Friday, January 26, 2018

Note Who Curses America, and Who Blesses It

From the National Review, 23 January 2018, by Yoram Hazony:

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (left) greets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House, September 1, 2010. (Jason Reed /Reuters) 

The administration’s foreign policy is a welcome break from the preexisting Washington consensus. 

President Donald Trump has promised that in the Middle East under his presidency, “there are many things that can happen now that would never have happened before.” Two speeches of the last ten days offer dramatic confirmation of the emerging reconfiguration of America’s relationship with Israel and the Middle East under his leadership.

In a two-hour speech before the Council of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) last week, Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, denounced the British, Dutch, French, and Americans for having conspired, ever since the 1650s, to create a Jewish colonial outpost that would “erase the Palestinians from Palestine.”

As Abbas tells it, all this reached a climax on the eve of World War I, when the West realized that it was on the verge of collapse and that the Islamic world was “poised to inherit European civilization.” To put an end to this threat, the Western nations went about carving up the Muslim world so that it would be forever “divided, backward, and engulfed in infighting.”

As for the United States, it has been “playing games” of this sort ever since then, importing, for example, the disastrous Arab Spring into Middle East. Abbas summed up by demanding an apology and reparations from Britain for the Balfour Declaration and denying that the United States can serve as a mediator in the Mideast.

Finally, he went to the trouble of cursing both President Trump and the U.S. Congress: Yehrab beitak (“May your house be razed”), he said.

I have been following the speeches of the PLO and its supporters in the Arab world for 30 years. Nothing here is new. These are the same things that Yasser Arafat, Abbas, and the mainline PLO  leadership have always believed. It is a worldview that reflects an abiding hatred for the West, blaming Christians and Jews not only for the founding of Israel but for every calamity that has befallen the Muslim and Arab world for centuries.

What should be one’s policy toward an organization committed to such an ideology? One option is to sympathize with the shame and outrage to which the PLO gives voice, and to try to mitigate it with grants of territory, authority, prestige, and large-scale ongoing funding. American administrations have pursued this option, seeking to make a peace partner out of the PLO, since President Ronald Reagan announced a dialogue with it in December 1988.

Israel, too, has pursued this option, since 1993. President Trump's 8 Biggest Accomplishments   But in the ensuing 30 years of talk, the only major agreements signed have been those the PLO leadership could find a way to fit into its narrative: Agreements such as the 1993 Oslo Accords, which could be portrayed as inflicting a bitter defeat on Israel and the West — and as a step on the road to ultimate triumph.

President Trump, Vice President Pence, and United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley are pioneering an alternative policy, which can be summed up in Haley’s words: “We’re not going to pay to be abused.” If players like the PLO, North Korea, Pakistan, and Iran (hopefully, Turkey gets added to this list soon) want to cultivate a civilizational hatred of America, double-talking while they give aid to global terrorism and conjure diplomatic scandals at the U.N. — well, then they don’t get to be allies. They don’t get funded. They don’t get grants of land, authority, and prestige. Those things will be reserved for actual allies.

In a speech before the PLO last week, Mahmoud Abbas expressed the familiar worldview marked by hatred for the West, blaming Christians and Jews for every calamity that has befallen the Muslim and Arab world for centuries. What this looks like was already on display when Trump became the first serving U.S. president to visit the kotel (the Western Wall) in Jerusalem in May, shredding the longstanding diplomatic taboo against making it look as though the holiest site in Judaism is in fact part of the State of Israel.

Since then, Trump and Haley have taken on UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, which regularly disseminate the PLO’s view of history and current affairs. The Trump administration has cut in half America’s massive financial support of UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East), an organization whose purpose is to maintain generations of unabsorbed descendants of Palestinian Arab refugees, inculcating them in Abbas-style grievances against Israel and the West.

Mike Pence’s address on Monday to Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, continued this trajectory. But he also responded to Abbas’s history lesson with some tasteful but potent narrative-weaving of his own. In addition to the traditional script pointing to the shared interests of the United States and Israel as democracies, Pence emphasized that it was significant to him as an American that “our founders turned to the Hebrew Bible for direction” in establishing their country and that Israel’s story “inspired my forebears to create . . . a new birth of freedom.”

He returned repeatedly to the way in which the story of the Jewish people holding fast to God’s promise to return them to their land “shows the power of faith.” Pence even said the traditional Jewish shehehianu blessing (in Hebrew!), thanking God for bringing us to see this day in which the Jewish people have been restored to their land.

On policy, Pence said that Trump “righted a 70-year wrong” in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and that the U.S. embassy would be in the city “by the end of next year.” He promised Israel that “the United states will never allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon.”

