“The question is why?” (& New hit songs in Arab world against Obama, Kerry)

March 18, 2014

“Listen, Listen John Kerry” video popular in the West Bank (There is a link to the video below.)

 

* Lee Smith: “President Obama met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday at the White House. The question is why? Given Obama’s broader strategic view of the Middle East, why does the Arab-Israeli conflict still matter?”

* “When Obama first came to office he believed that getting a deal between Israel and the Palestinians would get the Gulf Arabs, especially Saudi Arabia, on board for the larger project of stopping the Iranian nuclear program. But even before he bungled the peace process during his first term, the Arabs already were on board for Iran and wanted to know what he, as the president of the United States, was doing about it.”

* Abbas defines Jewish history in Jerusalem as a “delusional myth”.

* Dror Eydar: “The insistence upon recognition of a Jewish state isn’t meant for us. We Israelis don’t need recognition from Ramallah. The call to recognize Israel as a Jewish state is intended to block the PLO’s progressive tactic in which each territory it receives serves as the base for the next demand. And not recognition in empty words, but a requirement that this recognition make its way into the Palestinian school studies and media.”

* Chemi Shalev: “President Barack Obama has already shown that he picked up a smattering of Jewish sayings during his Chicago days, so he may possibly remember the term loch in kop, as in ‘I need this like a hole in the head.’ That thought, in one language or another, must have gone through Obama’s mind as he sat down with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House on Monday in the midst of a deteriorating international crisis with Russia and Vladimir Putin.”

 

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CONTENTS

1. Wasting time
2. “Shut up your mouse, Obama” video goes viral across Middle East
3. Video: How “Sacrosanct” are Europe’s borders?
4. “Why Did Obama meet with Abbas in Washington?” (By Lee Smith, Tablet, March 17, 2014)
5. “Obama’s Middle East fallacy” (By Jackson Diehl, Washington Post, March 16, 2014)
6. “Palestinian people’s message to Kerry: Go away!” (By Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute, March 17, 2014)
7. “The debate is about our right to exist” (By Dror Eydar, Israel Hayom, March 16, 2014)
8. “Eight crucial questions for Abbas (and One for President Obama)” (By John Ryan, Gatestone Institute, March 15, 2014)
9. “Why Abbas thinks Jewish state is a ‘delusional myth’“ (By Itamar Marcus, Jerusalem Post, March 17, 2014)
10. “Obama’s objective: Avert Israeli-Palestinian meltdown in midst of crisis in Ukraine” (By Chemi Shalev, Ha’aretz, March 18, 2014)


WASTING TIME?

[Note by Tom Gross]

In his remarks to the press in Washington yesterday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that “we don’t have any time to waste”. But that is, of course, exactly what he has been doing. He is in the tenth year of what was meant to be a four-year term and has done virtually nothing to advance peace – indeed quite the opposite, he has encouraged incitement and radicalism in Palestinian society, rather than compromise. The only specific issue he currently seems to care about is seeking the release of the final convicted pre-Oslo killers held by Israel – these ones being Israeli Arabs. He drew attention to the issue in his remarks at the White House yesterday.

Below, I attach seven articles from the last couple of days about Abbas’s visit to Washington. They are not very optimistic, I regret to say, but I feel that the points raised in them should at least be considered by those diplomats and journalists on this list in Europe and North America who believe that all that needs to be done to achieve long-lasting Middle East peace is to pressure Israel. (The authors of four of these articles – Lee Smith, Jackson Diehl, Khaled Abu Toameh and Itamar Marcus – are longtime subscribers to this list. )

The new anti-John Kerry song (referred to by Khaled Abu Toameh) which is being posted in many Palestinian social networks since it was released on Saturday, can be heard and seen here.

 

“SHUT UP YOUR MOUSE, OBAMA” VIDEO GOES VIRAL ACROSS MIDDLE EAST

Another video which has gained even greater number of hits across the Middle East in recent days, is the remix of a clip of this Egyptian woman – furious with President Obama’s alleged sympathy with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt – telling the U.S. President in broken English: “Listen your Obama, we are Egyptian women. You are, listen Obama, Shut up your mouse [mouth], shut up your mouse Obama! Sisi, yes…Sisi, yes. Morsi, no… Morsi, no.”

