Fundamentally Freund: The lessons of Fatah Day

There truly is no peace.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks at a Fatah conference in Ramallah in 2009. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks at a Fatah conference in Ramallah in 2009.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
On December 31, the Palestinians provided yet another compelling example of why peace in the Middle East remains so stubbornly elusive.
Even as much of the world was preparing to celebrate the onset of 2015, Palestinian chairman Mahmoud Abbas presided over a ceremony in Ramallah with a decidedly less laudable goal: commemorating the 50th anniversary of Fatah’s first terrorist attack against Israel.
That’s right. The man who speaks to Western leaders and audiences about the need for reconciliation, the leader who visits foreign capitals and convenes press conferences to pose as a proponent of peace, spent his day celebrating five decades of violence and bloodshed.
And yet much of the international community still can’t seem to understand why Israel won’t give in to Abbas’s demands for a state.
A quick history lesson: back on January 1, 1965, a group of Fatah terrorists infiltrated into Israel and placed an explosive device next to the national water carrier in an attempt to sabotage it. Fortunately, however, the bomb failed to explode.
Subsequently, Fatah began to carry out increasingly violent attacks against the Jewish state, including planting explosives on the railroad tracks to Jerusalem on July 5, 1965, and blowing up an Israeli home in Moshav Givat Yeshayahu, near Beit Shemesh, on November 7 of that year.
The group went on to dominate the Palestine Liberation Organization, and became the lead terrorist organization, carrying out some of the most horrific anti-Israel attacks. These included the assault on the Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, the March 1978 Coastal Road Massacre in which 21 Israelis were murdered after a bus was hijacked on the Tel Aviv-Haifa road, and countless others.
Ever since, Palestinians have looked back on January 1 as a watershed moment, commemorating the event annually. And this year was no exception.
In Bethlehem, dozens of Fatah members held a march which culminated in a flag-burning ceremony at which the national colors of the US, Israel and Great Britain were all set alight.
And in Ramallah, Fatah staged a large military parade which included contingents from several of the Palestinian Authority’s security services as well as a group of Fatah youth. They marched to Abbas’ presidential compound, where the Palestinian leader made an incendiary speech.
In his remarks, according to the official Palestinian news agency WAFA, Abbas declared that Israelis living in Judea and Samaria are “terrorists” and called for “all available means” to be used against the Israeli “occupation.”
You can tell a lot about people by what they choose to celebrate, by the events of their collective past which they insist on highlighting and passing along to future generations. The fact that the Palestinian leadership, and much of Palestinian society, choose publicly to commemorate the birth of a terrorist organization, and its first attack on Israel, speaks volumes about the nature of their commitment to peace.
Instead of educating the younger generation of Palestinians to look back with shame upon the resort to violence, Abbas and his cohorts hold it up as something to be proud of. This not only legitimizes terror, it idealizes and romanticizes it.
It sends a clear message that for all the Palestinians’ talk of wanting peace, their heroes remain those who reached for the rifle.
Think about it. Young Americans dream of becoming a policeman, an astronaut or a baseball player. Young Israelis might aspire to launch a hi-tech firm that will change the world.
But young Palestinians? They are being taught to glorify those who slaughtered women and children, hijacked airplanes and bombed civilian targets.
In this respect, Fatah Day provides us all with an important glimpse into the mindset of Palestinian society and its leaders. It should open our eyes, if they aren’t already, and sweep away any illusions that might still exist about the ultimate aims of the Palestinian “national liberation movement.”
Abbas and his ilk neither shy away from violence nor revile it. As the celebrations on Fatah Day demonstrated, they wholeheartedly embrace it.
Not only that, but Fatah Day serves as a timely reminder that Palestinian terrorists began attacking Israel more than two years before the 1967 Six Day War, when Israel acquired Judea and Samaria as well as the eastern part of Jerusalem.
In other words, the Palestinian struggle against Israel, which is supposedly all about the “occupied territories,” is in fact much broader and even more sinister.
It is aimed at the very existence of the Jewish state.
And this is why there truly is no peace.
Not because Israelis choose to live in Beit El or in Hebron, but because our Palestinian neighbors simply don’t want them to live at all.