A little birdie in a Jewish communal organization sent me the following AIPAC press release. As I read it, I started to feel like Alice falling down the rabbi hole in Alice in Wonderland. AIPAC praising Mahmoud Abbas? Even more fulsomely that Ehud Olmert? How can this be? Has Moshiach come? AIPAC’s usual political line is somewhere to the right of Likud in its stridency and hostility to Arab interests. So how can they be making nice now?
July 9, 2007
New Palestinian Government Taking Important Steps Needed for Peace
The new Palestinian government under President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has labeled the terrorist group Hamas “murderous” and banned its militias. The two leaders also have reiterated their recognition of the Jewish state and rejected the use of violence as a political tool. If followed with consistent action, these promising steps can serve as the foundation for negotiations with Israel. Arab states, for their part, must contribute to these efforts by isolating Hamas, condemning its tactics and promoting moderation.
Abbas has taken important first steps toward isolating Hamas and forming a government committed to peace with Israel.
Abbas dissolved the Hamas-led Palestinian government, firing Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas by presidential decree and appointing Salam Fayyad as the new prime minister, finance minister and foreign minister.
Abbas ordered his elite presidential guard to take action against Hamas members in the West Bank in the aftermath of the terrorist group’s violent takeover in Gaza.
Abbas issued decrees officially outlawing the armed militias of Hamas and banned Palestinians from carrying weapons and explosives without a license.
Abbas and Fayyad have made important statements condemning Hamas and reiterating their commitment to peace.
Abbas denounced Hamas in the harshest terms, describing the terrorist group’s violent takeover of Gaza as a “coup” that seeks to institute a “project of darkness,” and said he would have no dialogue with “those murderous terrorists.”
Abbas said Hamas seeks to undermine the Palestinian movement toward statehood, describing the struggle between the terrorist group and his Fatah Party as a battle “between those who are using assassination and killing to achieve their goals, and those who are using the rules of law.”
Abbas explicitly rejected the use of violence as a means of achieving political objectives, declaring his commitment to “the peace process and the signed agreements with the Israeli side,” to “renouncing violence and terror” and to recognizing Israel.
Fayyad told 800 Muslim clergy in the West Bank that the new government would not tolerate incitement coming from mosques and would collect weapons from armed groups.
The new Palestinian government must continue to take additional steps to combat terrorism, fight corruption and establish the rule of law.
Measures taken by Israel and the United States to support the new Palestinian government will depend on consistent Palestinian implementation of these critical steps:
Maintaining its commitment to the internationally approved principles of recognizing Israel’s right to exist, fighting terrorism and accepting previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements.
Continuing with its policy of rejecting an accommodation with an unreconstructed Hamas that opposes peace with Israel.
Upholding strict accountability and full transparency in the use of foreign assistance.
The Arab states must help Abbas by isolating Hamas diplomatically and economically.
Arab states must cut all financial support to Hamas, both public and private. In particular, Egypt has as a special responsibility to ensure funds are not smuggled from its territory into Gaza.
Arab states should provide funding to Abbas exclusively and should strongly discourage any rapprochement between Hamas and Fatah.
In order to provide Abbas and Fayyad the political cover they need to combat Hamas, the Arab states must publicly support their actions, reject terrorism and object to Hamas’ violent tactics.
Arab leaders must do more to combat incitement in local media and help condition their own people for peace with Israel. Ending anti-Israel rhetoric in the region will help moderate Palestinians combat the extremists and reduce their influence.
A few observations are in order. First, the fact that AIPAC is praising Fatah is an indication of how hopeless the current emergency government is from a Palestinian point of view. If you were a Palestinian leader you’d want AIPAC’s endorsement as much as you’d want a bullet in your brain (well, perhaps I exaggerate a bit, but only a bit). Such an endorsement is the kiss of death for a serious Palestinian politician and gives Hamas a huge opening to discredit Abbas as a lackey of Israel.
Second, up till now AIPAC has detested Abbas as a weak, vacillating leader who cannot deliver on his promises to bring order to Palestinian society. Why the sudden, strange turnabout? Either Olmert’s government (and possibly the Bush Administration too) has given AIPAC pretty strong marching orders to sing the praises of the Abbas-Fayad emergency government or else AIPAC has come to realize just how desperate the situation is among the Palestinians (though I find the latter proposition hard to believe). Perhaps AIPAC realizes that if Abbas/Fatah fails at this juncture that the alternative is a wholesale Hamas takeover of Palestinian politics. Is it possible there is actually someone in AIPAC who understands the potentially disastrous nature of such an eventuality??
Third, the AIPAC demand that all Arab states support the international boycott of Hamas in the final section of the press release is laughably unrealistic. They already reject such a position. Why would they do an about face and suddenly endorse AIPAC’s views? What could they possibly gain by participating in the isolation of Hamas and the continuing criminalization of innocent Gazans who are being made to suffer because they have the wrong government?? Besides, the Arab states have to be thinking: What if Fatah falls flat on its face? What if the emergency government is seen as a usurper of Palestinian democracy? What if Hamas steps in and becomes the prevailing political force in both the West Bank and Gaza? Do we want to bet all our money on the wrong horse and be left holding a useless betting slip when it loses?
