Posted tagged ‘Palestinian Authority’

Palestinian Normalization — With Hamas, Not Israel

October 11, 2017

Palestinian Normalization — With Hamas, Not Israel, Gatestone InstituteBassam Tawil, October 11, 2017

The most widespread conspiracy theory, which has been floating around for decades and can be heard in almost every coffee shop on the streets of Cairo, Amman, Ramallah and Beirut, is that Zionist Jews, together with American capitalists and imperialists, have a secret plan to take control over the Arab and Islamic countries and their resources.

How exactly are the “Zionists and imperialists” trying to “undermine” the Palestinian “national project”? And what, precisely, is this project? Is it the project of Hamas and many other Palestinians that seeks the destruction of Israel?

The corrupt Arab and Palestinian leaders spread such rumors to divert attention from problems at home, such as corruption and dictatorship. These leaders want their people too busy hating Jews and Westerners to demand reform, democracy and transparency from their leaders. Those valuables, of course, are what Arab and Palestinian leaders still refuse to offer their people.

Why do many Palestinians prefer peace with Hamas? Because they identify with Hamas’s dream of destroying Israel and killing Jews. It may be an unpleasant a truth, but that is the bottom line.

When Palestinian women took part in a march with Israeli women for peace this week, they were condemned in the harshest terms by many other Palestinians, who called for their punishment. The Palestinian women who participated in the October 8 event, organized by a group called Women Wage Peace, have been denounced by many of their own people as “traitors” and “whores.”

Conversely, when Palestinian Authority (PA) officials held “reconciliation” talks with Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip and Egypt during the same period, many Palestinians praised them as “heroes” and “brave.”

Judging from the reactions of many Palestinians, especially on social media, they prefer peace with Hamas rather than with Israel.

The thousands of Palestinian women who participated in the march with Israeli women are being accused of promoting “normalization” with Israel. This, in the eyes of their critics, is an abhorrent and despicable act, tantamount to “high treason” — an offense punishable by death.

Palestinian and Israeli women from the “Women Wage Peace” group participate in an event on September 30, 2017. (Image source: Women Wage Peace/Facebook)

Prior to the women’s march, Palestinian activists waged an online bid to stop the Palestinian women from taking part in the “shameful” event. It was a vicious campaign that lasted for several days and that accused the Palestinian women of treason for promoting “normalization” with the “Israeli enemy.” One group, The Women’s Campaign for Boycotting Israeli Merchandise, said in a statement that the planned march was “hurtful to Palestinian and Arab and international efforts to boycott and isolate Israel.” The group pointed out that the march coincided with a “Zionist-imperialist onslaught to undermine the Palestinian national project.”

Exactly which “Zionist-imperialist” conspiracy these protesters are referring to remains unclear.

Such rhetoric, however, reflects the mindset in the Arab and Islamic world. The most widespread conspiracy theory, which has been floating around for decades and can be heard in almost every coffee shop on the streets of Cairo, Amman, Ramallah and Beirut, is that Zionist Jews, together with American capitalists and imperialists, have a secret plan to take control over the Arab and Islamic countries and their resources.

What does a peaceful march of Israeli and Palestinian women have to do with Zionism and imperialism? How exactly are the “Zionists and imperialists” trying to “undermine” the Palestinian “national project”?

And what, precisely, is this project? Is it the project of Hamas and many other Palestinians that seeks the destruction of Israel? Is it the project that still talks about a phased plan to destroy Israel by demanding a Palestinian state next to Israel so that it would be used in the future as a launching pad to eliminate Israel?

Palestinian and Arab leaders have long advanced anti-Israel, anti-Jewish and anti-Western conspiracy theories. Why do these leaders do so? For one purpose: distraction.

The corrupt Arab and Palestinian leaders spread such rumors to divert attention from problems at home, such as corruption and dictatorship. These leaders want their people too busy hating Jews and Westerners to demand reform, democracy and transparency from their leaders. Those valuables, of course, are what Arab and Palestinian leaders still refuse to offer their people.

Back to the controversial women’s march.

The abusive comments hurled against the Palestinian women who took part in the march are frankly embarrassing to read. Even the PLO committee that permitted the participation of the Palestinian women in the march is being pilloried by many Palestinians, with some calling for holding the PLO officials involved accountable.

The verbal abuse is reminiscent of the experience of teenage Palestinian girls who recently participated in a summer camp with Israeli girls in the US. The Palestinian girls endured a massive smear campaign for attending the summer camp, which was organized by Creativity for Peace, an organization in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Like the women from the march, the teenage girls were also cursed on social media and dubbed as “sluts” and “traitors.” The abuse reached the parents of the Palestinian girls, for allowing their daughters to commit the sin of dancing and mixing with Israeli (Jewish) girls. The girls, like the women, were also accused of promoting “normalization” with Israel.

Sadly, only a handful of Palestinians have thus far dared to come out in defense of the summer camp girls or the women who participated in the October 8 march.

While many Palestinians may be opposed to the brutal and senseless attacks on the girls and women, they are terrified of voicing their views in public. No one wants to get targeted by the abusers, especially if some of these people are affiliated with terror groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Palestinians have an unfortunate habit of allowing thugs and terrorists to intimidate them, control the discourse and set the agenda. This is certainly not new. Most Palestinians prefer to sit on the fence instead of speaking their minds. This is what happens when you live under ruthless dictatorships such as the Palestinian Authority and Hamas that suppress freedom of expression.

Yet this most recent exhibit has an ironic twist. Just as the women were shamed publicly for taking part in an event with Jewish women, many Palestinians were celebrating the “reconciliation” between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip took to the streets to express their jubilation over the “accord,” and when the PA Prime Minister and his delegation arrived in the Gaza Strip from the West Bank, scenes of kissing and hugging were easy to spot.

What does all this teach us?

First, that many Palestinians continue to consider any form of contact with Jews and “normalization” with the “Zionist entity” an act of treason.

Second, that Palestinians do not hesitate to designate their own women as prostitutes and traitors for engaging in the most basic activities with Jews. Such disrespect for women is not, by the way, something that should surprise us about conservative Arab and Islamic societies.

