Well, I’m back and a lot has happened in the few days since I returned from Israel.
Fatah and Hamas have come together in unholy matrimony after years of slaughtering each other and vying politically for dominance of Palestinian society in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Why? Why now?
Why do two factions suddenly decide to make nice whilst holding a knife behind their back ready to plunge into their new friends’ chest?
For months Fatah have been pursuing Plan B: to have the UN support the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state on the so-called 1967 ‘borders’. Plan A was to continue or restart peace talks with Israel.
But Plan A stalled because Fatah and the Palestinian Authority are incapable of making peace with Israel. They have carefully cultivated an image of peace-seeking victims who have abjured terrorism and military action and pursue diplomacy.
Even though the PA continues to demonise Israel, to deny Jewish rights to any of the land, to regurgitate anti-Semitic narratives in the media and in the schools, its public and international face is one of the noble victim.
Creating a state on the 1967 ceasefire lines is a risky policy for reasons I have previously discussed; principal risk is that if Palestine equates to the land beyond the Green Line, then surely Israel equates to the land behind the Green Line.
This amounts to a de facto recognition of a permanent and settled view of Israel and makes it difficult, in theory, to pursue the long-term goal of a state from the River to the Sea.
The Palestinians are aware but are determined to continue to tear up all the Oslo Accords and go against all UN Resolutions; to nullify 60 years of history, negotiation, legally binding agreements. Tear it all up and go headlong for a unilateral declaration and bypass Israel. Something only possible because so many countries, member states of the UN, are conniving at this attempt to stamp all over Israel’s right to a negotiated peace.
A big stumbling-block to the UN recognition of a viable Palestinian state is the severed limb that is the Gaza Strip run by the Hamas preventing a unified state on all the land of the PA. Without this unity a UN vote in favour of a state will be more difficult, if not impossible.
So the conversation between Hamas and Fatah must have gone something like this:
Fatah: Will you marry me? It is a marriage of convenience. We need you to pretend we are married but we cannot consummate the marriage because we just don’t love each other and we have a different strategy to fulfil our goal of destroying Israel. But we’ll never be able to fulfil our dearest wish unless we appear to be unified.
Hamas: So you really want to destroy Israel? Why do you recognise their right to exist? We can never accept this.
Fatah: Just think. Our own state, a base from which we can pursue our next step: the Right of Return. Once we have a state and we can flood Israel with Palestinians, their pathetic democracy will mean that eventually we will have political supremacy.
We can still attack Israel and allow our military wings to continue the struggle whilst condemning their actions. We will have the political and diplomatic mastery whilst continuing the struggle. If they attack us, the world will condemn.
Hamas: What’s in it for us?
Fatah: we will allow you to continue with operations whilst we hold elections. We must have the semblance of democracy. We both want the same thing. Let the people decide whose method to follow. Let’s marry so we can destroy the Zionists.
Hamas: We agree. But we will win. Our marriage will be annulled as soon as we have attained our goal.
Fatah: So be it. Now let’s put together a joint statement….
So this first marriage is a sham designed to achieve stage one of the destruction of Israel which has always been the goal of both Hamas and Fatah. The terrible truth is that all negotiations have always been in bad faith.
Once there is an internationally recognised state will the Palestinians have a more just cause in the eyes of the world to rise up against the occupier and attack illegal settlers? What will the status of 1/2 million Israelis be?
The result can only be a severe escalation in violence. And the world will blame Israel once again.
Just as the West is crowing about the Arab Spring and all those wonderful freedom-loving democracies of which not one has yet materialised, the UN may be backing the creation of a new, undemocratic, terrorist state.
Go figure. Yeah, you got it in one; it’s OK because Israel is involved.
Wedding No. 2
William Wales and Catherine Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
I didn’t think this had anything to do with Israel until a correspondent in Jerusalem, an ex-pat Brit and a religious Jew, wrote to me that he had just discovered the true meaning of the hymn Jerusalem and would never enjoy it again. And he added that the Royal Family had Nazi roots.
I took great exception to both these assertions. There followed a series of emails trying to convince me that George VI was a Nazi or at least a Nazi lover. Several references to the Mountbattens and other royals and their Nazi sympathies proved, he claimed, that the Royal Family was Nazi, anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist.
I won’t rehearse the discussion, it was my reaction that was important. Why should I spring to the defence of the Royal Family?
It’s all about loyalty and national identity. It tells me I am truly British and I won’t take such defamation even from an Israeli Jew. The possibility that there may be a thread of truth in what he says is difficult to confront because of these loyalties, even though I am not a great royalist.
