Monday, November 15, 2004

Mendacity Alert II

"Vote For Peace" ex President Jimmy Carter's obituary for Yasser Arafat is riddled with gross distortions and untruths. It is a testament to the lack of editorial control that such a sloppy piece of garbage made it to the op-ed page of an elite American newspaper. So it begins:

For more than 40 years, Yasir Arafat was the undisputed leader of the fragmented and widely dispersed Palestinian community and the symbol of its cause. His pre-eminent role was not perpetuated by his boldness or clarity of purpose, but was protected from challenge by his status as the only common denominator around which the disparate factions could find a rallying point.
No clarity of purpose? Arafat never accepted a Jewish connection to the land of Israel. Consider article 20 of the Palestinian National Charter:
Article 20:
The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine, and everything that has been based upon them, are deemed null and void. Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the true conception of what constitutes statehood. Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own; they are citizens of the states to which they belong.

Oh but the Palestinian Legislative Council rejected those sections of their charter that denied Israel's right to exist (in 1996 and in 1998)? Well consider the following from "Clinton Won't Meet His Goal Of Mideast Peace, Aides Fear" by Jane Perlez from the NY Times of September 8, 2000:
Mr. Arafat has been saying since the Camp David talks, when the question of sovereignty over the site was raised, that the Temple does not exist, a senior administration official said. By insisting that what the Jews consider to be the most sacred of their holy sites was not even a Jewish place, Mr. Arafat was denying a basic respect to his main negotiating partner, the official said.
The denial of the historical connection between Jews and Israel is an essential component of Palestinian nationalism. It is not something that can be voted down. It is essential to the Palestinian cause to cast Jews as interlopers. It is a belief that Arafat subscribed to and embodied, even as it became one of the main obstacles to peace with Israel.
The lack of Arafat's "clarity of purpose" is simply a projeciton of Carter's. He can't believe that anyone would hold such beliefs, so he denies and rationalizes the denial.
When given a chance by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin of Israel, Mr. Arafat responded well by concluding the Oslo Agreement of 1993, which spelled out a mutually satisfactory relationship on geographical boundaries between Israel and the Palestinians. The resulting absence of serious violence by either side was broken when a Jewish nationalist assassinated Mr. Rabin. Mr. Arafat later rejected a proposal devised by President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Ehud Barak of Israel, but its basic terms have led to positive initiatives between private groups of Israelis and Palestinians, in particular one known as the Geneva Accords. This proposal addresses the major issues that must be resolved through further official negotiations before a permanent peace can be realized.

No serious violence until November 1995? Let's see:
Apr 6 94 Asher Attia, 48, of Afula, bus driver; Vered Mordechai, 13, of Afula; Maya Elharar, 17, of Afula; Ilana Schreiber, 45, a teacher from Kibbutz Nir David; Meirav Ben-Moshe, 16, of Afula; Ayala Vahaba, 40, a teacher from Afula; and Fadiya Shalabi, 25, of Iksal were killed in a car-bomb attack on a bus in the center of Afula. HAMAS claimed responsibility for the attack. Ahuva Cohen Onalla, 37, wounded in the attack, died of her wounds on April 25.

Apr 13 94 Rahamim Mazgauker, 34, of Hadera; David Moyal, 26 of Ramat Gan, an Egged mechanic; Daga Perda, 44, who immigrated from Ethiopia in 1991; Bilha Butin, 49, of Hadera; and Sgt. Ari Perlmutter, 19, of Ir Ovot in the Arava were killed in a suicide bombing attack on a bus in the central bus station of Hadera. HAMAS claimed responsibility for the attack.

13 people killed in two bus bombings isn't serious? I guess that depends on your point of view? (And that wasn't the only post-Oslo terror prior to the assassination of PM Rabin.)
Besides the violence of early 1996 (which presumably is what Carter is referring to) occurred after Israel withdrew from Jenin, Nablus, Kalkilye, Bethlehem and Ramallah (and one other city) suggesting that the terror increased due to the greater opportunity that Hamas had to operate once the PA took control of those cities.

In effect, peace efforts of a long line of previous administrations have been abandoned by President Bush and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. For the last three years of his life, Mr. Arafat was incapacitated and held as a prisoner, humiliated by his physical incarceration and excluded by the other two leaders from any recognition as the legitimate head of the Palestinian community. Recognizing Mr. Arafat's failure to control violence among his people or to initiate helpful peace proposals, I use the word "legitimate" based on his victory in January 1996 by a strong majority of votes in an election monitored by the Carter Center and approved by the occupying Israelis.
Yes the man who certified dictator Hugo Chavez's stolen election earlier this year is an expert in electoral democracy. Dan Polisar has a different view:
As the January 1996 elections approached, Arafat was assured of victory for himself and his loyalists in Fatah. The steps he had taken since assuming power had succeeded in bolstering his position and shunting aside most potential challengers. In fact, Arafat almost ended up running unopposed, as the best-known individuals who considered challenging him-including rights activist Iyad a-Sarraj and the popular Haydar Abed a-Shafi (who had headed the Palestinian delegation to the Madrid conference) decided that there was little point in running in the political climate that had been created. In the end, the only person who decided to face off against Arafat was Samiha Halil, a little-known, 72-year-old women's rights activist, who was hardly in a position to compete for mainstream support in the traditional society of the West Bank and Gaza.

Nonetheless, Arafat took advantage of his monopoly on power to turn a sure victory into a landslide. He adopted an electoral system for the Council races that favored Fatah and undercut the chances of the smaller parties, and that played a role in persuading most Islamic and left-wing groups to boycott the elections.154 Within Fatah, he overturned the results of party caucuses and replaced independent-minded local nationalists chosen in balloting among party activists in each district with his own hand-picked slates-often dominated by loyalists who had come with him from Tunis. During the campaign, PA police stepped up their intimidation of candidates running against Fatah nominees for seats in the Council, while government ministers and other PA officials used the resources of their offices to further their candidacies. On election day, the massive presence of Palestinian policemen in and around the polls-in direct violation of the campaign law Arafat had promulgated-had a clear effect on voters. This effect was especially pronounced with regard to the approximately 100,000 illiterate voters, who were often "assisted" in filling out their ballots by policemen or Fatah officials.

Another deeply disturbing change is the decision by Hamas and other militant factions to resort to suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism, whereas the hope for peace and justice discouraged such violence eight years ago. After that election, Hamas representatives rejected my efforts to have them accept Mr. Arafat as their political leader, and they continue to act independently.
As noted before, Hamas bombings are not a new phenomenon; they go back ten years and in early 1996 with Shimon Peres as Prime Minister, it's hard to say that prospects for peace were any greater. Yet that's when Hamas first turned up the violence to unprecedented levels killing scores in a two week period. Violence is not a function of hopelessness. (Carter tried to restrain Hamas? I never heard that one before.)
Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain has stated recently that peace in the Middle East is the most important international issue. It is to be hoped that, in Washington and Jerusalem, there is also recognition that a bold and balanced move to achieve this goal will help to attenuate the Middle East tension and hatred that exacerbates the global threat of terrorism.
What exacerbates the global threat of terrorism is coddling the likes of Yasser Arafat. It sends a message that violence works. Taking a tough stand against the terrorist leaders and not allowing them independent states is the most important deterrent we have. Forcing Israel to make concessions to terrorists will only encourage the terrorists more.

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