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April 25, 2014 / 25 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘violence’

An Awakening…or Just Terror?

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Over the years I have urged readers to look behind the news. Now, amid relentless socio-political eruption and upheaval taking place across the Middle East and North Africa, there has still been too little serious effort to look for any underlying meanings and explanations. To some extent, perhaps, the reasons for this laxity have to do with an apparent sense of obviousness. On the surface, after all, much of the violence is entirely predictable, having been spawned by the traditionally visible array of Islamist fears andjihadist goals.

In essence, cascading and intersecting crises of religion, war, and terror in volatile sectors of the Islamic world represent distinctly primal kinds of social behavior. Such behavior, moreover, is the inevitable result of both compelling private needs, and ecstatic collective expectations.

Sometimes, even more than their typically overriding need to avoid death, human beings want to belong. This often desperate need can be manifested harmlessly, as in sports hysteria or rock concerts, or more perniciously, as in rioting, war, and terrorism. In all cases, however, the critically underlying motivations are pretty much the same.

Back in classical Greece, Aristotle had already proclaimed that “Man is a social animal.” Now, we readily understand that even the “normal” individual often feels empty and insignificant apart from his or her membership in the “mass,” the “crowd,” or the “herd.” Often, that herd is the state. Sometimes it is the tribe. Sometimes it is the faith (always, the “one true faith”). Sometimes it is the liberation movement, or, in a plainly kindred relationship, the revolution.

Whatever the particular demanding collectivity of the moment, it is the persistent craving for membership that hastens to bring forth a catastrophic downfall of individual responsibility, and, as corollary, a corrosive triumph of collective will. Today, unless millions of our fellow humans in parts of the Middle East and North Africa can learn to temper their overwhelming desire to belong, the prevailing military and political schemes to control regional violence, war, and terrorism will inevitably fail.

To best understand what is going on here analysts must first learn to locate pre-political causes. These “molecular” explanations stem from the celebrated fusion of susceptible individuals into popular crowd-centered collectives. Not every mass or crowdor tribe or herd is pernicious, of course, but war and terrorism can never take place in the absence of consuming collective identifications.

Whenever individuals crowd together and form a herd, the murderous dynamics of the mob may be released, thus lowering each person’s moral and intellectual level to a point where absolutely anything, even mass killing, can be accepted.

Publicly, current Arab/Islamic rioting, war and terror are fueled by certain effectively incontestable presumptions of Divine Will. In reality, of course, the net result of homicide bombings, chaotic riots, and mass denunciations must always be to drown out any residual hint of sacredness or godliness. Once empathy and compassion outside the Islamist herd go intentionally unrewarded, they become extraneous, and as virtues completely beside the point.

In the presumed name of divinity, Arab/Islamist war, terror, and the murder of “others” impose upon the wider world neither salvation nor holiness but groupthink. Reciprocally, and expectedly, the hideously intolerant rhythms of such a suffocating ethos make it increasingly futile to advance any meaningful efforts at coexistence. This futility is especially troubling in Israel, where assorted promises of a peaceful “two-State solution” are resoundingly unpersuasive.

To mount now urgent investigations of an already widening Arab/Islamic jihad against Israel and the United States, our scholars and policy makers should begin to look more closely at human meaning. Before we can prevent further expanding violence against innocents, certain Arab/Islamic states and terrorist groups will have to be shorn of their capacity to bestow significance upon complicit individuals. To affect those individuals who now turn ritually to rioting, war, terror, and killing for affirmations of importance, we will first have to identify more benign and similarly appealing sources of belonging.

An underlying cause of present Islamist violence in Libya, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Sudan and elsewhere in the region is the enduring incapacity of individuals to draw authentic meaning from within themselves. In the Middle East and North Africa, at least among large swaths of enthusiastic Islamists, true redemption still requires Muslims to present tangible proof of “membership.”

Muslim Killings in the US: Jihad or Criminality?

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

A recent spate of killings in the United States of non-Muslims by Muslims has gone unnoticed by the major media. Here are four cases I know of:

Feb. 5Yusuf Ibrahim, 27, Egyptian born and living in Jersey City, stands accused of shooting, then cutting off the heads and hands of two Copts, Hanny F. Tawadros and Amgad A. Konds, and burying them in Buena Vista Township, New Jersey. He is charged with two counts of murder and with desecrating human remains. He is also wanted for a Sep. 20, 2012, armed robbery in Jersey City in which a victim was shot in the foot.

