Not military troops, but the Obama-supporting “pro-peace” guys. Prior to the meetings in Washington, they’re working overtime to convince people that everything is going to be just great, and that, with a proper application of “hard work,” peace is going to break out any time soon now.
Do not believe it for a second. The facts tell another story. Whatever these “experts” are saying, it is critical to hold fast to the reality, and share it in all possible venues.
Last week, a high profile David Makovsky, director of the project on the Middle East of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, wrote a piece in the JPost — “Quiet progress in the long quest for peace” — in which he described how, in spite of problems, progress was being made by the PA.
One of the issues he touched upon was education in PA supervised schools, something I just happen to have some familiarity with. Makovsky wrote: “screening is also being conducted [by the PA] to weed out school teachers who support Hamas radicalism.”
Sounds great, huh? After this effort is completed, all those teachers who support that nasty Hamas radicalism will be eliminated, and only teachers who support the moderate Fatah line will remain. This clearly is the “between the lines” message here. Except that there’s a really major problem:
It is the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority, and not Hamas, that produced the textbooks filled with incitement that the PA schools use. The textbooks that say Jews have no roots in the land, and that all of Israel is “Palestine,” and that jihad and “martyrdom” are praiseworthy. So, even if all the Hamas-oriented teachers were eliminated, the message the kids were getting would still be the same. Some “progress.”
Makovsky also wrote that, “The PA has begun reshaping the curriculum of Palestinian institutions that accredit imams…”
I don’t know about imam education in the PA, and so I went to someone who knows quite well: Dr. Arnon Groiss, Director of Research for IMPACT-SE –- which monitors Arab educational materials; I greatly respect his knowledge and his integrity.
Dr. Groiss told me that he wishes it were so that the curriculum for imams was being revised, but he has heard nothing about this. The PA Ministry of Religious Affairs oversees ten schools that train imams. These schools use 25 texts in different religious subjects that are either published by or for the PA, in Jordan. Bearing the PA logo, they were all originally Jordanian.
Those who saw my letter to the JPost on Friday addressing this subject will find the above a repeat. But I considered this information important enough to merit being shared more broadly.
Then there was another heavy hitter — Martin Indyk, the director of the foreign policy program at the Brookings Institution — whose piece in the NY Times appeared at the same time Makovsky’s did in the JPost. His was entitled, “For Once, Hope in the Middle East.”
No friend of Israel in the best of circumstances, Indyk made a series of dubious statements. It will suffice to examine a couple of the most significant:
“First, violence is down considerably in the region. Throughout the 1990s, Israel was plagued by terrorist attacks, which undermined its leaders’ ability to justify tangible concessions…Israelis came to believe that the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was playing a double game, professing peace in the negotiations while allowing terrorists to operate in territory he was supposed to control.
“Today, the Palestinian Authority is policing its West Bank territory to prevent violent attacks on Israelis and to prove its reliability as a negotiating partner…
“These efforts, combined with more effective Israeli security measures, have meant that the number of Israeli civilians killed in terrorist attacks has dropped.”
The worst plague of terror attacks was not in the 90s, however. It was beginning in 2000, with the Palestinian Arab war known as the second intifada. The terrorism in the 90s hadn’t inhibited Israeli leaders (such as they were) from making “tangible concessions.” It was in 2000 that huge concessions were made by then PM Ehud Barak, which included such things as the sharing of Jerusalem and a very substantial pull back from Judea and Samaria. Only AFTER these tangible concessions were made did Arafat unleash the new wave of terror.
As to the PA “policing its West Bank territory,” “policing” is probably the correct word. I understand, that they do effectively go after car thieves and the like. However, their ability and desire to pursue terrorists, while improved, is, shall we say, less successful. The bottom line is that terrorist attacks against Israelis are way down because in 2002 the IDF went back into Palestinian-controlled areas from which we had pulled back. And since 2002 we have maintained the right to go after terrorists in these areas, even in places where we have in recent times allowed more control by PA security forces. We operate at night, and, as I understand it (although the IDF has stonewalled my attempts to learn roughly how many operations occur nightly) there are multiple operations each night — after specific terrorists, as well as weapons manufacturing and storage sites.
Please note that what is at the heart of terrorist control operations is mentioned peripherally by Indyk: “These efforts, combined with more effective Israeli security measures…”
If PA forces are attempting to prevent terror attacks against Israelis at the moment (a questionable proposition at best), it is because it is politically expedient to do so at this particular moment, and not because of any intrinsic concern for bringing peace to their Jewish neighbors. The bottom line is that Fatah will never move to totally take out Hamas in Judea and Samaria. In spite of the very real tensions and animosities between Fatah and Hamas, they are also bound together in many ways. In this traditional society, where allegiance to the clan remains strong, there may be Fatah and Hamas people within one clan. The fact remains (never addressed by people like Indyk) that more than 50% of the PA budget goes to Gaza, and thus finds its way, in some considerable measure, into Hamas hands.