Original comment.

One of the links carrying the remix.


Tom Gross adds: Needless to say, I don’t share this woman’s sentiments or language, but am including it as a matter of interest because in recent days, it has become the most talked about video in the Arab world.

(And as a general point, I would like to remind readers that I don’t necessarily agree with all the points in the articles included in these dispatches. They are sometimes included to fill gaps in coverage by some of the major world media.)

***

Separately:

“Muslim Brotherhood students raise Al-Qaeda flag at Al-Azhar University campus” [in Cairo]

www.aawsat.net/2014/03/article55330153.

 

VIDEO: HOW “SACROSANCT” ARE EUROPE’S BORDERS?

Here is one other item, in light of the election by the people of Crimea to return to Russia. (Incidentally, the Crimeans that subscribe to this list tell me that everyone they know there did indeed vote on Sunday for reunion with Russia.)

A short historical video here.

(PS. I am not responsible for the misspelling of “borders” in the URL!)

-- Tom Gross


ARTICLES

“THE QUESTION IS WHY?”

Why Did Obama Meet With Abbas in Washington?
The president’s Middle East policy has been about minimizing America’s role
By Lee Smith
Tablet magazine
March 17, 2014

President Obama met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas this morning at the White House. The question is why? Given Obama’s broader strategic view of the Middle East, why does the Arab-Israeli conflict still matter?

Yes, Obama said in his speech last fall to the United Nations General Assembly that Palestinian-Israeli peace is still one of the White House’s two key concerns. It surely matters a lot to Secretary of State John Kerry, who has staked his reputation on being the man who can break the impasse. But the broader issue is that the peace process just doesn’t play the same role in U.S. Middle East policy as it has for four decades. In the context of how the administration is handling its other key diplomatic initiative – Iran – the peace process has entered its mannerist phase, an empty formalism signifying nothing.

From its very beginning in the 1970s, the peace process has more often than not been a song-and-dance routine intended to show America’s Middle East allies that Washington is an honest broker. Sure, it’s close to Israel, but it can also do right by the Palestinians. The less Pollyannaish version, which is Henry Kissinger’s version, is that the peace process shows both Israel and the Arabs who’s boss: America. By backing Israel to the hilt, ensuring that the Arabs will never be able to crush the Zionist usurper, American policymakers illustrated that if Arab oil powers want to win concessions for the Palestinians, then they have to come to Washington on bended knee and ask the Jewish state’s superpower sponsor nicely. This strategy no longer makes sense, at least with the current White House. Obama wants to minimize America’s footprint in the Middle East, not maximize its ability to project power, as the peace process always had up until now.

As I’ve argued before, the peace process is strictly an American affair. Sure, the Europeans are more than willing to invest politically and diplomatically in Arab-Israeli peace, but they’re incapable of giving Jerusalem the security guarantees that made the United States indispensable. The world powers that are willing and able to enforce security promises, like Russia and China, couldn’t care less whether or not Israel makes peace with Mahmoud Abbas. From Putin’s perspective, what’s wrong a permanent occupation? Not much, as he’s demonstrated this week in Ukraine.

Time is running out, Obama recently warned Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. But the reality is that it was Obama who held the ball while the clock was ticking down. When Obama first came to office he believed that getting a deal between Israel and the Palestinians would get the Gulf Arabs, especially Saudi Arabia, on board for the larger project of stopping the Iranian nuclear program. But even before he bungled the peace process during his first term, the Arabs already were on board for Iran and wanted to know what he, as the president of the United States, was doing about it.

