Thursday, May 25, 2017

Hamas - another failed Palestinian-Arab organisation

From BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 465, May 14, 2017, by Hillel Frisch*:

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Mounting evidence suggests that Hamas, viewed as either a terrorist movement or as a government, is one more failed Palestinian organization. It is recognized as such by Gaza’s inhabitants, who no longer show up to their rallies. Its lack of popularity is one reason for the small concessions contained in its recently published document. More concessions will come as popular pressure mounts. Israel should be patient, as time is on its side.

Hamas rally, photo by Soman, via Wikipedia Commons

As dovish Israelis seek signs that Hamas is about to modify its bigoted anti-Semitic covenant, evidence is accumulating that Hamas is yet another failed Palestinian organization on a long list of similar organizations. Their collective failure adds up to the failure of the Palestinian national movement as a whole.

The signposts of failure are easy to spot. The Hamas movement – which, since it took over Gaza in 2007, is now the Hamas government – has failed in both its major objectives. The first of these is muqawama, or “resistance” (in reality, the quest to destroy the State of Israel). The second is the governing of Gaza.

Few terrorist movements in the world were touted as so major and threatening a military force as Hamas, especially by Israeli opinion makers, military analysts, and the official military establishment. Hamas’s strategy of muqawama became a buzzword to denote a long-term threat to Israel’s security. Overlooked was the fact that muqawama was a strategy employed long ago by Fatah, its rival, with motley results.

In retrospect, the Hamas resistance was even less successful. Fatah and the PLO, which the faction once controlled, recognized the weakness of long-term terrorist attrition when Arafat gave the green light to the Oslo process. He signed on to a provisional Palestinian autonomy in Judea and Samaria/the West Bank after having assassinated numerous advocates of that route. His reversion to mass terrorism during the second intifada, while initially successful, proved to be a disaster from which the local population has yet to recover. The Oslo process took place 29 years after its official inception.

Hamas, though presumed to be more radical than Fatah and to have longer staying power because of its religious ardor, has proved less resilient than its competitor. Following the third round of the Israel-Hamas conflict in the summer of 2014, missile launchings and tunnel attacks on Israel have come to an almost complete halt. (In the years preceding the 2014 round, Hamas and the other factions launched on average 1,500 rockets a year. Since the summer of 2014, that number has dwindled to 25 a year, and they are almost always launched by salafi movements that chafe under Hamas rule.) This dramatic slowdown seems to indicate that “resistance”, while remaining a rhetorical device, is no longer Hamas strategy in the field.

Hamas has also failed to provide for the welfare of Gaza inhabitants. In the summer of 2014, Hamas agreed to participate in a unity government headed by President Abbas’s Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah even though Hamas was excluded from the government’s ministerial portfolios. This was the first indication since its takeover of Gaza in 2007 that Hamas recognizes its failure as a government.

The Gaza public, of course, realized Hamas’s failure much sooner. Years earlier, the Hamas government failed to solve Gaza’s pressing electrical blackouts, which created sewage and other ecological problems connected to the need for continuous electrical supply. A movement touted for having provided welfare services in the past is now devoting less than 2% of its expenditures, by its own account, to health and welfare. It has imposed additional taxes on top of the 14% value added tax Israel collects on imports and then transfers, according to an international agreement, to the rival PA. The concrete purchased with this income has gone into building offensive tunnels into Israel rather than solving Gaza’s critical housing problem. On top of all this, Hamas is unable to pay its civil servants their full salaries on a regular basis.

Since 2014, the inhabitants of Gaza have cast their vote against Hamas. They do not do this at the ballot box. (Neither the PA nor Hamas seeks to continue the democratic process that led to the 2007 civil war, which continues to this day.) Instead, they vote with their feet. When Hamas tries to bring them out to rallies, they stay home.

This can be clearly seen in photos of rallies commemorating the creation of Hamas. I found one photo, for example, that had been taken in 2009 in Gaza’s largest square. It is a long shot capturing tens of thousands of demonstrators. A photo taken at the Hamas commemoration ceremony in 2016, however – two years after the punishing bout in the summer of 2014 – looks very different. Hamas had moved the festivities to a narrow street, and the photo was taken close up and at street level. Instead of tens of thousands, one can hardly count one-tenth of that.

