Wednesday, May 6, 2009

We fooled you, We Intend to Destroy You. So Now What Will You Give Us?

When talking among themselves and in Arabic, Middle East radicals often “let their hair down,” to use the English-language idiom, meaning talk frankly about how they are fooling the dumb rubes in the West and what their real goals are.

I often come upon this—except, of course, in the Western media. But the latest example, translated by MEMRI is irresistible.

The speaker in this case is Fatah’s leader in Lebanon, Sultan Abu al-Einen, speaking on al-Quds television, April 6, 2009.

Very few people realize that during the Oslo peace process era, from 1994 to 2000, Israel admitted more than 200,000 Palestinians to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. This includes Palestinian Authority (PA) personnel and their families and many others. This was an extraordinary humanitarian gesture and confidence-building measure for peace.

Unfortunately, such actions weren’t reciprocated. And many of these people were no doubt involved in trying to murder Israelis—directly or indirectly—in the ensuing years.

Abu al-Einen, who put the number at 250,000 which is somewhat exaggerated but not that far off, is bragging. He has been asked by the interviewer what can be said that was good in the Oslo accords. He doesn’t say that it brought the Palestinians closer to a compromise peace or a state, proved that Israel was a partner for peace or reduced bloodshed, or anything like that. His big example is that the Palestinians got a quarter of a million people back onto the battleground while giving nothing in return.

His second example of what was good about the Oslo accords is even more disconcerting. Israel allowed the Palestinians to bring in, or even gave them, guns which, according to Abu al-Einen totaled 40,000. Ha-ha! He says. Israel might have let these weapons be handed over, under the urgings of the United States and Europe, to maintain order in the Palestinian-governed areas and to prevent terrorism. But the ruling Fatah movement saw the weapons as a way to promote terrorism and kill Israelis.

Or in Abu al-Einen’s words, “The weapons that were used against the Israeli enemy in Gaza and elsewhere – the Palestinian Authority takes pride in...weapons that were brought in as part of the agreement. These weapons were used in various times and places, and some people who returned from exile and bore these arms were martyred.”

And this brought back to my mind one of the most vivid events that shows why the peace process failed and how the Palestinian leadership wasn’t, and isn’t, ready for peace.

In the summer of 1994, Yasir Arafat made a telephone call to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin with a special request. After months of tortuous secret negotiations that came close to collapse on many occasions, the two leaders had finally signed the detailed deal on how they would implement the peace process. Arafat was about to return to his ancestral homeland to rule the Gaza Strip and Jericho, starting a transition period that—if all went well—would produce an independent Palestinian state in five years.

First, though, Arafat wanted to request another concession from Israel. In addition to thousands of PLO officials and soldiers about to move from various Arab states to Gaza, he had a special list of “old friends” he wanted to bring with him. Rabin knew Arafat was talking about individuals personally involved in many terrorist acts against Israel over the years. When Arafat’s list arrived, Rabin sent it to Yakov Peri, head of the Shin Bet, Israeli’s secret service, asking him to recommend that all but the very worst offenders be allowed into Gaza.

Peri reported that indeed these were people involved in attacks on Israelis and reluctantly agreed to admit all but those responsible for the bloodiest ones. When Rabin told him of this decision, however, Arafat was not satisfied. He asked the prime minister to let in even more of those who had carried out such operations.
Rabin returned to Peri and emphasized the political importance of showing that Israel was being generous with Arafat. So Peri agreed that all but a handful of specific individuals who had committed the worst crimes could come with Arafat. Rabin passed the good news to Arafat.

Among the few banned from admission were: Marduch Nowfel, planner of a 1974 attack on a Ma'alot high school in which 21 Israeli teenagers were killed; Nihad Jayousi, a key organizer of the 1972 attack on the Olympic games; Mustafa Liftawi, the main organizer of terrorist attacks for Fatah's Western Sector department; and Jihad Amareen, a Western Sector official who also headed a Fatah-controlled Islamist terrorist group.

On the morning of July 1, 1994, Arafat’s motorcade crossed from Egypt into the Gaza Strip. Israeli soldiers at the border were under strict instructions not to touch Arafat’s Mercedes or the accompanying cars, which then drove past the Mediterranean coast’s sand dunes to Gaza City. At 5 PM, Arafat ascended a podium at the Square of the Unknown Soldier amid tens of thousands of people, the biggest crowd ever assembled in Gaza. Millions more watched on television around the world.

One of them was Rabin. But his viewing was interrupted by an urgent phone call from Peri who insisted that this matter couldn’t wait. Peri had just one thing to tell Rabin: “The bastard brought them in the trunk of his Mercedes.” Even after Israel accepted the return of most of those on Arafat's list, he had still smuggled in Nowfel, Jayousi, Liftawi, and Amareen as well. An angry Rabin demanded his aides get Arafat on the phone as soon as possible after the Gaza rally ended.

When Rabin finally reached him, Arafat denied the charge and insisted that Israel’s intelligence was wrong. Rabin warned, “Mr. Chairman, if you don’t take them out, I will give the order to close the borders.” No more PLO officials or police would then be allowed into Gaza.

For the next few days Arafat continued to insist the men were not there. But Israeli officials were sure they were right. In addition, as Deputy Defense Minister Mordechai Gur put it, "There is no doubt that Yasir Arafat himself was totally involved in this." Once Rabin told Arafat that their presence was confirmed, Arafat said that while he had heard rumors that perhaps the men were in Gaza, he couldn’t find them. Rabin now had to decide whether this issue was important enough to jeopardize the entire peace process.

Finally, under serious Israeli pressure, Arafat sent the men back to Egypt. Rabin remarked optimistically. "They have to learn a lesson that they cannot cheat but rather, they should adhere to their commitments.” Several weeks later, though, Israeli security learned that Arafat had the four men smuggled back into Gaza. And there they stayed.

This small incident was a metaphor for everything that happened later. Arafat had shown that his word could not be trusted. Time after time, he begged and demanded concessions from others without ever really giving any himself. Yet a belief repeatedly prevailed that the next time he would do better or that once the two sides made a comprehensive deal everything would change.

Arafat, Abu al-Einen tells the interviewer, “was a man of contradictions. He could declare one thing, issue a contradictory order, and do something to the contrary at the same time….Yasser Arafat would condemn and criticize martyrdom operations…but at the same time, the martyr Yasser Arafat used to finance these military operations."

We shouldn’t forget that except for the fact that Arafat himself is dead, the leadership of Fatah and the PA today is exactly the same as it was in the 1990s. Hamas is worse. When someone who is trying to fool you now brags about how they did so in the past, attention must be paid.

1 comment:

  1. “Arafat, Abu al-Einen tells the interviewer, ‘was a man of contradictions. He could declare one thing, issue a contradictory order, and do something to the contrary at the same time...’”

    Man of contradictions, my ass. He was a liar: one who says one thing and does another. May he burn in hell.


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