By Larry Gordon
If you think things are in disarray in the Middle East, your assessment would be right on target. Though there is a good deal of hostility and acrimony between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, that did not stop PA leader Mahmoud Abbas from giving Israel its best birthday present ever—a double dose of the truth. That includes the matter that Israel’s Arab neighbors are her worst enemies and they do not desire peace. A leopard’s spots cannot be rearranged and Israel will sooner or later have to make some significant moves to counter the Palestinian machinations.
So where is the birthday present in all this? Well, it is that for all his misguided and boneheaded thinking, Abbas is doing Israel a favor because there would be no nachas or peace in having to continue dealing with the PA’s duplicity and daily shifting of positions. In a sense it is the gift that keeps on giving.
Abbas runs a daily diplomatic zigzag pattern. Some refer to him as brilliant, but with each passing day it seems more obvious that we are dealing with a deceiver who cannot be trusted for as far as you can throw a piano. The current dissipated process featured a very loose and unsafe foundation because it was shabbily constructed by the wishful-thinking, success-desperate team of diplomats stitched together by President Obama with head seamstress, John Kerry.
The real headline this week should be “Israel Is Saved from Itself at 66.” Who knows where this process was headed with Prime Minister Netanyahu crazily on the verge of agreeing to release an additional 400 Arab terrorists, freeze building in Judea and Samaria, and set the borders of a potential terror state in Israel’s center, all at the behest of a failed Obama administration more frantic than ever for a success in any forum or any venue.
But now all that has thankfully been stopped in its tracks, at least temporarily. Earlier this week, the European Union, which, along with the U.S., has designated Hamas a terrorist organization not to be recognized or dealt with, has begun to soften its stance. The EU chairwoman, Catherine Ashton, who has consistently been critical of Israel, urged that negotiations should go forward despite the Fatah-Hamas proposed union.
So much for Europe’s firm stance on terror. Can Barack Obama and John Kerry’s vacillating on the matter be that far behind? The parties, that is Fatah and Hamas, have not even worked out the details or determined that they can indeed work together, and everyone who leans or is stationed on the left is already jumping with celebratory joy. The two entities themselves have stated that they will need at least five weeks of talks, and probably more, to work out the specifics of a unity agreement—if one is at all possible. If they get to that stage, then they will need another six months until elections can be held to determine who is going to lead—the Fatah faction or the Hamas radicals.
This misplaced enthusiasm is reminiscent of the dispatch with which President Bill Clinton convened a Rose Garden ceremony between then-Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin and terrorist godfather Yasser Arafat to sign the Oslo Accords in 1993. The excitement was palpable. At the time, the foreign minister, Shimon Peres, spoke about the creation of the State of Palestine within 30 days. Of course that was delayed somewhat once the restaurants and buses began to explode with Israeli men, women, and children dying, courtesy of the freedom-bent suicide bombers around Israel and specifically in Jerusalem.
At the time, when such an attack was perpetrated, the talk of an independent Palestine would immediately cease. But that silence only lasted a few days. If there were no suicide bombs detonated for three or four days, Peres (who is now the President of Israel) would once again begin advocating and articulating the need for the creation of Palestine.
None of this tragic history has stopped Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid from saying this week that if Hamas accepts Israel, then everything changes. Sure, things can certainly change at some point. But after firing missiles into Israel for most of the last three decades and killing and injuring many, what exactly is the rush? Shouldn’t there be a buffer in time, some kind of waiting period to test the veracity of the potential shift from being bent on killing Jews to deciding to live with us as civilized people?
I have long been a proponent in this arena, anyway, of people having the onus of not just verbalizing their intentions but demonstrating them in real time, too. That means if you are firing missiles and directing terrorist attacks for a decade, you have to be forced to set aside a commensurate amount of time to prove that you have definitively implemented the type of change you are merely at this point verbalizing. It is not shocking or even news that those Palestinian negotiators who enter into agreements with Israel generally do not abide by them.
Ronald Regan said of his agreements with the Russians in the 1980s that we must “trust but verify.” Too many Israeli leaders seem to demonstrate a lack of patience for that kind of laborious and work-intensive policy and prefer revising that wise policy to a policy of “trust and trust.” That is, until they are proven wrong.
On the 66th anniversary of her birth, Israel is once again, as she consistently seems to be, at a crossroads. The Arabs living within Israel have made a decision to pursue Israel’s dismantling through means other than violence. And that is not because they have seen a light of any sort. Though the violence they indulged in for decades killed and injured thousands and left numerous widows and orphans in its wake, it still has not achieved the Palestinian aims—the destruction of Israel.
So now the decision has apparently been made to take the fight—after all, that is what it is—in a new direction. Granted, the new formula is more civilized, but the objectives remain the same. The Palestinians of Fatah have crossed a line in their new alliance with Hamas. The question is where the Obama administration will stand on this new policy. It is imperative to be aware that it is Hamas that aligns itself with Al Qaeda and Hezbollah.
If Mr. Abbas can indeed persuade the Hamas leaders, who are also at odds with Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the Emirates, to renounce violence and recognize Israel as a Jewish state, then down the road somewhere there might be something to actually talk about. The likelihood is minimal, but the issuing of a statement or a CNN interview here or there should not mean all that much. Both Fatah and Hamas will have to prove themselves, and that will take a lot of time, as they will have to illustrate to the fair-thinking world that they have genuinely changed.
In the meantime, Israel celebrates 66 years of growth, development, freedom, and independence. It is a great day for Klal Yisrael, our enemies and detractors notwithstanding. Happy birthday! v
Comments for Larry Gordon are welcome at email@example.com.