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April 19, 2015 / 30 Nisan, 5775
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The “Empowerment” Rhetoric

From the very first moments of Abu Abbas’ assuming the post of Palestinian prime minister, there began a mindset on the Left and around the world to invest him, mantra-like, with the
capacity to reinvent the Palestinian agenda from one pursuing the destruction of the Jewish state to one of peaceful coexistence. After the belated and grudging acknowledgment of Arafat’s duplicitousness, here at last, they said, was the person who could make things right, if only Israel would let him.

Led by the New York Times, the notion of the “empowerment” of Abu Abbas came to drive international thinking and punditry about the Middle East. Ignored was his open disavowal of the key premises upon which his assignment was premised. No attention was paid to his declaration that he would not, as President Bush and the “road map” unambiguously required, disarm the terrorists, but would rather seek an accommodation with them that would leave them in full possession of their weapons. Nor was there any expression of concern for Abbas’ regular obeisance to the authority of Yasir Arafat, in direct violation of President Bush’s clear prescriptions and the provisions of the “road map.” This, notwithstanding Abbas’ regular proclamations of total and unreserved acceptance of the “road map” and exhortations to Prime Minister Sharon that he do the same.

Terrorist outrages made scant difference. When Mr. Sharon ordered the targeting of Hamas leader Rantisi and a series of rocket attacks after a Hamas attack on an IDF outpost that resulted in the death of four young men and the bombing of a bus in Jerusalem in which 16 died, this is what The New York Times had to say in a June 13 editorial about obstacles to the “road map” entitled, “Downward Spiral in the Mideast”:

The deadliest blows so far have come from Palestinian terrorists. Yesterday, a Hamas suicide bomber killed at least 16 people and wounded nearly 100 on a rush-hour bus in central Jerusalem.

But the gravest political damage is being done by Israel’s prime minister, Ariel Sharon, whose reflexive military responses to terror threatens to undermine the authority of Mahmoud Abbas, the moderate new Palestinian prime minister… Nobody expects Israel to tolerate terror against
its people. But terror can be more effectively rooted out if responsible Palestinian leaders like Mr. Abbas are strengthened, not undermined…

One would therefore have thought that, given the opportunity, The Times would have gone to great lengths to prop up Mr. Abbas. Sadly, the reverse is true. Almost everyone else recognizes that the IDF pullout from Gaza is the result of direct negotiations between Sharon and Abbas with the intervention of President Bush. And the “ceasefire” announced by Hamas and the other terrorist groups was the result of IDF battering and the targeting of their leaders. Yet, The Times chooses to trumpet the efficacy of the terror and the terrorists and to sideline Abbas.

In a front page news story on Monday headlined “Palestinian Vow for Peace Led to Pullout,” datelined Beit Hanun, Gaza Strip, The Times had this to say:

Under a moonless sky, Israeli troops broke down their checkpoints and drove their tanks out of this Palestinian hamlet late tonight, returning part of Gaza to Palestinian control after the three leading Palestinian factions declared that they were suspending violence.

The factions set several conditions for Israel, including a halt to its killing of accused terrorists and a release of Palestinian prisoners.

So, The Times seems hell-bent on portraying these developments in terms of a dynamic between two military entities, Israel and terrorist groups, the latter even setting “conditions.”

For Heaven’s sake, even the Damascus-based Ahmad Jibril’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, safe from the IDF, issued a statement saying “We are not bound by the unilateral
truce and it does not influence us at all.”

Why does The Times do this? For one thing, it will do anything to discredit Israel, even inconsistently. For another, it will simply not acknowledge that the force of Israeli arms forced
Hamas to say “uncle.”

But most important, The Times spin sends the message to the Palestinian street that Hamas is the main player, not Abu Abbas. How will that “empower” Abbas and those The Times claims are pursuing peace with Israel? It also paints the picture of an all-powerful Hamas waiting in the background, fully armed, to pounce if things don’t go to their liking at the negotiating table. How does this move along the goal of disarming of Hamas, something that ardent “road map” supporters like The Times” presumably support?

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Mitchell Bard is nothing if not prolific. He has written and edited 23 books, including “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Middle East” and “The Arab Lobby: The Invisible Alliance That Undermines America’s Interests in the Middle East.” Bard, who has a Ph.D. in political science from UCLA, is also the executive director of both the […]

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