Third, that for many Palestinians, the priority remains making peace with Hamas and not Israel. Why do they prefer peace with Hamas? Because they identify with Hamas’s dream of destroying Israel and killing Jews. It may be an unpleasant a truth, but that is the bottom line.

Bassam Tawil is a Muslim based in the Middle East.

In This Round of Reconciliation Talks, Hamas is the Great Victor

October 5, 2017

In This Round of Reconciliation Talks, Hamas is the Great Victor, FrontPage MagazineCaroline Glick, October 5, 2017

Tuesday’s surrender ceremonies tell us two things.

First, the notion that Fatah is even remotely interested in defeating Hamas is complete nonsense. For 10 years since its forces were humiliated and routed in Gaza, Fatah has faithfully funded and defended Hamas. Abbas’s only concern is staying in charge of his Israeli-protected fiefdom in Ramallah. To this end, he will finance – with US and EU taxpayer monies – and defend another 10 Hamas wars with Israel.

The second lesson we learn from Hamas’s victory is that we need to curb our enthusiasm for Sisi and his regime in Egypt, and for his backers in the UAE. Sisi’s decision to facilitate and mediate Hamas’s newest victory over Fatah shows that his alliance with Israel is tactical and limited in scope. His decision to side with Israel against Hamas during Operation Protective Edge three years ago may not repeat itself in the next war.

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Originally published by the Jerusalem Post

On Tuesday, a delegation of 400 Fatah officials from Ramallah, led by Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, arrived in Gaza to officially surrender to Hamas.

No, the ceremony isn’t being portrayed as a Fatah surrender to Hamas. But it is. It’s also an Egyptian surrender to Hamas.

How is this the case? Ten years ago this past June, after a very brief and deadly assault by Hamas terrorists against US-trained Fatah forces in Gaza, the Fatah forces cut and ran to Israel for protection. Fatah politicians also headed for the border and then scurried into Fatah-controlled (and Israeli protected) Ramallah. Ever since, Hamas has served as the official authority on the ground in Gaza. Its personnel have been responsible for internal security and for Gaza’s borders with Egypt and Israel.

Despite their humiliating defeat and removal from Gaza, Fatah and its PA government in Ramallah continued to fund Hamas-controlled Gaza. They paid Gaza’s bills, including the salaries of all the PA security forces that were either no longer working or working double shifts as stay at home Fatah gunmen and up and coming Hamas terrorist forces.

The PA paid Hamas’s electricity bills to Israel and it paid Israeli hospitals which continued to serve Gaza.

Internationally, the PA defended Hamas and its constant wars against Israel. The PA and Fatah, led by President-for-life Mahmoud Abbas, continued to use Israel’s defensive operations against Hamas as a means to ratchet up their political war against Israel. The latest victory in that war came last week with Interpol’s decision to permit the PA to join the organization despite its open support for and finance of terrorism.

For most of the past decade, the PA-Fatah has allocated more than half of its EU- and US-underwritten budget to Hamas-controlled Gaza. It has defended its actions to successive delegations of US lawmakers and three US administrations. It has defended its actions to EU watchdog groups. No amount of congressional pressure or statements from presidential envoys ever made a dent on Abbas’s strident devotion to paying the salaries of Hamas terrorists and functionaries.

But then, in April, Abbas cut them off.

Ostensibly he cut them off because he was under pressure from the US Congress, which is now in the end stages of passing the Taylor Force Act. Once passed, the law will make it a bit more difficult for the State Department to continue funding the terror- financing PA.

While the Taylor Force Act is the ostensible reason for Abbas’s move, Palestinian sources openly acknowledge that congressional pressure had nothing to do with his decision.

Abbas abruptly ended PA financing of Hamas in retaliation for Hamas’s decision to open relations with Abbas’s archrival in Fatah, Muhammad Dahlan.

From 1994, when the PA was established, until 2007, when Hamas ousted his US-trained forces from Gaza, Dahlan was the Gaza strongman.

Once one of Abbas’s closest cronies, since 2011 Dahlan has been his archenemy. Abbas, now in the twelfth year of his four-year term in office, views Dahlan as the primary threat to his continued reign.

As a consequence, he ousted Dahlan from Fatah and forced him to decamp with his sizable retinue to the UAE. There Dahlan enjoys exceedingly close ties with the Nahyan regime.

The UAE is allied with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi. Both view Hamas’s mother organization the Muslim Brotherhood as their mortal foe. As a result, Sisi and the UAE as well as Saudi Arabia sided with Israel in its 2014 war with Hamas.

Since May, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have been in open conflict with Qatar. Qatar, which sponsors the Muslim Brotherhood, has long sponsored Hamas as well.

Since the start of the year, the UAE has been interested in prying Hamas away from Qatar. And so with the blessing of his UAE hosts, Dahlan began building ties with Hamas.

Recognizing Dahlan’s close ties to the UAE and through it, with Sisi, Hamas, which has been stricken by Sisi’s war against it, and particularly Sisi’s enforcement of the closure of Gaza’s border with Egypt’s Sinai, was quick to seize on Dahlan’s initiative.

The talks between Dahlan and Sisi on the one hand and Hamas on the other were ratcheted up in April after Abbas cut his funding to Gaza.

In May, Hamas formally cut its ties with the Muslim Brotherhood.

In exchange, Sisi permitted the Rafah border crossing with Gaza to open for longer hours and permitted Gazans to transit Egypt en route to their religious pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, among other things.

To build its leverage against Abbas, beginning in the spring, Hamas began describing Dahlan as a viable alternative to Abbas. The UAE agreed to begin financing Hamas’s budget and to help pay for electricity.

Against this backdrop, it is self-evident that Abbas didn’t send his own representatives to Cairo to negotiate a surrender deal with Hamas because his aid cut-off brought Hamas to its knees. Abbas sent his people to Cairo because Hamas’s double dealing with Dahlan brought Abbas to his knees.

As for Sisi, Hamas has also played him – and the UAE.