As for the PLO, Pence gave eloquent and persuasive voice to his country’s desire for peace. But his bottom line also marked a significant shift from previous American administrations: The U.S., Pence said, would support a PLO state “if both sides agree.” In other words,  whether there will be such a state is Israel’s call to make. Which puts American policy light years away from the heyday of George W. Bush’s “road map,” and his breathy “vision of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace.”

For a change, there was no daylight between the views Pence outlined in the Knesset and those of his Israeli hosts. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem would go down in Jewish history together with the Balfour Declaration in 1917 and Truman’s recognition of Israel in 1948.

Isaac Herzog (Labor), the leader of the opposition,  pointed out that it is “the love of the Bible that connects us to one another.” Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) spoke of the Jewish state “fulfilling the words of the prophets” and of “the United States, more than any other country in the world, as Israel’s faithful partner” in this effort.

As for the curses that Abbas called down on President Trump’s house, the Israelis responded by blessing him: Netanyahu told Pence it is “our deepest hope that President Trump and you will succeed in strengthening the United States, . . . so that America will continue to be the greatest power in the world for generations to come.” And Edelstein said that from Israel he would only hear the blessing Bneh Beitcha (“May your house be built up”).

There is no shortage of commentators saying that this embrace of Israel is only going to harm the prospects for peace in the Middle East. That view reflects the consensus in Washington before President Trump got there.

For long decades, Washington has crafted policies based on the tacit assumption that America needs the PLO if it is to bring peace to the Middle East. In its effort to “balance” the demands of this extremist organization against Israel’s concerns, American policy inflated the PLO’s importance, and it learned to tolerate and even embrace an organization whose views have always been profoundly anti-Western, not to mention anti-Semitic. 

Meanwhile, the Biblical roots of America’s alliance with Israel have been consistently downplayed for fear that mentioning them would upset Arab sensibilities. Even so elementary a move as recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, or cutting funding to chronically anti-Western and anti-Semitic organizations, became unthinkable. 

These policies did not bring peace to the Middle East. But they severed the ties between American diplomacy in the region and common sense — to the point that more than a few U.S. officials ended up believing that not only the PLO, but even Iran, whose parliament regularly curses the United States, could be made a peace partner if it were paid handsomely enough. 

The Trump administration, on the other hand, appears to have good grasp of a principle that is under-rated but nonetheless quite useful in making sound policy: In the relations between nations, it matters who blesses you and who curses you.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

No Difference Between Fatah and Hamas

Abbas's rant must be replied by repudiation of American support for the "Palestinian" cause

From Breitbart, 17 Jan 2018, by Caroline Glick:

PALESTINIAN-POLITICS Palestinian Authority President and head of the Fatah movement, Mahmud Abbas attends a Fatah 'Revolutionary Council' meeting in the Palestinian West Bank city of Ramallah on September 1, 2013. AFP PHOTO/ABBAS MOMANI (Photo credit should read ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty Images)

For decades, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has been touted by American leaders as a moderate man of peace.

U.S. leaders from George W. Bush to Barack Obama, and from Condoleezza Rice to John Kerry, all insisted that Abbas is the Palestinian leader who will make an historic deal with Israel.

President Donald Trump has met three times with Abbas since taking office.

On Sunday night, Abbas showed them what he really thinks.

He cursed Trump saying that the U.S. President’s “house should be destroyed.”

He attacked U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman in lurid, antisemitic language:
“U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman is a settler who is opposed to the term ‘occupation.’ He is an offensive human being, and I will not agree to meet him anywhere. They requested that I meet him and I refused, not in Jerusalem, not in Amman, not in Washington.”
Abbas then threatened U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.
“She [Haley] threatens to hit people who hurt Israel with the heel of her shoe, and we’ll respond the same way.”
He called Trump’s anticipated Middle East peace plan “a slap in the face,” and said, “we will slap back.”

Abbas declared “dead” the peace agreements he and his colleagues in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) signed with Israel for the Palestinians since 1993. He pledged to block any future U.S. involvement in peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel: “We will not accept American leadership of a political process involving negotiations.”

Abbas then turned his attention to Israel and the Jews.

“Israel,” he said “is a colonial project that has nothing to do with Jews.... Europeans wanted to bring the Jews here to preserve their interests in the region. They asked Holland, which had the world’s largest fleet, to move the Jews...” ...
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said that Abbas’s remarks harken back to “things that led him to be accused years ago of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.”

Abbas’s Ph.D. thesis, which he wrote for a Soviet university controlled by the KGB in the 1960s denied the Holocaust.

