Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Palestinian Ideology and Practice Ten Years after Oslo

Prefaceby Christopher Barder
Palestinian Ideology and Practice
Ten Years after Oslo
All the matters raised in 1998 have since been subject to no amelioration whatsoever. Indeed, the constrictions on Israel and the enlargement of the scope of Palestinian ambitions have developed further, almost hand in hand, so that the initially unequal equation has been subject to greater advantage on the one side and less room for maneuver on the other.
Where Israel offered far more, in time, and the Palestinians were portrayed by Shimon Peres as having to receive because Israel had more to give, the trend continued in such a fashion that more and more was surrendered still with the promise of a future peace somewhere on the horizon, which has never been delivered. This has been illumined by a range of historical facts, which have failed to alter the underlying imbalance whereby Israel surrendered land and security and the Palestinians gave only promises which remained continually broken.
After Binyamin Netanyahu’s attempts at ensuring reciprocity failed and the vulnerability of the bypass roads and the inhabitants of Hebron became daily statistics, Israel was facing the complete breakdown of practical utility for the Oslo process. It was plain that there was neither Palestinian cultural nor political will to prevent terror and yet Israel had lost much of the capacity to undertake the task itself. Shimshon unit action was also no deterrent and persecution of those accused of “collaboration” became normative, delivered without any rule of law whatsoever, and corruption in the PA and paralysis in its administration became well known throughout the world. Still, however, Presidents Clinton and Chirac led the Western world in constant support for and recognition of Arafat and his regime.
The walk on the Temple Mount undertaken with top level liaison with PA officials by Ariel Sharon provided the excuse for a full scale low intensity assault on all Israelis using homicide bombers and drive-by shooting, accompanied by psychological warfare and an all out effort in the media. This was preceded by substantive offers by Ehud Barak of land and control, even over parts of Jerusalem. He appeared, with Shlomo Ben-Ami, his mild-mannered Western-educated Foreign Minister, to be fulfilling all that Washington and Brussels wanted by way of reasonable concessions – even allowing Syrian sovereignty down to the slopes leading to the Kinneret (so including an element of “comprehensiveness”).
All this and the violence of the “second intifada” have failed to shake the West into pressuring the PA into a different investment in its youth. Quite the reverse – all the features of five years ago are now more entrenched and more established, with EU funding and President Bush and EU policies proclaiming explicit plans and a “road map” rewarding the Palestinians with a state built on the principles established in the deception of Oslo, now ten years old.
Palestinian Ideology and Practice
Five/Ten Years after Oslo
This article is an excerpt from the book,
ISRAEL AND A PALESTINIAN STATE: ZERO SUM GAME?ACPR Publishers & Zmora Bitan Publishers, 2001, Hardcover (Large format), 532 pages.

The Oslo agreements were aimed, from the moment they were signed, to end all acts of hostility, both physical and verbal, between Israel and the Palestinians. The Israeli leaders at home presented the agreements in almost Messianic terms, pointing to the “historic reconciliation between the Palestinians and the Israelis”. It was clearly understood that the Palestinians would not only stop all acts of violence against Israel but would change the tone of their propaganda and endeavor to disseminate messages of peace and good neighborliness. The Israeli public was made to believe that similar to Israel, the Palestinian Authority would develop special educational programs for the schools to educate the young generation in the spirit of peace and prepare it to live in a new era of no-war, just as Israel had been doing for years on all levels of education and in the media. It was also hoped that the anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic line of propaganda, common in the Palestinian press (and other sources of information), would at least be tempered if not completely changed.

The least that even those who were most skeptical about the agreements had hoped for was that on the official level, the notorious symbols of the hatred for Israel in the official documentation of the PLO would be modified, notwithstanding the Palestinian Covenant and the Fatah Charter.
In reality, none of these hopes were realized.

After the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in the Gaza Strip and the “West Bank”, the terrorist actions against Israeli citizens were intensified. Israel became more accessible, and the terrorists now had territories under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority in which to prepare their acts of murder and to which they would withdraw after perpetrating them and be safe. Israeli property also became easily accessible, and the stealing of Israeli vehicles and other property became a Palestinian national sport, causing Israel tremendous economic damage.

Over and above all this, the Palestinian Authority, from the minute of its establishment, did nothing to change the atmosphere of hatred among the Palestinians. On the contrary, the language of hatred, the incitement to war against the Jews, the belligerent speeches, the books in schools, the ideology of negating Israel’s existence and the Jewish right to a homeland remained the same as they had been even since before World War II. Nothing has changed in the ideology but much has changed in the intensification of its dissemination and the availability of the facilities to bring it to almost every individual, via the press, electronic media and Internet.