Over the past few months, Hamas has been rebuilding its client relationship with Iran. A senior Hamas delegation visited Tehran last month for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s swearing-in ceremony.

They met there with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and with senior Revolutionary Guards commanders.

A month earlier, senior Hamas terrorist Salah Arouri, who lives under Hezbollah protection in Beirut, paved the way for the reconciliation in a meeting under Hezbollah sponsorship with senior Revolutionary Guards commander Amir Abdollahian.

Following the meeting in Tehran, Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar extolled Hamas’s relations with Iran as “fantastic.” Sinwar also said that Iran is “the largest backer financially and militarily” of Hamas’s terrorism apparatus.

Concerned about Tehran’s growing influence in Gaza, and through it, the Sinai, where Sisi continues to fight against an Islamic State-backed insurgency, Sisi has an interest in tempering Hamas’s client-ties to Tehran.

So just as Abbas has decided to restore financing to Hamas to keep Dahlan at bay, so Sisi has decided to embrace Hamas to keep Iran at bay.

In all cases, of course, Hamas wins.

The fact that Hamas has just won is obvious when we consider the unity deal it just concluded with Fatah.

Hamas made one concession. It agreed to break up its civil governing authority – a body it formed in response to Abbas’s decision to cut off funding in April. In exchange for agreeing to disband a body it only formed because Abbas cut off its funding, Hamas receives a full restoration of PA funding. The PA will fund all civil service operations in Gaza. It will pay the salaries of all civil servants and security personnel in Gaza. It will pay salaries to all Hamas terrorists Israel freed from its jails.

In other words, the PA will now be responsible for keeping the lights on and picking up the garbage.

And Hamas will be free to concentrate on preparing for and initiating its next terror war against Israel. It can dig tunnels. It can build missiles. It can expand its operational ties with Hezbollah, Islamic State, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and Fatah.

In the wake of Hamas’s leadership’s meetings in Tehran, Sinwar told reporters that Hamas is now moving full speed ahead toward doing all of these things. Sinwar said that Hamas is “developing our military strength in order to liberate Palestine.” He added, “Every day we build missiles and continue military training.”

Thousands of people, he said, are working “day and night” to prepare Hamas’s next terror war against Israel. And indeed, two weeks ago, two Hamas terrorists were killed when the tunnels they were digging collapsed on them.

Tuesday’s surrender ceremonies tell us two things.

First, the notion that Fatah is even remotely interested in defeating Hamas is complete nonsense. For 10 years since its forces were humiliated and routed in Gaza, Fatah has faithfully funded and defended Hamas. Abbas’s only concern is staying in charge of his Israeli-protected fiefdom in Ramallah. To this end, he will finance – with US and EU taxpayer monies – and defend another 10 Hamas wars with Israel.

The second lesson we learn from Hamas’s victory is that we need to curb our enthusiasm for Sisi and his regime in Egypt, and for his backers in the UAE. Sisi’s decision to facilitate and mediate Hamas’s newest victory over Fatah shows that his alliance with Israel is tactical and limited in scope. His decision to side with Israel against Hamas during Operation Protective Edge three years ago may not repeat itself in the next war.

UN Chief Guterres, the Media and Palestinian Fake News

September 1, 2017

UN Chief Guterres, the Media and Palestinian Fake News, Gatestone InstituteBassam Tawil, September 1, 2107

(Please see also, INTO THE FRAY: The Taylor Force Act – Putting “Palestine” in perspective. — DM)

One of the mothers who attended the meeting with the UN chief was Latifa Abu Hmaid. Four of her sons, Nasser, Sharif, Nasr and Mohammed are serving multiple life sentences for their role in terrorism. The Palestinian Authority (PA) chose the mother of these terrorists because they are all members of President Mahmoud Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction, which is regularly described by Western media outlets as a moderate and pragmatic Palestinian party that believes in the two-state solution and peace with Israel.

The minimum the UN chief and his aides could have done is to call out the PA leadership and condemn it for the ambush and the fabricated report from the official Palestinian news agency. Had Israel been involved in a similar incident, we would have witnessed a diplomatic crisis, prompted by the UN secretary general and his spokesmen as well as the international media. Palestinians, as usual, are given a pass.

The lie about “Jewish extremists” setting fire to the Al-Aqsa Mosque has become so widespread and accepted that even senior Muslim scholars such as Abbas’s Grand Mufti, Sheikh Mohamed Hussein, has also been spreading the blood libel. He and most Palestinians continue to describe the Australian Christian arsonist as a “Jewish extremist.”

According to the Palestinian propaganda machine, nearly without exception, the terrorists were on their way to buy bread for their mothers or visit their grandmothers. These were innocent victims, the story goes, arrested or shot by Israel for no reason. Then there are the lies about Israelis “planting” knives near the bodies of terrorists who stab or try to murder Jews. Western journalists and others accept these lies as facts.

Fake news is an old story in the Palestinian world. Yet recently, fake news has been taken to new heights by Palestinian spin-doctors, who have been working overtime to mislead the international community and media. A number of stories published in the past few days in the Palestinian media demonstrate the extent to which Palestinians are prepared to go to deceive the world and impact international public opinion.

Excellence is often a virtue — except when one excels at lying. And if there is one thing at which the Palestinians have excelled in the past few decades, it is spreading lies about its conflict with Israel. The mainstream media in the West usually takes the fake-news bait — it sells papers! — and demonstrates tolerance, if not sympathy, toward Palestinian-produced fake news fabrications.

The most recent case of Palestinian fake news emerged during United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s visit to Ramallah, the de facto capital of the Palestinians. The UN chief, who does not seem to be familiar with the Palestinian culture of lies, fell victim to a typical PR stunt organized by his Palestinian hosts.

According to the Wafa news agency, the official organ of the Palestinian Authority (PA), Guterres “held a meeting on Tuesday evening (August 29) with families of Palestinian martyrs and prisoners held in Israeli occupation prisons.” The report said that the families called on the UN secretary-general to take rapid and serious action to save the lives of more than 6500 male and female prisoners held in Israeli prisons. Wafa then quoted Guterres as saying: “We understand the suffering of the Palestinian prisoners and we will work with the relevant parties to end their suffering.”