Feb. 18Ali Syed, 20, of Ladera Ranch, Calif., went on a shooting rampage in Southern California, killing Courtney Aoki, Mel Edwards, and Jeremy Lewis, then committed suicide. The Orange County Sheriff’s spokesman, Jim Amormino, said Syed, described as an unemployed part-time student at Saddleback College who lived with his parents and a loner who “spent a lot of time alone in his room playing video games,” left “no evidence, no note, nothing that would explain this very bizarre, violent behavior.”

Feb. 21Ammar Asim Faruq Harris, 26, killed three people on the Las Vegas Strip and fled, is called armed and dangerous. He apparently got into an argument with, Ken Cherry, shot Cherry as Cherry was driving, which led to a collision that killed a taxi driver and his passenger. Harris has a long criminal record that includes kidnapping, sexual assault, and robbery.

Additionally, although the murder took place on July 31, 2012, only at his court hearing on Feb. 21 did public attention focus on Ali Salim, 44, a medical doctor born in Pakistan and living in New Albany, Ohio, who is accused of raping and killing nine months’ pregnant Deanna Ballman, 23, by injecting her with a lethal dose of heroin. He is charged with two counts of murder (Ballman and her unborn baby) as well as rape, felonious assault, corrupting another with drugs, kidnapping, tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse.

Comments: Because the media, law enforcement, and elected officials are so reluctant to give out information about the attackers’ religion, much less their motives, it’s basically impossible to tell from the outside if they represent a wave of jihadi attacks by Islamists or are just a bunch of criminals who happen to be Muslim, or a bit of both. (For documentation of this pattern, see both my article “Denying [Islamist] Terrorism” and the follow-up blog, “More Incidents of Denying Islamist Terrorism.”) The most the media will concede is in the Ibrahim case, that “Privately some wonder if it had something to do with the victims’ [Christian] religion.” When will journalists, police, and politicians end their efforts to hide key information that the public needs and deserves?

Update: This blog prompted readers to send other recent cases of Muslim-on-non-Muslim violence:

Sep. 8, 2011: As Justin Hall, 32, of Mount Vernon, Ohio, was about to board a Greyhound bus in Springfield, Mo., Mohamed H. Dawod, 25, of Glendale, Ariz., shot him in the back. Police were seeking a motive. They charged Dawod with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the shooting. Dawod tried to fire more shots but his pistol, a .22-cal. semi-automatic, jammed, at which point other passengers subdued him. The attack appeared to be unprovoked.

Originally published at DanielPipes.org and The National Review Online, The Corner, February 24, 2013 and updated on February 25, 2013.

Rockets Precede Him

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

This morning a rocket (or two according to some news sites) was fired at Ashkelon. No injuries, and of more concern, no siren to give those few seconds of warning. Yesterday, there were riots and many stoning attacks. Hamas has once again called for its “fighters” to kidnap soldiers.

I never for a moment believed this cease fire would last; never thought this was the dawn of a different enemy. But I thought we had more time; I still hope we do. I predicted six months of “relative quiet” – instead, we got only about two months.

And the reason….

I believe it is Obama’s upcoming visit. I do. The Palestinians have been cooking up this idea of when and how to put on the pressure, to start their next intifada. They have always believed that what they cannot achieve through international pressure, lies, and mistruths, they can accomplish with violence. We all knew it was a matter of time – I just thought there’d be more.

It was an M75 long range missile fired at a city with over 120,000 people.

Barack Obama is coming to Israel – for what, we have no idea. Some say to put pressure on Israel not to attack Iran – and for that I ask what right he has to pressure us, to think he knows more of what the Iranians plan to do than we do.

Some say he wants to restart the peace process, another absurd concept showing his utter lack of understanding. Obama does not know how to deal with the Middle East situation, but I have no doubt the Arabs no how to deal with Obama.

It shouldn’t be happening now…and it wouldn’t be, if Obama has not announced his upcoming visit. We don’t need Obama to visit. We simply do not.

Visit A Soldier’s Mother, where this blog was originally published under the title, “It Shouldn’t be Happening Now…”.

