It would not be surprising if my title today has left you scratching your heads.
As if a man can be one or the other, but not both.
But it is the Palestinian Authority that has posited this dichotomy! It is part of a surreal and highly politicized image they are trying to project these days.
They would never have placed Arafat Irfaiya, the monster who viciously killed Ori Ansbacher, on a list of persons qualified to receive PA funds for themselves or their families, they insist. For them, he is only a “common criminal” guilty of rape. It was Israel, by identifying the attack as having “nationalistic motivations,” that has complicated the situation.
Qadura Fares – director of the “prisoners club,” which provides legal representation for Palestinian Arabs involved with “nationalistic” attacks – said that if Irfaiya’s family ultimately does submit a request for legal aid from his organization, “…we will consider it and send a defense lawyer to review his claims… If it turns out there really was a sexual assault, we will pass on representation…we object to anyone committing a criminal offense trying to pass it off as a nationalist act.”
And it gets even more perverse: A Fatah official in prison in Israel is reported to have said: Such behavior [the rape] is totally unacceptable to us. Anyone who commits such acts is not a human being.”
But terrorists who kill babies ARE human beings?
In an effort to wrap my head around the thinking of the PA and Fatah, I contacted an academic with a deep understanding of Arab culture and thinking.
He explained that this was essentially a public relations decision. Murders by terrorists are represented as “resistance against the occupation,” not “terrorism,” and those who commit those murders are “freedom fighters,” not “murderers.”
Now you and I may not see it this way, but we know full well that there are many within the international community who do. They choose to imagine (pretend?) that the horror of Israel’s treatment of Palestinian Arabs drives them to such acts.
There is a concern, however, within Palestinian Arab officialdom, that condoning rape might be pushing the matters too far and sully the situation as they choose to represent it.
My expert explained that, actually, Islam permits the rape (of a non-Muslim woman).
And indeed, Raymond Ibrahim, an expert on Islam, concurs that this is a widely held belief among those “waging jihad for the cause of Allah.” He cites an instance of an ISIS fighter who raped a non-Muslim 12-year old girl. As she testified later: ‘He told me that according to Islam he is allowed to rape an unbeliever. He said that by raping me, he is drawing closer to’ Allah.” (Emphasis added)
I am not claiming that everyone in the PA thinks precisely as this ISIS rapist does. But we are able to see how deeply disingenuous – how totally politicized – is their expressed horror at what Irfaiya did.
There is an object lesson here. The same Fatah leader cited above, astonishingly, also claimed:
“Even if it weren’t a rape, such a murder is unacceptable. The murder victim was no soldier, and it didn’t happen during wartime. If you want to be a hero, you don’t go and kill an innocent woman who went to read a book in the forest.” (Emphasis added)
Incredible that he should imagine anyone would buy this, when terrorist murders of innocent civilians are celebrated all the time.
Less than three years ago, Qadura Fares was asked a question in an interview about his having referred to the murderers of civilians as “heroes.” He replied:
“Do you think that in the Palestinian community they are discussing who kills civilians or who kills soldiers? We are sharing solidarity with the prisoners…
“…to check all the details – how much violence and (against) whom… who can check these details?”
Reportedly furious that his interviewer had said it made him sad that Fares should refer to the murderers of civilians as “heroes,” he responded:
“For me, all those who resist the occupation…all of those are heroes.”
What must be emphasized here is that Fares said “the Palestinian community” shares “solidarity” with the prisoners, i.e., the terrorists.
The fact that this is so, that these terrorists are broadly celebrated, would make it impossible for the Palestinian Arab leadership to step away from such support even if they chose to (which they obviously do not). This attitude has been embedded within the culture by a generation and more of incitement.
Last July, Mahmoud Abbas of the PA stated at a ceremony in Ramallah that (emphasis added):
“If we had one single penny left, we would spend it on the families of the martyrs and the prisoners, and only then on the rest of the people. We value and respect this group of people. The way we see it, they are paving the path for the liberation of Palestine for the sake of future generations…
“We consider the martyrs and the prisoners to be stars in the sky of the Palestinian people and struggle. They have top priority in everything…”
All of this is particularly relevant because on Sunday (yesterday) the Security Cabinet voted to withhold from the Palestinian Authority over 500 million NIS ($140 million) from tax revenues collected for the PA and slated to be turned over to them.
This represents the implementation of a law passed last July, sponsored by MKs Avi Dichter (Likud – pictured) and Elazar Stern (Yesh Atid).
The amount to be withheld was determined in accordance with a Ministry of Defense report that contained data on how much the PA had provided to terrorists in prison and released terrorists in 2018. This amount is to be withheld in segments over the course of 12 months.
This is a good step in the right direction, and long overdue.
But as matters are rarely simple, it is not the end of the story. A couple of sources are reporting that the amount cited for deduction does not begin to represent all of the funds provided for terrorists and their families.