Over the past 25 years, the Western and Israeli leaders that have hailed Abbas as a moderate dismissed the significance of his doctorate – which he later published in Jordan as a best-selling book – saying it was a relic of the PLO’s former rejection of Israel’s right to exist.

The problem with Rivlin’s statement is that it ignores Abbas’s record.

Contrary to Rivlin’s view of Abbas’s racist assault on Jews as a throwback to an earlier time, antisemitic diatribes have been a consistent feature of Abbas’s public statements, whether he is speaking to Arab or Western audiences.

In a speech before the European Parliament in 2016, for instance, Abbas recycled the medieval blood libel that Jews poison the wells of Christians. That blood libel incited the death of thousands of Jews through the ages.

Speaking to European lawmakers, Abbas said, “Certain rabbis in Israel have said very clearly to their government that our water should be poisoned in order to have Palestinians killed.”

As for his Holocaust denial being a thing of the past, Abbas posted his doctoral thesis on his official website. His lies are taught as fact in Holocaust education in the Palestinian school system – which he controls.

Then there is his anti-Americanism.

Abbas controls every aspect of the Palestinian Authority (PA), including the rent-a-mobs.

Over the years, protesters have greeted every senior U.S. policymaker who has visited Abbas in Ramallah.

In 2013, 150 protesters demonstrated against then-president Barack Obama when he met with Abbas. In 2007, protesters who worked for Abbas’s government greeted then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice with signs calling for Hezbollah to bomb America.

So in stark contrast to Rivlin’s statement, Abbas’s speech was not a throwback to a long ago time. It was a throwback to what he said yesterday, and the day before yesterday and the day before that, and what the Palestinian newspapers and television – which he controls — reported the day and week and month and year before that.

Another explanation of Abbas’s scorched-earth speech Sunday is that he scorched the earth in preparation for his resignation from office. Abbas, Israel’s commentators were quick to note, is 82 years old. So it seems reasonable to conclude that his decision to launch a frontal assault against Jews and Americans was a sort of valedictory address.

But here too, the assessment is contradicted by Abbas’s record.

It is true that Abbas is approaching his 83rd birthday. But he is also approaching the 14th year of his four-year term of office. Abbas has repeatedly refused to stand for reelection since his four-year term ended in 2009.

Not only has Abas rejected repeated calls from his Palestinian colleagues and from successive U.S. administrations to designate a successor, he has sidelined and exiled all of his political rivals in the PLO.

Then there are the steps he has taken to coopt Hamas and so minimize the threat Hamas poses to his maintenance of power.

The Hamas terror group ousted Abbas and his U.S.-trained PLO forces from Gaza in 2007. Rather than launch a U.S.-backed counterstrike against Hamas, Abbas chose to collaborate with Hamas. He has funded Hamas’s government. That funding has enabled the jihadist group to launch a series of missile wars against Israel.

Moreover, Abbas has used the PLO’s position at the UN and in Europe to protect Hamas from criticism and wage a political war against Israel. The goal of this war is to end Western support for Israel’s right to exist by delegitimizing Israel as a colonialist implant of European imperialists.

A man interested in retiring would not have eliminated all of his potential heirs to cling to power, or agreed to a power-sharing deal with Hamas to keep everyone at bay.

So if Abbas isn’t planning to retire, why is he cursing Trump and his senior advisors? Why is he recycling anti-Jewish blood libels from the 12th century and announcing that the deals he signed with Israel and the peace process as a whole are dead?

The simple answer is that Abbas is acting as he is because he is certain that he can. This is how he has always acted. There is nothing new in his speech. And he doesn’t think that he will suffer any consequences for behavior.

Abbas expects President Trump to disregard his statements and continue to bankroll his terror-supporting regime in the name of “the peace process,” or “humanitarian assistance” just as Bush and Obama did.

Abbas gave his speech at start of a two-day conference of the PLO’s Central Committee, which he convened to determine a response to President Trump’s announcement on December 6 that for the first time in nearly seventy years, the U.S. recognizes that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.

Trump’s Jerusalem declaration placed Abbas and his colleagues in a conundrum. On the one hand, his declaration had no practical implications. Trump signed a waiver delaying the transfer of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. No immediate plans have made to move the embassy.

Moreover, the State Department insists that there is no practical significance to Trump’s statement. Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield told reporters the day after Trump’s announcement that his statement does not change U.S. policy barring American citizens born in Jerusalem from listing Israel as their country of birth on their official documents. Indeed, Satterfield refused to answer a question regarding whether Jerusalem is even in Israel.