 

Dangerous Places

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Do you live in a dangerous place? I don’t. I honestly don’t. People think I do and sometimes warn me to be careful, but it’s really silly. If they only knew…

Years ago, while traveling from a client’s office in Netanya back home to Maale Adumim, a colleague wished me a safe trip and warned, “be careful driving home.”

I looked at him and remembered that he lived in Tel Aviv and worked there in Netanya. This was back in 2001 – 2002 when things were exploding regularly in Israel, especially in those two cities. I was astounded that he thought to warn me when I felt, if anything, I should be warning him. With a smile, I answered, “I’ll be fine as soon as I get out of Netanya.”

The next week, a bomb exploded in Netanya and I wasn’t smiling anymore as I called to make sure all my friends were safe. But the memory remains – even 10 years later. A few days ago, I noticed a sign just to the right as I pass the checkpoint. There is a turn off there – that bypasses the checkpoint into Jerusalem.

It warns people, “This road leads to Palestinian village. The entrance for Israeli citizens is dangerous.”

Two thoughts crossed my mind as I saw the sign. The first, I’ll be honest, was that once again, Israel had failed the sign making test and someone has to instruct them on the proper use of capitalization.

The second thought was to wonder if there are any signs at any of the entrances to Israeli cities that say, “This road leads to an Israeli village. The entrance for Palestinians is dangerous.”

I’ve visited most of Israel’s cities – there aren’t that many and it’s a tiny country. I haven’t visited all of Israel’s villages – there are many – but I have visited many and I can tell you in almost 20 years in Israel, I have never seen a sign warning Palestinians that their lives are in danger if they enter an Israeli town, village, or city.

I have seen thousands of Palestinians – in our stores, on our trains, in our cities. I have never seen any being harassed.

Today, the U.N. Secretary General urged Israel to return to the peace table. How funny. We’ve been there so many times and each time we arrive, the other side isn’t there. What purpose is there in calling us to the table when there is no one there with whom to speak.

Rather, Mr. Secretary General – perhaps you could ask the Palestinians WHY it is dangerous for Israeli citizens to enter an Arab village? That is the reason there is no peace here – not Israel’s lack of a willingness to meet a real Palestinian partner in peace.

Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

Haredim, Wake Up and Toughen Up

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

When Jews are attacked in broad daylight in the world’s holiest city, something is horrifically wrong in Israel. Rashi, for example, comments on Yechezkel 39:7 that “Israel’s degradation is a profanation of His Name.” Such a Chilul HaShem recently occurred in Yerushalayim when Arab youths hurled snowballs at two Haredi Jews’ faces and mocked them.

Police who excel at arresting young Jewish women and elderly rabbis were nowhere to be found in this case. If the dereliction of the police is sickening—and that dereliction is ongoing in Yerushalayim and Lod and elsewhere—then sickening too was the defenseless reaction of the victims. The video of the snowball attack brought to mind these verses from Chaim Nachman Bialik’s poem “In the City of Slaughter,” about the 1903 Kishinev pogrom:

…the heirs Of Hasmoneans lay, with trembling knees, Concealed and cowering—the sons of the Maccabees! The seed of saints, the scions of the lions! In December, another group of Arabs in Yerushalayim attacked a Haredi yeshiva student. Before that, thugs in Ashdod beat a Haredi man on Shabbat. This aggression dovetails with a vicious media and political culture which has demonized Haredim in ways that look modeled on the Nazis. Likewise, inciting murder against other religious Jews results in no prosecution, whereas condemning an IDF officer for supporting the destruction of Gush Katif in 2005 results in conviction for “insulting a public servant.”

Haredim need to wake up to these realities and toughen up. As Rav Kook zt”l wrote in Orot:

Israel’s physical restoration is of cardinal importance. Our spiritual emphasis ignored the sanctity of the body, physical health and vigor. Let us remember that the Jew possesses a Divine body no less than a Divine spirit…Our regeneration entails a synthesis of the spiritual and physical, vibrant flesh and blood, sturdy organs and a glowing spirit sustained by firm muscles. The problem is that Haredim remain in Galut when it comes to this restoration. Rabbi David Bar-Hayim notes in this vein, “It’s possible to physically be in Eretz Yisrael but spiritually, psychologically, to be elsewhere. You don’t have to look very hard to understand what I’m referring to.” (See 57:15 here.) It’s urgent that Haredim begin to develop physical strength and preparedness in the tradition of Chushim ben Dan, Yehoshua, Shimshon, David HaMelech, and the Hashmonaim. There is nothing noble and everything disgraceful about being victimized in the same land where these great Jews of action lived.

