By J. Practical
Last year, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad announced that his government intends to declare an independent Palestinian state in the summer of 2011. Later, Palestinian leaders announced that they intend to achieve statehood through a Unilateral Declaration of Independence via the United Nations, rather than through negotiations with Israel.
At an emotional level, the declaration of a state is a positive and uplifting feeling for anyone, especially when the state is for a people who’ve been refugees and occupied for over 60 years. Those of us with a liberal outlook, see it as a fitting event in context of the Arab Spring/Summer, and the movement of the Arab states away from the dictatorships that have plagued them (for centuries). Those same liberal-minded people see Mahmoud Abbas, Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, as a moderate, whose leadership has moved the Palestinian Authority into peace negotiations, and non-violent paths to creating a Palestinian state.
Media pundits love to tell us that a Palestinian state, a just solution for the Palestinian people, will stabilize the middle east, and bring peace to the whole region.
But at a realistic level, these rosy tinted glass views are at odds with the Palestinian players, and the Palestinian theatre.
Actual events on the Palestinian stage don’t support the western, liberal optimism.
The truth is, that the Palestinian Authority is exempt from the critical analysis that the media applies to Israel. Much of what the PA does, the policy they set, what they tell their people, and tell other Arab governments, isn’t reported in our news.
So what’s the reality?
The reality, is that the Palestinian state is not about to be created by nationalists, who want to secure a peaceful national home for the Palestinians. The leaders of the Palestinian Authority are stating a completely different goal to Arabic speakers. In some cases, they do it openly, in some cases its quite subtle. In all cases, it fundamentally opposes the message that they send to the western world that is so diligently supporting them.
Let’s ignore Hamas for the moment – let’s pretend that Fatah political leadership alone is directing the Palestinian future. You know them: They’re the ones the media tells us are a party of Palestinian political moderates seeking sovereignty and peace with Israel. In fact Canadian media (like the CBC) have succeeded in portraying them as old-fashioned Quebec Separatists – left wing, moderate, oppressed, yearning for the freedom of their own state.
I’m going to challenge that. Especially the usage of the term ‘moderate’, because I don’t believe people who use that term to describe the PA have any idea what they’re talking about. Let’s look at the exemptions the media provided the PA, and quickly highlight three of these questionable ‘get out of jail free cards’ that the media have issued the Palestinian Authority in order to support their national aspirations. There are other such cards, but these three come to mind first.
Card #1 – ANTI-PEACE POLICY – The Sixth Fatah Congress (2009): Many media outlets ignored the conference, and many who did cover it, didn’t report (or minimized) the glorification of terrorism, the rigid pre-conditions to peace negotiations set by Fatah, the demonization of Israel, and their willingness to turn to “armed struggle.” The Sixth Fatah Congress wasn’t a ‘moderate’ event by any stretch of the imagination. And yet it was presented as if it was the Liberal Party Convention – equivalent in all respects to our civilized, respectable political conferences. All hatefest aspects were whitewashed out of the reports we read and watched. What emerged clearly from that conference, is that the Fatah Leadership is as interested in the destruction of the state of Israel as it was 30 years ago – they haven’t even amended their charter to remove that goal.
An excellent review of what happened there, complete with the examples of the media mis-coverage, was provided by Ricki Hollander in www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=2&x_outlet=2&x_article=1710
Card #2 – EDUCATING TO HATE – The PA Incites Hatred Against Israel: This is nothing new. It’s been ever-present since 1948 in the schools, mosques and media of the Arab world. But when a government is purportedly engaged in peace talks with Israel, doesn’t it seem more appropriate to try to get the grassroots to understand the benefits of peace, and prepare them for living in peace with their neighbour?
In the business world there’s a discipline called Change Management, that finds ways to prepare people for changes to their environment, sets their expectations, and creates acceptance of the change before it’s rolled out.
The PA has done none of that. Instead, Mahmoud Abbas has done the opposite: The Palestinian people are not being prepared to live in peace with Israel. In fact, the opposite is true. The organization Palestinian Media Watch is an Israeli research institute that studies Palestinian society, including monitoring and analyzing their media and schoolbooks. Their website http://palwatch.org presents translated press, TV and radio pieces that demonstrate conclusively and credibly, that the PA is doing nothing to prepare the Palestinians to live peacefully next door to Israel. Instead, Palestinian schoolbooks teach revised history, holocaust denial (or avoid teaching the holocaust altogether), and hate for Israel. TV shows portray the map of the middle east with Israel labeled as ‘Palestine’, and Israeli cities are describes as Palestinian land.
How can PA leaders sell a peace treaty to a population that’s been conditioned to hate Israel?
They’re not preparing the rest of the Arab World to accept a peace agreement either. In another largely unreported bombshell, last year’s Arab League summit in Libya featured Mahmoud Abbas giving a speech to the Arab League, in which he said “If you want war and if all of you will fight Israel, we are in favor.” http://articles.nydailynews.com/2010-07-14/news/29439469_1_mahmoud-abbas-president-abbas-palestinian-leaders
These aren’t signs of the PA’s peaceful intent. In fact, they’ve laid a comprehensive groundwork for rejection of any peace plans by the Palestinian people and by the Arab countries at large.
This alone explains why Abbas is stalling on negotiations with Israel. After all, you physically cannot conclude a peace agreement after educating that kind of hate against Israel. It also explains why he thinks a unilateral vote at the UN is preferable to negotiating with Israel.
Card #3 – ENCOURAGING VIOLENCE – Glorifying Terrorism: The Palestinian Authority told the world that it was abandoning violence as a channel for creating a Palestinian state. But how can you do that while glorifying terrorism?
Last July, Palestinian Media Watch presented a report to the US congress that showed how the Palestinian Authority uses American funding to pay salaries to convicted terrorists in Israeli prisons and on campaigns to glorify terrorism. In fact, the published PA pay scales show that convicted terrorists in Israeli prisons receive higher average salaries than PA civil servants and military personnel http://palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=5336
While Mahmoud Abbas was in Washington in Late August and early September 2010, his government ministers were presenting awards to the families of convicted terrorists and suicide bombers. http://palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=2982
A few months before that Abbas and his cabinet ministers had hailed as a Palestinian hero the man who masterminded the terrorist attack on Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. www.cnsnews.com/node/69098
In 2010 the PA named squares, childrens’ summer camps and sports tournaments after suicide bombers, then held ceremonies honouring other suicide bombers. The official PA TV station ran a campaign entitled “Women as Role Models” during which a female terrorist who killed children (Dalal Mughrabi) was extolled as an example for Palestinian girls.
It’s not surprising, that on March 11, two Palestinian teenagers felt compelled to “liberate Palestine” by butchering five members of the Fogel family – the parents, 11-year-old Yoav, 3-year-old Elad and 3-month-old Hadas. The throats of the children were slit as they lay in bed. Elad suffered two stab wounds to his heart.
So think about that for a moment. Would any other “country” in the world be issued ‘get out of jail free cards’ for anti-peace policy, educating to hate, and encouraging violence? And would that political entity normally be considered ready to join the UN as a member state?
Can anybody seriously examine these three categories of political behaviour, and conclude the ludicrous notion that a Palestinian state will bring peace and stability to the middle east?
Is this the Palestinian state that you’d want created next door to you?
And why aren’t these Palestinian facts reported by the media?