* Palestinians pay tribute to Saddam Hussein one year after his hanging
* “Has Fatah changed its ways? Giving billions of dollars to murderers and thieves”
Tomorrow, George Bush begins his first visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority since becoming U.S. president in January 2001. This dispatch contains items relating to Palestinian, Israeli and Egyptian politics. It is the last of the five dispatches since January 2 containing previously published items of mine from the National Review. Some of these items may be familiar to you by now, though I hope most won’t be. I also attach two articles by other commentators.
1. Egyptian magazine confirms Arafat was behind Munich Olympic and other murders
2. Palestinians pay tribute to Saddam Hussein one year after his hanging
3. Israeli-Palestinian deaths down, thanks to security barrier
4. But Fatah still killing Israelis
5. New Fatah map shows all of Israel as Palestine
6. Tony Blair: I would hesitate to cede the West Bank to the Palestinians after the “nightmare” Israel has faced since the Gaza withdrawal
7. Egypt to copyright pyramids
8. Israelis in Mecca
9. “Paying Islam for our Western guilt” (by Diana West, Washington Times, Dec. 21, 2007)
10. “The Palestinian Economy in Shambles” (by Daniel Pipes, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 27, 2007)
[Note by Tom Gross]
Friday, December 28, 2007
EGYPTIAN MAGAZINE CONFIRMS ARAFAT WAS BEHIND MUNICH OLYMPIC AND OTHER MURDERS
The latest edition of the Egyptian magazine Al-Ahram Al-Arabi has confirmed what many in the West have suspected for a long time: that Yasser Arafat personally directed the Black September terrorist organization that claimed responsibility for the 1971 murder of Jordanian Prime Minister Wasfi at-Tal, the 1972 massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics, and other atrocities.
The Cairo newspaper quotes a new book by PLO leader Marwan Kanafani, “Years of Hope,” to be published soon.
There have also long been claims that Arafat’s longtime deputy Mahmoud Abbas, who is still widely known in the Middle East by his nom de guerre Abu Mazen, was very closely involved in the Munich Olympics massacre. For more, see here.)
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
PALESTINIANS PAY TRIBUTE TO SADDAM HUSSEIN ONE YEAR AFTER HIS HANGING
Agence France Presse reports from the West Bank:
Some 700 Palestinians observed a minute’s silence on Monday as they marked the first anniversary of the hanging of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
… Holding Saddam portraits and gripping Iraqi and Palestinian flags, rally participants recited poems praising the dictator who was hanged on December 30, 2006 in Iraq after a court sentenced him to death for his role in the slaughter of tens of thousands of ethnic Kurds in 1988.
In spite of the AFP story, very few mainstream media outlets mentioned this Palestinian show of solidarity. And hardly any have reported the ongoing Fatah-Hamas Palestinian infighting in Gaza, which on Monday and Tuesday alone resulted in eight Palestinians being shot dead (including a 10-year-old boy) and 30 being wounded. Both Hamas and Fatah are continuing to buy ever more sophisticated weapons using the international aid money given to the Palestinian Authority by Western states.
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN DEATHS DOWN, THANKS TO SECURITY BARRIER
While the number of Palestinians killed by Israel dropped 43% in 2007 to the lowest number since the second intifada began, the overall number of Palestinians killed in 2007 reached a record high because of the 344 Palestinians killed in intra-Palestinian fighting, the human rights group B’Tselem said in its year-end report.
The report also found a significant drop in the proportion of Palestinian civilians killed, with the vast majority of those dying in 2007 being militants. The number of Israeli civilians killed last year in Palestinian terror attacks was also greatly down, further proof that Israel’s security barrier and checkpoints are working.
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
BUT FATAH STILL KILLING ISRAELIS
At the same time, Israel has expressed anger that the murderers of two young Israeli hikers last Friday belonged to President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party, and had been armed by them. Western media regularly refer to Fatah as a “moderate” organization.
Fatah activists said the attack was “to celebrate Fatah’s 43rd anniversary this week,” and that the attackers, they explained, were apparently hoping to send a message to the Palestinian public that, contrary to claims by Hamas, Fatah has not abandoned “the path of armed struggle.” They added that the $9 billion just pledged to the Palestinians over the next three years by the international community would come in handy in this regard.
Monday, December 24, 2007
NEW FATAH MAP SHOWS ALL OF ISRAEL AS PALESTINE
Fatah is marking its 43rd anniversary with a new poster that presents all of Israel as Palestine. The poster, posted on a number of Fatah-affiliated websites, features a map of Israel that is entirely draped with a Palestinian keffiyeh scarf.
