Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Ten Reasons Why a Palestinian State (Now) Is Bad for the World. By Richard Landes.

Peace When: Ten Reasons why a Palestinian State (now) is Bad for the World. By Richard Landes. The Augean Stables, October 15, 2014.


In (dis)honor of the Swedish and British initiatives to recognize a Palestinian state right away, and Meir Javedanfar’s announcement of a blogpost on the topic: “Writing a blog entitled: ‘Top ten reasons why I think a Palestinian state would be good for #Israel.’ Standby.”

I write the following counter-list: 10 reasons why a Palestinian State (right now) is a bad idea for everyone.

Please note: I do think a Palestinian state is by far the most desirable outcome for everyone (except the jihadis), if we’re talking about a state that behaves the way European Union nations behave: they disagree, but understand they’re on the same side. If however, as is every person with power in Palestinian culture right now, they are bent on our destruction, then trying to make a state with them will weaken us and strengthen them (good for no one but the jihadis). I am a member of Peace When, not Peace Now.

1. There is no serious evidence that the Palestinian leadership both “secular” (Fatah) and religious (Hamas) want a state of their own that will live in peace with an Israeli state. There is, on the contrary, ample evidence that they will treat anything they get as a staging ground for further attacks.

2. The Palestinians have, for all their opportunities, never been able to set up the infrastructure of a responsible state. The miserable career of Fayyad illustrates how far from a transparent governance, a fair juridical system, a competent administration they are. Why create a sure failure?

3. This likelihood is all the greater if they get their concessions by means that involve going around the backs of the Israelis and having things forced on the Israelis. In honor-shame cultures, any time a foe is forced to make concessions it’s a sign of weakness, and an occasion to make further (violent) claims.

4. As the withdrawal from Gaza showed, Hamas will eat Fatah within months of any power vacuum. Thus it is a near certainty that a Palestinian state will become a militant Jihadi state. Indeed, Daesh (ISIS) would probably eat Hamas as quickly as Hamas eats Fatah.

5. With 51 Muslim majority states in the world, 22 Arab states, all of them either failures or worse, none of them solid democracies, most of them consistently belligerent to neighbors whether Arab or Muslim or not, why on earth would the world community want yet another guaranteed failed, bellicose, fascist, Jihadi state? Giving the current Palestinian leadership a state is like giving a crack-addicted teenager the keys to a fully-armed tank.

6. There are people with a much greater claim on the world community’s values to have a state, peoples with their own language, in some cases their own religion, their own (real) history: Kurds, Berbers, Tibetans, Tamils, Chechens, etc. To give a state to a group with the same language, religion, and (until a generation ago) the same identity, as 22 other Arab ones sets a terrible precedent.

7. The West faces an implacable enemy in global Jihad. It would be nothing short of reckless to create another major opening for Jihadi forces to take root and use state privileges to expand operations (e.g. diplomatic immunity).

8. Israel represents the only civilizational ally the West has in the Middle East (pace Obama’s delusions about Turkey and his BFF Erdogan). To undermine her in a battle for her existence by empowering a genocidal movement with state power would be little short of insanely self-destructive. Without Israel, no Jordan, no Lebanon (however dysfunctional). No intelligence, no counter-weight to Jihadi impetus.

9. To give in to the tyranny of a democracy of tyrannies in the UN is to undermine the very principles of international democracy.

10. At this time, with an incompetent if not malevolent Palestinian leadership, with global Jihad the “strong horse,” and a Western world falling ill to the disease of anti-semitism and the outbreak of an aggressive Muslim “street,” it would be suicidal to press so foolish a policy.

Moral Equivalence in the Middle East. By Victor Davis Hanson.

Moral Equivalence in the Middle East. By Victor Davis Hanson. National Review Online, October 20, 2015.


The West has developed a dangerous concern for “proportionality.”

In the current epidemic of Palestinian violence, scores of Arab youths are attacking, supposedly spontaneously, Israeli citizens with knives. Apparently, edged weapons have more Koranic authority, and, in the sense of media spectacle, they provide greater splashes of blood. Thus the attacker is regularly described as “unarmed” and a victim when he is “disproportionately” stopped by bullets.

