Israel is constantly reassured by ostensible well-wishers that if only it would make peace with the moderate Palestinians and Arabs, it would sideline the extremists, peace would immediately break out and heavenly angels would sing in massed chorales. (OK, I made that last bit up).
The only trouble with this utopian thesis is that it does not match the reality we see and hear every day. In fact our moderate neighbours seem indistinguishable from the extremists.
Let’s take Egypt’s President Morsi for example, who although belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood was, we were assured, a moderate who would reign in the extremists. How does this vision chime with the vicious words about Israel and the Jews that he expressed in 2010?
Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi described Zionists as “bloodsuckers” and descendants of apes and pigs, urged “military resistance” against Israel, and called to sever all ties with the Jewish state, in Arabic interviews that were posted on the Internet in 2010.
The footage was found, translated, reposted and transcribed this week by MEMRI, the Middle East Media Research Institute.
In the footage, described by MEMRI as “archival interviews” that were originally posted online in 2010, Morsi declares: “The Zionists have no right to the land of Palestine. There is no place for them on the land of Palestine. What they took before 1947-8 constitutes plunder, and what they are doing now is a continuation of this plundering. By no means do we recognize their Green Line. The land of Palestine belongs to the Palestinians, not to the Zionists.”
True, he has since sent a couple of friendlier letters to President Peres since he came into power, but has he ever recanted those vile words? I find this very discomfiting to put it mildly.
Meanwhile the “moderate” Fatah has held a 48th birthday rally in Gaza, presenting a unified front with Hamas. I would love someone to explain how a “moderate” party uniting and celebrating with a terrorist group can still be called “moderate”. I would also point out that Fatah is celebrating its 48th birthday, in other words its founding in 1965, although they claim they “only” want to liberate the territories captured by Israel in 1967 – i.e. 45 years ago. So what were they hoping to liberate before 1967? Those same territories that were held by Egypt and Jordan? Or perhaps the actual State of Israel?
And let us look at the inflammatory words that Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen) used in his speech to the Gaza rally:
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party staged a massive rally Friday in the Gaza Strip, the first such gathering in the territory since Hamas seized control there in 2007 and a reflection of the warming ties between the two rival factions.
In a speech from his Ramallah headquarters in the West Bank, Abbas declared that “victory is near… We will soon meet in Gaza.”
Protesting the “occupation and blockade” imposed by Israel, and the expansion of settlements in Jerusalem, Abbas declared, “Our mission is to unify our efforts to save Jerusalem our capital.”
Happily for Israel, the splits between Hamas and Fatah are still greater than their unity,
Addressing the gathering by video link from Ramallah in the West Bank, Mahmoud Abbas, the Fatah leader and president of the Palestinian Authority, said division had to end: “There is no alternative to unity to achieve our goals.”
That message was undermined on the streets by the anger of Fatah supporters, who said Hamas’s rule was characterised by human rights abuses, restrictions on free speech, and economic privations, including soaring unemployment and high taxes.
“You look at all these people today and they are smiling – you haven’t seen that for the last five years because Hamas has been governing the Gaza Strip,” said Khaled Shokoky, 27, a nurse in the European hospital in Gaza. “People have not liked the limits on their freedoms. You are not allowed to talk about Hamas’s mistakes. People have been shot in the legs because they criticised Hamas.”
Despite the feeling on the streets, a Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, said that the event could bring about reconciliation. “The success of the rally is a success for Fatah, and for Hamas too. The positive atmosphere is a step on the way to regain national unity,” he said.
But Abdel Kadir al-Afifi, 59, a veteran Fatah activist, believed the chances of reconciliation were slim. “Hamas wants everything,” he said. “They don’t want to share leadership or work with others. They want to be the alternative to the PLO, not become part of it.”
But I don’t take this as a sign that either side is moderating in their hatred for Israel. The enemy of my enemy is not always my friend.
Mahmoud Abbas has also broken another condition of the Oslo Accords and has officially changed the name of the Palestinian Authority to the “State of Palestine” – as if that is going to make any practical difference:
The Palestinian Authority officially changed its name to the State of Palestine, Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas officially signed his first decrees that bear the name of the State of Palestine on Friday, according to WAFA, in an apparent move to reflect the recent upgrade of the Palestinians’ status to non-member observer state at the United Nations General Assembly.
Unfortunately for Abbas – and for Israel – his attempts at unity and his diplomatic game-playing is not extreme enough for many members of Fatah:
But Abbas’s diplomacy seems uninspiring even to the most moderate of voices within the Palestinian leadership.
