Tuesday, December 26, 2017

An insider's look at the Arab-Israel conflict

The essay below is an excerpt from a transcript of remarks by journalist Khaled Abu Toameh. Toameh covers the Arab-Israel conflict. He's an Arab-Muslim Israeli citizen. He lives in Jerusalem. He spoke last month at the David Horowitz Freedom Center's 2017 Restoration Weekend in Palm Beach, Florida.

Source information appears in my comment below. I have done minor editing.

Khaled Abu Toameh: ...I want to point to two major obstacles [to peace between Palestinians and Jews, and] both relate to the Palestinians.  Obstacle No. 1 is the absence of education for peace with Israel, which I'm sorry to tell you…never really existed…Obstacle No. 2 [is] the absence of leadership on the Palestinian side that is authorized to sign an agreement with Israel.  

These are the two major reasons …[we have not moved] forward with any peace process and why we are unlikely to move forward with any peace process in the near future.

Let's start with Reason No. 2, the absence of leadership on the Palestinian side….In the last 30‑plus years that I've been traveling back and forth to Ramallah and Gaza, I haven't been able to find one Palestinian leader who has the courage to stand up and tell his people in Arabic, not in English, in Arabic something along the lines of "Oh, my people, listen, it's time for compromise, it's time for painful concessions, we are not going to get from the Jews 100 percent but we might get 95, 94, 93 percent." ...

We saw what happened with Yasser Arafat after Camp David…I remember when he came back to Ramallah, we were sitting there as journalists in his office and one of my colleagues asked him, "Oh, Mr. President, what happened? Why did Camp David fail?" And Arafat's response was:  "Oh, Camp David failed for two reasons.  First of all, the Jews did not give me 100 percent.  Secondly, he added, the Jews wanted me to end the conflict after I get what I get and who am I, Yasser Arafat, to end the conflict.  I'm not authorized to give up the right of return.  I am not authorized to make any concessions in Jerusalem on behalf of 1.5 billion Muslims. Because if I make such concessions, I will end up [dead] drinking tea up there [in heaven] with Anwar Sadat."  Now, translation, I don't want to go down in history as another Arab traitor who made concessions to the Jews...

Look at…Mahmoud Abbas.  He's actually in the same situation, if not worse.  Like Yasser Arafat, he too does not have a mandate to negotiate, let alone sign, an agreement with Israel, and how do we know that?  I mean the man is now in his 12th or 13th year of his 4‑year term in office, which makes it very problematic and dangerous for Israel and I'll tell you why.  We can laugh at it but if I were Israel, I wouldn't laugh.  Israel can't today sign a peace agreement with Abu Mazen and give him land.  In the future, Palestinians will come to you and say, "Sorry, Israel, you had signed a peace agreement with a president who did not have legitimacy, who was not a rightful leader, so can we please start all over again?" Then it will be too late for Israel… 

Israel will find itself in a situation where the peace agreement you signed with President Abu Mazen is not even worth the paper it's written on and that's why I keep advising my Israeli Jewish friends…if you want to give land, that's fine, but at least give it to someone who can retain control over it…

Now, in the case of President Abbas, he, No. 1, does not have a mandate, as we said and No. 2, he doesn't even have the power to implement an agreement on the ground.  The man barely controls Ramallah.  He has no control over Palestinians living in Lebanon and Jordan and Syria or East Jerusalem.  The man cannot go to Gaza, so where is he supposed to implement a peace agreement if he signs it with Israel? …

If I were…Mr. Netanyahu, I would...offer President Mahmoud Abbas 99.5 percent of whatever President Abbas is asking for.  We all know what the answer is going to be…I can even publish it without phoning President Abbas's office.  The answer will be one big "no" for two reasons.  First of all, simply because it's not 100 percent and in the Arab world, we want to hear from Israel 100 percent and if Israel can give us 120 percent, that would even be better and if Israel can disappear, that would be the best; and No. 2, President Abbas knows that he cannot come back to his people with anything less than what President Abbas promised his people, which is 100 percent and that's why we keep revolving in this vicious cycle.  

Palestinian leaders are making false promises to their people.  They're promising their people things that they cannot fulfill.  In other words, they're lying to their people. …

Palestinian leaders are…doing something much more dangerous than that [lying].  They are…telling their people that anyone who makes concessions to the Jews is a traitor and an infidel and should be beheaded and hanged and thrown from the 13th floor and 14th floor and burned alive and so on and so on.  They are sending these messages to their people through the mosques, through the media and through the rhetoric, and this, my friends, brings me to Obstacle No. 1… which I inaccurately described as the absence of education for peace with Israel.  I'm being very polite and diplomatic by calling it the absence of education for peace with Israel because it's much worse than that.  We're talking about a massive campaign to delegitimize Israel and dehumanize Jews.  It is a campaign that has been around for a long time but you don't hear about it most of the time because we in the media, in mainstream media, we don't report about it.  It is a campaign that has made it impossible and even dangerous for any Arab to stand up and say, "I want peace with Israel." 

…I spend a lot of time in Ramallah and Bethlehem... Can I go out to Ramallah and stand there…in a public forum like this and tell a group of Palestinians, "Oh, listen, I think it's time for us to consider a 2 percent concession to the Jews and maybe we should recognize Israel's right to exist as the homeland of the Jewish people and maybe it's time for us to renounce violence and consider some kind of a compromise."  If I do that, and if I'm lucky, I will only be shot in the leg while I'm running away…

On the Arab Muslim Palestinian side, not only have we not prepared our people for peace with Israel, we're doing the exact opposite.  If you want to make peace with Israel, you don't wake up every morning and tell your people, "Oh, listen, the Jews have no historical, religious, emotional attachment to the land," and if you want to make peace with Israel, you don't wake up every 3 hours and tell your people, "Oh, the Jews are desecrating with their filthy feet our holy sites and there is no such thing as 3,000 or 4,000 years of Jewish history, it's all fabricated," and if you want to make peace with Israel, you don't promote boycotts and divestment and sanctions against Israel, and you don't promote conspiracy theories about Jews controlling the media and the Congress and the Senate and the economy and the White House…With all these messages, can anyone in this room please tell me how can you move forward with any peace process? 


My comment:

Mr Toameh is an Arab Muslim. He can do what you and I cannot. He can go to Ramallah. He can talk to important people in Arabic. 

He understands the difference between truth and lies.  He knows one cannot build a successful future upon lies and hate.

You should read the entire essay. I have printed here only about 1/3 of it. I have cut out the other 2/3's.

Yes, the original is long. But it‘s a good read.

The original is “Khaled Abu Toameh on the life of a pro-Israeli Arab-Muslim”, frontpagemag, December 20, 2017.

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