The Obama State Department has condemned the use of “excessive” Israeli force in response to Palestinian terrorism. John Kirby, the hapless State Department spokesman, blamed “both” sides for terrorism, and the president himself called on attackers and their victims to “tamp down the violence.”

In short, the present U.S. government — which is subsidizing the Palestinians to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year — is incapable of distinguishing those who employ terrorist violence from the victims against whom the terrorism is directed. But why is the Obama administration — which can apparently distinguish those who send out drones from those who are blown up by them on the suspicion of employing terrorist violence — morally incapable of calling out Palestinian violence? After all, in the American case, we blow away suspects whom we think are likely terrorists; in the Israeli instance, they shoot or arrest those who have clearly just committed a terrorist act.

Two reasons stand out.

One, Obama’s Middle East policies are in shambles. Phony red lines, faux deadlines, reset with Putin, surrendering all the original bargaining chips in the Iranian deal, snubbing Israel, cozying up to the Muslim Brotherhood, dismissing the threat of ISIS, allowing Iraq to collapse by abruptly pulling out all American troops, giving way to serial indecision in Afghanistan, ostracizing the moderate Sunni regimes, wrecking Libya, and setting the stage for Benghazi — all of these were the result of administration choices, not fated events. One of the results of this collapse of American power and presence in the Middle East is an emboldened Palestinian movement that has recently renounced the Oslo Accords and encouraged the offensive of edged weapons.

Mahmoud Abbas, the subsidized president of the self-proclaimed Palestinian State, and his subordinates have sanctioned the violence. Any time Palestinians sense distance between the U.S. and Israel, they seek to widen the breach. When the Obama team deliberately and often gratuitously signals its displeasure with Israel, then the Palestinians seek to harden that abstract pique into concrete estrangement.

Amid such a collapse of American power, Abbas has scanned the Middle East, surveyed the Obama pronouncements — from his initial Al Arabiya interview and Cairo speech to his current contextualizations and not-so private slapdowns of Netanyahu — and has wagered that Obama likes Israel even less than his public statements might suggest. Accordingly, Abbas assumes that there might be few consequences from America if he incites another “cycle of violence.”

The more chaos there is, the more CNN videos of Palestinian terrorists being killed by Israeli civilians or security forces, the more NBC clips of knife-wielding terrorists who are described as unarmed, and the more MSNBC faux maps of Israeli absorption of Palestine, so all the more the Abbas regime and Hamas expect the “international community” to force further Israeli concessions. The Palestinians hope that they are entering yet another stage in their endless war against Israel. But this time, given the American recessional, they have new hopes that the emerging Iran–Russia–Syria–Iraq–Hezbollah axis could offer ample power in support of the violence and could help to turn the current asymmetrical war more advantageously conventional. The Palestinians believe, whether accurately or not, that their renewed violence might be a more brutal method of aiding the administration’s own efforts to pressure the Israelis to become more socially just, without which there supposedly cannot be peace in the Middle East.

But there is a second, more general explanation for the moral equivalence and anemic response from the White House. The Obama “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for” administration is the first postmodern government in American history, and it has adopted almost all the general culture’s flawed relativist assumptions about human nature.

Affluent and leisured Western culture in the 21st century assumes that it has reached a stage of psychological nirvana, in which the Westernized world is no longer threatened in any existential fashion as it often was in the past. That allows Westerners to believe that they no longer have limbic brains, and so are no longer bound by Neanderthal ideas like deterrence, balance of power, military alliances, and the use of force to settle disagreements. Their wealth and technology assure them that they are free, then, to enter a brave new world of zero culpability, zero competition, and zero hostility that will ensure perpetual tranquility and thus perpetual enjoyment of our present material bounty.