There are at least a couple of reasons for this difficulty in determining the full sum.
There is, to begin with, the question of which recipients have been factored in when doing the final tally. It seems that jailed and released terrorists and their families were included, but that the families of “martyrs” – those killed in the course of committing attacks – were not because the channel for doing the funding is different.
According to Maurice Hirsch, a lawyer with the Palestinian Media Watch, the money paid to the families of dead terrorists is not determined by the PA’s laws but rather by the PLO’s internal practices. I remember when some of these changes were made to enhance PA deniability.
“The PA does not release statistics on this subject,” said Hirsch. “There is completely, really, a blackout on the whole thing.” The PMW has estimated that some 240 million NIS has been paid to the families of dead terrorists, in addition to the 500 plus million cited by the Cabinet.
Other sources indicate that this amount may be considerably higher still.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has instructed security agencies to report further on this situation.
Meanwhile, as would be fully expected, the Palestinian Authority is carrying on about this. Various officials have referred to it as “piracy,” “thuggery,” and “extortion.” Nabil Abu Rudeina, spokesman for Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, has warned that there will be “consequences.”
But my very favorite threat is this, made earlier this month:
“…if Israel deducts the funds, the PA will not accept any of the money Israel transfers to it under the terms of the Oslo Accords.”
So there on us!
As to Israel breaching the terms of Oslo by withholding funds, I point out that Oslo called for a complete cessation of terrorism. Whether or not Israel has chosen to pursue this, the bottom line is that the Palestinian Authority has been breaching its Oslo obligations consistently over the years.
There are many things I report upon without being able to truly comprehend. And Trump’s “Deal of the Century,” otherwise known as a peace plan, qualifies as one of them. You look at the behavior of the Palestinian Arabs, as described above, and you have to wonder precisely what the Americans are thinking.
Nonetheless, at the Conference for Peace and Security held in Warsaw last week, Jared Kushner, Senior Advisor to President Trump, provided participants with a closed-session briefing on the “Deal.” Details were withheld out of concern for leaks.
He did indicate that the plan would be unveiled after the April 9th Israeli election, although how long after remains to be seen. Who knows, it may depend in part on the results of that election.
He also said that the plan would not be based on the Saudi plan – which was a total non-starter for Israel. That was really a given: Kushner and Greenblatt would not have been laboring for two years to produce 200 pages that essentially replicated that plan.
I think it’s pretty much a no-brainer, figuring out what the broad strokes of the deal are likely to be: for Israel, the promise of some sort of normalization with Arab states, and for the Palestinian Arabs, really big bucks.
As to the actual outlines of the expected agreement between Israel and the PA, he simply says both sides will have to compromise. Could it be that he hasn’t noticed that the PLO never compromises, or is it that he still believes the Palestinian Arabs in the end will, for enough money?
Abbas’s spokesman has already said there would be no deal without a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, and the PA is stonewalling all meetings with the Americans.
As to our prime minister: It would not be his style to project negativity on this now. He is actually encouraging everyone to be open to the possibilities. If the Palestinian Arabs are ready to make peace, so are we! he declares. But there is his out, of course.
My dream (it is just a dream) is to have a prime minister who says, Donald, old buddy, we are great friends, and I appreciate your intentions, but there is no way to make a deal with these creeps. Their goal is to destroy us.
The most realistic statement on the issue I’ve seen from Kushner yet is with regard to the fact that Trump had handed him the Israeli-Palestinian “file” to give the long-elusive goal of a peace agreement “a shot.” A “shot” implies that he knows it probably will not happen.
By this Thursday, all political parties in Israel must submit their lists for the election on April 9. Yet, as I write, there is still a good deal to be resolved. And if you imagine this is not exasperating…
I’m not referring to mildly exasperating, but to a pull-my-hair-out situation.
Even after all of the experience I’ve had (which might have taught me otherwise), I still persist in my belief that there comes a time to pull together: for the good of our nation and for the sake of our people.
There are voices on the right insisting that the small right wing parties absolutely must come together to form a bloc in the Knesset that will have leverage. But they are not being heard.
I point no fingers here, but there are some who are inordinately concerned with their own position on their party’s list. And others who do not want to merge their list with that of another party because of some policy differences.
I do not see this as an Israeli problem. I think this is a regrettable sign of our times.
And for a really great good news item to close:
“The first Israeli spacecraft to be sent to the moon, Beresheet, will be launched in the early hours (Israel time) of February 22, 2019 from Cape Canaveral Kennedy Space Center in Florida, SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced at a press conference in Ramat Gan on Monday. At the event, the representatives detailed the chutzpah, big dreams, and ingenuity behind the project that has the space community in Israel and abroad in a frenzy.
“If all goes according to plan, the Israeli spacecraft bearing the national flag will make space history on April 11, 2019, when Beresheet is scheduled to land on the moon…
“The unmanned spacecraft, packed with local blue-and-white technologies, is brimming with firsts.”
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.