* * *

Palestinian Achievements in Oslo

In the eyes of those who signed the Oslo agreements on the Palestinian side, their major achievements were as follows:

1.  Territories

The acquisition of real property, namely land, ceded to the Palestinians by Israel, in return for a general, unbinding declaration “against terror”. According to the Arab lexicon of the Arab-Israeli conflict, terror does not exist at all on the Palestinian side. When the Arabs condemn “terror” they mean Israeli terror, represented by the sheer existence of the State of Israel. The Arab definition of the killing of Israeli citizens by Palestinian terrorists is: “Palestinian freedom fighting”. For this reason any Palestinian or Arab declaration “against terror” means absolutely nothing. And if it can bring real profit, as in Oslo, the Palestinians, will concede to using it at a price.

2.  Army

The formation of an army, under the disguise of “a strong police force”. The Palestinian Authority, brought the whole PLO fighting force which had been stationed in Tunisia and other Arab countries into the territories received from Israel. This is a well trained army, indoctrinated for war against Israel. Its slogan: “With our souls and blood we shall redeem thee, O Palestine,” which the soldiers, inflamed by Arafat’s speeches, chant. Most of the members of this army are not even disguised as policemen. They wear army uniforms, are organized in military units, get military training, although none of them has any involvement in police duties or work. The agreements limit the number of “policemen” to 30,000, yet the actual size of the standing Palestinian army is double this number, and its arsenals constantly swell with arms strictly forbidden by the agreements, including artillery and rockets, smuggled in by the agents of the Palestinian Authority itself.

3.   Legitimacy

The legitimization of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), which was, and still is, defined as a terrorist organization. This legitimization is a particularly important achievement, because it has been conceded by the very victims of this organization’s acts of terror. In this way, Israel, the major victim of the PLO, accepted it as a legitimate freedom-fighter body, exactly as this organization had been claiming it was, and gave up its demand that the PLO should account for the atrocities which it had perpetrated for more than a quarter of a century.

4.  Legal Precedent

The setting of a precedent, according to which a sovereign state negotiates, officially, with a body of no legal or political standing whose declared aim is to obliterate it. Israel did this without demanding the obvious: the abolishment and rejection of all the official documents calling for the destruction of Israel as a precondition for even meeting for negotiations.

5.   Avoidance of Cardinal Issues

The creation of a situation by which the Palestinian side acquired meaningful and real achievements without having to enter into any commitment regarding the major issues which are the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict, such as: borders, refugees, Jerusalem.

The Israelis, so eager to have the Palestinians as partners, regarded the sheer act of the negotiations as a great achievement and interpreted them as amounting to Palestinian recognition of the State of Israel.
For propaganda purposes, especially in the West, official Palestinian bodies adopted this Israeli interpretation but left out the geographical definition of “Israel”, namely, they refrained from speaking about Israel within any borders, not even the armistice lines of 1949. Similarly, Israel is completely absent from the Palestinian maps; there is no such country in the Palestinian atlas (as well as in any other Arab atlas).

The Voice of Palestinian Rejection

The Palestinians who rejected Oslo, whether these were identified Islamic bodies such as the Hamas, or elements inside the PLO, claimed that by recognizing Israel, even in an indirect fashion, and within any borders, no matter how diminished they may be, negated fundamental principles of the Palestinian Covenant which forbid the division of Palestine, do not recognize the Jews as a people, reject Jewish history altogether and any form of recognition of the Jews’ right to have a state of their own. They regard Zionism as a terrorist, racial and colonialist movement which should be rooted out together with Israel, its creation.

The Muslim elements endorsing each one of these ideas emphasized also the fact that the jihad, the Holy War against the Jews, the historical enemies of Islam, could not, and should not, be stopped. The Qur`an holds that the Jews must forever be demeaned and degraded, and it follows that they may never rule, especially over an Islamic land. It goes without saying that the Muslims should not even post facto accept a situation in which Jews rule over Muslims, or that they abolish the principle which prescribes that only Muslims should govern their own holy places and the holy places of others. In other words, it is impossible for Muslims willingly to give up on the cardinal idea that Jews, and Christians, can only be dhimmis, namely, that they may live under Islamic rule only as an inferior class of “protected people”. As far as Muslim organizations led by the Hamas are concerned: “Islam is the solution, and jihad is the way.”