On the other hand, simply by recognizing the basic fact that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and has been Israel’s capital for nearly 70 years, Trump broke with the longstanding U.S. policy of denying observable reality in relation to Israel in order to advance “peace” between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

Only by denying reality can anyone pin hopes on the PLO as a peace partner. Since its inception in 1964, the PLO has rejected Israel’s right to exist. It has rejected that the Jews are a people. It has denied the history of continuous Jewish habitation of the land of Israel for 3,500 years. And it has denied the fact that the Jews built two temples in Jerusalem.

When Abbas said on Sunday that Israel is the creation of European imperialists, he was merely echoing the PLO’s charter.

By recognizing the truth, Trump took a red-hot poker to the PLO’s false, antisemitic founding narrative.

As Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in response to Abbas’s remarks, “For too long, the Palestinian Authority has been pampered by the international community which didn’t dare tell them the truth – not about Jerusalem and not about recognizing Israel. That has changed. I think Abu Mazen [Abbas] was reacting to that. This is the first time somebody’s told him the truth to his face.”

Trump and his top advisers have made several statements in recent weeks that indicate that his Jerusalem declaration last month was not a one-off.

The President threatened to cut off U.S. aid to Abbas’s regime.

Haley threatened to cut off aid UNRWA, a UN Palestinian refugee agency that works hand and glove with Hamas in Gaza.

Tuesday, the Trump administration informed UNRWA that it is withholding “for further consideration” $65 million of its $370 million annual contribution to UNRWA’s budget.

Statements by Trump’s senior negotiator Jason Greenblatt and Friedman condemning Palestinian Authority finance of terrorism and incitement to murder Israelis have also been groundbreaking.

So far, Tuesday’s hold on a fraction of U.S. funding to UNRWA is the only substantive policy step the Trump administration has taken. Its other moves have been declaratory. They have signaled the beginnings of a new U.S. policy towards Abbas, the PLO and the Palestinian Authority, but the new policy has not yet been articulated, let alone felt on the ground.

By attacking Trump, his advisers, Israel and the Jewish people on Sunday, Abbas was effectively daring Trump to act on his words.

Abbas is betting that Trump is bluffing so the White House’s next moves will be determinative.

The partial funding postponement to UNRWA is notable, but not significant enough to make clear that the U.S. is serious in its policy shift. If no further practical, indisputable steps are taken to translate Trump’s stated positions into a clear move away from the past 25 years of unconditional American support for the Palestinians, Abbas will be empowered to continue to treat him and his administration with the same contempt he exhibited towards Obama and Bush.

The speech in which Abbas dug his own grave

While wishing the POTUS' "house be destroyed" in traditional Arab fashion, Abbas may have destroyed his own house, the Palestinian Arab one built of cards.

From Arutz Sheve, 15 JUan 2018, by Dr. Mordechai Kedar:

Image result for abbas stupid

Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of  the Palestine Liberation Organization, has delivered a speech triggered by his rage at the  President of the United States  Donald Trump, going so far as to  hurl the most bitter curse in the Arabic language at the POTUS:  "May your house be destroyed."

This imprecation does not merely relate to someone's present home, but to all the members of his family being thrown into the street to lead lives of destitution, humiliation and shame. Only someone familiar with Middle Eastern culture understands the real significance of this curse.

The question that naturally rises is what happened that brought Abbas to the point where he is willing to burn his bridges with the US President and deliver a speech whose import is the severing of relations with the country which serves as chief funder of UNRWA, also pushing the US president towards a negative stand on the "Palestinian Issue."

"Jerusalem, Capital of Palestine," is an idea created after the Six Day War and further developed after the Oslo Accords were signed in September 1993. Arafat turned it into a mantra, while official Israel – Shmon Peres, Yossi Beilin, Alon Liel and their cohorts – did nothing to stop him. They told us that the expression is meant for a Palestinian Arab audience, i.e. for "internal use" only. "Millions of shahids are on the march to Jerusalem!!" Arafat shouted day and night, but they told us to ignore it, that these were empty words, merely a pipe dream.

The world, led by Europe, went along with this Palestinian house of cards, financing it with billions of dollars over the years in the hopes of turning it into a real concrete structure, simply ignoring reality. Europe supported the establishment of a "Palestinian peace-loving state alongside Israel" while forgetting the fact that  the PLO ideology calls for destroying the  Jewish State and that its logo includes the map of that "Palestine" reaching from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.
The world perpetuated the "Palestinian refugee problem" despite the fact that not one refugee remains of all the others who existed in the 1940s. Even Germany, which absorbed and rehabilitated the Sudetenland residents expelled from Czechoslovakia, did not demand that the Arab world do the same and absorb the "Palestinian refugees," whose problem was created as a result of the Arab armies' invasion of Israel one day after the Jewish State declared its independence. Europe saw Germany as the party responsible for the Sudeten refugee problem and its solution, but did not do the same for the Arab states and the Palestinian refugees. That double standard is what perpetuated the Palestinian Arab refugee problem, turning it into a central bargaining chip in negotiations between Israel and its neighbors, reaching the point where Ehud Barak agreed (in the Taba talks of 2001) to a "symbolic return"  of tens of thousands of those refugees – and he was not the only one to agree to this idea.