First, it ought to be of interest that the “prisoners” and “martyrs” are Palestinians who were involved, directly and indirectly, in terror attacks. Many of the prisoners have Jewish blood on their hands and were convicted of often unspeakable crimes.

Second, it quickly became clear that the meeting between the UN chief and the Palestinian families was part of an ambush set up by his Palestinian hosts in Ramallah. According to a UN spokesman, Guterres was surprised by the sudden request of the Palestinian Authority to meet with the “mothers of detained children” but that he agreed to meet with them. To his great credit, Guterres also issued a clarification that the report in Wafa that he had expressed sympathy for the prisoners’ plight was “fabricated.”

Third, it is worth noting that one of the mothers who attended the meeting with the UN chief was Latifa Abu Hmaid, from the Al-Ama’ri refugee camp near Ramallah. Four of her sons, Nasser, Sharif, Nasr and Mohammed are serving multiple life sentences for their role in terrorism. The Palestinian Authority chose the mother of these terrorists because they are all members of President Mahmoud Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction, which is regularly described by Western media outlets as a moderate and pragmatic Palestinian party that believes in the two-state solution and peace with Israel.

The response of the UN chief’s spokesman to the “fabricated” report by Abbas’s Wafa news agency and the unscheduled meeting with the families of the “prisoners” and “martyrs” is a fine example of how the Palestinian Authority manipulates the world’s top diplomat. The PA and other Palestinians, however, have been getting away with this for decades.

The minimum the UN chief and his aides could have done is to call out the PA leadership and condemn it for the ambush and the fabricated report on the official Palestinian news agency. Had Israel been involved in a similar incident, we would have witnessed a diplomatic crisis, prompted by the UN secretary general and his spokesmen as well as the international media. Palestinians, as usual, are given a pass.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during his to Ramallah, August 29, 2017. (Image source: UN Photo/Ahed Izhiman)

In another example of Palestinian fake news designed to slander Israel and win international sympathy, several Palestinian media outlets have been reporting during the past week that an Israeli female undercover agent masquerading as a nurse has been uncovered in a Palestinian hospital in Hebron.

According to the fake reports, the “nurse” was an Israeli settler who had helped the Israel Defense Forces infiltrate the hospital to arrest and shoot Palestinian fugitives. A quick check of the facts revealed that the Palestinians were apparently referring to a Western volunteer who had worked in the hospital to treat Palestinian patients. The hospital administration has strongly denied the reports, which continue to spread like fire on social media and Palestinian news websites. The purpose of the fake reports is to implicate Israel and present it as a state that shows disregard for hospitals and patients. This case shows that rumors and fake news are regularly accepted as facts in the world of the Palestinians and Arabs.

Or consider another example of how the Palestinian propaganda machine operates. On August 23, the same Palestinian news agency, Wafa, reported on the anniversary of the 1969 fire at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

First, the historical facts: On August 21, 1969, an Australian citizen named Denis Michael Rohan set fire to the pulpit of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Rohan was arrested for the arson attack, tried and found to be insane. He was hospitalized in a mental institution before finally being deported from Israel in 1974.

Since 1969, however, the Palestinians have repeated the lie that Israel and Jews were behind the arson attack. The fact that Rohan was a Christian is apparently inconsequential to them.

So this year, marking the anniversary of the arson, this is what Abbas’s official mouthpiece, Wafa, had this priceless piece of perjury to say: “The Al-Aqsa Mosque was torched by Jewish extremists in 1969.”

The lie about “Jewish extremists” setting fire to the Al-Aqsa Mosque has become so widespread and accepted that even senior Muslim scholars such as Abbas’s Grand Mufti, Sheikh Mohamed Hussein, has also been spreading the blood libel. He and most Palestinians continue to describe the Australian Christian arsonist as a “Jewish extremist.”

These lies are simply a few recent examples that extend a long list of Palestinian fake news and blood libels aimed at framing Israel and inciting the world against it. Take for example, the famous Palestinian lies about terrorists: according to the Palestinian propaganda machine, nearly without exception, the terrorists were on their way to buy bread for their mothers or visit their grandmothers. These were innocent victims, the story goes, arrested or shot by Israel for no reason. Then there are the lies about Israelis “planting” knives near the bodies of terrorists who stab or try to murder Jews. Western journalists and others accept these lies as facts.

The manipulation of the UN chief in Ramallah comes as no surprise to those familiar with Palestinian tactics of deception. The question, however, remains: For how long will the international community receive with equanimity the lies that Palestinians spit in its face, lies that hour after hour, day after day, only endanger the lives of both Palestinians and Jews, promote an all-too-welcomed anti-Semitism, and worst – contrary to the claims of those who purport to want to help them — prolong the suffering of Palestinians who dream of one day living in freedom –like their neighbors, the Israelis — with institutions of democracy like free speech, an independent judiciary and educational system, and most of all, with accountable leadership?

Bassam Tawil is a Muslim based in the Middle East.

INTO THE FRAY: The Taylor Force Act – Putting “Palestine” in perspective

September 1, 2017

INTO THE FRAY: The Taylor Force Act – Putting “Palestine” in perspective, Israel National News, Dr. Martin Sherman, September 1, 2017

The proposed bill, which was recently passed in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with overwhelming bipartisan support, is designed to stop American financial aid to the Palestinian Authority [PA] until it ceases its generous payments to individuals who commit acts of terrorism and to the families of deceased terrorists.

Perversely, under the prevailing conditions, the more gruesome the act of terror and the longer the sentence imposed on the perpetrator, the greater the remuneration!

Indeed, as the Wall Street Journal points out, under existing circumstances, “U.S. aid becomes a transfer payment for terrorists”.

This is clearly an unconscionable situation and hence legislation to contend with it, and correct it, was not only appropriate, but imperative.

At the end of the day, the clash between Jew and Arab over the Holy Land is a clash between two collectives. For the Jewish collective, the Palestinian collective is—and must be treated as it sees itself: An implacable enemy, not a prospective peace partner.

