April 15th, 2010 10:34 am
The Palestinians Already Have Two States: The Truth According to Khaled Abu Toameh
The Real War is Palestinian vs. Palestinian
The world has gone mad—or at least, the American leadership has now formally joined the Islamist and international madness about “peace in the Middle East.”
President Obama has just claimed that American “vital national security” is linked to finding—or even imposing—peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. South Africa’s revered Archbishop Emeritus, Desmond Tutu, has just praised the recent Berkeley student vote (which the university’s president later vetoed) to divest university money from companies that “profit from the injustice of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land in violation of Palestinian human rights.” Tutu writes that what he witnessed in occupied Palestinian territory reminds him of the conditions he “experienced in South Africa under the racist system of apartheid.”
Tutu—this is really too much! Who exactly gave you a tour of the territories? The usual diabolically skilled propagandists? Did you, perchance, bother to visit Israel? If not, why not?
I strongly recommend that both President Obama and Archbishop Tutu consult with Khaled Abu Toameh, an Israeli Arab Muslim/Palestinian journalist whom I was privileged to hear speak the other night in Manhattan. Abu Toameh lives in Jerusalem and he really “gets it.” He is a charming, urbane man, who speaks English perfectly; I assume he speaks Arabic and Hebrew just as well.
Abu Toameh used to work for the PLO newspaper as a translator and fledgling journalist, then attended Hebrew University, and decided that he wanted to be a real journalist, not a mere propagandist. That meant working for an Israeli newspaper where “freedom of the press” is respected. Abu Toameh confirmed that journalists and distinguished visitors to the “territories” cannot just go anywhere on their own; they risk being barred from future visits or even death if they report something that the various Palestinian militias do not want the world to know. “All the news is controlled in Gaza and on the West Bank.”
Archbishop, President, are you listening?
Abu Toameh began working for the Jerusalem Post in 1988. He is not seen as a “traitor” for working for the free Israeli press in Jerusalem—but he has been attacked for doing so on campuses in California! He understands how fundamentalist and dangerous Hamas really is, and yet he reads that Hamas is becoming moderate—where? In Toronto’s Globe and Mail!
I urge—nay, I implore, I demand, that all those who keep talking about a “peace process” listen to what Abu Toameh has to say. I feel so strongly about this that I am presenting what he said, almost verbatim.
He spoke on the Upper West Side, at Aish HaTorah. Yes, an Orthodox Jewish religious center graciously gave Abu Toameh his platform and were very grateful to have him. Thus, the room usually reserved for religious services and study was precisely where the wry, ironic, witty Abu Toameh spoke. He is very much an Israeli–although not as hot-tempered as some, or as some Arabs.
First, Abu Toameh confirms that the worst possible thing for the Palestinian people were the various peace processes which were highly misguided, insincere, and unworkable. “Before the Oslo Accords, Palestinians had high hopes that we would have a democratic Parliament just as the Israelis do and a free media. Since Oslo, things have gone in the wrong direction.”
In Abu Toameh’s view, “Oslo was based on the assumption that Arafat and Fatah were reliable peace partners.” That was far from the case. Once Arafat was returned in triumph—“the show began, a one man show. Thirteen to fifteen militias roamed the streets. Most of the money given to Arafat for Palestine went down the drain, into secret Swiss bank accounts, and to his wife, Suha, in France. He built a casino—right across from a refugee camp.”
According to Abu Toameh, all those who were giving money to Arafat “simply refused to believe that he was corrupt.” Because Abu Toameh reported this, he was repeatedly asked if he was “on the payroll of the Jewish Lobby.” But, he said, it became more and more difficult to file stories abroad because “newspaper editors all wanted stories against the Occupation. They did not want to confuse their readers with facts.”
In his view, everyone was afraid to report the truth because Arafat and his goon squads would kill the truth tellers. Thus, Arafat and the mythic peace process embittered and “radicalized” the Palestinian people and they turned to Hamas, an Islamist organization funded by Iran. “People lost faith in the peace process.” Abu Toameh also confirmed that Arafat kept saying one thing in English about peace and in Arabic, kept inciting people against Israel.
Israeli President Shimon Peres defended Arafat. Peres refused to factor in what Arafat was saying in Arabic. Abu Toameh thought to himself: “How stupid can this man be? Doesn’t he know that Arafat is describing the Jews as the descendants of pigs and monkeys. Why make peace with the Jews if they are this terrible?”
And so, in 2006, Hamas won a democratic election—an election which was held under American supervision and which was strongly supported by both President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. Rice did not expect Hamas to win. Abu Toameh knew they would win; the people were angry at their hopeless situation at the hands of their own leaders. According to Abu Toameh, “Israel also facilitated the election of Hamas by allowing Arabs in Jerusalem to vote in that election. Israel did not know what every Palestinian child knew: That Hamas would win.”
And so now, Fatah has lost, Mahmoud Abbas cannot deliver peace nor can he make peace with Hamas. In turn, Hamas is not stepping down. Thus far, “this civil war among the Palestinians has so far claimed 2000 lives.”
Ironically, those who once clamored for a free and open election are now trying to bring down the duly elected with guns and bombs. Hamas kicked Fatah out of Gaza. Abu Toameh reports that he personally “saw Palestinians running away from Hamas towards Egypt, saw Egypt close the border to those in flight. Only Israel helped Muslims who were about to be slaughtered by Muslims.”
And so, wryly, ironically, Abu Toameh concludes: “We got our two-state solution. The Palestinians got two states. Hamas is funded by the Muslim Brotherhood, Syria, and Iran and I would not want to live there. The West Bank is being run by Arafat’s former cronies. But Mahmoud Abbas is afraid of his own people. I have not once seen him in a village. He has no credibility. He cannot deliver peace.
“If Israel withdraws from the West Bank, Hamas will take over. The IDF is keeping Abbas from being hung. Israel is also keeping Fatah and Hamas from killing each other. They hate each other more than they hate Israel.”
In his view, “we cannot move forward with a peace process. There is no Palestinian partner…Did you know? Mahmoud Abbas’s office expired in 2009 but Secretary of State Rice told him to simply stay on. Look: Abbas has lost control of 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza. Abbas is also seen as corrupt and ineffective. To whom will Abbas sell his peace agreement? Hamas will hang him at the entrance to Gaza, they will not wait.”
What does Abu Toameh suggest is the way forward?
“Dismantle all the Palestinian militias, start building Palestinian infra-structures, solve the Palestinian-Palestinian problems—and only then, sit down with the Jews. Obama thinks the ball is in the Israeli court. That is not true.”
Abu Toameh pauses, then says: “If I were Netanyahu, I would offer Palestinians ten states. Bring Obama over, ask him: To whom do I give the Palestinian states? To Hamas? Abbas? Islamic Jihad? He cautions Israel to be “careful about unilateral measures. Any land you give back, any land you give to Abbas, will end up in Iran’s hand. See how Gaza ended up. The same thing will repeat itself. The majority of Jews support the Palestinian state not because they love Palestinians but because they want to get rid of them.”
And then he issued a warning—to Israel which had nothing to do with two state solutions or with a peace process. “Israeli Arabs have been loyal to Israel. They are still discriminated against. No, Israel is not an apartheid state, but discrimination exists against 1.4 million of its own citizens. If Israel does not implement an emergency plan to solve this then the radicalization of the Israeli Arabs will explode. The next Intifada will be in Haifa, Umm al-Fahm, Nazareth, Rahat, Yaffo.”
President Obama: Please do not keep making the same mistakes that both your Republican and Democratic predecessors have made.