Thursday, November 20, 2014

Palestinians have long been poorly served by their own leaders and cynically used by the Muslim world

From the Sydney Morning Herald, 20 Nov 2014, by Paul Sheehan:


Pro-Israel protestors demonstrate in New York City following the death of four men who were reportedly killed by two armed Palestinians.
Pro-Israel protestors demonstrate in New York City following the death of four men who were reportedly killed by two armed Palestinians. Photo: Getty Images 

Masked Palestinians hold axes and a gun as they celebrate an attack on the Jerusalem synagogue on November 18.
Masked Palestinians hold axes and a gun as they celebrate an attack on the Jerusalem synagogue on November 18. Photo: Reuters
...On Tuesday, when two cousins from East Jerusalem, Ghassan and Uday Abu Jamal, both members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, armed themselves with knives, axes and at least one gun, they went to the Har Nof district, five kilometres from their homes. Shortly before 7am they began an assault on Orthodox Jews at prayer, killing four, wounding six, then killing a Druze police officer. The two ad hoc terrorists then died in a gunfight with police.

Although this attack appears to have nothing to do with Islamic State, it was the latest in a series of attacks on Jews by Palestinians in Jerusalem in recent weeks, the same blood fever that has led hundreds of young men, and some young women, to travel from throughout the Muslim diaspora to join the butchery of Islamic State.

While the killing in Syria and Iraq has been along the Shia-Sunni schism in the Muslim world, antagonism towards Israel is becoming synonymous with antagonism towards Jews in general. Hence the extraordinarily disproportionate attention paid to Israel, population eight million, compared with the amount of attention devoted to the 22 countries of the Arab League, population 425 million. The attention is broadly comparable.

The mainstreaming of anti-Semitism conflates the success of Israel, the suffering of the Palestinians and Jewish identity. The core basis of hostility to Israel is a lack of acknowledgement that most of the constrictive actions Israel has taken in the Palestinian territories – the walls, roadblocks, security restrictions - has been in reaction to an intransigent Palestinian political culture, a template set in place 45 years ago by the corruption and rejectionism of ...Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat.

After Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, dismantling all Jewish settlements, control went to Hamas, which then expended enormous resources building a war machine. It constructed a labyrinth of tunnels into Israel, stockpiled thousands of weapons, wired Gaza for war, then fired hundreds of rockets into Israel and used the civilian population as a human shield.

After Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000, control went to Hezbollah, which turned the southern border into a war machine, a maze of tunnels and gun placements and stockpiles of thousands of rockets, all supplied by Iran, which wants Israel destroyed.

This is why Israel regards calls to withdraw from the West Bank as blithely naive. 

When the western media reports about Israel's continued building of Jewish settlements on the West Bank, it rarely presents Israel's position that no new settlements have been allowed since 1999 and that all construction since 2004 has been within pre-existing settlement boundaries. More than half the construction is in and around Jerusalem on land annexed by Israel after the 1967 war, when three Arab armies sought to obliterate Israel. This annexed territory has never been offered in negotiations for a two-state solution.

Israel's arguments are routinely greeted with eye-rolling cynicism, as if the Israelis are the bullies of the Middle East, rather than the only functional democracy in the region, the only place in the Middle East where Jews can live in safety, including a large ultra-orthodox Jewish community which opposes the state of Israel.

This moral relativism extends to endless rationalisations for the missteps by the Palestinians, the corruption, the internecine conflict, the state-sponsored racism, and the rocket attacks that have maintained a cycle of dysfunction.

The Palestinian cause evokes natural sympathy, but it would be helpful to see a glimmer of recognition that the Palestinians have long been poorly served by their own leaders and cynically used by the Muslim world as a strategic asset, where Palestinian suffering is required for the larger narrative that the world would be a better place if Israel ceased to exist.

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