“A Closer Look”
I start today by recommending an article, “Can Obama recognize the ‘Nakba’ nakba,” by Gil Troy:
“President Barack Obama came to town riding on a series of assumptions about the Middle East. But the region’s harsh realities have contradicted his fanciful notions…This week’s Nakba Day violence revealed that Israel’s existence since 1948, not its occupation since 1948, remains the Palestinians’ target. Obama must recognize that this “Nakba” nakba — the Palestinians’ catastrophic reading of Israel’s founding as a catastrophe — damages peace prospects. Yet again, Palestinians seem more committed to destroying Israel than building their own state.
“…Yet the Palestinians have snookered the world, seeking a free pass for violence, incitement, delegitimization, extermination and intransigence. World leaders function as the great enables of Palestinian dysfunction, rationalizing Palestinians’ political culture of negation and hatred while according them special treatment…(emphasis added)
“Every president must make post-inauguration adjustments, replacing outsiders’ presumptions with the insiders’ perceptions. Obama’s Middle East-related rigidity is not some idiosyncratic shortcoming. He is imprisoned in a groupthink reading that is popular and resistant to reality.
“Too many elite Americans mistakenly compare the Palestinians’ struggle for statehood with African-Americans’ struggle for civil rights…In his Cairo speech, Obama…made the comparison. Condoleezza Rice was more explicit, equating her childhood miseries in the segregated South, while comparing Abbas to Martin Luther King, Jr. (emphasis added)
“Additionally Palestinian propaganda has pushed this comparison for decades…
“The false analogy distorts the story into one of racial oppression, not national conflict. This reading sanctions Palestinian violence, given our abhorrence of racial tyranny. (emphasis added)
“Perpetuating the Nakba treats Israel’s very founding as its original sin, like slavery is American’s original sin, which had to be undone violently by Civil War. This falsehood also views Palestinians as passive, less responsible players…
“By contrast, recognizing the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as a national conflict — linked to the Arab-Israeli conflict — restores balance. It makes Palestinians responsible for their choices. It highlights their power, as part of the broader Arab assault against Israel…
“Restoring historical balance and more accountability would also restore mutuality. Imagine the outrage if Israeli leaders spoke about the Palestinians the way leading Palestinians speak, write, teach, preach and broadcast about Israel. Imagine the scandal if Israel ever proposed anything paralleling the Hamas Charter…Note that this month, while Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is volunteering new concessions, Abbas is embracing Hamas terrorists.
“Jews’ culture of acute self-criticism juxtaposed against the Palestinians’ culture of self-righteous condemnation creates absurd imbalances. While Jews, mired in guilt, agonize over how to validate detractors…Palestinians, in their enforced no-criticism zone, feel their biased accusations are justified, yet again dodging responsibility… (emphasis added)
“Obama must affirm that threatening Israel with destruction — or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews — is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of [Holocaust] memories while preventing the peace…”
“…Obama should show he means it, by insisting that all parties, especially the Palestinians, end incitement, stop demonizing others, and learn to preserve their own national stories, including tales of woe, without using words that reveal a collective desire to destroy those whose trust you need to achieve peace.”
I have shared this article because I consider that it is insightful and offers a helpful perspective on many levels. Having said this, however, I find I must take issue with one point:
There is the implication, particularly as Obama is cited, that threatening Jews with destruction evokes in us a negative response that makes us resistant to working towards peace. Thus, if the Palestinians want peace, they should stop using this language, because otherwise we won’t trust them.
This perspective reduces the issue to one of semantics: the Jews are sensitive (perhaps exceedingly so because of their history), so watch your language and how it might affect them.
But no! If we Jews are “sensitive,” it’s because we know the depths to which mankind is capable of sinking. And if we respond forcefully to talk by Palestinians of destroying us, it is because we know this is more than talk — but rather a reflection of an intention. Especially is this so as the Palestinian Arabs have an immediate historical link to the Nazis.
It’s not a question of the Palestinian Arabs working to clean up their language. Only when the Palestinian Arabs eradicate from their thinking any intent to destroy us — which will automatically eliminate their need to talk of destroying us — will we be able to trust them and truly discuss peace.