Quite a lot, as it turns out. The problem was that much of the administration’s diplomacy with Iran was conducted behind the backs of America’s traditional Gulf Arab allies, including the Saudis – and, they believe, largely at their expense. Obama wants to create a geopolitical equilibrium in the region by balancing Saudi Arabia and Iran against each other. The president says he doesn’t believe in “zero-sum endeavors,” but that’s not how the Saudis and other U.S. regional partners see it. From their point of view, they’re getting knocked down a peg or two while Tehran has become Washington’s new best friend. In other words, even if Obama got a great deal for the Palestinians it wouldn’t matter in the least to the Saudis at this point, because as they see it they’re getting screwed big time when it comes to Iran.

So while there’s been plenty of talk the past few years about how Israel only has so much time to preserve its future as a Jewish and democratic state, the big loser here is Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority, and the Palestinians themselves. Given all the turmoil sweeping through the region – outright civil war in Syria, sectarian violence from Beirut to Baghdad, and an Iranian regime on the march – it would have been wise to nail down a state before someone winds up pulling it out from underneath them. Maybe that’s why Obama met with him today – a consolation prize for a head of state without a state.

 

“IS OBAMA RIGHT ABOUT ABBAS?”

Obama’s Middle East fallacy
By Jackson Diehl
Washington Post
March 16, 2014

Two weeks ago President Obama took time off from the crisis in Ukraine to pursue the foreign policy cause that, together with nuclear disarmament, has been closest to his heart: Israeli-Palestinian peace. Having invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House, Obama welcomed him by publicly declaring to Bloomberg View’s Jeffrey Goldberg that Israel “could face a bleak future – one of international isolation and demographic disaster – if [Netanyahu] refuses to endorse a U.S. drafted framework agreement for peace,” as Goldberg summed it up.

Fair enough, you might say: An April 29 deadline for obtaining agreement to the framework is getting close, so it’s time for a little presidential arm-twisting. It follows that when Mahmoud Abbas troops into the Oval Office for his meeting on Monday, he should be met with equally dire predictions of Palestinian doom if he fails to accept the framework.

So far, there’s no sign of it: no presidential interviews, no statements by Secretary of State John Kerry, no leaks of potential U.S. punitive measures if Abbas – repeating a long personal and Palestinian history – says no. Therein lies the fallacy that has hamstrung Obama’s Middle East diplomacy for the past five years.

Obama, as he made clear in the Goldberg interview, perceives Abbas as the golden key to Mideast peace – “the most politically moderate leader the Palestinians may ever have,” as Goldberg paraphrased it – and Netanyahu as the potential spoiler. “I believe that President Abbas is sincere about his willingness to recognize Israel and its right to exist,” the president said. “You’ve got a partner on the other side who is prepared to negotiate seriously .?.?. for us not to seize this moment I think would be a great mistake.”

But is Obama right about Abbas? Netanyahu, like most Israelis, doesn’t think so – and with some reason. The Palestinian president – who was elected to a four-year term in 2005 and has remained in office for five years after its expiration – turned down President George W. Bush’s request that he sign on to a similar framework in 2008. In 2010, after Obama strong-armed Netanyahu into declaring a moratorium on Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank, Abbas refused to negotiate for nine of the designated 10 months, then broke off the talks after two meetings.

Abbas agreed to Kerry’s proposal for another nine-month negotiating window last year in exchange for Israel’s release of more than 100 Palestinian prisoners, including many convicted of murdering civilians. Abbas hailed them as heroes. Then he embarked on a public campaign to deep-six the two principal provisions Israel has sought in the U.S. framework, both of which have had Washington’s support. One would allow Israeli soldiers to remain along the Palestinian-Jordanian border during an extended transition period; the other would involve Palestinian recognition that Israel is a Jewish state.

The “Jewish state” question is hard for many non-Israelis to understand: Who cares what Arabs call Israel, so long as they accept it? But for Netanyahu and his followers, the question is essential. Arab leaders have never conceded that a non-Arab state can hold a permanent place in the Middle East, they say. Until they do so, there will be no real peace, because Palestinians will keep pressing to weaken and eventually eliminate Israel’s Jewish majority.