Those who signed the Oslo Agreement, Arafat included, although not defined as “Muslim fundamentalists”, do not oppose this Islamic ideology. Moreover, in essence they even support it spreading in every possible manner. However, their argument is that this Islamic ideology may be implemented at a later date; until then, all efforts must be concentrated on the achievement of real gains (acquiring territory, building a fighting force, receiving international support), which at the right time will enable the successful implementation of the Islamic ideology.

Arafat’s Policy of Free Gains

The father of this line of thought is Yasser Arafat himself, and these are its major components:
  1. The Palestinian Covenant has not been abolished, even if it is important to present to the world, from time to time, a formula which sounds like its abolishment, taking advantage of the ignorance of the other side and of the sympathy, as well as ignorance, of the Israeli and international media. For example, Arafat declared in Paris (1988) that the Covenant is “caduc”, or the Palestinian National Council takes a decision to nominate a committee to decide which of the articles of the Covenant should be amended (1995), or Arafat announces that Israel herself should adopt a constitution prior to the amendment of the Covenant. The basic idea behind this strategy is that the world and media in general will accept, adopt, and give currency even to the most outrageous absurdity, if it is repeated often enough.
  2. The presentation of the agreements with Israel as temporary ones. It follows that it is permissible, even desirable, to sign them, especially since they come cheap, even free, and are useful. Their usefulness is important. In this context Arafat speaks the language of the IslamicHamas, relying on an historical precedent established by no less a person than the Prophet Muhammad himself.
  • Muhammad made a treaty with the tribe of Qureish, his enemy, because he thought that the agreement was beneficial for the Muslims.
  • The agreement did not abolish the state of war, onlypostponed it.
  • The agreement brought great benefits to the Muslims, enabling them to build their military power, weaken their enemy, and anesthetize it to such a degree that it lost its defensive instincts.
  • The agreement was breached by Muhammad at the first opportunity, once he had readied his army.
  • Those who opposed the agreement at the time of Muhammad said that it was a shameful agreement, but Muhammad proved that in the long run it was a great strategic move, which led to the ultimate victory of Islam.

The Program for Israel’s Gradual Elimination

Following Muhammad’s precedent which Arafat loves to quote, the Oslo agreements are therefore presented as a temporary treaty, a mere phase in the overall strategy of destroying Israel in stages.
The theoretical foundation of this strategy was already formulated in 1974. It is based on the principle of using every opportunity to secure territorial acquisitions at the cheapest price. Oslo, Arafat explained, established this principle of cheap acquisition, without giving up the option of war.

Following this line of thought, the Palestinian authorities continue to develop and spread the ideas already extant in the various Palestinian movements, the PLO notwithstanding, long before Oslo. These ideas touch on three cardinal issues which were discussed neither in Oslo nor since Oslo, in spite of the fact that they should have been the first to be put on the negotiating agenda. These are the problems on which the final settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict depend. (Parenthetically, it must be emphasized that the Palestinians have no interest in discussing the final settlement, because such negotiations would, by their nature, prevent them from making the maximal use of the Oslo agreements which enable them, as already emphasized, to acquire maximum property for almost no price).

The Palestinians have very clear ideas regarding the three (undiscussed) main problems of the final settlement: borders, refugees and Jerusalem, which may be summed-up and are as follows:

1.  Borders

Palestine, between the Jordan and the Mediterranean, is indivisible. It belongs only to the Palestinians. It follows that Israel’s existence is just a temporary presence. The final aim is to replace it with an Arab-Palestinian state which would comprise the whole of Palestine as it was drawn during the British Mandate.

For this purpose, the Arab citizens of Israel must be recruited too, to take part in the national Palestinian struggle from within the State of Israel, making use of Israel’s democracy, its media and legal institutions. The aim of replacing Israel with an Arab-Palestinian state can be achieved in two ways.
  1. War. This option involves the recruitment of all, or most, of the Arab countries, notably Egypt, Syria, and Iraq at a convenient moment, preferably after Israel has been contained at least within its 1949 lines.
  2. Changing Israel’s character. This is a plan which aims at the eradication of Israel as a Jewish state by bringing it to abandon its national Jewish symbols, abolish the “Law of Return” which enables free Jewish immigration, open its borders to the free influx of Arabs, so that in the long run, having been ethnically changed, Israel will be defeated by its own democracy. All agree that this option demands a long time period, but its implementation is possible, especially since it does not involve bloodshed and is likely to gain the support of many Israelis too.
It is possible to shorten the last mentioned process, if the Palestinians begin the negotiations over the borders not as starting from the 1949 armistice lines (or from “The 1967 Green Line”), but from the 1947 UN “Partition Plan”, according to which they would demand most of the Galilee and the major part of the Negev.