The world did not recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and allowed Jerusalem to turn into another major bargaining chip in the "Peace talks" whose only purpose – at least according to t he Arab side – was to weaken and shrink the State of Israel and bring it to a state of collapse that would make the Jews lose hope and leave the region for the countries they had lived in before they came to rebuild their ancient homeland.

Trump and the House of Cards

Enter Donald Trump, a businessman who deals with construction – not houses built of cards, but the kind meant to last for generations.  He understood that the Palestinian structure is made of cards, left standing only because of the world's going along with European leadership, American liberal circles, the Arab states and a few Israelis suffering from burn-out. Trump understood that the Palestinian ideological structure is full of holes and decided to pull two foundational cards out of the ephemeral structure: the Jerusalem card and the refugee card.

From the minute Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital the Palestinians – both Hamas and the PLO – began engaging in frenzied activities, disturbances on the ground and political maneuvering in international corridors. They understood that Jerusalem as Israel's capital is an insurance policy of sorts for the Jewish statee.  To the Jews, Jerusalem is real, backed up by history and  the Jewish religion, while it is nothing but "fake news" for the  Arab and Muslim world.
Jerusalem, however, is still not the capital of a non-established "Palestine" and remains a theoretical bone of contention, so that it could be  pulled out of the Palestinian house  of cards without Abbas burning his bridges with the United States.

And then Trump pulled the refugee card from the house of cards by announcing that he would cease to fund, support and perpetuate it. That act is a thousand times worse than recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, because the refugee issue has been capitalized on for seventy years, with billions of dollars poured into it, all going to waste. UNRWA operates a massive system of wage-earners, schools and aid services running on American money, whose cessation is sure to limit the organizations' ability to breathe life into the "refugee problem" . Without adequate funding, the "refugees" are liable to spread out and be absorbed in the areas to which they move on, within the Arab world and outside it. The "refugee problem"  and its threat to Israel might even disappear.

Abbas cannot let that happen for several reasons: First, he himself is a refugee born in Safed in 1935 and his own legitimacy as a Palestinian leader is based on that fact. Second, the refugees have become addicted to living on foreign aid and taking it away will force them to work like everyone else. Third, every refugee whose funding has ceased will decide to solve his problem independently: Some will emigrate to other countries, others will be absorbed in their current locations, and the refugee problem will disappear after all those decades spent keeping it alive with massive amounts of European and American money.

Abbas understands that his house of cards, lacking Jerusalem and refugees, is about to collapse and disappear and with it all the plans to destroy Israel. The feeling that he has lost his compass is what made him lose his temper and abandon the  discretion that has always characterized his behavior, leading him to return to the depths of Arabic culture with an imprecation aimed at Trump –"May your house be destroyed."

He used the worst of Arab curses, expressing the wish that Trump's home be destroyed, his family thrown out into the street and that he and they live in poverty and shame, turning into homeless objects of pity to passersby. There is no more fitting expression for Abbas' despair and disappointment as he witnesses the collapse of the Palestinian Arab house of cards once Trump removed its Jerusalem and refugee foundations.

The speech Abbas delivered to the PLO  members was a powerful reflection of his feelings. He sees the Palestinian project as facing an existential threat, with a strong and steadfast Israel , flourishing and successful, democratic and economically sound  facing a culturally, ideologically, personally and politically divided Palestinian side in which the PLO-Hamas enmity stymies any hope of political progress. He belongs to a society broken into tribes, extended  families and groups which never really adopted the idea of a Palestinian national ethos and  never  abandoned traditional family loyalties. That ideological house of cards cannot  survive without the Jerusalem and refugee cards.

Abbas also does not have the Arab world standing behind him. Quite the contrary, the  Iranian issue has pushed many Arab states closer to Israel and since the Arab nations are mired in a plethora of their own internal problems, the Palestinian problem is now seen by them as nothing more than a nuisance. 

Abbas' speech this week, one in which he dug his own grave, symbolized the collapse, death and burial of the "Palestinian issue" and this is the time to find an out-of-the-box solution for it – on the lines of the "Emriate Solution,"  the only socio-political model that works successfully in the Middle East.