Obama and Kerry have endorsed the Jewish-state principle; their hope was to use it to leverage Netanyahu’s acceptance of framework language stipulating that the territory of a Palestinian state would be equal to, if not exactly the same as, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Some in the Israeli media are bettingthat Netanyahu most likely would accept that outcome – albeit with many reservations – even at the risk of losing his right-wing governing coalition. After all, the price of saying no, repeatedly underlined by Kerry and Obama, is daunting: more boycotts, more anti-Israel initiatives at the United Nations, perhaps even another violent Palestinian uprising.

In short, Netanyahu has resigned himself to the likelihood that the U.S. framework will include provisions he’s not ready to endorse. Abbas has not.”There is no way. We will not accept,” the Palestinian news agency quoted him as saying of the Jewish-state principle on March 7. Two days later, Abbas persuaded the moribund Arab League to adopt a resolution backing him up. He’s said much the same about Israeli troops on the border.

Why does Abbas dare to publicly campaign against the U.S. and Israeli position even before arriving in Washington? Simple: “Abbas believes he can say no to Obama because the U.S. administration will not take any retaliatory measures against the Palestinian Authority,” writes the veteran Israeli-Palestinian journalist Khaled Abu Toameh. Instead, Abbas expects to sit back if the talks fail, submit petitions to the United Nations and watch the anti-Israel boycotts mushroom, while paying no price of his own.

Perhaps Obama will disabuse him of that notion at their meeting Monday. If not, another “peace process” breakdown is surely coming.

 

“WE WILL NEVER COMPROMISE”

Palestinian People’s Message to Kerry: Go Away!
By Khaled Abu Toameh
Gatestone Institute
March 17, 2014

www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4217/palestinians-kerry-song

Even if Abbas is forced – under U.S. Pressure and threats – to make concessions, the Palestinians will not “relinquish their rights.”

“If you make any concession, the people and I will take to the street and chant against you and demand that you go away.” – Qassem Najjar, Palestinian songwriter.

***

The Palestinians feel that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is not listening to what they have to say about his efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East.

That is why they have decided to express their views through a new song that is dedicated to Kerry personally.

A video of the song, by Qassem Najjar, was posted on YouTube and other social media outlets on the eve of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s visit to Washington for talks with President Barack Obama on the peace process with Israel.

While heaping praise on Abbas, the singer mocks Kerry and accuses him of presenting a “Zionist plan” with the intention of eliminating the Palestinian cause.

Najjar decided to publish his new song after he and other Palestinians were left with the impression that Kerry is not accurately hearing their position regarding his ideas for a “framework agreement” with Israel.

The words of the song, which is entitled, “The Palestinian People’s Message to Kerry,” express the negative attitude that many Palestinians and Arabs have toward his ideas.
But Najjar is also hoping that his song will send a warning to the Palestinian Authority leadership. “My message to the Palestinian Authority leadership is that as long as you are committed to the Palestinian rights, we are with you,” the singer said. “But if you make any concession, the people and I will take to the street to chant against you and demand that you go away.”

The Palestinian Authority has endorsed the anti-Kerry song by allowing many of its news websites to publish it. A senior Palestinian Authority official in Ramallah explained that the new song is “100% accurate and honestly sums up the whole Palestinian position toward peace.”

Najjar is hoping that the song’s message will reach Kerry and Obama before they meet with Abbas in Washington. He wants Washington to understand that even if Abbas is forced – under U.S. pressure and threats – to make concessions, the Palestinians will not “relinquish their rights.”

The song also reflects growing Palestinian suspicion toward Kerry’s motives and accuses him of seeking to deceive the Palestinians through his ideas. Addressing Kerry, the singer warns the top US diplomat, “Go tell Obama and America that my land is not a piece of cake for you to share.”

Referring to the explosive issue of Palestinian refugees, Najjar sends the following message to Kerry, “We will not compromise the right of return; my homeland flag will be high. Listen John Kerry.”

Noting that the Arabs will not allow Kerry’s plan to pass, the singer goes on to warn Kerry, “in the name of the martyrs, prisoners, homeland and revolution, Jerusalem is our free capital and will always be.”