The poster, which has been endorsed by the Fatah leadership, also carries a drawing of a rifle as a symbol of the “armed struggle” against Israel.
Analysts say that the underlying message to its own supporters is that Fatah, like Hamas, does not recognize Israel’s existence and the two groups merely disagree on tactics and the level of religiosity in Palestinian society.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
TONY BLAIR: I WOULD HESITATE TO CEDE THE WEST BANK TO THE PALESTINIANS AFTER THE “NIGHTMARE” ISRAEL HAS FACED SINCE THE GAZA WITHDRAWAL
Now that the new Mideast peace envoy Tony Blair has spent a bit of time in Israel and the Palestinian-run areas since he stepped down as British prime minister last summer, he says he has gained a better understanding of the threat Israel is under.
“For people on the outside it is hard to understand the problems that the [Israelis] are having. Today I understand more than when I was the prime minister the difficulties here,” he said yesterday in Jerusalem. (For starters, Blair doesn’t have to rely anymore on the lies about Israel by the BBC and British newspapers, but can see the situation for himself.)
Yesterday alone the supposedly cash-strapped Palestinians fired 37 missiles on the southern Israeli working class town of Sderot – a record number for a single day. Five Israeli civilians were injured.
Blair: Israel faced post-pullout nightmare
The Jerusalem Post
Dec 13, 2007
If he were an MK (Member of the Knesset), the Quartet’s Middle East envoy Tony Blair would hesitate to cede land in the West Bank to the Palestinians after the “nightmare” that the Israelis faced after they disengaged from the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2005, he said yesterday.
However Blair, addressing the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, added that Israel must continue with the peace process despite its security concerns.
“I understand and sympathize with the problems that the [Israelis] are having. For people on the outside it is hard to understand… today I understand more than when I was the prime minister the difficulties here,” said Blair.
Blair told the committee about the economic programs that he hopes to launch to bolster the Palestinian economy. He explained that a diplomatic process would be useless unless there were real changes on the ground to improve the lives of the Palestinian people.
Likud MK Limor Livnat was angered when Blair refused to answer her question regarding PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
“He would not, or could not, answer the question of why the Palestinians leadership was entering into peace talks without recognizing Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state,” she said.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
EGYPT TO COPYRIGHT PYRAMIDS
Las Vegas beware.
Egypt plans to pass a law requiring payment of royalties to the Egyptian regime whenever its ancient monuments, from the Pyramids to the Sphinx, are reproduced in full-scale fashion.
Zahi Hawass, the head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, said on Christmas Day that the move was necessary to pay for the upkeep of the country’s thousands of historic sites.
“The new law will completely prohibit the duplication of Egyptian monuments which the Supreme Council of Antiquities considers 100 per cent copies,” he said.
He did not explain how Egypt intended to enforce the law.
Monday, December 10, 2007
ISRAELIS IN MECCA
Ahmad Jum’a, a 25-year-old student from Nazareth, feels the need to defend Israel from the misconceptions and untruths he hears from fellow Muslims during the Haj.
Explaining that he is a Muslim Arab with Israeli citizenship often leaves his audience gobsmacked [reports The Media Line] ...
Jum’a also encounters anti-Israel views. He holds the Arab media partially to blame for this, for failing to provide an accurate and comprehensive picture of Israeli culture and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“The Arab media always shows negative things about Israel and as a Muslim Arab living inside Israel I want to show a positive side of the country. I tell them there are good things in Israel and that we live side by side with the Jews. There are problems sometimes but the relations with our Jewish neighbors are generally good.”
… On his recent trip to Medina he found a group of four Palestinians from a refugee camp in Lebanon. They told him they agreed with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Israel should be wiped off the map.
… The Muslims in Israel have freedom and passports, he tells them. They have a good economic situation and good jobs; they get along with their Jewish neighbors and they benefit from Israel’s services.
… Jum’a is not alone in this conviction. Sheikh ‘Ali Bakr, 47, an imam from northern Israel… has been to Saudi Arabia 24 times on pilgrimages. Bakr does not feel a contradiction in holding Israeli citizenship and attending the Haj.
… “Some think that Israeli Arabs are neglected and underprivileged, so we tell them that’s not the case, that we live here as equal citizens and that we fit well into the Jewish social fabric.”
I attach two articles below. The second in particular is worth reading. It reiterates the fact that, as the late Lord (Peter) Bauer and others have noted, foreign aid does not work. It corrupts and distorts an economy; and the greater the amounts involved, the greater the damage. The Palestinians have received more per capita aid in recent years than any other nation in world history, and the result has been to stifle incentive for useful economic development in the Palestinian Authority-run areas.