Our children today play tee-ball, where there are no winners and losers — and thus they are schooled that competition is not just detrimental but also can, by such training, be eliminated entirely. Our adolescents are treated according to the philosophy of “zero tolerance,” in which the hero who stops the punk from bullying a weaker victim is likewise suspended from school. Under the pretense of such smug moral superiority, our schools have abdicated the hard and ancient task of distinguishing bad behavior from good and then proceeding with the necessary rewards and punishments. Our universities have junked military history, which schooled generations on how wars start, proceed, and end. Instead, “conflict resolution and peace studies” programs proliferate, in which empathy and dialogue are supposed to contextualize the aggressor and thus persuade him to desist and seek help — as if aggression, greed, and the desire for intimidation were treatable syndromes rather than ancient evils that have remained dangerous throughout history.

Human nature is not so easily transcended, just because a new therapeutic generation has confused its iPhone apps and Priuses with commensurate moral and ethical advancement. Under the canons of the last 2,500 years of Western warfare, disproportionality was the method by which aggressors were either deterred or stopped. Deterrence — which alone prevented wars — was predicated on the shared assumption that starting a conflict would bring more violence down upon the aggressor than he could ever inflict on his victim. Once lost, deterrence was restored usually by disproportionate responses that led to victory over and humiliation of the aggressive party.

The wreckage of Berlin trumped anything inflicted by the Luftwaffe on London. The Japanese killed fewer than 3,000 Americans at Pearl Harbor; the Americans killed 30 times that number of Japanese in a single March 10, 1945, incendiary raid on Tokyo. “They have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind” was the standard philosophy by which aggressive powers were taught never again to start hostilities. Defeat and humiliation led to peace and reconciliation.

The tragic but necessary resort to disproportionate force by the attacked not only taught an aggressor that he could not win the fight he had started, but also reminded him that his targeted enemy might not be completely sane, and thus could be capable of any and all retaliation.

Unpredictability and the fear sown by the unknown also help to restore deterrence, and with it calm and peace. In contrast, predictable, proportionate responses can reassure the aggressor that he is in control of the tempo of the war that he in fact started. And worse still, the doctrine of proportionality suggests that the victim does not seek victory and resolution, but will do almost anything to return to the status quo antebellum — which, of course, was disadvantageous and shaped by the constant threat of unexpected attack by its enemies.

Applying this to the Middle East, the Palestinians believe that the new American indifference to the region and Washington’s slapdowns of Netanyahu have reshuffled relative power. They now hope that there is no deterrent to violence and that, if it should break out, there will be only a proportionate and modest response from predictable Westerners.

Under the related doctrine of moral equivalence, Westerners are either unwilling or unable to distinguish the more culpable from the more innocent. Instead, because the world more often divides by 55 to 45 percent rather than 99 to 1 percent certainty, Westerners lack the confidence to make moral judgments — afraid that too many critics might question their liberal sensitivities, a charge that in the absence of dearth, hunger, and disease is considered the worst catastrophe facing an affluent Western elite.

The question is not only whether the Obama administration, in private, favors the cause of the radical Palestinians over a Western ally like Israel, but also whether it is even intellectually and morally capable of distinguishing a democratic state that protects human rights from a non-democratic, authoritarian, and terrorist regime that historically has hated the West, and the United States in particular — and is currently engaged in clear-cut aggression.

The One-State Solution, Cont’d. By Andrew C. McCarthy.

The One-State Solution, Cont’d. By Andrew C. McCarthy. National Review Online, October 17, 2015.

The Obama Intifada. By Matthew Continetti. National Review Online, October 17, 2015. Also at the Washington Free Beacon.


Palestinian terrorism and Israeli self-defense are not the same thing.

The next intifada is on, and the Obama administration, as one would expect, is on the wrong side.

There has been a spike in Palestinian terrorism over the past few weeks. One has to call it a spike because Palestinian terrorism is always thrumming — there’s never a real stop. About 70 Israelis have recently been mauled, and some killed, in over two dozen sneak attacks, mostly by stabbing.

The ultimate cause of the rampage is the Palestinian determination to eradicate Israel’s existence as a Jewish state by a two-track campaign of internal violence and international political pressure. As I’ve previously detailed, this is the “one-state solution” preferred by Islamists and Leftists. It is abetted, wittingly or not, by the “two-state solution,” a bipartisan Beltway obsession that entails pressuring Israel to accommodate next-door neighbors who will be satisfied with nothing less than burning its house down.