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Congress is finally considering legislation to stop the Palestinian Authority from incentivizing violence…This has to stop, and the Taylor Force Act…attempts to do that. As it currently stands, the act would cut U.S. foreign assistance to the ‘West Bank’ and Gaza in its entirety if the “payments for acts of terrorism against United States and Israeli citizens …do not stop…. There should definitely be no ‘pay to slay’, but…[b]eing smart counts for more than being right. And the smart approach is one that also recognizes that innocent Palestinians…should not be forced to pay for the mistakes of a government they cannot control. – David Makovsky et al“The Smart Way to End ‘Pay to Slay’”, Foreign Policy, August 2, 2017.

Lesley Stahl, on CBS’s 60 Minutes on the effects of US led sanctions against Iraq (May 12, 1996): We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?” 

Madelaine Albright, then U.S. ambassador to the United Nations , subsequently President Clinton’s Secretary of State: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price — we think the price is worth it.

Recently, three members of the well-known think-tank, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, posted an article on the new legislative initiative, named the Taylor Force Act after the West Point graduate and veteran, who was killed in a terrorist attack in Israel last year.

Appropriate and imperative

The proposed bill, which was recently passed in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with overwhelming bipartisan support, is designed to stop American financial aid to the Palestinian Authority [PA] until it ceases its generous payments to individuals who commit acts of terrorism and to the families of deceased terrorists.

Perversely, under the prevailing conditions, the more gruesome the act of terror and the longer the sentence imposed on the perpetrator, the greater the remuneration!

Indeed, as the Wall Street Journal points out, under existing circumstances, “U.S. aid becomes a transfer payment for terrorists”.

This is clearly an unconscionable situation and hence legislation to contend with it, and correct it, was not only appropriate, but imperative.

The need for a punitive response to the egregious “pay for slay” custom of the PA was conceded by the previously mentioned Washington Institute article, entitled “The Smart Way to End ‘Pay to Slay’”.

Penned by David Makovsky,  distinguished fellow  and director of the project on the Middle East Peace Process, veteran diplomat Dennis Ross, distinguished fellow and counsellor on the U.S.-Israel Strategic Relationship, and Lia Weiner, a research assistant, it clearly proclaims “There should definitely be no ‘pay to slay’… This has to stop.”

“…the ‘mistakes’ of a government they cannot control”.

However, it cautions against an across-the-board cessation of US funds to the PA, calling for a more nuanced (read “watered-down”) application of the punitive cuts: “Threats of sweeping cuts to Palestinian aid may hurt the cause more than they help.” They warn that “To entirely defund U.S. aid to the ‘West Bank’ and Gaza is…to halt economic and social progress there”, proposing instead an approach that “recognizes that innocent Palestinians…should not be forced to pay for the mistakes of a government they cannot control”.

But making the innocent members of the population pay for the nefarious deeds of governments they “cannot control” has been the hall mark of American policy across the globe for years—even when those governments have been far more tyrannical than the PA.

Indeed, why should “innocent Palestinians” merit greater consideration than “innocents”   in a range of despotic regimes against which the US has imposed punishing, at times crippling, economic penalties—such as Iraq, Iran and North Korea?

For example the US-led UN sanctions against Saddam Hussein-controlled Iraq inflicted wide-spread suffering (see introductory excerpt) on innocent Iraqis—including women, infants and the elderly—who, arguably, had much less chance of influencing the actions of their government than do the “innocent Palestinians” with regard to Abbas’s PA.

A government reflecting popular preferences

Indeed, while it is true that they “have not been able to vote in an election for more than a decade”, and to a large measure cannot “control” the current PA government, they certainly did empower it.  In fact, it is in many ways, a government of their making—and theirs alone.

After all, in the last elections held in 2006, the Islamist terror organization Hamas and PA president Abbas’s Fatah won just over 90% of the vote—with the former winning 74 and the later 45 of the 132 seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council. Interestingly, the third largest party was a faction representing the radical hardline Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a terrorist group founded by the infamous George Habash and headed today by Ahmed Saadat, currently in an Israeli prison for his part in planning the 2001 assassination of Israeli minister, Rehavam Zeevi .

Moreover, parties focusing on socio-economic reforms and human rights fared extremely poorly. Thus, the “Third Way” headed by former PA prime minister Salam Fayyad and a former PA Minister, the well-known Hanan Ashrawi, won a paltry 2 seats, while the National Coalition for Justice and Democracy,  headed by prominent physician and human rights activist  Eyad El-Sarraj won, well…none

“Palestine”: What the polls predict

However, not only did the last elections show a vast endorsement of rejectionist views (both Fatah and Hamas –and the PFLP–vehemently reject any recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jews), but recent public opinion polls provide little cause for optimism that this is likely to change.Indeed, should Abbas leave his post, the most popular candidates are Fatah’s Marwan Barghouti, currently serving multiple life sentences in Israel for a myriad of lethal acts of terror, and Hamas’s Ismail Haniyeh. 

Moreover, findings for legislatives elections show that almost 70% would vote for either Fatah or Hamas, 10% for all other parties, with over 20% being undecided.

Thus, there is little reason to believe that—were new elections to be held—they would produce a sea-change for the better in the composition of the PA, or its policy.  In fact, there is considerable room for concern that the very opposite might well be true.

But perhaps most damaging to Makovsky, Ross and Weiner’s contention that “innocent Palestinians…should not be forced to pay for the mistakes of a government they cannot control” is the finding that there is near unanimous public endorsement  for the very financial support that the Taylor Force Act is intended to terminate.

“Pay to Slay” & Vox Populi 

Stunningly (or not), a July 2017 survey by Palestinian Center of Policy and Survey Research, headed by the well-known Palestinian pollster, Dr. Khalil Shikaki, found that “an almost total consensus rejects pressure on the PA to terminate payments to Palestinian security prisoners” and   “91% are opposed to the suspension of PA payments to Palestinian security prisoners [i.e. jailed terrorists- MS] in Israeli jails; only 7% support such measure”.

