Saying "Damn them all" is not enough. It provides a brief catharsis, perhaps, and lets people know where we stand with regard to what’s going on here. But by itself it’s sorely insufficient. What must follow is action. And that I will address today.
In an interview today with the Jordanian paper al-Dustur, the "moderate" PA President Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen), our "peace partner" said he doesn’t rule out returning to the path of terrorism (known as "resistance"):
"At this present juncture, I am opposed to the armed struggle because we can’t succeed in it, but maybe in the future things will be different." There is, you see, no final renunciation of terrorism, no moral condemnation of it. If it would help his cause, he’d gladly use it.
This, by the way, was precisely the position of his mentor, Yasser Arafat, during the Oslo years. As then special negotiator Dennis Ross later noted, Arafat never dispensed with the "terror card." This is the default position: Try negotiations and if they’re not successful, fall back on violence.
Abbas additionally admitted here something that those of us who are familiar with his background understand well, but which is denied by those eager to embrace him as a "moderate." He not only tells us that he has his own terrorist credentials, but that he is proud of this:
"I had the honor of firing the first shot in 1965 and of being the one who taught resistance to many in the region and around the world; what it’s like; when it is effective and when it isn’t effective; its uses, and what serious, authentic and influential resistance is.
"…We (Fatah) had the honor of leading the resistance and we taught resistance to everyone, including Hezbollah, who trained in our military camps."
Is this not incredible? Who dares to say Abbas is a moderate after this? A rhetorical question, still, I’m afraid, because many will dare.
But we can make it as difficult as possible for those who would continue to embrace Abbas. And I ask each of you to do your part, and to pass this message along for others to do the same.
First, this question needs to be asked of the White House and the State Department: How can you ask Israel to negotiate with and make concessions for Abbas who says this — and quote from Abbas.
President George Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500
Comment Line: 202-456-1111 TTY/TDD Comment Line: 202-456-6213
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Fax; 202-647-2283 or 202-647-6434
Phone: 202-647-5291 or 202-736-4461 TTY: 1-800-877-8339
Remember , a fax or phone call is best.
Then, contact either the Israeli Embassy or your nearest consulate and ask, in essence, the same question: How can you negotiate with the man who says this. Please stop! It puts Israel at risk. My information is that the Foreign Ministry notes American public opinion, so this can have an effect if it is done in solid numbers.
Use this link to find contact information for the Embassy or appropriate consulate. (Thanx Doris M.) If you navigate within the selected site you will find fax numbers and the rest.
Contacting the US government would be appropriate in any event, but what makes it even more critical now is that Rice is coming next week to help "move the negotiations forward." Negotiations with the man who made the above statement. Incredible!
What is more, while Rice gives lip service to our right to defend ourselves, there is concern that the situation shouldn’t "get out of hand" while she’s here. This merely increases or reinforces Olmert’s reluctance to do that ground operation, even after the outrages of yesterday and in spite of the intense pressure on him from many quarters here. It has been suggested that action will come after she leaves, but there’s been so much stalling I’ll believe that when I see it.
Olmert did meet with Rice in Tokyo , where he told her that "The Palestinians are testing our patience to the limit." This could be read as a veiled declaration of intention to act very soon.
And Rice, being Rice, expressed understanding of our position and then launched into an expression of concern about the humanitarian conditions in Gaza. (Hint to Olmert: Don’t think of making those conditions worse.)
She said she believes that the only solution to the "cycle of violence" (an inappropriate term of moral equivalency) is a negotiated peace. But she conceded that this seems less and less likely to happen any time soon.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry has issued a statement saying that we will continue to defend ourselves. What is happening is a ratcheting up of the limited operations — missile strikes on those launching the rockets and their launching bases — that have been on-going. Today 18 Palestinians in Gaza were killed. This time a strike was done near Haniyeh’s home, likely as a message, as he is assumed to be in hiding.
The problem, as I’ve noted before , is that these operations are not effective against what we’re facing.
I end by citing in total a JTA news release concerning the Jewish Council for Public Affairs:
"The Jewish Council for Public Affairs endorsed for the first time a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"At its annual plenum Tuesday in Atlanta , the body, an umbrella organization representing 14 national Jewish groups and 125 local Jewish community relations councils, resolved that ‘the organized American Jewish community should affirm its support for two independent, democratic and economically viable states — the Jewish state of Israel and a state of Palestine– living side-by-side in peace and security.’
"The resolution also included compromise language reflecting American Jewry’s ‘diverse views about current and future policies of the Israeli government towards settlements,’ and blamed the standstill in the peace process on Palestinian intransigence.
"It appeared to pass unanimously, though the Orthodox Union, which has been outspoken in objecting to any deal to share or divide Jerusalem, had considered abstaining. According to one of its officers, David Luchins, the O.U. was satisfied with the final text, but still felt it represented an attempt to ‘micromanage’ the peace process.
"The resolution came about in response to recent events like the seizure of Gaza, the ‘reconstitution’ of the Palestinian Authority and the latest U.S.-backed peace initiative, said the JCPA’s senior associate executive director, Martin Raffel."
Before I comment on this state of affairs , let me add that the OU has put out its own release elaborating on its position, which it felt was not fairly represented in the JTA release.
See http://www.ou.org/public_affairs/article/37398 for the OU explanation. Apparently OU abstained from the final vote and, among its actions, "succeeded in defeating a proposed amendment to the resolution text which would have stated that the American Jewish community views the establishment or expansion of Israeli settlements as an ‘impediment to peace.’"
Now, as to the position of the established Jewish community: There are multiple reasons for this resolution, only one of them being an ideological bent. We’re looking, as well, at a reluctance to cross the government of Israel and the US government. And yet, it takes my breath away. From here in Israel, it feels as if we’ve lost the established American Jewish community to a considerable extent. They just don’t get it.
Perhaps this also takes your breath away . And perhaps you are associated with or active in one of the national Jewish groups that belongs to this umbrella organization. A number of big groups is involved — ORT, Hadassah, Bnai Brith, etc.
Perhaps you donate money to one or more of these groups, which increases your leverage.
Raise your voices. Let your distress be heard. This is not a time for remaining passive.