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April 24, 2014 / 24 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘checkpoints’

Why They Hate Us

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Boy, do they hate America.

I’m on a flight in Tanzania, having left Rwanda where we made a second tour of the genocide sites with the impending twentieth anniversary of the slaughter, when I meet a very fine Pakistani family going on safari.

We exchange pleasantries. They have children studying in the UK, as do many upper-class Pakistani families. My wife and I lived in the UK. We find much to talk about. I relate to them all the Pakistani students I knew at Oxford who were regulars at our events. They tell me of their trip to see the mountain gorillas and how they are enjoying Africa.

Suddenly, the father says to me, “I was in Israel recently. I enjoyed it. But I was disgusted at the treatment of the Palestinians who cannot even go from Bethlehem into Jerusalem.”

I explain to him that the checkpoints are relatively new. “They did not exist when I was a student in Jerusalem. They were set up after a wave of terror bombings killed thousands of Israeli civilians. You can hardly blame Israel from trying to stop the slaughter.”

“The slaughter?” he says, “You mean the way Israel massacres Palestinians every day. And it’s all funded by America, who is the biggest murderer in the world. Just look at the 100 people every day being killed in Iraq.”

I raise my eyebrows, trying to remain calm and provoked. “But that’s being done by Islamic terrorists. What does it have to do with America? We Americans died to liberate the Iraqis. We spent more than a trillion dollars of our national treasure on complete strangers to stop them from being slaughtered by Saddam Hussein.”

He ignores the facts and continues his diatribe. “America is now slaughtering everyone in Afghanistan, just to destabilize the region, and blaming everything on Pakistan.”

“America is trying to save Afghanistan from the Taliban,” I counter, “monsters who brutalize women, fanatics that behead those who don’t conform to their religious extremes.”

“Nonsense,” he says, “the Taliban is infinitely more humane that the Americans and their agents in the Middle East, the Israelis.”

By now I’ve had enough and I go on the offensive.

“Why was Osama bin Laden living in Abbotabad, a mile from Pakistan’s West Point? Who was sheltering a man who killed 3000 innocent Americans?”

And here he makes my jaw drop. “Three thousand Americans dead is nothing, a drop in the ocean, compared to how many Muslims America has killed.”

You may wonder why I am relating this story. It’s an isolated incident, right? But it’s not. It’s a sentiment I encountered in so many parts of Africa where I traveled to Rwanda, to again see the genocide sites and meet with government officials, and then to Arusha in Tanzania, to see the criminal courts where the Rwandan genocidaires were tried.

Readers of my columns will know that I am one of Jewry’s foremost defenders of Islam. I remind Jewish audiences constantly that we dare not de-contexualize the current frictions between Jews and Muslims. Saladin welcomed the Jews back to Jerusalem in 1187 when he captured the holy city from the crusaders who massacred every last Jew. The Ottomans took in large numbers of Jews when we were expelled from Catholic Spain and Portugal. Jews flourished in many Islamic lands where the Koran said they would have to be treated as second-class citizens but should otherwise not suffer persecution. I took Dr. Oz, during our recent visit to Israel together, to see the tomb of Maimonides in Tiberius, explaining that the greatest Muslim ruler that ever lived made the great sage his personal physician. Whenever some of my Jewish colleagues speak of Islam as an inherently violent religion, citing verses in the Koran to prove it, I remind them that there are plenty of verses of our own Torah which can be taken out of context and sound pretty violent. It all comes down to how these passages are interpreted.

But with that being said, there is no question in my mind that Islam is undergoing a modern crisis which perhaps only its clerics and lay leaders can rescue it from. Here in Tanzania there was a terrible story just a week ago when two British female Jewish teenagers were attacked with acid by Islamic assailants.

It’s not that imams and are preaching violence, although many unfortunately do. It’s rather that they preach victimhood. America is to blame for their problems. Israel is to blame for their suffering.

