The Region: Where everyone’s a loser

By glorifying terrorist deeds, the PA sends its people the message that moderation is equivalent to treason.

By BARRY RUBIN
April 12, 2010 12:38
4 minute read.
 A Palestinian demonstrator uses a slingshot to hu

iraq burin youth stones palestinian 311. (photo credit: AP)

 
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The Obama administration doesn’t understand this, but it is signaling to the Palestinian Authority that it can get away with anything, thus further dooming any hope for serious negotiations and perhaps leading to renewed large-scale violence.

It has long been known that the best way to mobilize a big demonstration or riot in Arabic-speaking countries is to tell people: The government is with you.

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Say, for example, you wanted to smash up the British embassy in Damascus or Cairo. The trick would be to persuade the masses that their rulers wanted them to do it and thus they would be rewarded, not punished. In effect, this is the consequence of what the Obama administration is doing inadvertently.

The PA has concluded that the US government will never criticize or punish it. Indeed, Palestinian leaders know that the more intransigent they are, the more conflict they can provoke in US-Israel relations.

Here’s the chain of reasoning:

• The Obama administration wants progress toward peace for which it can take credit and which supposedly will help it in Afghanistan, Iraq and dealing with Iran.

• If Israel doesn’t make concessions, US-Israel friction will result. But if the PA is intransigent, there will be no problem in its bilateral relations with Washington.



• Instead, the US government will say: Since the PA won’t yield or accept our offers, we must pressure on Israel to give more to get the PA on board.

• Thus, the more radical things the PA does that encourage Israeli anger and reluctance to take risks, the more Israel gets blamed for the result.

• Conclusion: Being intransigent, creating conflict and even inspiring violence is in the PA’s interest.

HERE’S AN example. While the Obama administration is angry at Israel merely because a low-level committee announced one of seven stages toward building apartments perhaps in a couple of years, the PA’s very top leadership is honoring terrorists responsible for the murder of many Israeli civilians and American citizens.

By glorifying such deeds, the PA sends Palestinians the message that conciliation with Israel isn’t on its agenda and moderation is equivalent to treason. By largely ignoring this, the US government encourages more such behavior – Palestinian actions showing Israelis of all political views that the PA is not a real partner for peace and Israel should be very wary of making concessions. The effect, then, is to make both sides less willing to achieve a deal, the exact opposite of what the Obama administration wants.

The latest step, just announced, transcends all previous limits: naming a street in Ramallah, the de facto PA capital, after Yihye Ayash, the bomb-making engineer who may have been involved in the murder of more Israelis than any other single terrorist. He was killed by Israel in 1996, setting off more terrorist revenge attacks.

This is not the only example of PA applause for terrorists who murdered Israeli civilians. In one case, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton blamed the naming of a square after a terrorist, who killed 28 Israelis in 1978, on Hamas, even though it was done in Ramallah. Indeed, that terrorist also murdered an American citizen, Gail Rubin.

A third terrorist being honored is also of special interest. Abdullah Daoud, former head of Palestinian intelligence in Bethlehem, was one of those who seized the Church of the Nativity in 2002 and turned it into a fortress from which to fire at IDF soldiers. He and the others were eventually allowed by Israel to leave the country and he died recently of natural causes in Mauritania.

Why is this particularly shocking? Because it is a slap in the face of all Christians. Here’s a man who took over what might be considered the single holiest shrine of all for Christians, intimidating the monks at gunpoint.

Imagine if the world – and particularly Western governments, intellectuals and media – was a bit saner. We live in an era in which the slightest offense to a religion (or at least some religions; okay, make that one religion) is considered just about the worst crime of all. Yet the idea that PA gunmen take over an extremely sacred Christian church and use it as a military bunker did not stir outrage or provide much understanding of what kind of people we’re dealing with here.

What signal should this send to Christians around the world? Imagine if the church had been taken over by Israelis or a Muslim shrine had been the target?


This is the significance of PA leaders giving Daoud a hero’s funeral, of Abbas personally visiting his family and extolling his virtues. According to the report in Al-Kuds, the PA’s official newspaper, of March 28: “We must maintain the way of the martyr Daoud, who always believed in the struggle, in love of the homeland and in the realization of national unity.” He added that Daoud had been “suffering from the injustice of his expulsion.”

Now this is a man involved in terrorist attacks, then taking over a Christian shrine and taking the Christian clerics there hostage. Saved from arrest and punishment, he was allowed to go abroad and live in freedom. And this is “injustice”?

Yet the important point is the framework being set up by US policy, one that will sabotage the administration’s own goals, make peace harder to achieve, encourage radical policies and forces and possibly even lead to the outbreak of massive violence.

This is not good for anyone.

The writer is director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center and editor of Middle East Review of International Affairs and Turkish Studies. His personal blog can be read at http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com

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