This is precisely the reality mirrored in an article that appeared in Tablet Magazine this week by Alex Kane, according to which” the prisoner payment program is one of the most popular PA programs, and it would be political suicide for the PA to halt it.

So, in stark contradiction to the impression conveyed by Makovsky, Ross and Weiner, the “pay to slay” policy is not something foisted on a reluctant peace-seeking  “innocent” Palestinian population , but is, in fact enthusiastically embraced by it—reflecting nothing more (or less) than vox populi.

Indeed, it is more than a little disturbing to see such “luminaries” as Makovsky and Ross propagating views demonstrably detached from reality, in what appears to be  a misplaced endeavor to create the false impression that, overall, the Palestinians,  share their  worldview—when, in fact,  they clearly seem to have a very different one…

Self-contradictory, self-obstructive “rationale”

But beyond the fact that their contentions sit uneasily with the empirical evidence, they appear to have additional disconcerting implications. Thus, they endorse the view that “although a tough message [should be] sent to the PA about the consequences of incentivizing violence”, they recommend that measures undertaken should “prevent any deterioration in the quality of life for Palestinians lest that lead to greater radicalization”.

This appears to reflect a curious rationale which suggests that if one is punished for bad behavior, then one’s behavior will become…worse???

This never was a consideration in, say, Serbia, where markets, hospitals, buses, bridges and old age facilities—to name but a few civilian targets that were hit in high altitude bombing sorties in the US-led NATO attacks in the Balkans War of the 1990s.

Indeed, the claim that harsh punitive measures against an authoritarian regime will only make the regime –or the population under its control—more recalcitrant flies in the face of the most basic elements of deterrence theory. After all, if the threat of harsh measures cannot coerce the regime to modify its behavior, why should measures less harsh do the trick?

Moreover, if the collective is not forced to feel the consequences of actions carried out in its name- there is clearly no reason for these actions to cease.  This is particularly true in the case of the “pay to slay” practice, which, while it may be implemented by an authoritarian regime, is widely endorsed by the general public. In this context, the rationale advanced by Makovsky, Ross et al appears to be at once both self-contradictory and self-obstructive.

 Clash of collectives 

It is of course somewhat discomforting to see such well-placed and well-connected pundits misread the lay-of-the-land so profoundly. For such gross misperception can only help perpetuate the conflict and its attendant suffering.

Firstly, these misperceptions nourish the false premise that privation drives radicalization, which is clearly disproven by the radicalization of many seemingly well-integrated Muslim youth in Europe, and the fact that in several Arab countries the greatest animosity towards Israel is harbored by the professional, well-to-do echelons of society.

Secondly, they obscure the real nature of the Israel-Arab conflict and hence, hamper the efforts to bring it to an end—diverting efforts toward bogus “causes”.

In this regard, then-defense minister Moshe-“Bogey” Yaalon, in a November 2015 address, correctly diagnosed the conflict as a clash of collectives i.e.  “…predominantly a war of wills, of two societies with conflicting wills”.

But, if the clash is essentially one between collectives, surely victory will require one collective breaking the will of the rival collective. Accordingly, ensuring that said rival can maintain its daily routine hardly seems the most promising stratagem to adopt in an effort to break its will and achieve victory.Indeed, if anything, it would seem the exigencies for a collective victory over an adversarial collective would dictate the diametrically opposite endeavor – disrupt the daily routine of the adversary. After all, misdeeds perpetrated in the name of the Palestinian collective must carry a price, which the collective pays – for if not, it will have no incentive to curb them.

Implacable enemy not prospective peace partner

The Palestinian population is thus not some hapless victim of the terror groups, as some might suggest but the very crucible from which such groups have emerged. It has by its own hand, by its deeds and declarations, made it clear that it will not—except on some temporary, tactical basis –brook any manifestation of Jewish political independence/national sovereignty) “between the River and the Sea”.

At the end of the day, the clash between Jew and Arab over the Holy Land is a clash between two collectives. For the Jewish collective, the Palestinian collective is—and must be treated as it sees itself: An implacable enemy, not a prospective peace partner.

Accordingly, the conflict, as one between collectives cannot be individualized .One collective must emerge victorious, the other vanquished. Only then, after victory/defeat, can the issue of personal misfortune be addressed.

This, then, is the perspective in which Palestinian society must be placed—and the perspective from which the formulation of the Taylor Force Act be addressed.

Martin Sherman is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.

Fatah Official: Jared Kushner’s Mideast Peace Mission Is a ‘Delusion’

August 27, 2017

Fatah Official: Jared Kushner’s Mideast Peace Mission Is a ‘Delusion’, BreitbartAli Waked, August 27, 2017

AP/Alex Brandon

The Fatah official warned that if political stagnation continues, “The issue of a popular uprising is on the table. It is a legitimate right and we may make a decision on this issue soon.”

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TEL AVIV — Talk of any U.S.-led initiative to revive Israeli-Palestinian negotiations is a “delusion,” charged Palestinian official Mahmoud Aloul, a Fatah deputy to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Aloul, considered one of the candidates to succeed Abbas as the head of Fatah, said in an interview with Saudi news site Elaph regarding the visit of an American delegation last week in Israel that, “These visits haven’t led to any results. We aren’t deluding ourselves; there can be no advancement in the peace process with the right-wing Israeli government under the leadership of Netanyahu.”

President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner led last week’s mission, with the delegation also including Jason Greenblatt, envoy for international negotiations, and deputy national security adviser Dina Powell.

Aloul criticized Kushner’s delegation, stating, “Judging from the latest meetings, the delegates didn’t bring anything new with them and didn’t present any initiative. The American delegates come to hear the Israeli side. They hear the lies and the claims of Israel and then they come to us to discuss these claims. This is a big problem in mindset and we won’t agree to continue down this path.”

Asked if the U.S. delegation demanded an end to the payments of the families of Palestinian terrorists and their families, Aloul answered, “Not only this, President Trump has interfered in much smaller issues like what’s published on certain sites. They talked to us about incitement. We told them, let’s make peace so there won’t be any more martyrs or any more prisoners and then we won’t need to pay them a salary.”