This development can be easily corroborated with “Google trends.” A search of the word “Hamas”, written in Arabic, on Palestinian sites shows a decline in the use of the term over the years. The findings are even more dramatic in Arabic searches for “Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades”, the fighting arm of the Hamas movement.

Little wonder, then, that Hamas has come up with a document that agrees, at least on tactical grounds, to a Palestinian state in Gaza and Judea and Samaria/the West Bank. The group is attempting to assuage Abbas and the Arab states that back him. Pressure from Gaza’s inhabitants is probably one reason for this move. Given Hamas’s failure as both a government and a terrorist movement, there will likely be more popular pressure to come, with further concessions down the line.

Israel must be patient. Time is on its side.

*Prof. Hillel Frisch is a professor of political studies and Middle East studies at Bar-Ilan University and a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.

The Soviet-Palestinian Lie

From Gatestone, October 16, 2016, by Judith Bergman:

"The PLO was dreamt up by the KGB, which had a penchant for 'liberation' organizations." — Ion Mihai Pacepa, former chief of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Romania.
"First, the KGB destroyed the official records of Arafat's birth in Cairo, and replaced them with fictitious documents saying that he had been born in Jerusalem and was therefore a Palestinian by birth." — Ion Mihai Pacepa.
"[T]he Islamic world was a waiting petri dish in which we could nurture a virulent strain of America-hatred, grown from the bacterium of Marxist-Leninist thought. Islamic anti-Semitism ran deep... We had only to keep repeating our themes -- that the United States and Israel were 'fascist, imperial-Zionist countries' bankrolled by rich Jews." — Yuri Andropov, former KGB chairman.
As early as 1965, the USSR had formally proposed in the UN a resolution that would condemn Zionism as colonialism and racism. Although the Soviets did not succeed in their first attempt, the UN turned out to be an overwhelmingly grateful recipient of Soviet bigotry and propaganda; in November 1975, Resolution 3379 condemning Zionism as "a form of racism and racial discrimination" was finally passed.

The recent discovery that Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority (PA), was a KGB spy in Damascus in 1983, was discarded by many in the mainstream media as a "historical curiosity" -- except that the news inconveniently came out at the time that President Vladimir Putin was trying to organize new talks between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Predictably, the Palestinian Authority immediately dismissed the news. Fatah official Nabil Shaath denied that Abbas was ever a KGB operative, and called the claim a "smear campaign."

The discovery, far from being a "historical curiosity," is an aspect of one of many pieces in the puzzle of the origins of 20th and 21st century Islamic terrorism. Those origins are almost always obfuscated and obscured in ill-concealed attempts at presenting a particular narrative about the causes of contemporary terrorism, while decrying all and any evidence to the contrary as "conspiracy theories."

There is nothing conspiratorial about the latest revelation. It comes from a document in the Mitrokhin archives at the Churchill Archives Center at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. Vasily Mitrokhin was a former senior officer of the Soviet Foreign Intelligence service, who was later demoted to KGB archivist. At immense risk to his own life, he spent 12 years diligently copying secret KGB files that would not otherwise have become available to the public (the KGB foreign intelligence archives remain sealed from the public, despite the demise of the Soviet Union). When Mitrokhin defected from the Russia in 1992, he brought the copied files with him to the UK. The declassified parts of the Mitrokhin archives were brought to the public eye in the writings of Cambridge professor Christopher Andrew, who co-wrote The Mitrokhin Archive (published in two volumes) together with the Soviet defector. Mitrokhin's archives led, among other things, to the discovery of many KGB spies in the West and elsewhere.

Unfortunately, the history of the full extent of the KGB's influence and disinformation operations is not nearly as well-known as it should be, considering the immense influence that the KGB wielded on international affairs. The KGB conducted hostile operations against NATO as a whole, against democratic dissent within the Soviet bloc, and set in motion subversive events in Latin America and the Middle East, which resonate to this day.

The KGB, furthermore, was an extremely active player in the creation of so-called liberation movements in Latin America and in the Middle East, movements that went on to engage in lethal terrorism -- as documented in, among other places, The Mitrokhin Archive, as well as in the books and writings of Ion Mihai Pacepa, the highest-ranking Communist official to defect from the former Soviet bloc.

