciliation. I expect also that there will have to be some kind of representation that the new regime, including Hamas, will be peaceful.

Once the state is declared, Hamas and Fatah can go back to struggling for complete control of ‘Palestine’. Palestinian elections are scheduled for 2012, but D-Day for the big push in the UN is September 2011.

My guess is that the agreement will be long on generalizations and short on specifics, and that it will also contain some kind of language designed to soothe the US and Europe, who have in the past refused to recognize a PA that includes Hamas unless Hamas agrees to recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept prior PA agreements (the Oslo accords). Hamas has never been prepared to do these things, but today conditions are especially ‘good’:

  • The prize is great — they smell victory
  • The Europeans (and the Palestinians think the US as well) are really pushing for Palestinian unification
  • The atmosphere in Egypt is now much more supportive
  • They know that agreements are made to be broken

It is also possible that there will be a renewed push to get Marwan Barghouti out of Israeli jail, where he is serving a life sentence for multiple murder, because he is considered by many to be the man who can bring the factions together.

What will the Obama Administration do? So far, it has opposed a unilateral declaration of statehood, calling for a negotiated agreement between the parties. Who knows if it will be able to resist the temptation if the Fatah/Hamas ‘reconciliation’ is convincing enough?

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Anti-Israel claims invert reality

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Last week (“Secrets of Palestinian Arab propaganda“) I wrote about the way particular anti-Israel messages are targeted at  specific audiences. For example, I talked about

An anti-racist message aimed primarily at the US, where the white population is suffused with guilt for the institution of slavery followed by institutional discrimination against African-Americans. Palestinian Arabs are (nonsensically) presented as discriminated against because of their ‘race’, comparisons are made to apartheid South Africa, and violent terrorism is compared to the civil rights movement of the 1960′s. This argument is epitomized by a recent article by Sarah Leah Whitson of Human Rights Watch.

Today I want to look at another dimension of these various messages, the way they are characterized by an inversion of reality. Let’s look at some of the most absurd anti-Israel claims and see how they are actually inversions of Arab actions or objectives:

1. The IDF deliberately targets civilians (Goldstone Report). Not only did Goldstone himself repudiate this conclusion, it has been conclusively shown that

[T]he Goldstone Report’s anti-Israel charges were just unproven partisan allegations masquerading as investigative conclusions.

But Palestinian Arab terrorism against Jews, which has been going on for at least 100 years, primarily targets civilians. They are soft targets, and best fit the goals of terrorism — to attract attention and to demoralize a population.

2. Children are especially victimized. If there ever was an inversion, this is it. No better example can be given than the recent murder of five members of the Fogel family, where one of the perpetrators returned to the house to kill a crying baby, and one said that they would have killed two other children if they had known they were present. There was the recent murder of a child when an antitank missile was fired directly at a yellow school bus.  And there have been any number of ‘actions’ like the Ma’alot massacre, the Bus of Blood, the attack on the nursery at Misgav Am, etc., in which the victims were primarily children.

3. The conflict arises from Israeli racism. There is no doubt that many Israeli Jews strongly dislike Arabs. You would too, given 1. and 2. above. But going all the way back to the beginnings of Zionism, there is documentation of a Jewish desire to coexist with Arabs in the land. On the other hand, the founding documents of both Hamas and the PLO (Fatah) are explicitly antisemitic, as are the messages broadcast by Palestinian Arab media, taught in schools, etc.

4. Israel tries to deny self-determination to Arabs. Of  course the whole point of the anti-Zionist movement is that the only Jewish state in the world is illegitimate, and should never have been created. Self-determination, they argue, is fine for ‘Palestinians’ — but not for Jews.

5. IDF actions are intended to terrorize the Palestinian population. No, they are designed to stop Arab terrorism, which is designed to … you get the idea.

6. Israel wants to displace Arabs from their land, on both sides of the Green Line. Both major branches of the Palestinian movement are quite clear that the problem is Jewish ‘occupation’, which refers to all of Israel, “from the river to the sea,” in the words of former PLO official Feisal Husseini.

7. Israel is a regional power oppressing the weak Palestinian Arabs. The Palestinian Arabs are just a small part of the complex of the entire Arab world plus Iran, which is prosecuting its war to eliminate Israel. Can 40,000 (a conservative estimate) rockets aimed at Israel from Lebanon, long-range missiles in Syria, the increasingly unfriendly but massively armed Egypt, the Iranian nuclear program, etc. be left out of the equation?

