29 June '12..
Among the dogmas that hold sway in foreign policy salons despite abundant evidence to the contrary, few seem more resilient than belief in the peaceful intentions of the so-called “moderate” Palestinian Authority.
Why do such counterfactual beliefs persist? One reason is because people who are presumed to know the facts and who have a prominent platform keep repeating such beliefs. This phenomenon was on full display in last Sunday’s New York Times, in an op-ed by Nathan Thrall captioned “The Third Intifada Is Inevitable.”
Datelined from Jerusalem and describing the author as “a Middle East analyst at the International Crisis Group,” the article exuded factual expertise. Equally impressive was the article’s opening sentence, quoting from a “private meeting with the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his security advisers.”
But for all the author’s expertise and inside access, the article was highly misleading – less by what was said, than by what was not said. Much of the pertinent factual context was simply omitted. Yet as a representative sample of “peaceful Palestinian Authority” dogma, analysis of the article’s errors can be very illuminating.
The central points of Mr. Thrall’s article were a prediction and a judgment. He predicted that growing Palestinian rage will soon result in a major outbreak of Palestinian violence against Israel; and he judged Israel guilty for causing the Palestinians’ rage.
In essence, Mr. Thrall’s analysis rested on three factual claims:
First: Palestinian Authority (“PA”) leader Mahmoud Abbas and his leadership team have demonstrated genuine readiness for statehood and lasting peace by their cooperative posture towards Israel.
As Mr. Thrall put it, “Mr. Abbas was [a] key architect of the Oslo peace process . . . [and remains] its last remaining believer . . . [He] helped create ‘a good situation’ for Israel, . . . [through] years of unprecedented cooperation with Palestinian forces in the West Bank,” and is “the most obliging, nonviolent Palestinian leader Israel has encountered.”
Second: By its stubborn refusal to cede control of the West Bank, Israel has rebuffed the Palestinians’ conciliatory approach and squandered an opportunity for a two-state peace.
In Mr. Thrall’s words, “Thanks to the . . . peace that Mr. Abbas’s government has been keeping . . . , Israelis [now] believe . . . their state could remain Jewish and democratic without relinquishing any of the West Bank.” Quoting Hamas, Mr. Thrall contends “‘Israelis had a golden opportunity to sign an agreement with Abbas . . . But the chance has already passed.’”
Third: Israel’s rebuff of a conciliatory PA is the cause of the Palestinians’ growing rage, and hence Israel will bear the blame for any resulting violence.
As Mr. Thrall explains, “Palestinians today see their leadership banging its head against a wall, hoping . . . that a bit more good behavior will bring about an independent state. . . [Now that] gunfire [has] returned to the streets of Jenin . . . [t]he root cause of this instability is that Palestinians have lost all hope that Israel will grant them a state.”
Are Mr. Thrall’s claims accurate? When one considers the many pertinent facts that Mr. Thrall left out, the answer is plainly “no.”
First, consider his claim that the PA has demonstrated readiness for statehood and lasting peace. Yes, PA security forces have cooperated with American advisors and Israeli police. But that cooperation is also a price paid by the PA for receiving hundreds of millions of U.S. aid dollars.
More important, Mr. Thrall failed to mention any of the PA‘s extensive “anti-peace” investments, namely its relentless efforts to incite and subsidize terrorism, promote Jew hatred, and effect Israel’s destruction.
Across the West Bank, dozens of schools, youth camps, sports festivals, and town squares are named after mass murderers of Jews. Effusive praise of these terrorists regularly flows on PA government TV, and in speeches by PA leaders. The PA also spends millions – supplied partly by U.S. aid – as pensions for convicted Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails.
Repeating the slanders of the Holocaust, PA TV and newspapers regularly castigate Jews as “monkeys and pigs,” “a germ among us,” and a “parasitic worm.” The PA also spreads incendiary allegations such as false claims that Israel poisons Palestinian wells, infects Palestinian men with the AIDs virus, and kidnaps Palestinians to sell their organs.
Unlike Israel, where schools teach tolerance and respect for Arab and Islamic culture, PA TV programs also urge children to become suicide bombers, and demand the extermination of the Jews. Phrases like “they must be butchered and must be killed,” “kill them to the last one,” and “their children will be exterminated” are common fare.
Mr. Abbas’s eliminationist agenda is also manifest in his rigid insistence on a broad “right of return” for descendants of the 600,000 Palestinians who fled the new Israeli state in 1947-48.
Mr. Abbas insists that these now-millions of people have a right to settle not only in a Palestinian state, but also in Israel. This would end Israel’s Jewish majority, and turn Israel into a province of the Palestinian state.
On these facts, how could anyone describe the PA as ready for a lasting peace with Israel?
Second, consider Mr. Thrall’s claim that Israel, by stubbornly holding onto the West Bank, squandered a chance for a two-state peace. In fact, it is Israel that has repeatedly offered a Palestinian state, and the Palestinians who have always said no.
In 1947 the U.N. voted for two states in Palestine – one for Jews, one for Arabs. Israel said yes and invited its Arab residents to stay with equal civil rights assured. But the Palestinian Arabs said no and launched a war to destroy Israel.
This Palestinian “no” has never changed, despite Israel’s 1967 land-for-peace offer (rejected), the 1993 Oslo accords (sabotaged by Palestinian terrorism), and Israel’s three statehood offers in 2000, 2001, and 2008 (all rejected).
The last three statehood offers included all of Gaza, at least 97 percent of a contiguous West Bank, compensating land swaps, and a capital in Jerusalem. The Saudi diplomat Prince Bandar, who participated in the 2000 Camp David negotiations, called the PA’s refusal to accept that statehood offer "a crime against Palestinians.”
On these facts, how can anyone place primary blame on Israel – and not Palestinian leaders – for the lack of a Palestinian state?
Finally, consider Mr. Thrall’s claim that Israel is the cause of the Palestinians’ rage. The PA – not Israel – is responsible for refusing all offers of a lasting two-state peace; for failing to resettle Palestinian “refugees” in permanent homes; for failing to create a non-corrupt national government; and most important, for constantly brainwashing its people to emulate terrorists, hate Jews, and blame Israel for the PA’s many failures.
Contra Mr. Thrall, the PA is both the instigator and the beneficiary of the West Bank Palestinians’ rage. By steering such rage against Israel through its propaganda apparatus, the PA deflects resentment for its own miserable performance, and keeps alive its aspiration to destroy Israel.
Writers like Mr. Thrall, and papers like the New York Times, which propagate the PA’s false narrative to Western audiences, serve as the unwitting tools of this deception.
Such writers may believe they help the Palestinians by deflecting attention from their leaders’ many failings. But by providing cover for the PA’s dead-end politics of hatred and scapegoating, they only prolong the Palestinian people’s suffering at the hands of their failed leaders.
Henry Kopel is an attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice in Connecticut. The views here are his own, and do not reflect the views of the Justice Department
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