I don’t believe the current Royal Family is Nazi in any way, that is absurd, but there may some anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism lurking, unspoken. After all, there has never been a State visit to Israel whilst the Gulf states are good friends of the royals despite their appalling human rights records. Or do the royals just do what their government tells them?
The royal couple were reported to be intending honeymooning in Jordan. A strange choice. Maybe a quick trip to Israel whilst they are there would be nice. I think not. We don’t want to be upsetting any of Britain’s Arab interests, do we.
As for Jerusalem, the hymn, music by Hubert Parry, I am aware that it is about William Blake’s vision of England as a New Jerusalem and its Christian message does not offend my Jewish sensibilities in any way. When I watch the Last Night of the Proms I am more than happy to sing along even though I know its about Jesus striding across the hills of England. Who cares? The music is sublime and the words uplifting.
And, more food for thought, the royal wedding had both a hymn called Jerusalem and the glorious ‘I was Glad’, also by Parry, based on Psalm 122, which asks us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. A Psalm which we are told was written by King David himself.
So Jerusalem was at the very heart of this wedding and Jewish liturgy at the core of the ceremony, its most moving moment as Kate floated down the aisle with her father to the rousing strains of ‘I Was Glad’ – was there a dry eye in the house?
Earlier this week we awoke to the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed by US Navy Seals in Abbottabad, Pakistan. He was then buried at sea.
Celebrations in the West left me cold.
Sorry, I cannot rejoice at the death of any man. This does not mean that I don’t believe that it was right to kill him. I would have preferred that he were brought to justice but that was probably impractical. I can also understand people in New York and Washington feeling that justice has been done.
The significance of sending in an assassination squad to kill a terrorist is this: if it’s OK for the US to kill a terrorist in this way and for the leaders of the Western world to applaud this action, then surely it is OK for Israel to eliminate terrorists?
In the future, Israel can say, ‘what is the difference between our action and that of the US? If you do not condemn them, then why do you condemn us? If it is legal for them, then it is legal for us.’
This state assassination, however justified morally, if it is justifiable morally, poses questions for the future and, indeed, for the present; after all, is not Nato ambiguously attacking Col. Gaddafi in Libya in order to ‘protect civilians’. What is the legality of this, let alone any question of a broad interpretation of UN Resolution 1973.
Such actions by Western nations may have repercussions when trying to prosecute other national actors for similar procedures against what these nations consider proper targets for assassination. The actions of the Sri Lankan army against the Tamil Tigers might be justified along the same lines. You may shout ‘moral equivalence’ and you may be right, but the UN and the international courts might have a different view. Or do powerful countries have rights that weaker countries do not?
Former West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt told German TV the operation could have incalculable consequences in the Arab world at a time of unrest there.
“It was quite clearly a violation of international law.”
It was a view echoed by high-profile Australian human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson.
“It’s not justice. It’s a perversion of the term. Justice means taking someone to court, finding them guilty upon evidence and sentencing them,” Robertson told Australian Broadcasting Corp television from London.
“This man has been subject to summary execution, and what is now appearing after a good deal of disinformation from the White House is it may well have been a cold-blooded assassination.”
Robertson said bin Laden should have stood trial, just as World War Two Nazis were tried at Nuremburg or former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was put on trial at the war crimes tribunal in The Hague after his arrest in 2001.
It is interesting to note a link to Wedding No. 1 in that Hamas condemned the killing whilst Fatah, true to their drive to be seen as a national player in tune with the West, applauded it. However, in private, they are probably chewing their knuckles in anger and frustration. Not that they were Al Qaeda supporters, but any victory for the US and, by association, Israel, is a big blow. It is also interesting that the Fatah military wing, the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, were reported to condemn the killing.
This apparent difference between Fatah and its military wing demonstrates the ongoing joint diplomatic and military attack against Israel. Fatah can have its pitta bread and eat it; they can condemn the murders committed by Al Aqsa and appear to be statesmanlike and against violence whilst actively continuing to pursue violence under the cover of a faux organisational separation. Not too disimilar to Sinn Fein and the IRA.
As I foretold yesterday, Goldstone’s retraction is being dissed by the usual suspects.
Senior Fatah Central Committee member Nabil Shaath on Sunday said that Judge Richard Goldstone apparently succumbed to pressure because he could not longer bear the terror directed against him, apparently referring to the way Goldstone was ostracized by his native South African and other world Jewish communities.
Fatah has an interesting and surprisingly broad view of the definition of ‘terror’ considering its unending blood libels, antisemitic smears and glorification of terrorist ‘martyrs’ (read murderers).
Surely Goldstone would have made the world aware of the ‘terror’ against him. What a pathetic response by Shaath.