8. Israel is carrying out a genocide against the Palestinian Arabs. This is the most vile accusation of all. The Palestinian Arab population in the territories and within Israel has more than tripled since 1970. Does this look like genocide? Not to me. But Hamas explicitly espouses murdering Jews in its charter, and Fatah has killed more Jews than anyone since Hitler.

I could go on. But I want to present one last example of the absolutely insane lengths to which anti-Israel propaganda has been taken.

One of the panelists at a recent University of California’s Hastings College of the Law conference (“Litigating Palestine: Can Courts Secure Palestinian Rights?“) was Noura Erakat, niece of Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erakat.  Here is how Stephen Schwartz reported some of her remarks:

In a weird attempt to contrast the present-day view of Israel held by the majority in the U.S. with official attitudes toward ethnic Japanese living in America during WWII, Erakat argued incoherently that “Israel [sic] enjoys citizenship and full status in the U.S.”  Answering a question from the audience, Erakat claimed that “criticism of Israel is seen as criticism of the U.S.” by the American populace and that U.S. laws against assisting Palestinian terrorists are comparable to Plessy v. Ferguson, the 1896 U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding racial segregation based on the maintenance of “separate but equal” facilities.  She advised her audience that changes in the public outlook about Arab opposition to Israel would eventually arise, just as in 1954 the Supreme Court issued its decision in Brown v. Topeka Board of Education finding segregation of schools to be illegal.  After the panel, Jules Lobel, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh and keynote speaker for the session, explicitly identified the Jewish state and its relation to Palestinians with American slavery.

The closest parallel that I can find to slavery and discrimination against African-Americans in the US is to compare the terrorism of the hooded Klan to that of masked Arab terrorists:

Hamas members with young recruit

Hamas members with young recruit

Klan members with young recruits

Klan members with young recruits

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Find another scapegoat

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Over the years, I’ve written about the moral necessity to recognize the Armenian Genocide, in those words, without euphemisms.

I’ve maintained my position despite the prevalence of antisemitism in Armenia (read a 2005 report here) as well as a disturbing strain of it found among some Armenian Americans (see this discussion, by an Armenian). One of the common themes in antisemitic revisionist history is that Jews somehow instigated or took part in the actual genocide alongside the Turks. And it is common currency on antisemitic and anti-Zionist websites that Jews and Israel are behind the US government’s failure to recognize the genocide (see for example the slimy Stephen Walt).

Last December Marshall Moushigian, a local Armenian activist, wrote an op-ed in the Fresno Bee entitled “Israel’s role in Armenian Genocide” in which he claimed that AIPAC was responsible for the defeat of several congressional resolutions to recognize the genocide. He went as far as to say that

Israel has, for decades, colluded with Turkey in the final stage of the Armenian genocide — denial that it ever happened.

and quoted the offensive remark of an antisemitic State Department employee that

[Jews] don’t particularly want to share the genocide label with other groups.

I responded that the great majority of Jews and Jewish organizations in the US, with a few exceptions, do call for recognition of the genocide, that those who did not (the ADL in particular) were responding to multiple forms of pressure, including threats against Turkish Jews. It was also to the advantage of the State Department to blame Israel for its own cynical amorality, and they are happy to do that.

Moushigian, following Walt, also called attention to the recent cooling of relations between Israel and Turkey, and suggested that AIPAC and Jewish groups might not oppose similar resolutions in the future. For my part, I thought that the State Department might change its tune as a result of Turkey’s recent alignment with the anti-American Iranian bloc.

Well guess what? Our courageous president blew it again, and neither side is happy:

Obama issued the annual statement on Armenian Remembrance Day on Saturday, honoring the “horrific events” that took the lives of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915 — but declining to label it as “genocide” …

“The statement distorts the historical facts.” said the Turkish foreign ministry. “Therefore, we find it very problematic and deeply regret it … One-sided statements that interpret controversial historical events by a selective sense of justice prevent understanding of the truth” …

In the meantime, the chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America, Ken Hachikian, criticized Obama for a “disgraceful capitulation to Turkey’s threats” and failing to acknowledge what many historians describe as genocide.

“His complicity in Turkey’s denials, and his administration’s active opposition to congressional recognition of the Armenian Genocide represent the very opposite of the principled and honest change he promised to bring to our country’s response to this crime,” Hachikian said.

With Turkish PM Erdoğan and the terrorist IHH planning yet another Turkish flotilla to Gaza (delayed only because of upcoming elections in Turkey), I think it’s safe to say that AIPAC, ‘The Lobby’, Israel or Jews in general had absolutely nothing to do with the administration’s failure once again to recognize the genocide.