Aloul said that the Palestinian Authority didn’t agree to the demand to end the pay-for-slay stipends to terrorists, referring to them as payments to prisoners. “We didn’t agree to this at all,” said Aloul. “This is a humanitarian issue connected to children and women and Palestinian society and we can’t end the payments.”

Aloul claimed that the Trump administration isn’t seriously discussing the creation of a Palestinian state. “They don’t talk about the principle of two countries, they come after having adopted the claims of the Israelis,” said Aloul. “They don’t talk about stopping the settlements. In reality, nothing is happening.”

When asked if the Palestinians still place hope on the efforts of the administration and the delegates’ visits to the region, Abbas’ deputy answered, “You could say that we don’t have any more delusions regarding the fact that their (the Americans’) policies will lead to some sort of result.”

The Fatah official warned that if political stagnation continues, “The issue of a popular uprising is on the table. It is a legitimate right and we may make a decision on this issue soon.”

Aloul left out that the Palestinians have refused successive offers of a state made by Israel on numerous occasions.

Crossing the Rubicon

August 27, 2017

Crossing the Rubicon, Israel Hayom, Sarah N. Stern, August 27, 2017

On Wednesday, at a U.S. State Department press briefing, the Rubicon was finally crossed. Responding to a question regarding Israeli-Palestinian ‎peace, spokeswoman Heather Nauert said, “We want to work toward a peace that both sides can agree to and both sides find ‎sustainable. … We believe that both parties should be able to find a workable solution that works for ‎both of them. We are not going to state what the outcome has to be. … It’s been many, many decades, ‎as you well know, that the parties have not been able to come to any kind of good agreement and ‎sustainable solution to this. So we leave it up to them to be able to work through that.”‎

This is the most constructive statement I have heard about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in decades. ‎For the last several years, the “experts” have been saying, “We all know what a solution to the ‎Palestinian-Israeli conflict looks like.”

If anyone ever took the time to listen to the parties themselves, and examine the cultural context in ‎which these words are spoken, they would immediately understand that the single most critical litmus ‎test for determining a negotiating partner’s real intentions is not what they say to visiting diplomats ‎and journalists in English, but what they say among themselves in their own language, and in particular, what they ‎teach their children. ‎

According to John Calvin (formerly “Jonaid Salameh,” before his conversion to Christianity), an EMET fellow who was born in Nablus, from the very earliest age, he ‎was taught there would not be two states, but one state called Palestine. An important slogan on everyone’s tongue in the disputed territories is “Lama neharherah,” meaning “When we free ‎it” — and “it” is all of Israel.

Calvin told me ‎that this belief is a certainty, that the average Palestinian feels it is destiny that eventually all of the ‎land will be free of Jews.‎

Surah 8, verse 38 of the Quran says, “Tell the unbelievers that if they desist from evil, their past shall be forgiven and if they revert to their past ways, then it is well known what happened with the people of the past.” According to Calvin, the interpretation is clear: There should ‎be conflict until all worship is only to Allah.

Part of this cultural context implies a different meaning of the word “peace.” Accepting the existence ‎of the other on their own terms is incompatible with true Islamic thought. Islam is a religion of ‎conquest.‎

Says Calvin, “The conception of peace, as we know it in the West, simply does not exist within Islam. ‎There can be a “hudna,” a temporary cessation of war, but only to regroup. Islam means total ‎submission, or surrender, and a permanent peace can only happen when the entire world surrenders ‎to Islamic rule. There is that sort of messianic concept of peace, but only after the entire world submits ‎to Islamic rule.”‎

Many individual Muslims, particularly in places like Indonesia, Pakistan and India, where Arabic is not the ‎native tongue, may not understand the Quran in a literal sense, and thus, may not hold these sort of ‎hegemonic beliefs.‎

Most Americans, including many so-called “experts” in the field, have no idea of the cultural context with which ‎they are dealing when they set out to solve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.‎

In former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s autobiography, “My Life,” he describes how profoundly disappointed he had been with then-PLO Chairman ‎Yasser Arafat after generous offers were made to the Palestinian leader by Prime ‎Minister Ehud Barak in the Camp David negotiations. Arafat did not respond in the affirmative or the ‎negative, but simply walked away from the table. His response came several months later, in the ‎form of the Second Intifada.

In a moving chapter, Clinton describes how, just as he was about to leave office, ‎Arafat called him up and told him he was a great man.‎

“Mr. Chairman,” Clinton replied, “I am not a great man. I am a failure, and you have made me one.”

It obviously has been more important for Arafat, as well as his successor, Mahmoud Abbas, who turned down an ‎even more generous offer from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, to continue the struggle then to arrive at a permanent ‎peace.‎

For decades, too many Western leaders and diplomats have tried to impose a solution that ‎looks ideal when viewed through Western lenses. ‎

These statesmen, however, do not have to be there on the ground when the maximalist offers are ‎walked away from, and the inevitable violence ensues. ‎

Thank you, Heather Nauert, for taking us a bit closer to reality.‎

Sarah N. Stern is founder and president of EMET, the Endowment for Middle East Truth, a pro-Israel think tank and policy shop in Washington, D.C.‎

Palestinians Escalate War on Journalists

August 12, 2017

Palestinians Escalate War on Journalists, Gatestone Institute, Bassam Tawil, August 12, 2017

They said they did not know what “sensitive information” Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) were trying to hide.

Today, it is safe to say that the situation of the freedom of the media under the PA and Hamas is not much different than that under Bashar Assad’s Syria or even North Korea.

Palestinian journalists’ hateful obsession with Israel brings them no dividends. Rather, such venomous bias diverts attention from the true challenges and threats they face from the PA and Hamas. By expending their efforts in this twisted fashion, the journalists aid and abet their leaders in building dictatorial regimes that suppress public freedoms.

As part of its overarching effort to silence critics, President Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority (PA) has resumed its war against Palestinian journalists who refuse toe the line or are suspected of being insufficiently loyal to their leaders in Ramallah.