Yasser Abed Rabbo, a PLO Executive, said (same article):
“There was a war crime,” he said, adding that Goldstone has no right to retract a report based on documents that were examined by the parties and subject to specific criteria, not on a personal whim.
In other words, Goldstone’s clear realisation that two years of Israeli investigation and evidence as opposed to complete silence from Hamas amounts to ‘whim’. Who are ‘the parties’ and what are the ‘criteria’ of which he speaks? Goldstone has every right to redress a wrong which he has previously signed up to. Just by stating he has no right doesn’t make it so unless you live in the Looking-Glass world of Palestinian politics.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri on Saturday dismissed Judge Richard Goldstone’s “regrets,” saying that “his retreat does not change the fact war crimes had been committed against 1.5 million people in Gaza,” and claimed that the group cooperated fully with the fact finding mission.
So the 1400 has now become 1.5 million. Hamas’ inflated language and posturing is in the face of Goldstone’s prior and continuing claims of war crimes by Hamas against, shall we say, 7 million Israelis. Their lack of a credible response to the original report’s findings are completely ignored in favour of the usual sloganising.
So it seems that the original findings are the ones that the Palestinians and all the other Israel-haters will accept because it is rather inconvenient to accept any retraction. The ‘war crimes’ stand, even though the person who made the claim has now retracted his conclusions.
I don’t see how they can maintain this stance if the UNHRC now throws out the report. But as the UNHRC is loaded with countries who are somewhat antipathetic towards Israel, there could be an interesting few months ahead.
The PCHR is also at it, as reported by walla.co.il (translation)
Raji Sourani, chairman of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, said this morning (Sunday) the regret expressed by Judge Richard Goldstone on the report written about the recent war in Gaza is, “an expression of personal opinion and will not affect the dialog”.
He claims that Goldstone was in the past two years “faced a psychological war waged by Jewish and Israeli organizations to press him to change his position.” He added that Goldstone should not retract his report because it “would ruin his reputation”.
So it’s those pesky Zionists again. No-one, it appears, is big enough to accept Goldstone’s retraction if they hate Israel.
Pretty predictable really.
This is a guest post by Daphne Anson who analyses the Palestinians’ and Israel’s enemies’ true intentions: the destruction of Israel. Rejectionism and dissembling peaceful intentions whilst always finding a reason to blame Israel and further demonise it have characterised the conflict. Ramping up the rhetoric and turning the screws on negotiations, demanding more and more and delivering nothing.
Mahmoud Abbas’s recent demand that as part a prerequisite to returning to negotiations Israel suspend building in East Jerusalem when this was not even part of the original 10 month moratorium is typical of Palestinian tactics.
Originally posted at http://daphneanson.blogspot.com/2010/11/still-crazy-after-all-these-years.html
“We plan to eliminate the state of Israel and establish a purely Palestinian state. We will make life unbearable for Jews by psychological warfare and population explosion. . . . We Palestinians will take over everything, including all of Jerusalem”, declared Yasser Arafat. “Peace for us means the destruction of Israel. We are preparing for an all-out war, a war which will last for generations.”
“Our goal is the total liberation of Palestine and any Palestinian who wants less is a traitor”, the President of the PLO Women’s Organisation told an American reporter in 1980. And that same year PLO spokesman Mahmud Labadi observed (Al-Jumhur, Lebanon, 3 October 1980): “Let us not forget that every political achievement opens new vistas for the military alternative.”
Leading Fatah activist Abu Iyad, disclosed in a press interview in 1981: “Even after we establish a state in part of Palestine, we shall continue to struggle for the unification of all Palestine within a secular democratic state, and the struggle will not be undertaken only through political means.”
More recently, in September this year, as reported by the Palestinian newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, the Palestinian Authority’s envoy in Lebanon, Abdullah Abdullah, observed “that the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, which have started in Washington, are not a goal, but rather another stage in the Palestinian struggle… He believes that Israel will not be dealt a knock-out defeat, but rather an accumulation of Palestinian achievements and struggles, as happened in South Africa, to isolate Israel, to tighten the noose on it, to threaten its legitimacy, and to present it as a rebellious, racist state. He noted that Israel faces international isolation with doubt cast on its legitimacy, because of its actions and the war crimes which it has carried out. He added, ‘Many Israelis in senior positions are afraid to travel to European countries lest they be put on trial for their crimes.’”
That the endgame for the Palestinians remains the end of Israel is suggested by of the results of a face-to-face survey of Palestinians conducted this October for the New Israel Project by the pollsters Greenberg Quinlan Rosner. There were 854 Palestinian respondents, comprising 538 residents of the West Bank and 316 Gazans. 38 percent of respondents agreed proposition that “Violence only hurts Palestinians and the days of armed struggle are over”, whereas 56 per cent of respondents agreed that “We will have to resort to armed struggle again”.