It’s also an indication of their lack of understanding of today’s geopolitical realities that the administration seems to think it is still productive to appease Turkish genocide denial. Caroline Glick wrote (April 15),

This week it was reported that NATO member Turkey is opening something akin to a Taliban diplomatic mission in Ankara. Turkey supports Hamas and Hizbullah. It has begun training the Syrian military. It supports Iran’s nuclear weapons program. It has become the Iranian regime’s economic lifeline by allowing the mullahs to use Turkish markets to bypass the UN sanctions regime.

In less than 10 years, the AKP regime has dismantled Turkey’s strategic alliance with Israel. It has inculcated the formerly tolerant if not pro- Israel Turkish public with virulent anti-Semitism. It is this systematic indoctrination to Jew-hatred that has emboldened Turkish leaders to announce publicly that they support going to war against Israel.

As a Zionist, I have consistently called for recognition of the Armenian Genocide, and did not change my position as a result of Turkey’s hostile policies toward Israel. To those Armenians like Marshall Moushigian who choose to blame the Jews, I say: find another scapegoat.

Note: The Fresno Bee link to Marshall Moushigian’s original article is not available. My link is to a local copy of it.

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When does enough become enough?

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011
Arabs vandalize Joseph's tomb and adjacent yeshiva in 2000

Arabs vandalize Joseph's tomb and adjacent yeshiva in 2000

Joseph’s tomb is located in an area that was placed under Palestinian control by the Oslo accords. However, access to Jewish holy places was supposedly guaranteed, and Israeli soldiers were stationed there to protect Jewish worshipers. In 1996, it was attacked by Palestinian Arab ‘police’ and terrorists (are they different?) and six IDF soldiers were killed. The Arabs were ‘furious’ (aren’t they always?) ‘because’ Israel had opened an additional entrance to a tunnel that ran under the Western Wall, and about 80 people were killed in ensuing riots.

The second Intifada in 2000 (‘because’ Ariel Sharon had visited the Temple Mount) brought another attack, in which an Israeli border patrolman was killed. After that the IDF sporadically arranged visits for Jews wanting to pray there, although the building was vandalized and had garbage dumped at the site.

The Muqata blog brings the story up to date:

Sometimes the IDF coordinates visits in the middle of the night and brings in busloads of people (unless they think it is too dangerous), but more often Breslev Hassidim sneak in and out in the middle of the night.

Early this morning [April 24, 2011] (5:40AM), after finishing their prayers a carload of Breslev Hassidim were attacked by Palestinian policemen.

Originally 3 carloads of Jews arrived at the tomb to pray, but PA policemen waiting there shot in the air and 2 of the cars immediately left. The third carload of Breslevers stayed to pray.

After the prayers, when the Hassidim were driving out, the Palestinian policemen (trained and funded by the US) drove their PA police jeep up to the car with the Hassidim in it and opened fire.

One Israeli, Ben-Yosef Livnat (age 30) was killed and 3 more injured. Livnat is the nephew of Minister Limor Livnat.

Do you see? Let them think that they are safe, and then shoot them down in cold blood. After all, they are not only Jews, they’re ‘religious’, with their black hats. Only killing a ‘settler’ gets an Arab gunman more honor.

When does enough become enough? How many murders have to be committed by Palestinian Arabs just because the victim was a Jew and it was convenient to kill him, before there is a fundamental change in our way of thinking about Palestinian Arabs?

When do we stop treating Arab rights as top priority and start worrying about our survival? This applies to the ordinary terrorist in the street and to the Palestinian ‘security services’ that the US administration thinks it has trained to be ‘professional’, but it also applies to the Palestinian Authority that most of the world thinks should have a state.

Peace is not a possible outcome. The alternatives are effective self-defense or suicide.

Update [0019 PDT]: Israel National News reports:

Speaking to reporters Sunday morning, one of the Bresolv Hassidim [sic] who was in the vehicle shot at by PA police earlier outside the Tomb of Joseph said that it was clear that the PA police were shooting to kill. “They fired several long rounds at our cars, and yelled ‘Allahu Akhbar.’ There is no doubt they were shooting to kill us,” the witness said.

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Moty & Udi are on vacation

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

For those of you who are missing Moty, Udi, Shula and the group, the artist took a week off for Passover, and now is working overtime to finish a book that he is illustrating. He will be back soon! In the meantime, you can see previous Moty & Udi cartoons here.

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