But this is nothing new: Abbas and his team have long been notoriously intolerant of news stories that reflect negatively on them in particular and on Palestinians in general.

In the past few days, PA security forces arrested six Palestinian journalists from Bethlehem, Nablus and Hebron. The journalists — Mamdouh Hamamreh, Qutaiba Kassem, Tarek Abu Zeid, Amer Abu Arafeh, Thaer Al-Fakhouri and Ahmed Al-Halaykeh — are suspected of “leaking sensitive information to hostile parties.”

This is the first time that Abbas’s PA has made such a ridiculous charge against Palestinian journalists. In an attempt to justify the latest crackdown on freedom of the media, Abbas’s news agency, Wafa, published a statement by an unnamed “senior security source” who said that the detained journalists were being interrogated about their role in “leaking sensitive information to hostile parties.” The detained journalists, meanwhile, have gone on hunger strike to protest their incarceration.

Upon hearing about the baseless charge, many Palestinian journalists said they did not know whether to laugh or cry. They said they did not know what “sensitive information” Abbas and the PA were trying to hide.

“We don’t have nuclear facilities,” remarked a Palestinian journalist from east Jerusalem sarcastically. “It’s clear that the Palestinian Authority leadership is using the security issue as an excuse to justify its punitive measures against journalists.”

Another Palestinian journalist from Ramallah scoffed at the charge against his colleagues. “This is the most ridiculous claim I’ve heard in years,” he commented. “It reminds us of Arab dictators who accuse their opponents and critics of revealing state secrets and consuming narcotics.”

That the PA leadership has refused to provide further details about the nature of the offense committed by the suspected journalists has only reinforced the belief that they were targeted as part of an ongoing campaign by Abbas and his lieutenants to silence critics and deter other journalists from doing their job or reporting any story that could reflect negatively on the Palestinian leaders.

Some Palestinian journalists take a different view of the matter. These reporters trace the arrest of the six journalists to a desire to pressure Hamas to release two journalists it is holding in the Gaza Strip: Amer Abu Shabab and Fuad Jaradeh.

In other words, the PA security forces are holding the six journalists hostage until Hamas frees the two newsmen it is holding. The journalists detained by the PA work for Hamas-affiliated media outlets in the West Bank.

Notably, the two Palestinian regimes – the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip — have hardly championed freedom of speech and freedom of the media. In fact, the two parties share the same values when it comes to silencing all forms of criticism. Dozens of Palestinian journalists have been targeted over the past two decades by both the PA and Hamas.

These regimes have their own special way of defining freedom of the press. That is, the press is utterly free to blacken the name of Israel. The name of Hamas or the PA, however, is sacrosanct: criticism of either would land a Palestinian reporter behind bars or in an interrogation room.

Hamas and the PA prefer that the press pound Israel. Short of that, they tolerate journalistic critique of municipal services or the shortage of medicine in hospitals.

Today, it is safe to say that the situation of the freedom of the media under the PA and Hamas is not much different than that under Bashar Assad’s Syria or even North Korea. The failure to achieve a free media for the Palestinians is yet another sign of the Palestinian failure to build proper and transparent state institutions.

The Palestinians have no functioning parliament, no open debate and no free media. In the West Bank, the media is controlled, directly and indirectly, by Abbas and his loyalists. In the Gaza Strip, the only “media” is that which is controlled by Hamas — again, directly and indirectly.

But there is an interesting twist to the latest story of Palestinian Authority and Hamas assaults on freedom of the media. Sadly, many Palestinian journalists do not seem to care much about the harassment and suppression of their colleagues at the hands of their leaders in Ramallah and the Gaza Strip.

Instead of organizing widespread protests to demand the release of their colleagues who are being tortured by PA and Hamas interrogators, Palestinian journalists are still scapegoating Israel. Incredibly, they continue to incite against Israel despite the fact that they are being detained and tortured by the PA and Hamas.

Instead of demanding the release of their six colleagues from PA prison, some Palestinian journalists are protesting because some Israeli (Jewish) journalists came to Ramallah last week to cover the visit of Jordan’s King Abdullah II.

The presence of the Israeli reporters in Ramallah enraged several Palestinian journalists, who took to social media to condemn the Palestinian Authority leadership that gave them permission to come and cover the monarch’s visit.

The presence of Israeli reporters in Ramallah last week, to cover the visit of Jordan’s King Abdullah II, enraged several Palestinian journalists, who took to social media to condemn the Palestinian Authority leadership that gave them permission to cover the visit. (Image source: Palestinian President’s Office)

In this cartoon by Palestinian cartoonist Mohammad Sabaaneh, an Israeli journalist, carrying a microphone dripping with blood, is interviewing a dog.

Such incitement was easy to find on Palestinian social media websites this week. The presence of several Israeli Arab journalists seemed to roll right over the racist, raging Palestinian journalists — it is the presence of Jewish journalists that they cannot stand.

This attack on Israeli journalists has been backed by the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS), a Fatah-affiliated group headed by Nasser Abu Baker, a correspondent of the evidently unprofessional Agence France-Press: Baker has also run for election in the Fatah Revolutionary Council.

In a statement published in Ramallah, the PJS strongly condemned the presence of Israeli (Jewish) journalists in Ramallah and urged Abbas to hold accountable whoever gave the Israeli journalists permission to come to the city to cover the Jordanian king’s visit.

It seems that for the PJS, the presence of Israeli (Jewish) reporters in Ramallah is more disturbing than the arrest of Palestinian journalists by the PA and Hamas.

For the record, in recent years the PJS has served as a mouthpiece for Abbas’s office; instead of defending the rights of Palestinian journalists, it devotes more than 95% of its words and actions to denouncing Israel and whipping up rage against Israeli journalists.

Palestinian journalists’ hateful obsession with Israel brings them no dividends. Rather, such venomous bias diverts attention from the true challenges and threats they face from the PA and Hamas. By expending their efforts in this twisted fashion, the reporters aid and abet their leaders in building dictatorial regimes that suppress public freedoms.

Bassam Tawil, an Arab Muslim, is based in the Middle East.