Pacepa was chief of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Romania and a personal advisor to Romanian Communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu before he defected to the United States in 1978. Pacepa worked with the CIA to bring down communism for more than 10 years; the agency described his cooperation as "an important and unique contribution to the United States."

In a 2004 interview, FrontPage Magazine, Pacepa said:

The PLO was dreamt up by the KGB, which had a penchant for "liberation" organizations. There was the National Liberation Army of Bolivia, created by the KGB in 1964 with help from Ernesto "Che" Guevara ... the KGB also created the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which carried out numerous bombing attacks... In 1964 the first PLO Council, consisting of 422 Palestinian representatives handpicked by the KGB, approved the Palestinian National Charter -- a document that had been drafted in Moscow. The Palestinian National Covenant and the Palestinian Constitution were also born in Moscow, with the help of Ahmed Shuqairy, a KGB influence agent who became the first PLO chairman...

In the Wall Street Journal, Pacepa explained how the KGB built up Arafat -- or in current parlance, how they constructed a narrative for him:

He was an Egyptian bourgeois turned into a devoted Marxist by KGB foreign intelligence. The KGB had trained him at its Balashikha special-operations school east of Moscow and in the mid-1960s decided to groom him as the future PLO leader. First, the KGB destroyed the official records of Arafat's birth in Cairo, and replaced them with fictitious documents saying that he had been born in Jerusalem and was therefore a Palestinian by birth.

As the late historian Robert S. Wistrich wrote in A Lethal Obsession, the Six-Day War unleashed a protracted, intensive campaign on the part of the Soviet Union to delegitimize Israel and the movement for Jewish self-determination, known as Zionism. This was done in order to rectify the damage to the Soviet Union's prestige after Israel defeated its Arab allies:

After 1967, the USSR began to flood the world with a constant flow of anti-Zionist propaganda... Only the Nazis in their twelve years of power had ever succeeded in producing such a sustained flow of fabricated libels as an instrument of their domestic and foreign policy.

For this the USSR employed a host of Nazi trigger words to describe the Israeli defeat of the Arab 1967 aggression, several of which are still employed on the Western left today when it comes to Israel, such as "practitioners of genocide", "racists", "concentration camps", and "Herrenvolk."

Furthermore, the USSR engaged in an international smearing campaign in the Arab world. In 1972, the Soviet Union, launched operation "SIG" (Sionistskiye Gosudarstva, or "Zionist Governments"), with the purpose of portraying the United States as an "arrogant and haughty Jewish fiefdom financed by Jewish money and run by Jewish politicians, whose aim was to subordinate the entire Islamic world". Some 4,000 agents were sent from the Soviet Bloc into the Islamic world, armed with thousands of copies of the old czarist Russian forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. According to KGB chairman Yuri Andropov:

the Islamic world was a waiting petri dish in which we could nurture a virulent strain of America-hatred, grown from the bacterium of Marxist-Leninist thought. Islamic anti-Semitism ran deep... We had only to keep repeating our themes — that the United States and Israel were "fascist, imperial-Zionist countries" bankrolled by rich Jews. Islam was obsessed with preventing the infidels' occupation of its territory, and it would be highly receptive to our characterization of the U.S. Congress as a rapacious Zionist body aiming to turn the world into a Jewish fiefdom.

As early as 1965, the USSR had formally proposed in the UN a resolution that would condemn Zionism as colonialism and racism. Although the Soviets did not succeed in their first attempt, the UN turned out to be an overwhelmingly grateful recipient of Soviet bigotry and propaganda; in November 1975, Resolution 3379 condemning Zionism as "a form of racism and racial discrimination' was finally passed. This followed nearly a decade of diligent Soviet propaganda directed at the Third World, depicting Israel as a Trojan Horse for Western imperialism and racism. This campaign was designed to build support for Soviet foreign policy in Africa and the Middle East. Another tactic was constantly to draw visual and verbal comparisons in the Soviet media between Israel and South Africa (this is the origin of the canard of "Israeli apartheid").

Not only the Third World, but also the Western Left ate all this Soviet propaganda raw. The latter continues to disseminate large parts of it to this day. In fact, slandering someone, whoever they are, as racist, became one of the Left's primary weapons against those with whom it disagrees.