After repeating Palestinian accusations against Israel over settlements and the “Judaization” of Jerusalem, Najjar cautions Kerry that he must “stop playing games because all your games have been exposed by President Abbas.”
Echoing previous statements by some of Abbas’s advisors, the singer denounces Kerry’s proposed agreement as a “Zionist scheme designed to liquidate the Palestinian cause.”

He also denounces as “racist” the demand for recognizing Israel as a Jewish state. This too is the official position of the Palestinian Authority and Abbas is once again expected to voice his opposition to this demand during his meeting with Obama. Another theme of the song that also reflects the official stance of the Palestinian Authority is the refusal to accept any Israeli presence in the West Bank after the signing of a peace agreement. In the words of the singer, “We do not accept Jews within our borders.”

It is no coincidence that the song was released on the eve of Abbas’s visit to Washington. Abbas will use it to show Obama and Kerry why he can not make concessions to Israel. He will also use it to scare the Americans and show them how much Palestinians despise Obama and Kerry.

 

“KERRY SHOULD READ THE PALESTINIAN NATIONAL CHARTER, THE FOUNDING DOCUMENT OF THE ‘MODERATE’ FATAH”

The debate is about our right to exist
By Dror Eydar
Israel Hayom
March 16, 2014

This is what you found? A murmured response to the question by PLO leader Yasser Arafat in 1988, and an additional hum directed toward Haaretz journalists? And after this, they’ll be angry that people talk about U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in terms of messianic obsession.

Why should it be necessary to search high and low for Palestinian recognition of a Jewish state? Because there is none. One can read the declarations of the Palestinian Authority and its leaders over the past 20 years. Indeed, opposing recognition of Israel as the national home of the Jewish people is more important to the Palestinians than land, since this is the true heart of the conflict, rather than the other territorial nonsense that the Left has been selling for years. It’s not about territory and not about settlements and not about refugee rights, not at all.

The hundred-year-old argument is about the Jewish people’s right to an independent home in the Land of Israel. Not only the Palestinians – no Arab state recognizes our right as Jews to any part of the region. They obscure the issue and talk about “recognizing Israel,” since the desire is to perpetuate the conflict even after a diplomatic treaty is signed, when the false claim will be that the Arab minority in Israel is suffering under “apartheid” and should have autonomy, since they belong to the Palestinian people who have been here since the dawn of creation. The international battle against Israel will continue to dismantle its Jewish identity on the way to making it a state for all its nationalities. There will be no end to the conflict without recognition of a Jewish state. This should be at the top of the Left’s priorities.

Kerry should read the Palestinian National Charter, the founding document of the “moderate” Fatah. It was ratified by the Sixth General Assembly of the Fatah Movement in Bethlehem in August 2009, when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was again elected head of the organization. This conference approved a plan that included the principle of “absolute irrevocable opposition to recognition of Israel as a ‘Jewish state’ to protect the rights of refugees and the rights of our people [Israeli Arabs] beyond the Green Line.”

Here, Mr. Kerry, is the rationale for the Palestinian refusal to recognize a Jewish state: They will continue to demand that refugees return even after a deal is signed and turn the parts of Israel around the Green Line into a binational state. Abbas and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat both voted in favor of the plan.

And here is a quote from the Palestinian platform that thus far, despite repeated promises, has not been changed: “Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the true conception of what constitutes statehood. Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own; they are citizens of the states to which they belong.” The Jews are not a people but a religion, and therefore have no national rights. Clear and simple. Just read it.

The insistence upon recognition of a Jewish state isn’t meant for us. We don’t need recognition from Ramallah. The call to recognize Israel as a Jewish state is intended to block the PLO’s progressive tactic in which each territory it receives serves as the base for the next demand. And not recognition in empty words, but a requirement that this recognition make its way into the Palestinian school studies and media. As of now, the state of Israel doesn’t exist in the PA. So the Israeli insistence on recognition is non-negotiable. Without this, it is better to maintain the status quo. The so-called threat that without a diplomatic deal Israel’s situation will worsen has been made for a hundred years already. Don’t try to scare us. We’ve managed all right so far.

Ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s arrival, the American administration sought to pressure Israel by releasing an aggressive interview President Barack Obama gave to Jeffrey Goldberg. And now, as Abbas is on his way, John Kerry is putting out statements to press Israel – imagine that – into relieving the Palestinians of their responsibility. It’s not only a matter of justice and fair mediation, it’s much more serious. John Kerry’s recent remarks have helped the PLO’s step-by-step approach.

 

EIGHT CRUCIAL QUESTIONS FOR ABBAS

Eight Crucial Questions for Abbas (and One for President Obama)
By John Ryan
Gatestone Institute
March 15, 2014

www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4216/obama-abbas-meeting

There seems to be a double-standard when it comes to how Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Palestinian Authority’s erstwhile President, Mahmoud Abbas -- now in the tenth year of his four-year term -- are treated by the Obama White House, as well as by many journalists. While Netanyahu is humiliated, insulted, threatened, and told that he must make “painful concessions” for peace, such as releasing more than 100 terrorists merely to get the Palestinians to come to a negotiating table, Abbas – a facilitator and supporter of these terrorists – is treated with kid gloves, and with Obama virtually begging him to visit.

Here, however, are some questions, starting with the most important, that should be posed to Abbas when he takes a seat in the White House on March 17:

1. Does Israel have a right to exist?

2. Yasser Arafat, the first president of the Palestinian Authority [PA], accepted Israel as a Jewish state, and the homeland of the Jewish people. As the recent UNESCO exhibit documented, Jews have been on Israeli land, and in the disputed areas in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) for 3,500 years, 2,000 years prior to the advent of Islam. You, however, recently said that you do not accept Israel as a Jewish state. Why?

3. Will you stop using the humanitarian aid money given to you by the U.S. and the U.N. for prohibited purposes, such as paying salaries to and glorifying terrorists, and inciting mass hatred against Jews, even among Palestinian children?

4. Why did you not immediately fire Jibril Rajoub, the supposedly “moderate” senior PA official, after he said in May 2013 that if the PA had a nuclear bomb, it would drop it on Israel that very day? news.yahoo.com/moderate-palestinian-leader-swears-had-nuke-d-used-120410701.html

5. Are you prepared to make any concessions to advance the peace process? For example, will you rescind your July 2013 statement that if you get your own state, not a single Jew will be allowed anywhere within it? www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Abbas-wants-not-a-single-Israeli-in-future-Palestinian-state-321470

6. If you strike a deal for peace, how will you ensure that all Palestinian parties, both in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, uphold it; that the next president of the PA does not say, “Abbas signed that; I did not.”?

7. If and when you get a Palestinian state, will you announce – in Arabic – that this agreement brings an end to the conflict?

8. And will you then formally order the PA to stop glorifying terrorists and calling for the destruction of Israel in the Palestinian media, school textbooks, summer camps, sports stadiums, crossword puzzles and other outlets?

***

It would be telling to hear how Abbas answers these questions.

It would also be telling to hear how President Barack Obama answers one question: If Abbas refuses to agree to these “painful concessions,” will you stop issuing executive waivers that enable American taxpayer money to still be sent to him, even though you know it is being used for prohibited purposes? (www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RS22967.pdf)

 

ABBAS DEFINED JEWISH HISTORY IN JERUSALEM AS A “DELUSIONAL MYTH”

Why Abbas thinks Jewish state is a ‘delusional myth’
By Itamar Marcus
Jerusalem Post
March 17, 2014

Netanyahu’s demand and the PA’s refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state are clearly not just a quibble over semantics.

A major obstacle blocking progress toward an agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s demand and PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. The Jerusalem Post reported this week that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry thinks Israel’s demand is a mistake. The question is: Why are both sides so concerned about that which is already accepted internationally? As early as 1917, the Balfour Declaration supported the establishment of “a national home for the Jewish people.”