In an op-ed published Thursday in Al-Quds, the daily of choice for the Palestinian elite, former information minister Nabil Amr bemoaned the political stagnation in the West Bank and criticized the leadership in the face of accelerated Israeli settlement activity.
Amr’s apprehension, however, pales in comparison to the harsh resolve in a statement issued on Friday by the Joint Media Center of Fatah’s Armed Movements, which has remained active even as Abbas has publicly called for peaceful diplomacy.
If Abbas publicly argues that the use of weapons against Israel during the Second Intifada has backfired, his movement’s military activists insist they will remain “the liberators of all the nation’s land; not dropping our weapons before liberation and independence.”
“The Zionist entity is a hostile one,” the communique reads, “and we will fight [it] until it is removed from Palestine.”
In raising its weapons, Fatah’s armed wing may find a brother in arms in its Islamist rival Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.
In an example of from just yesterday of “violent struggle”, 200 Palestinians attacked the Esh Kodesh vineyards, injuring 12 residents
Some 200 Palestinians attacked the vineyards of the West Bank Esh Kodesh outpost on Saturday afternoon, according to the IDF.
Esh Kodesh spokesman Aron Katsof said 12 outpost residents were injured as a result, including one who was treated in the hospital and then released.
The Palestinians came very close to the homes and destroyed vineyards, Katsof said.
The IDF added that Palestinians were able to cut through one of the fences protecting the vineyards. He added that the window of a security vehicle was also broken by the stones.
Hella Mann of Esh Kodesh said that the three-hour event began when a number of people from the outpost went for a walk.
Palestinians observed them and within minutes, it seemed as if hundreds arrived and began to throw stones.
“It was as if they were organized and waiting,” Mann said.
She blamed the attack on a military order to allow Palestinians to work a field near the outpost.
“It was not like this before,” Mann said, who explained that she felt that military order compromised the security of outpost residents.
Twice last week, Esh Kodesh residents went to the field to physically prevent the Palestinians from working it. In the first incident they held a picnic on the field, and were forcibly removed by the IDF and Border Police. Katsof said that security forces used tear gas and stun grenades against them.
In the second incident women from Esh Kodesh tried to stand in front of the Palestinians, but were removed by security forces.
The IDF reported that last week settlers attacked the nearby Palestinian villages of Kasra and Jalud, breaking windows and lightly injuring one Palestinian. Katsof said that Esh Kodesh residents did not participate in the attacks.
Will the IDF be ordered to remove the Palestinians as quickly as they were ordered to remove the Esh Kodesh residents?
In fact the “moderate” Palestinians have been increasing their attacks against Israelis in recent weeks, as documented by Arutz Sheva in a series of articles about a possible Third Intifada, including several rock-throwing attacks and riots.
In response to this ominous threat the IDF has been stepping up its arrests of Hamas members and anti-Israel activists in Judea and Samaria:
Israel is stepping up arrests of Hamas members and other anti-Israel activists in the West Bank in order to preempt a possible Palestinian uprising, AFP reported Thursday.
Quoting an unnamed security official, the French agency said Jerusalem was trying to prevent low-intensity flareups from turning into a mass uprising against Israel.
“There is a certain [Palestinian] awakening,” the official told AFP. “As a consequence a decision was taken within the security establishment to increase intelligence activity and arrests among members of Hamas or activists against Israel… It started in the past few days and will increase.”
Flames of unrest in the West Bank — possibly stoked by the Palestinians’ upgraded status at the United Nations, to that of a nonmember observer state, and Israel’s recent war against Hamas in Gaza — have surfaced over the past few weeks.
The Shin Bet security service contended in its November monthly report that the increase in violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank was tied to Pillar of Defense, that month’s eight-day Israel-Gaza conflict. The security agency counted 122 Palestinian attacks on Israelis in the West Bank, compared with 39 in October — and 44 incidents in Jerusalem, up from 31 the month before.
On Tuesday, a raid by IDF soldiers who disguised themselves as vegetable vendors to seize members of a terror group sparked intense clashes in the northern West Bank. Residents in the town of Tamoun said youths tossed stones and bottles at Israeli troops, while the soldiers responded with rubber bullets.
Military officials said Border Police forces entered the town and arrested Islamic Jihad activist Murad Beni Ouda, as well as another person.
In a separate incident last week, the IDF arrested a Palestinian policeman outside Hebron — finally catching a wanted man it had failed twice previously to arrest.
The first two intifadas (“uprisings”), which started in 1987 and 2000, were characterized by widespread violence, civil disobedience and terror attacks. The second intifada saw an onslaught of suicide bombings that declined as Israel constructed the West Bank security barrier.
Just imagine how much worse our situation would be if our neigbours were not so moderate?!