The proximate cause for the current bloodletting is incitement by Palestinian political leadership, particularly Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas (also known as “Abu Mazen”).

Abbas is a longtime terrorism enabler, the right hand of Yasser Arafat, by whose intercession he rose to the top rank of the PLO and, ultimately, the Palestinian Authority. Naturally, the Obama administration has hallucinated him into a “moderate” Muslim “peacemaker” — just as the Bush administration did.

The ugly reality is that Islamists and the radical pan-Arab Left — those in the Nasser-Arafat mold — are in competition to prove who is the most anti-Semitic, a coveted distinction in their culture. Abbas and his Fatah party must compete with Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestinian terror branch, whose charter explicitly frames the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews as dictates of Allah. As Caroline Glick perceptively explains, Abbas has more to gain from the perversely named “peace process,” which keeps the West invested in him, than from a peace settlement, in which an influx of Hamas sympathizers would likely drive him from power. Thus, he does his bit to stoke the violence.

Over the past few weeks, he has incited rioting at the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, falsely accusing Jews of defiling and attempting to seize the site. Among his gems is the admonition that Jews “have no right to desecrate [the al-Aqsa Mosque and other Temple Mount sites] with their filthy feet.” The purported secular moderate went on to out-Hamas Hamas, lauding Muslims who physically attack Jews attempting to tour the area:
Each drop of blood that was spilled in Jerusalem is pure blood as long as it’s for the sake of Allah. Every shahid [i.e., martyr] will be in heaven and every wounded person will be rewarded by Allah’s will.
For good measure, Abbas libelously accused Israel of “executing” a 13-year-old Palestinian boy, Ahmad Mansara, “in cold blood.” In fact, Mansara and his older brother were caught on video stabbing Jews, including a child riding a bicycle. When they tried to slice and dice the Israeli police who responded to the crime scene, Mansara was shot. But he was not “executed in cold blood”; he is alive and well and recuperating thanks to Israeli doctors and nurses who immediately gave him medical care.

Abbas’s diatribe can have had no purpose but to ignite yet another round of attacks — not a “cycle of violence,” as the State Department describes it, but a unilateral terror campaign. Indeed, Abbas is merely repeating his performance of a year ago, when he exhorted Palestinians to prevent Jews “from entering the holy site in every way possible” — a summons to jihad that was broadcast repeatedly on Palestinian television and, Ms. Glick recounts, led to a similar spate of attacks on Israeli civilians.

To describe as utter nonsense the claim that Israel is trying to seize the Temple Mount would be an insult to utter nonsense.

Jordan invaded East Jerusalem in 1948. During the 19 years of Jordanian occupation that followed, the world did not seem to mind that Palestinians were not given their own state. Nor did it much notice the enforcement of sharia: thousands of Jews and Christians driven from their homes, Jews denied access to holy sites, centuries-old synagogues destroyed, and severe restrictions placed on Christians — including limits on visits to holy sites and a requirement that the Koran be taught in Christian schools.

In 1967, against Israel’s warnings, Jordan joined the Six-Day War of aggression waged by Arab-Islamic states, to disastrous effect for themselves. Their goal then, like the Islamist-Leftist goal now, was to annihilate the Jewish state — as Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser put it about a week before the war, “Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel,” with which, he later added, “we will not accept any . . . coexistence.” It was the Arab-Islamic states, though, that were routed. Jordan’s foolish decision to attack West Jerusalem resulted in its being throttled and pushed out of East Jerusalem by the Israeli Defense Forces.

The Old City’s iconic edifices are among the world’s holiest sites for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Under Israeli control, the sites have been opened to tourists of all faiths. Yet, in deference to Islam’s notoriously hair-trigger sensitivities, Israel placed the Temple Mount under the management of a Muslim waqf (a Jordanian trust). Furthermore, the Israeli government prohibits Jews from praying at the Temple Mount, notwithstanding that it is widely regarded as Judaism’s most sacred site. Even a hint that this status quo may be altered suffices to trigger Palestinian terror attacks, so Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly and emphatically committed to maintaining it.