Part of the Soviet tactics in isolating Israel was making the PLO look "respectable." According to Pacepa, this task was left to Romanian leader Nicolae Ceausescu, who had achieved the unlikely propaganda feat of portraying the ruthless Romanian police state to the West as a "moderate" Communist country. Nothing could have been farther from the truth, as was ultimately revealed in the 1989 trial against Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena, which ended with their executions.

Yasser Arafat (left) with Romanian leader Nicolae Ceausescu during a visit in Bucharest in 1974. (Image source: Romanian National History Museum)

Pacepa wrote in the Wall Street Journal:
In March 1978, I secretly brought Arafat to Bucharest for final instructions on how to behave in Washington. "You simply have to keep on pretending that you'll break with terrorism and that you'll recognize Israel -- over, and over, and over," Ceausescu told him [Arafat]... Ceausescu was euphoric over the prospect that both Arafat and he might be able to snag a Nobel Peace Prize with their fake displays of the olive branch.
... Ceausescu failed to get his Nobel Peace Prize. But in 1994 Arafat got his -- all because he continued to play the role we had given him to perfection. He had transformed his terrorist PLO into a government-in-exile (the Palestinian Authority), always pretending to call a halt to Palestinian terrorism while letting it continue unabated. Two years after signing the Oslo Accords, the number of Israelis killed by Palestinian terrorists had risen by 73%.

In his book, Red Horizons, Pacepa related what Arafat said at a meeting he had with him at PLO headquarters in Beirut around the time that Ceausescu was trying to make the PLO "respectable":
I am a revolutionary. I have dedicated my whole life to the Palestinian cause and the destruction of Israel. I will not change or compromise. I will not agree with anything that recognizes Israel as a state. Never... But I am always willing to make the West think that I want what Brother Ceausescu wants me to do.
The propaganda neatly paved the way for terrorism, Pacepa explained in National Review.

General Aleksandr Sakharovsky, who created Communist Romania's intelligence structure and then rose to head up all of Soviet Russia's foreign intelligence, often lectured me:
"In today's world, when nuclear arms have made military force obsolete, terrorism should become our main weapon."
The Soviet general was not joking. In 1969 alone, there were 82 hijackings of planes worldwide. According to Pacepa, most of those hijackings were committed by the PLO or affiliated groups, all supported by the KGB. In 1971, when Pacepa visited Sakharovsky at his Lubyanka (KGB headquarters) office, the general boasted: "Airplane hijacking is my own invention". Al Qaeda used airplane hijackings on September 11, when they used planes to blow up buildings.

So where does Mahmoud Abbas fit into all this? In 1982, Mahmoud Abbas studied in Moscow at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. (In 1983 he went on to become a KGB spy). There he wrote his thesis, published in Arabic as The Other Side: The Secret Relations between Nazism and the Leadership of the Zionist Movement. In it, he denied the existence of gas chambers in the concentration camps, and questioned the number of Holocaust victims by calling the six million Jews who had been killed "a fantastic lie," while simultaneously blaming the Holocaust on the Jews themselves. His thesis supervisor was Yevgeny Primakov, who later went on to become foreign minister of Russia. Even after he had finished his thesis, Abbas maintained close ties with the Soviet leadership, the military and members of security services. In January 1989, he was appointed co-chairman of the Palestinian-Soviet (and then Russian-Palestinian) Working Committee on the Middle East.

When the current leader of the Palestinian Arabs used to be an acolyte of the KGB -- whose machinations have claimed the lives of thousands of people in the Middle East alone -- this cannot be discarded as a "historical curiosity," even if contemporary opinion-makers would prefer to ignore it by viewing it as such.

Although Pacepa and Mitrokhin sounded their warnings many years ago, few people bothered to listen to them. They should.

Saudi Journalist To Palestinian Leaders: You Have Missed Too Many Opportunities To Resolve The Conflict With Israel; It Is Time For Palestinian Unity, Peace With Israel

From MEMRI Special Dispatch No.6941, May 23, 2017:

Mash'al Al-Sudairi 
(Source: Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, London, May 21, 2017)

In his May 21, 2017 column in the London-based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat daily, Saudi journalist Mash'al Al-Sudairi criticized the Palestinian leaders and stated that for many years they had missed numerous diplomatic opportunities to resolve the conflict with Israel, and that they had at the same time lost Palestinian lands on the West Bank and wreaked destruction on Gaza.