This reality stands as a strong argument for not giving the Palestinian Authority a state in Judea and Samaria: There are many very savvy analysts who believe that if the IDF were to pull out, Hamas would move in.
Enough said here. The reader of analyses such as those by Makovsky and Indyk are advised to think twice.
I have repeatedly said that Abbas worries for his life, literally, with regard to his negotiating with Israel — because a number of terrorist-oriented groups are opposed to his doing so, and they play very rough indeed.
Now we have something that gives additional credence to this:
Yesterday, Hamas leader Khalil al-Hayya issued a warning to the PA with regard to negotiations. He said that “the Izz-a-Din al-Qassam Brigades [the Hamas military wing] will step on the heads of those who dare cede the right of return, Jerusalem, and Palestine.”
I had always sort of envisioned a throat-slitting sort of threat, but stepping on heads makes the point just as graphically, or more so. What does it avail Abbas to sit at the table if he can safely make no concessions on “return,” Jerusalem, or borders — while indeed the US and the EU will be expecting him to do just that?
It’s difficult indeed to read reports of the enormous enthusiasm with which Netanyahu embraces the idea of direct negotiations — even as he adds the proviso that all of this depends on a cooperative PA. His latest was a suggestion that he and Abbas meet directly every two weeks. (Netanyahu has said he himself will head talks.)
Not only has Abbas already nixed this, he is attempting to set a scene that will make failure of those talks (that haven’t started yet) our fault. Claiming that “Israel’s security can’t continue to be the excuse for continued occupation,” he says he has already notified US and other international leaders that Israel will bear full responsibility for the failure of the peace talks if we don’t extend the freeze on building.
Habayit Hayehudi leaders have said they will likely pull out of the coalition if the freeze is extended.
We’re coming down to the wire, and all bets are off in terms of how this will play out.
I categorize this still in the realm of rumor, but one having significant enough import to merit a mention here: According to the Daily Telegraph (UK) yesterday, Obama will be visiting Israel as part of his “peace” push. Nothing official from either the US or Israel.
Fervently do I hope he stays away. I have no desire to see him curry favor at our expense. The major impact for me of his being here would be that his entourage and accompanying security would cause unbearable traffic snarls.
Another rumor making the rounds: That Obama intends to advance a “peace plan” that would be signed in a year but wouldn’t be implemented for ten. This, if true, suggests that he knows darn well that the situation is not ripe for peace now, but that he wants the credit for having promoted it.
A very dangerous plan, reminiscent of the plan to be put on a shelf from the last administration. If the situation doesn’t permit an agreement, no agreement should be made. Period. Who knows what will be in ten years?
A watch and see situation…
Let me return briefly to the issue of the string of photos that has been broadly sent out by e-mail, without attribution, represented as pictures showing a more upscale Gaza.
My original impression that all was not legit has been confirmed in a variety of ways. Let me pass by the fact that I located a photographer’s name on one, but found, when googling him, only pictures he had taken of Dubai, and that the name of the hotel seen in another picture cannot be located on the Internet as being in Gaza.
One reader wrote to say that a very reliable acquaintance of hers identified one photo as being in Casablanca, where she grew up.
The British-Israel Group (BIG) has also issued a proviso, very similar to mine, with regard to these photos. Said BIG:
“These photos had NO context and NO description and were highly suspect.
“From research by Tom Gross, a correspondent whose articles we have used in the past, it appears that some of the photos are actually from Damascus or Beirut, and one we know for certain is from a beach in Ashdod.”
Lastly I note that there has been a claim that there was a documenting source: that Arutz Sheva had presented this list of photos. But none of the e-mail transmissions I saw mentioned Arutz Sheva, and with good reason: Arutz Sheva showed 13 photos. The anonymous e-mails showed 36. Seems the original Arutz Sheva list of photos was borrowed as a starting point, with some creative additions then made.
A return, as well, to the issue of Z Street being held up on receiving status as a 501(c)(3) non-profit, which would permit tax exemptions for donations, essentially because Z Street’s position on Israel doesn’t comport with Obama’s. This is a situation that has prompted Z Street co-founder Lori Lowenthal Marcus to bring suit against the IRS for interference with First Amendment rights.
According to Z Street: “An IRS agent told Z Street’s lawyers that the application was delayed because of a Special Israel Policy that requires greater scrutiny of organizations which have to do with Israel, in part to determine whether they espouse positions on Israel contrary to those of the current Administration.” These cases are referred to a “special unit in the DC office.”
If this doesn’t scare the hell out of you, you’re asleep at the wheel. Involve your organizations in protesting, without delay!