So what did the Obama administration do? As the violence raged, a top State Department spokesman, retired Navy admiral John Kirby, addressed the situation. “Well, certainly,” he claimed (the word is a verbal tic for this highly uncertain man), “the status quo has not been observed, which has led to a lot of the violence.”

This statement was patently untrue and, under the circumstances, recklessly irresponsible — so much so that Kirby ended up retracting his “certainly” statement on Twitter, burbling about how he “did not intend to suggest” what he had so clearly said — and what, as John Hinderaker notes, an Israeli security official described as the U.S. State Department’s “crazy, deceitful and baseless” comments.

Kirby’s retraction came only after he had poured more fuel on the fire by rolling out the moral-equivalence canard that State has honed through 20 years of blood-soaked “peace process.” Asked if he would assess blame for the violence, the spokesman responded, “certainly [uh-oh] individuals on both sides of this divide are — have proven capable of and in our view are guilty of acts of terror.”

Yup, those Israeli terrorists have only themselves to blame.

Keep in mind: This is the administration that labels blatant anti-American terrorism “violent extremism” and “workplace violence” because it cannot bring itself to attach the T-word to jihadist mass murderers. Yet Obama’s minions blithely applied the “terrorist” label to Israelis — thus echoing Abbas, Hamas, Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, al-Qaeda, ISIS, and Hezbollah.

Not surprisingly, Kirby declined to specify what Israeli “terrorist” attacks he had in mind. Perhaps he was referring to an apparent revenge attack by an Israeli who injured four men in stabbings last week — two Palestinians and two Israeli Bedouins it seems he mistook for Palestinians. Maybe Admiral Kirby preferred not to elaborate because, at a certain point, disgracefully drawn moral equivalency embarrasses even the shameless Obama administration. The Israeli government vigorously condemns and prosecutes criminals who attack civilians. By contrast, the Palestinian Authority willfully incites terrorism, sings paeans to terrorists in government-controlled media, and even names streets after them. In fact, the PA has joined a unity government with Hamas, a formally designated terrorist organization under American law. It is in the terrorism business.

Well, if moral equivalence is the order of the day, we should add that Kirby’s boss, John Kerry, was just as reprehensible as Kirby. In a speech at Harvard University, our redoubtable secretary of state opined that the Palestinian rampage was catalyzed by . . . wait for it . . . “a massive increase in settlements” purportedly built by Israelis over the past two years. This, he says, threatens — all together now — the “two-state solution.”

Of course, Israel is not massively increasing settlements; it is constructing additional housing on existing settlements for growing communities. Moreover, the fact that the settlements are unrelated to the ongoing violence is open and notorious: Abbas incited the attacks, he is quite proud of having done so, and he continues to lionize the attackers.

An outraged Netanyahu sized up the situation this way:
As far as settlements are concerned — this is not a result of a massive wave of settlements because there’s not been a massive wave of settlements. . . . And second, . . . the facts count. It is the very killers themselves who explain why they’re doing what they’re doing. They leave behind Facebook pages in which they cite and repeat Palestinian incitement about the al-Aqsa Mosque. All the lies that are said about us trying to bring down the mosque or change the status quo, they cite that as the reason for their activity. And you can’t fit a false template on reality. . . .

This is what is driving this current wave. I’m sorry. The old models don’t apply. There’s a Palestinian attempt to inflame violence based on the false allegations that we are changing the Temple Mount, now on the false allegations that we’re executing innocent civilians. It doesn’t wash. And I expect our friends around the world to look at these facts, recognize them for what they are and, I think, to condemn these Palestinian attacks and to demand from Abu Mazen to stop the incitement and to restore calm.
Dream on, Mr. Prime Minister.

As to Kerry’s claim that settlement building provoked the violence, it was left to Kirby to rationalize that the secretary did not really mean what he said — an occupational hazard for Kerry spokesmen, but one Kirby “certainly” is the perfect guy to handle. The problem, alas, is that Abbas means exactly what he says: What Israel’s enemies want is the one-state solution.