It should be pointed out that already following the Oslo agreement, the Palestinians developed a plan to take over parts of the Negev through the establishment of a corridor under Palestinian jurisdiction connecting the Gaza Strip with the “West Bank” and cutting Israel in half. Both sides of this planned corridor are populated by ever increasing Bedouin tribes, Arab citizens of Israel, who have undergone in the last decade a sharp process of Palestinization and are destined to take an active part in this plan.

2.  Refugees

Appended to the definition of Israel’s borders is the thesis which has long acquired international approval, namely, that unlike all the refugees in the world who were ever resettled and rehabilitated after wars, the Arab refugees are to be maintained, fully supported by the international community, as a permanent problem. Moreover, the Arabs have succeeded in imprinting on the international mind the idea that being a Palestinian refugee is not a temporarycondition, but a status bequeathed and inherited from generation to generation. A Palestinian refugee is always a refugee, and so also are his descendants. The “Palestinian refugees” therefore are always on the increase, and a whole UN machinery has been established to support, and to sustain directly, this anomaly of human suffering. By now the Arab refugees are as permanent as the weather on the UN agenda.

The Palestinians understand the tremendous advantage of the refugee tool in their plan to destroy Israel, emphasizing that all the refugees, and their millions of offspring, belong to the original places in which they lived before the 1948 war. Their right to return to these places, most of which have long ceased to exist, has been the cornerstone in the Arab-Palestinian policy towards Israel. There is no attempt to disguise the reason behind this demand. Flooding Israel proper even with a few hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs means the end of the Jewish state within a few years. Indeed, the refugee camps are a great asset to the Arabs which they will endeavor to keep even if an agreement on reparations to the refugees is reached some time in the future.

3.  Jerusalem

According to the Arabs, Jerusalem belongs only to the Muslims; the Jews have no right to it. In many of his speeches, Arafat repeats the absurdity that since the destruction of the First Temple, the Jews have not been in Jerusalem and that they were only recently brought to it by the British.

Arafat is only repeating the false “facts” which are part of the intensive re-writing of “Palestinian history”, which has been going on for more than seventy years, a process similar to the rewriting of the history of Iraq, Egypt, Syria, and other Arab states which were born after World War I. In their re-writing of history, the Palestinians aim at obliterating any memory of the Jews from Jerusalem in particular and from the historical map of the Holy Land in general, by presenting the whole history of ancient Israel as an insignificant episode between the Canaanites – who are identified as “Palestinians” – and the Islamic conquests, which are presented as just another wave of Arabs coming to historically Arab lands.

The Islamic conquests in the 7th century are introduced as the key to the special position of the Muslim-Arabs in Palestine, since these conquests established the legal relations between the Muslim rulers and the Christiandhimmis, the Jews being of no consequence, and possessing no holy places. Only through this twisting of history was it possible to present the Muslim conquests as the legal source for the establishment of a system of protection bestowed by the Muslims on the Christians, who were granted custody of only non-Muslim holy places.

Following this reasoning, Arafat hammers repeatedly the idea that the Jews not only are not in possession of the holy places in the Holy Land, these being either Muslim or Christian, but that Israel as a state has no legal right even to offer protection to the Christian holy places, since it was Caliph `Umar (CE 634-644) who established the system of protection which only Muslims may benevolently bestow on the Christians.

The Palestinian-Arab-Muslim ideology regarding the Jews, which followed the Oslo agreements, is the same as the one prior to them. It prescribes the total negation of any connection between the Jews and their historic homeland, including all the historical Jewish holy places. All the holy places to which the Jews lay claim are accordingly presented as Muslim holy places with Arab names: The Western Wall is al-Buraq, The Temple Mount is al- Haram al-Quds, Hebron is al-Khalil. Classical Islamic texts already Islamized the major figures of Jewish history from Abraham to Solomon; they are all Muslim personalities, mainly prophets. All the holy places connected with them are therefore, by definition, Muslim holy places. The re-writers of Palestinian history are making maximum use of these old texts.

The Palestinian program as seen in the current policies of the Palestinian Authority’s educational system, media, and literature is clear: The eye, ear, and heart of future generations of Palestinians should be recruited to one and only aim, the removal of Israel. For external consumption, this ideological bundle is covered in the necessary verbal wrapping, pleasant to the Western eye, this dish of deceit is spiced to suit the European and American palate.