In 1922, the League of Nations confirmed the British Mandate to establish “a Jewish national home,” and UN resolution 181 in 1947 recommended the establishment of “a Jewish state.” Since Israel’s founding followed directly upon this international process anticipating a Jewish state, why, so many years later, does Israel demand and the PA refuse to restate the obvious? A recent declaration by Abbas sheds light on why PA recognition is essential for authentic peace and why the PA president refuses to grant it. In a speech in Morocco, Abbas defined Jewish history in Jerusalem as a “delusional myth” (palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=381&fld_id=381&doc_id=10931) and claimed that Israel is trying to invent a Jewish history “by brute force.” (Official PA TV, January 17, 2014).

Abbas has a long tradition of denying Jewish history. In another talk he described Jewish history in Jerusalem as “illusions and legends” and referred to the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem as the “alleged Temple,” a term the PA uses to deny that it ever existed. (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, August 22, 2012). palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=7284

Abbas’s refusal to recognize the Jewish state is not merely his personal vendetta, but, reflects this fundamental element of PA policy to deny Jewish history - especially in Jerusalem.

On numerous occasions when archeological finds with Jewish symbols and Hebrew texts were uncovered that illustrate aspects of Jewish history in Israel, the PA hastened to tell Palestinians that Israel invented the story, distorted it or even planted the finds. When Israeli archeologists last year displayed gold artifacts with Jewish symbols, such as a menorah and a shofar, found 50 meters from the Western Wall in Jerusalem, former PA prime minister Ahmed Qurei immediately denied its authenticity on official PA TV: “I think all this is a forgery, forgery of the truth. It’s all an attempt to make claims. They did not find anything.” (Official PA TV, September 11, 2013).

What must therefore be understood is that the PA’s refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state is not a mere technicality, but part of an overarching policy of denying thousands of years of Jewish history in Israel, and thereby denying Israel’s right to exist. And although in the Oslo Accords in 1993 the PLO recognized the existence of Israel, the PA differentiates between recognizing that Israel exists and recognizing Israel’s right to exist.

The PA’s ambassador to India, Adli Sadeq, explained that Israelis who believe the PA recognizes Israel’s right to exist are deluding themselves: “[Israelis] fool themselves, assuming that Fatah accepts them and recognizes the right of their state to exist... There are no two Palestinians who disagree over the fact that Israel exists, and recognition of it is restating the obvious. But recognition of its right to exist is something else, different from recognition of its existence.” (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, November 26, 2011).

Palestinian children are also educated to distinguish between Israel’s existence and right to exist, as an official PA schoolbook teaches: “Palestine’s war [in 1948] ended with a catastrophe that is unprecedented in history, when the Zionist gangs stole Palestine... and established the so-called State of Israel.” (Arabic Language, Analysis, Literature and Criticism, grade 12, published by the PA Ministry of Education).

And PA TV teaches 8-year-olds that all of Israel is “occupied land” since 1948 - and this situation is only temporary: “We will never forget that we have land that was occupied in 1948 which will return to us one day.” (Official PA TV, February 23, 2013). palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=8638

Abbas’s denial of Jewish history and refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state are the ideological foundations for the PA teachings that the existence of the State of Israel constitutes a theft by “Zionist gangs” and that Israel’s existence is temporary. This is not PLO rhetoric from the pre-Oslo days. This is current PA education and indoctrination and remains a most severe impediment to a genuine peace process.

Netanyahu’s demand and the PA’s refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state are clearly not just a quibble over semantics, and Netanyahu’s demand is in fact a minimalist request. Any PA recognition - if it is to impact at all on peace - must include recognition that Israel is the continuation of thousands of years of Jewish history and therefore Israel has a right to exist. Furthermore, in order for these declarations to be more than mere embellishments to yet another insincere agreement, they must be immediately integrated into PA children’s education and public discourse. Without this, Abbas’ recognition of the Jewish state would be like Arafat’s recognition of Israel in 1993: a meaningless ornament to a deceptive peace process that is cited regularly by the PA to create a facade of sincerity.