-- Tom Gross
“GIVING BILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO MURDERERS AND THIEVES”
Paying Islam for our Western guilt
By Diana West
The Washington Times
Dec. 21, 2007
Christmas came early to the Palestinian Authority when the “international community” decided not only to meet PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ request for $5.6 billion in aid, but to throw in almost $2 billion more. Why? Did the PA end its terrorist ways? Stop state-sanctioned incitement against Israel and the West? Change Fatah’s charter (forget about Hamas) calling for Israel’s destruction?
Alas, no, no and no. We are heaping riches on the PA for other reasons, one of which I discuss below.
But first, a digression: Christmas, obviously, doesn’t come to the PA, even if Western billions do. Despite a tiny (and decreasing) number of Christians, the PA is a land of Islam – Dar al-Islam. That makes Israel, the object of the PA’s destructive animus, Dar al-Harb, land of war, right?
Right. But not according to the PC script of the “international community.” We never, ever discuss the Islamic context of “Arab-Israeli” conflicts. But how else can we hope to understand them? Jihad ideology inspires the Arab struggle against Israel. It also explains it. As the only non-Muslim country amid Middle Eastern Dar-al Islam, as the only “dhimmi” nation to reclaim its land once conquered by Islam, Israel’s very existence is a religious offense to the “umma,” or Islamic community. In this same context, what we call “foreign aid” to the PA may be understood as a form of “jizya,” the protection money paid to Muslims by non-Muslims.
But the non-Muslim world prefers not to think like that. We avert our collective eye from the goals of jihad, from the history and teachings of Islam. Instead, we see ourselves as villains – Israel for its existence, and Israel’s supporters for, well, their support for Israel’s existence.
In so doing, we create a sinkhole of Western guilt and responsibility for suffering Muslims, in this case in the PA. They suffer not as a consequence of their religio-political bloodlust to destroy the Jews in Israel (the nearest infidels), but because there are Jews in Israel. In other words, it’s everyone else’s fault but their own. Islam – particularly, jihadist ideology – is not to blame. Throw more money down the hole.
Of course, this works only until we stop misreading such ideology. And how long will that take? Probably forever – so long as we continue leaning on the same authorities who got us into this mental mess in the first place.
As it happens, I began the calendar year thinking about this subject – exonerating Islam – while discussing a PBS documentary on anti-Semitism in the Islamic world. The show’s conclusion: What isn’t Israel’s fault is that of the West.
Well, you can’t expect much more from (lefty) PBS. What was startling about the message, however, was one of the messenger’s: none other than the eminent historian Bernard Lewis. He declared that anti-Semitism didn’t even exist in the Middle East until European Christian colonizers brought it. You don’t need to be a scholar of Lewis’ stature to know that European colonization of the Middle East didn’t begin until some 1,100 years after Islamic anti-Semitism got going in the Koran, the canonical commentaries on the Koran, and in a long and painful (for Christians also) historical record.
Because Lewis is probably the most influential voice on Islam in our time – particularly for the U.S. foreign policy establishment – his pronouncements are more than significant. Right or, in this case, wrong, they become the conventional wisdom, or reinforce it.
This comes to mind because Lewis has done it again – holding Europe responsible for unpalatable traditions of Islam. Writing at The American Thinker blog, Andrew Bostom, author of “The Legacy of Jihad” (Prometheus, 2005) and, forthcoming, “The Legacy of Islamic Anti-Semitism,” quotes a recent speech in which Lewis said: “The authoritarianism present in the Middle East region is not part of the Arab and Muslim traditions, but it has been imported from Europe.” Bostom goes on to cite copious chapter and verse – including earlier writings by Lewis himself – demonstrating that “the Arab and Muslim tradition” needed no lessons from Europe on authoritarianism.
Why is Lewis making statements contradicted by the historical record? If European Christendom truly is the source of Islamic evil – e.g., anti-Semitism and authoritarianism – Islam is let off the hook, and blame falls on the West. Whether that is Lewis’ point, it is certainly Lewis’ effect.
And it is certainly the conventional wisdom. Not very wise, though, when it helps feed the kind of guilt assuaged only by giving billions of dollars to murderers and thieves.
“THE RECORD-SHATTERING PER-CAPITA DONATIONS FROM THE WEST ACTUALLY END UP MAKING THE PALESTINIANS POORER”
The Palestinian Economy in Shambles
By Daniel Pipes
The Jerusalem Post
Dec. 21, 2007
Western financial aid to the Palestinians has, I showed last week, the perverse and counterintuitive effect of increasing their rate of homicides, including terrorist ones. This week, I offer two pieces of perhaps even stranger news about the many billions of dollars and record-shattering per-capita donations from the West: First, these have rendered the Palestinians poorer. Second, Palestinian impoverishment is a long-term positive development.