In terms of specific forms of preparedness, self-protection through firearms is a very remote option for Haredim due to Israel’s highly restrictive gun ownership policies, which extends to the life-endangering disarmament of Jews. (Meanwhile, there are enormous amounts of illegal weapons among the Arab population.) Nevertheless, available means of self-protection and training should be utilized immediately. What Rabbi Meir Kahane Hy”d wrote in 1971 to an American audience in Never Again! has all too much relevance to Israel today:

The Jew, with his persistent image of weakness, unwillingness and inability to fight back is   open to constant physical attacks on the part of non-Jews. A youngster wearing a skull cap and returning from a yeshiva is fair game. Jews walking in a park or playing ball in a playground are open to attacks. Such things must be met in the one way that is most effective—a feeling on the part of the attacker that he stands an excellent chance of being severely beaten himself. Jews must be taught to defend themselves physically. This is the surest deterrent to attacks upon them.

Does the Very Air in Israel Make One Wise?

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

“Charedim in Israel are street thugs who use murderous violence to settle issues among themselves!” That is the impression one would get after reading about recent events there.

Of course that is not true. I know many Israeli Charedim. I live among them when I visit Israel. The ones I know are extremely gentle people for whom the word violence does not even enter into their lexicon, let alone that it would ever be used to settle conflict. I have never met any Charedi in my entire over 60 years on this earth that was in the slightest way violent.

The Torah (Genesis 25:27) tells us “Yaakov Ish Tam Yoshev Ohalim,” Jacob (In contradistinction to his brother Esav who was a hunter) was a person who “sat in tents.” If anyone can be called “The People of the Book” it is the Charedi world in Israel. Their biggest “sin” if you will – is that they spend as much time in study halls (tents) as they can. Their most “violent” acts are debating interpretations of Gemarah and Halacha with their study partners. I think that is true for the vast majority of Israeli Charedim of the Lithuanian variety. “Talmud Torah K’Neged Kulam” (1st Mishna in Peah) does not exactly inspire violence.

So what happened in Jerusalem last week was most definitely an exception to the rule. From Israel Hayom:

“Rabbis’ emissary cruelly attacked in Jerusalem by lawless men who tried to murder him,” the headline of the newspaper HaPeles screamed in red ink after the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Nati Grossman, was attacked last Thursday by two haredi men who stabbed him in the head and fled.

Like I said, this is an exception. The problem is that there have been too may exceptions like this in Israel in the not too distant past. One may recall similar violence surrounding who would be Rav Shach’s successor as Rosh Yeshiva of Ponevitch Yeshiva in Bnei Brak.

To say that this is a Chilul HaShem is an understatement. Supporters of two of the Charedi world’s leading Rabbanim, 98 year old Rav Aharon Leib Steinman and Rav Shmuel Auerbach (son of Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, ZTL) are literally killing each other over who will become the head of Lithuanian Charedi Jewry in Israel. The undisputed head until his death was Rav Elyashiv. But now that leadership is in dispute.

The very idea that violence will solve this issue is so ridiculous that it makes those violent Charedi supporters of these rabbis look like imbeciles. Not to mention the obvious fact that it makes them look like common street thugs.

Can anyone imagine this ever happening in the counterpart Lithuanian Yeshiva type communities in America? When Rav Ahron Kotler died, did Rav Moshe Feinstein’s supporters go around sticking knives into people’s heads who had other candidates in mind? The very thought of something like that happening in the world of Amercian Charedi Judaism is so ridiculous that it is laughable.

There is no such thing as a “candidate” for being a Gadol. That status is earned and is a form of recognition by the masses. One becomes accepted as a Gadol by his works. He has either published major works in Torah, or by creating a new societal paradigm for Torah study as did Rav Aharon Kotler. Or by being a great leader and teacher of Torah who has attracted many thousands of followers as did the Rav. Or any number of ways in which Torah scholarship combined with leadership skills has transformed them into greatness recognized by many people.

There are no elections. There are no committees of rabbis who decide who is or isn’t a Gadol. There are no backroom political deals in smoke filled backrooms to choose a compromise candidate. And certainly they are not chosen by supporters who resort to violence against his competition. Greatness does not work that way. Not in Judaism.