60 per cent of respondents agreed that “The real goal should be to start with two states but then move to it all being one Palestinian state”. By contrast, a mere 30 per cent agreed that “The best goal is for a two state solution that keeps two states living side by side”. A paltry 12 per cent supported the latter proposition “strongly”.
66 per cent agreed (42 per cent strongly) that “Over time Palestinians must work to get back all the land for a Palestinian state”. By contrast, just 23 per cent agreed that “Israel has a permanent right to exist as a homeland for the Jewish people”. 55 per cent agreed that “A Palestinian state should be run by Sharia Law”, whereas 35 per cent agreed that “A Palestinian state should be run by civil law”.
Thus, a majority of Palestinians are willing to accept a two-state solution as a way station en route to a single state – in other words, the elimination of Israel and its replacement with a single Palestinian state – this goal to be achieved through both negotiations and violence.
In a magnificent speech at Bar Ilan University in June last year, just two months after taking office, Bibi Netanyahu spoke eloquently of his quest for a just and lasting peace with the Palestinians.
The question is, however – are the Palestinians genuine partners for a genuine peace?
A new Facebook page has been created called The IDF – Not Only Shooting.
Its aim is to show that there are aspects to the IDF that you may not know about.
It’s mainly in Hebrew but the photos speak for themselves.
As the majority of Israelis will serve in the Israeli armed forces, it’s hardly surprising that its members represent a vast range of people, beliefs, attitudes and cultures.
The IDF’s recent humanitarian project in Haiti after the earthquake shows the resources and also the ethos of the IDF.
But the Palestinians have a different view it seems. Palestinian Media Watch reports on the demonisation of soldiers – and Jews. In a Palestinian Authority TV program for children whose fathers have been imprisoned by Israel, there is the following exchange:
PA TV host Manal Seif interviews the young sister of prisoner Qussai Husam Radwan, who was sentenced to 13 months in prison:Host: “Do they bother you, the Israeli army, the soldiers there [when visiting at the prison]?”
Host: “They’re wild animals, right? Aren’t they wild animals?”[PA TV (Fatah), June 21, 2010]
PA TV host Manal Seif interviews the four-year old son of prisoner Shadi Shbeita, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison:Host: “Ibrahim, you know – you’re cute and sweet. You have a nice shirt and nice pants. You’re cool. Where’s Daddy? Where’s Daddy? Daddy Shadi – where is he? Where is Daddy Shadi?”
Boy: “In prison.”
Host: “Who put him in prison? Who is it that put him in prison?”
Boy: “The Jews.”
Host: “The Jews are our enemies, right?”
[Boy nods in agreement.]
As the reporter points out, it is ‘the Jews’ who are the enemies, not ‘Israelis’ not even Jewish soldiers, but ‘Jews’.
This Facebook group shows the IDF in a different light.
I recently reported here how youth orchestra leader Wafa Younis took her music to Holon where the orchestra sang and played to Holocaust survivors. The orchestra comes from Jenin. Ms Younis did take the opportunity to sing for peace, the release of Gilad Shalit and also berate her audience about injustices against her people in the West Bank.
But Arutz Sheva reports:
Fatah-linked community leaders in the PA-controlled city of Jenin slammed the participation of 13 young local musicians aged 11 to 18 in a “Good Deeds Day,” held at the Holocaust Survivor’s Center in Holon.
The PA politicians made a point of using the issue of the young musicians’ performance as a platform upon which to launch a diatribe against participation in any integrative activity with Jewish Israelis.
Observers noted that Palestinian Authority leaders speak to United States officials about the “vision of two states for two peoples, living side by side in peace and security” but when it comes down to actually allowing their children to participate — let alone encouraging such activity with Israelis — they sing a different tune.
Ms Younis has had her apartment “sealed” and she is banned from entering Jenin. Once again, as with Fatah’s policy of not allowing their citizens to receive treatment in Israeli hospitals (see my article here) they are not only further immiserating the lives of their own people but deterring any moves toward any sort of rapprochement or mutual understanding, the very sort of policy and initiative it is vital to pursue to prevent generation after generation being brought up on hate and alienation from their neighbours.
It is clear that Fatah are not interested in anything which compromises their true agenda; to destroy Israel by stealth in parallel to the agenda of Hamas and Hezbullah who want to destroy Israel by military means.
Fatah complain they have no true peace partners. It’s a shame that the peace negotiations don’t take place between the real peace-loving people of Palestine and Israel rather than their leaders, entrenched as they are in their own ideologies and political posturing. OK. Too simplistic. But if youth are shown such awful examples of bigotry what hope is there.