Where are the Islamic leaders and clerics who are prepared to say, “We are responsible for our own problems. We are taking a great world religion and turning it insular and away from secular knowledge rather than finding the balance between the holy and the mundane. We are not empowering women to be the equals of men in all spheres. We Palestinians took the largest per capita foreign aid ever given to a people and we allowed corruption and hatred of Israel to squander the funds on bombs and bullets rather than building universities and schools. We elect leaders democratically who then, like Hamas, or Muhammad Morsi, precede to dismantle democratic institutions. We see the Jews as our enemies rather than using them as an example of what we ourselves should aspire to. They returned to their land after long ago being dispersed by foreign European powers and made the desert bloom. We can surely do the same.”

Checkpoints Stop Terrorists, not Elections

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

Is it true that Palestinians cannot hold new elections because of Israeli security measures?

This is a claim, often made in the U.S., Canada and parts of Europe, is that the Palestinians have not been able to hold new presidential and parliamentary elections for the past five years because of Israeli army checkpoints and that it will be impossible for the Palestinians to hold new elections in the future so long as Israel maintains these checkpoints..

Another claim is that Israel is responsible for the fact that Palestinians enjoy no democracy in their two separate entities in the disputed territories.

First, it is worth noting that such claims are often made by people living in the West, and not by Palestinians living there.

These people in the West like to think they are pro-Palestinian, but by their consistent distortion of facts, they seem in reality to be more anti-Israeli than pro-Palestinian. They never advocate against the repression and corruption that are actually stifling the Palestinians. Instead, they prefer to ignore the reality on the ground and often blame Israel for all that goes wrong for the Palestinians.

Not surprisingly, many Palestinians seem to be much more pragmatic and realistic than the anti-Israel spokesmen sitting in Washington, New York and London.

The Palestinians know, for example, that were it not for the continued power struggle between Hamas and Fatah, they would have had free elections several years ago.

The Palestinians, moreover, know that Israeli checkpoints have nothing to do with restricting freedom of expression and voting. They are fully aware that the checkpoints are there to stop terror attacks and not democracy or reforms.

In the past, despite Israeli security measures and checkpoints, Palestinians did have free and democratic elections for the presidency and parliament.

Israeli “occupation” did not prevent Hamas from winning the January 2006 parliamentary election.

Not only did Israel freely allow Arab residents of Jerusalem to run and vote in that election, but for the first time ever, Israel opened its post offices in Jerusalem so that Arab voters could cast their ballots in the 2006 election, and permitted a number of Hamas candidates from Jerusalem to contest the vote.

Since then, Palestinians have held different elections for various bodies in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria -.ed], including municipalities, university campuses and professional unions.

Needless to say, these elections were all held despite the presence of Israeli checkpoints.

Israel has never stopped Palestinians from holding free elections or implementing administrative and financial reforms and there have never been any complaints from Palestinians about Israeli attempts to obstruct these elections or prevent them.

The Fatah and Hamas leaders are the only ones to blame for ongoing divisions and rivalry in the Palestinian arena. It is these leaders, and not Israel, who do not want to see reforms and democracy in the Palestinian Authority.

The checkpoints are there to stop suicide bombers and other terrorists, and not to prevent anyone from running in an election or forming a new political party.

Hamas and Fatah do not tolerate competition. When a Palestinian religious figure, Sheikh Tayseer Tamimi, recently announced his intention to run in the next presidential election, Palestinian thugs in the city of Hebron torched his car. Palestinian Authority security forces have also been harassing Tamimi supporters in a bid to deter him from participating in the election.

Similarly, Hamas has been cracking down on Palestinian activists who have openly been challenging the radical Islamic movement’s rule in the Gaza Strip.

It is worth reminding those people who profess love the Palestinians that there are no Israeli checkpoints inside the Gaza Strip to foil either Palestinian elections or democracy, and that those in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria -ed.] do not foil elections or democracy, either.

But the anti-Israel spokesmen in the U.S., Canada and Europe are not going to let facts get in their way. They seem determined to continue spreading lies that are harmful not only to Israel, but also to Palestinians, who want see an end to tyranny and corruption.

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/khaled-abu-toameh/checkpoints-stop-terrorists-not-elections/2013/05/05/

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