Of course, it goes without saying that there is not a word in this statement about any expectations of the Israelis. Everything points to what the Palestinians have done and what the Arabs must do. But Israel must do nothing. Which is typical of AIPAC and the rightist politics it represents.
The American people have come to understand the disastrous nature of unilateralism represented by the Bush Administration approach to Iraq. AIPAC is unilateralism personified when it comes to the Israeli-Arab conflict. The obligations are entirely on the Arabs; the benefits run entirely to the Israelis. What kind of world do they think they’re living in?? If it didn’t work in Iraq it won’t work for Israel either. How long will it be before they get this through their thick skulls? A very long time I’m afraid.
I reminds me how AIPAC supported the Oslo agreements because it places the onus of peace upon the Palestinians while allowing the Israelis to do next to nothing in terms of ensuring a Palestinian state.
samuel burke says
aipac, what can an american say about such a group….lobby, if an american knew.
THE ISRAEL LOBBY AND U.S. FOREIGN POLICY
U.S. foreign policy shapes events in every corner of the globe. Nowhere is this truer than in the Middle East, a region of recurring instability and enormous strategic importance. Most recently, the Bush Administration’s attempt to transform the region into a community of democracies has helped produce a resilient insurgency in Iraq, a sharp rise in world oil prices, and terrorist bombings in Madrid, London, and Amman. With so much at stake for so many, all countries need to understand the forces that drive U.S. Middle East policy.
samuel burke says
AIPAC could have made some hay out of this event if it would have gone the other way…but alas the jews of iran are happier there than they would be in zionist israel…maybe in the future the power structure there will change and it would not be such a hatefilled supremacist bellicose government and then the jews from all around the world would be able to realize their dreams.
Iran’s Jews reject emigration incentives
Iran’s Jews rejected financial incentives to leave the country.
Offers ranging from 5,000-30,000 British pounds, financed by a wealthy expatriate Jew with the support of the Israeli government, were turned down by Iran’s Jewish leaders, the Guardian reported. Instead, the country’s Jews pledged their loyalty to Iran.
“The identity of Iranian Jews is not tradeable for any amount of money,” the Society of Iranian Jews said in a statement. “Iranian Jews are among the most ancient Iranians. Iran’s Jews love their Iranian identity and their culture, so threats and this immature political enticement will not achieve their aim of wiping out the identity of Iranian Jews.”
Iran’s Jewish population is the largest of any country in the Middle East besides Israel.
Richard, do you know Mark Braverman’s response on the Rosenfeld paper? It’s very, very goodl
What puzzles me most is the absolute denial of the slightest bit of human sympathy for the plight of the Palestinian people’, the absolute distrust, disinterest down to complete denial for their experience. And yes that is the most striking and irritating feature. In a very high percentage it seems to be taken for granted, that if any part of the Palestinian story raises compassion, there must be trick involved that can be found out. And that is all there is to know. They are only feigning to get sympathy, and yes that is very, very frightening.
The complete lack of any human sympathy puzzled me most in a discussion of an artist online but mainly off-line in a series of private exchanges with members of H-Antisemitism.
It is 2006, and I am in a large room in the Carnegie Endowment outside of Dupont Circle in Washington, DC. I am attending a panel entitled: Politics and Diplomacy: Next Steps in Arab-Israeli Peacemaking. There are eight men sitting at the front of the room, four Palestinians and four Israelis. A Palestinian speaks first, calling for – in plaintive tones, this is the only word for it – a resumption of negotiations before it is too late. The economic embargo of the newly elected Palestinian government with its Hamas majority has been in effect for five months. “We don’t have much time left!” he tells us. I am almost brought to tears by the sadness of his presentation, and a bit shocked, truth to tell, at his restraint as he describes the utter humiliation and desperation faced by his people. “I am a member of the Palestinian Authority legislative counsel,” he goes on, “and I haven’t been paid in 4 months. I am one of the privileged, and I don’t know how I’ll make ends meet in the coming year!” I sense the room darkening — there is a silence. I feel shame, embarrassment, anger. Then it is the Israeli’s turn to speak. I hold my breath: what will he say? How does he follow this? A journalist for a popular Israeli daily and now ensconced at the Brookings Institution nearby, the Israeli sits back, smiles — and opens with a joke. He is, for all the world, a man delivering an after-dinner speech, interested in providing a measured degree of enlightenment while entertaining us. Clearly, we are in the presence of the conqueror – the man holding all the cards. “We’ll talk to them when the violence stops,” he pontificates: it’s the old story. But it isn’t the words, it is the arrogance. No – it isn’t the arrogance, it is the blindness, the sweeping, crushing insensitivity to the emotional tone of the previous speaker. The Palestinian sitting next to him was invisible — he simply didn’t count. And on it went. The other Palestinian panelists, leaning forward in their chairs, protested weakly that time was running out, pleading for a resumption of negotiations. The Israelis sat back, opining about how the Hamas victory rendered the prospects for negotiations negligible, talking about unilateral actions, i.e. their intention to simply do what they wanted, take what they wanted. Among them was a former Israeli General who, in this context, on this panel – I am not making this up – spoke about the Jews’ Right to the Land. But, again, it wasn’t the words, it wasn’t the policies, shocking as they were – it was the negation, the utter, shocking, arrogant negation of the Other.”