To begin, some basic facts about the Palestinian economy, drawing on a fine survey by Ziv Hellman, “Terminal Situation,” in the Dec. 24 issue of Jerusalem Report:
* Palestinian per year per-capita income has contracted by about 40 percent since its US$2,000 peak in 1992 (before the Oslo process began) to less than $1,200 now.
* Per-capita Israeli income, 10 times greater than the Palestinians’ in 1967 is now 23 times greater.
* Deep poverty has increased in Gaza from 22 percent of the population in 1998 to nearly 35 percent in 2006; it would be about 67 percent if not for remittances and food aid.
* Direct foreign investment barely exists, while local capital mostly gets sent abroad or is invested in real estate or short-term trading.
* The Palestinian Authority economy, Hellman writes, “is largely based on monopolies in various industries granted by PA officials in exchange for kickbacks.”
* The PA’s payroll is so bloated that the cost of wages alone exceeds all revenues.
* A dysfunctional judicial system in the PA means armed gangs usually decide commercial disputes.
Unsurprisingly, Hellman characterizes the Palestinian economy as “in shambles.”
Such shambles should come as no surprise, for as the late Lord Bauer and others have noted, foreign aid does not work. It corrupts and distorts an economy; and the greater the amounts involved, the greater the damage. One telling detail: at times during Yasser Arafat’s reign, a third of the Palestinian Authority’s budget went for “expenses of the President’s office,” without further explanation, auditing, or accounting. The World Bank objected, but the Israeli government and the European Union endorsed this corrupt arrangement, so it remained in place.
Indeed, the Palestinian Authority offers a textbook example of how to ruin an economy by smothering it under well-intentioned but misguided donations. The $7.4 billion recently pledged to it for the 2008-10 period will further exacerbate the damage.
Paradoxically, this error might help resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict. To see why, consider the two models, hardship v. exhilaration, that explain Palestinian extremism and violence.
The hardship model, subscribed to by all Western states, attributes Palestinian actions to poverty, isolation, Israeli roadblocks, the lack of a state, etc. Mahmoud Abbas, the PA leader, summed up this viewpoint at the Annapolis conference in November: “the absence of hope and overwhelming despair … feed extremism.” Eliminate those hardships and Palestinians, supposedly, would turn their attention to such constructive concerns as economic development and democracy. Trouble is, that change never comes.
The exhilaration model turns the Abbas logic on its head: the absence of despair and overwhelming hope, in fact, feed extremism. For Palestinians, hope derives from a perception of Israeli weakness, implying an optimism and excitement that the Jewish state can be eliminated. Conversely, when Palestinians cannot see a way forward against Israel, they devote themselves to the more mundane tasks of earning a living and educating their children. Note that the Palestinian economy peaked in 1992, just as, post-Soviet Union and post-Kuwait war, hopes bottomed out to eliminate Israel.
Exhilaration, not hardship, accounts for bellicose Palestinian behavior. Accordingly, whatever reduces Palestinian confidence is a good thing. A failed economy depresses the Palestinians’ mood, not to speak of their military and other capabilities, and so brings resolution closer.
Palestinians must experience the bitter crucible of defeat before they will drop their foul goal of eliminating their Israeli neighbor and begin to build their own economy, polity, society, and culture. No short-cut to this happy outcome exists. Who truly cares for Palestinians must want their despair to come quickly, so that a skilled and dignified people can move beyond its current barbarism and build something decent.
The huge and wasted outpouring of Western financial aid, ironically, brings on that despair in two ways: by encouraging terrorism and by distorting the economy, both of which imply economic decline. Rarely has the law of unintended consequences worked so imaginatively.
Daniel Pipes adds: Readers have taken the premise of this column – that foreign aid is counterproductive – to ask me two questions, which I thought best to reply to publicly here.
1. Does this same logic apply to Israel? Yes, in my view, it does. Economics is not my subject, so I have not written on this topic but I solicited and edited an article by Joel Bainerman in the Middle East Quarterly in 1995, “End American Aid to Israel? Yes, It Does Harm,” that largely reflects my views.
2. If foreign aid works perversely to erode the Palestinian sense of confidence to eliminate, should one not wish for more of it? No, because it has too many negative side-effects, starting with additional terrorism, as I pointed out in my column last week, in “Fund the Palestinians? Bad Idea.”