PA public recognition and education of its citizens to see Israel as a Jewish state with a history and right to exist are absolute necessities if there is ever to be a Palestinian population that accepts Israel as a neighbor and truly seeks peace. For now, while Abbas’ recognition on the diplomatic level would certainly not be enough to affect this change, it is nonetheless a necessary first step in the right direction.

 

“I NEED THIS LIKE A HOLE IN THE HEAD”

Obama’s objective: Avert Israeli-Palestinian meltdown in midst of crisis in Ukraine
Obama may have once asked for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, but now he is probably praying for them to simply leave him in peace.
By Chemi Shalev
Ha’aretz
March 18, 2014

President Barack Obama has already shown that he picked up a smattering of Jewish sayings during his Chicago days, so he may possibly remember the term loch in kop, as in “I need this like a hole in the head.” That thought, in one language or another, must have gone through Obama’s mind as he sat down with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House on Monday in the midst of a deteriorating international crisis with Russia and Vladimir Putin.

And you, Obama may have thought as he glanced at Secretary of State John Kerry, the instigator of what increasingly seems like yet another quixotic push for peace – you are the one who drilled that hole in the first place.

But even if the achievement of a “framework” for Israeli-Palestinian talks has been transformed virtually overnight from a lofty goal to a nagging nuisance, failure is not an option for Obama. Not now, when another setback may brand him, to borrow another Yinglish term, as a serial schlemiel; not now, when his approval ratings are dipping dangerously below 40%; not now, when the world is skeptical anyway about his ability to deal with the mess in Crimea or with a tough guy like Putin.

Obama’s main objective with Abbas on Monday, therefore, was to kick the proverbial can up the road, and to postpone what some are describing as the inevitable breakdown of Kerry’s efforts, for as long as possible. To achieve this, Obama and the administration are now pursuing a three-staged strategy of admittedly diminishing returns: first, to exert strong and possibly brutal pressure on Abbas to agree to some form of recognition of Israel as a Jewish state in the proposed “framework” for negotiations, even if the Palestinians disassociate themselves from it in public; second, to begin to explore the possibility of a much simpler agreement to extend the talks beyond their current April 29 deadline in exchange for some Israeli concession, preferably on settlements; and third, failing that, to make sure at the very least that Israeli carries out the scheduled March 29 prisoner release so that the process doesn’t implode at the height of the Crimean crisis.

Because no one really expects the sanctions announced by Obama at the Press Room at the White House – before he quickly ran off for his meeting with Abbas – to quell the rising tensions in eastern Ukraine. Whether the only thing weaker than the measures announced by Obama is “doing nothing,” as Senator John McCain suggested Monday, or whether they actually constitute a stinging and perhaps even insulting blow to Putin’s trusted inner circle, as others maintained, the Russian leader quickly clarified his reaction by recognizing and trumpeting Crimea’s newfound “independence,” despite Obama’s threats.

According to Russian-born Russia-watcher Julia Ioffe, it won’t end there. Writing in the New Republic on Monday, Ioffe noted that Putin is bound to preempt a Ukraine move to cut off Crimea’s supplies of gas, water and electricity by capturing the installations that supply them in southeastern Ukraine. Such a move – which, according to some reports, is already under way – would further escalate the already deteriorating situation, force Obama to escalate his sanctions and further inflame tensions throughout the European continent, just like the bad old days.

“You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext,” an incredulous Kerry said at the start of the crisis, though Putin seems bent on proving him wrong. Kerry’s sentiment is reminiscent of one expressed 70 years ago by Warren Austin, a U.S. senator from Vermont who was also U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, who famously said – or at least is said to have said – “I hope Arabs and Jews will settle their differences in a truly Christian spirit.”

Maybe Obama shared that virtuous hope at the start of his presidency, but after meeting in recent weeks with both Netanyahu and Abbas, and after getting another concentrated dose of their boundless mutual suspicion and distrust, he may have finally shed his Christian wishes for mutual reconciliation. Instead of asking for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, Obama may now be praying that they simply leave him in peace.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.