For those who are home, and for those who are on the way. For those who support the historic and just return of the land of Israel to its people, forever loyal to their inheritance, and its restoration.
In the wake of the Egyptian revolution, pundit Tom Friedman fears Israel will not take this opportunity to strike a deal with the Palestinians. "If Israelis tell themselves that Egypt's unrest proves why Israel cannot make peace with the Palestinian Authority, then they will be talking themselves into becoming an apartheid state...It is vital for Israel's future... that it disentangle itself from the Arabs' story as much as possible. There is a huge storm coming, Israel. Get out of the way."
The mention of "apartheid" in the same sentence as Israel is gratuitously ugly. And it would be easier to get out of the way, a) if the early Zionists had not insisted on restoring Jewish sovereignty in the last place it was sovereign - the middle of the Middle East, and; b) if the Palestinians or, more importantly, their financial and political patrons, agreed. But since Israel is where it is, and the Palestinians are who they are, it is worth considering the impact of the fall of Mubarak on the Palestinian Authority.
The Palestinian Authority has announced:
- A shakeup in the cabinet of Salaam Fayyad.
- Long-delayed elections at the legislative level as a possible prelude to a presidential election that was to have occurred in 2008.
- The retirement of long-time "peace process" negotiator Saeb Erekat.
Cause and effect from Egypt, or coincidence? Both. Likelihood of success? Negligible.
The West Bank has seen considerable economic growth over the past two years, even as much of the world has battled recession, but Fatah - the governing authority in the West Bank, as opposed to Hamas in Gaza - is considered by the people to be corrupt, authoritarian and out of date. Arbitrary arrests, a non-functional judicial system and extrajudicial killings have sapped legitimacy from Fatah, as has the delay of previously scheduled elections.
Surely Abu Mazen now wants to be seen as offering both "democracy" in the form of an "election" and "reform" of the system. All words are properly in quotation marks because the hallmarks of democracy and reforms are nonexistent on the West Bank and an election without political parties isn't really an election. But it is the third element, the "retirement" of Saeb Erekat, that is the problem endemic in Arab life - Arabs who are ostensibly at peace with, or working toward peace with, Israel remain unwilling to stop lying to their people about the realities of the region in the 21st Century.
The "Palestine Papers," released a few weeks ago by al Jazeera (See JINSA Report #1055), long before the demonstrations in Cairo, showed an Erekat comfortable talking to his Israeli and American interlocutors about land swaps, Israeli control of Jerusalem, settlements and reducing the so-called "right of return" for Palestinians to only a few approved by Israel actually entering Israel to live. This is precisely the opposite of what Palestinians are told by Erekat, Abu Mazen and others about their future.
Children are taught in school that Palestine is "from the (Jordan) River to the (Mediterranean) Sea." That dying for Palestine is their goal. That Jews are interlopers with no rights. Palestinian radio and television talk about "occupied Haifa" and the "settlement of Tel Aviv." Refugees in camps both in the disputed territories and all the surrounding Arab states are told their misery will be rewarded by a return to places that have been sovereign Israeli territory for more than 60 years. The so-called "'67 Borders" are, in fact, not borders at all but armistice lines, are the starting point for a future state of Palestine, not the end of the process.
Hamas does precisely the same, instilling hatred for Jews and for Israel in their people and promising to reverse history. And as Fatah's sworn enemy, Hamas paints Israel's security assistance to Fatah in the West Bank as a betrayal of Palestinian nationalism by Fatah, further justifying their ongoing civil war.
Friedman thinks al Jazeera released the papers to "embarrass the Palestinian leadership - it's now obvious to all how far the Palestinians have come."
No, it's obvious how two-faced the Palestinians were, how far apart they remain from Israel and how unwilling they were to prepare their people for less than everything. So, really, they didn't prepare them for anything.
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I visited Hevron in November 2000 after the outbreak of the Rosh Hashanah War to see what could be done to assist in the face of the growing daily attacks on the community. After returning to work for the community in the summer of 2001, a bond and a love was forged that grows to this day. My wife Melody and I merited to be married at Ma'arat HaMachpela and now host visitors from throughout the world every Shabbat as well as during the week. Our goal, "Time to come Home!"