According to Gil Hoffman, who is a political analyst for the JPost, the “right flank” of the Likud party — which was initially upset with suggestions in Netanyahu’s speech that we might give up parts of Judea and Samaria outside of the main settlement blocs — was mollified once he explained. He was merely stating what he saw as the consensus in Israel, he told them, not stating his own opinion. Even Minister of Security Affairs, Moshe Ya’alon, said this at a conference: “The prime minister tried in his speech to outline the views of the Israeli consensus.”
Just call me dubious. I’m not buying it. Would he talk about making hard sacrifices if he didn’t mean it himself?
And I’m not alone here. For Hoffman writes that “a minister in the Inner Security Cabinet, and multiple advisers to Netanyahu, confirmed that when he spoke about keeping the settlements in the blocs, the prime minister did intend to infer that settlements outside the blocs were open for negotiations.”
The question here is why members of the Likud on the right are so ready to allow themselves to be pacified.
There was Netanyahu, suggesting that under the right circumstances we might give up areas — and communities — in Judea and Samaria that are not part of major settlement blocs. This would have to be seen as a “conciliatory” move on his part — whether we like his having made this move or not.
Did this make Obama happy? Don’t know.
But from the PA we should not have expected anything other than a slap in the face in response. And a slap in the face is what we got.
The Palestinian news agency WAFA today cited Abbas as saying:
“The Israeli government’s refusal to stop settlement building and to determine clear references [i.e., a “framework”] for the peace process were the reason that talks have stopped.”
Meanwhile Hamas spokesman Mahmoud al-Zahar, cited by Al-Quds, has made it clear that the movement’s official stance is one of “resistance” and not negotiations. In fact, he indicated that the Hamas government in Gaza had not given Abbas permission to negotiate with Israel once the unity government is formed. “We do not agree to such negotiations and do not encourage them – just the opposite.”
Meetings designed to advance that unity government were held in Cairo yesterday and Monday. The Fatah delegation was headed by Central Committee member Azzam al-Ahmed and the Hamas delegation by vice politburo chief Mousa Abu Marzouk.
According to a statement released by both sides, they discussed how to form the new government, the date for the meeting of the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s executive committee and how to address the repercussions of division between the factions. (This last being most interesting and enlightening, I think.)
Additional meetings are to be held in Gaza, Ramallah and then again in Cairo during the coming weeks. in order to select the officials for that unity government. This is where the possibility of “division between the factions” is likely to become most evident: Fatah is advancing Salam Fayyad for another term as prime minister, while Hamas has put forth another name.
Fatah members are arguing that Fayyad will give the new unity government credibility in Europe, and they’re not wrong. The Europeans are that prepared to be duped.
The PA, largely out of fear of local unrest in the absence of democratic process, had, some weeks ago, announced that municipal elections would be held on July 9; although it was understood at that time that Hamas would not permit those elections in Gaza. Now the elections have been postponed until October 22, “to provide the proper atmosphere to hold the elections in the entire Palestinian territories” — that is, in the hopes that a unity government would make it possible for voting to proceed in Gaza too.
The Mavi Marmara, the ship that tried with disastrous results to breach Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza last year, was damaged in its confrontation with Israeli military. The Turkish Islamist organization IHH, identified by Israel as terrorist, was an organizing force in that flotilla fiasco, and is now planning a second go-round at the end of June.
IHH has announced that the Mavi Marmara, which sits in port in Istanbul, has been repaired and is ready to sail. It is being claimed that 10,000 people are seeking to participate in the flotilla.
IHH President Bulent Yildirim declared recently, “Even if we sacrifice shahids (martyrs) for this cause, we will be on the side of justice…We are not afraid, and want to convey the message to Israel that we are coming.”
And with this we see the difficulty of what confronts Israel: We are dealing with an enemy that has no regard for life, and is willing to sacrifice life — via provocation that invites response — in order to make Israel look bad.
The organizers say that they intend to send $100 million in aid on the flotilla. But this is a PR ruse, for so much is going through the land crossings to Gaza these days that some goods have been shipped out of Gaza via tunnels to the Sinai, where the need is greater.
Israel is always happy to unload material aid at the port in Ashdod, and, after checking it for weaponry and materials that could be used to manufacture weapons, to send it via land to Gaza. No ship, however, will be permitted to directly approach the coast of Gaza, and this is precisely what will be attempted.
The blockade Israel maintains, which is totally legal within international law, is neither idle nor arbitrary — it is, rather, an attempt to prevent a sworn enemy of Israel from increasing its armaments.