Appealing to newly appointed Hamas political bureau head Isma'il Haniya, Al-Sudairi wrote that Hamas's agreement to a Palestinian state in the June 4, 1967 boundaries implied recognition of Israel. Therefore, he said, Hamas should cease its violence against Israel, drop the slogan "Palestine from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea," and launch an initiative for achieving Palestinian unity. He added that a country's size was not necessarily an indication of its capacity for economic prosperity and success, and that it was high time for young Palestinians to live normal lives like other young people worldwide. The entire Palestinian people, he added, deserved to "enjoy life under peaceful conditions."

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

PA Deception

From PMW Bulletin, May 23, 2017, by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik:

Who should the world believe?

What Abbas told Trump today,
or what Palestinian leaders tell their people regularly?

Abbas to Trump in Bethlehem: 
"... two-state solution along the borders of 1967, the state of Palestine with its capital as East Jerusalem living alongside Israel in peace and security."

PLO leader: 
"Everyone knows our goal is to liberate all of the land of Palestine"
PA Chairman Abbas and other PA leaders often reiterate to foreign audiences that they desire peace with Israel and that they support and want to implement the two-state solution. Today Mahmoud Abbas told US President Donald Trump:
"Once again, we reassert to you our positions of accepting the two-state solution along the borders of 1967, the state of Palestine with its capital as East Jerusalem living alongside Israel in peace and security."
[The New York Times, May 23, 2017]
However this is contradicted by numerous statements by PA leaders to their own people and even to Palestinian children. PA religious leaders have even taught recognizing Israel is prohibited by Islam.

Most recently Khaled Mismar, member of the
Palestinian National Council, the legislative body of the PLO, stated that "everyone knows" that despite agreeing to less, the real Palestinian goal is to eventually take all of Israel:

Palestinian National Council member Khaled Mismar: "The revolution broke out in 1965 (i.e., first Fatah terror attack) in order to liberate all of the land of Palestine (i.e., all of Israel), but circumstances didn't permit it... We have fought, and we have withstood everything, all the plots, but we will realize our goal. True, we agreed to receive only 20 or 22 percent of Palestine (i.e., West Bank and Gaza Strip), but a right is never lost as long as someone demands it. Every one of us knows what our goal is (i.e., to 'liberate all of Palestine')."  [Official PA TV, Topic of the Day, May 15, 2017]
 Another Palestinian leader also recently stressed that Palestinians do not intend to change their ideology. All of Israel belongs to Palestinians and is part of "Palestine."

The general coordinator of the PLO's National Committee for Commemorating Nakba Day stated in a speech that: "We will not relinquish one grain of sand from Jaffa, Haifa, Lod or Ramle" - all of which are Israeli cities.
General Coordinator of PLO's National Committee for Commemorating Nakba Day, Muhammad Alyan: "We want to say regarding what happened in 1948: No matter how great the losses and sacrifices may be, we will not relinquish one grain of sand from Jaffa, Haifa, Lod, or Ramle (i.e., all Israeli cities). Let this occupation do what it wants., We are staying here, rooted like the olive tree, fighting, and defending [the homeland]."
[Official PA TV, broadcast for Nakba Day, May 15, 2017]
Palestinian Media Watch has exposed similar statements by other Palestinian leaders, such as Fatah Central Committee member Azzam Al-Ahmad who said that he is "certain" that a Palestinian state in the West Bank will lead to "Palestine" erasing Israel - just like North Vietnam took South Vietnam.

The PA continuously shows its definition of "Palestine" through its use of maps that include all of the State of Israel in "Palestine," for example on plaques of honor or logos , in posts on Facebook describing locations in Israel as situated in "Palestine," or in statements describing "Palestine" as stretching "from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea."

PA religious leaders teach Palestinians that Islamic law forbids them to "relinquish even one grain of sand of Palestine," and PA TV's children's program The Best Home reiterates the message that "all of Palestine will return to us"  and that its size equals the PA areas and Israel combined.