But don’t tell that to supporters of great people in Israel. They think violence in pursuit of their candidate is a God given mandate for them. Kind of like the way their extremist counterparts in places like Meah Shearim act when they want to get their way. I guess they feel about their extremism on religious issues the way Barry Goldwater felt about liberty. Except that I don’t think Barry Goldwater ever supported violence against his political opponents.

Every Jew – a .22?

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012

I have not yet addressed the horrific tragedy that struck our nation a little over week ago in Newtown, Connecticut. The truth is that this is the kind of thing that I do not usually discuss since it is not a Jewish issue. Even though there was one Jewish victim, the tragedy is much larger than one victim.

But the fact is that the issues raised by this tragedy affects us all – Jew and Gentile alike.

On Friday morning, December 14th, 27 people were massacred at the Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School by Adam Lanza, a mentally ill 20-year-old with easy access to four semi-automatic weapons. Twenty of the victims were very young children and at least two of the adults, one a teacher and the other the school principal were murdered while attempting to shield children from the hail of bullets.

Like just about everyone else I was stunned by it. I could not imagine the sudden grief that parents, friends, and families must have felt. The idea that a group of six-year-old children were so quickly massacred in this way is unimaginable. So terrible is this to me this that my mind is mentally blocked from putting myself into the shoes of those parents. I think I would have a mental breakdown if I did. I was basically numbed by it. The President was visibly moved to tears when he first made public comments about it.

My immediate thoughts were about the guns. I thought it was indeed the easy access to guns that was the problem here. Those guns were legally obtained by Lanza’s mother, an avid gun enthusiast. Unfortunately for her, that attitude cost her her life at the hands of her own son just before he went on his killing rampage and suicide. The state of Connecticut is reputed to have some of the strictest gun laws in the country. It didn’t matter. The guns were there at the disposal of a mentally deranged individual.

Personally, I wouldn’t go anywhere near a gun. Guns scare me, frankly. To me the dangers of someone getting accidentally shot far outweigh the improbability of my using it for protection, which would be the only reason for me to own one. I am reminded of a former employee of mine whose son was killed by a gun carelessly placed on a table in her home by a friend who was police trainee. The boy found it, started playing with it and he accidentally shot himself in the head.

I believe that the massacre in Newton would never have happened if guns were made illegal.

It happens to be the case that in England gun ownership is very strictly controlled. If I understand correctly the police don’t even carry guns. It also happens to be the case that the gun homicide rate there is one of the lowest in the world. If we could do the same here in America, this massacre would very likely never have happened.

The trouble is you can’t do that here. It is a constitutional right of every American citizen to bear arms. And there is some truth to the slogan of gun rights advocates that if guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. It is therefore quite understandable that some people feel the need to own a gun for protection.

If I recall correctly the founding fathers believed that confiscating guns from the citizenry was a first step towards tyranny. Which is one reason they introduced the 2nd amendment. But is that still the case? In my view making all guns illegal would be a huge step towards solving this problem. But the only way that can be done is to repeal the second amendment to the constitution. That is not going to happen. Although using England as an example I think it should. Will outlaws still have guns? Of course they will. But I would differ with England in that I would still allow law enforcement to carry them.

Gun enthusiasts of course would vehemently protest any such move. They use guns as toys… for target practice and the like. And then there are hunters. Perhaps an exception could be made for single shot rifles for hunting purposes. But I would outlaw all private ownership of all handguns and assault type semi automatic weapons that can take a large magazine clip filled with bullets. I would certainly outlaw those large ammunition clips. This is the type of gun and clip used by Lanza to shoot and kill so many victims so quickly.

But then I had another thought that went in an entirely different direction. I couldn’t help thinking that if the principal who had encountered him at the beginning of his shooting rampage had a gun with a conceal/carry permit, was well trained and proficient with firearms – that she could have shot Lanza before he did so much damage. I don’t know if she would have gotten to him before he killed anyone. But she surely could have saved many of those children and herself. Lest anyone think this is ridiculous, there are schools in Texas where all or most of the teachers are trained in firearms and carry weapons.

But I have to admit that the thought of a teacher who carries a gun in the classroom teaching my child is a scary thought. Teachers can be – or become – deranged too. With a gun at the ready, there could just as easily be another shooting of this type. Only this time by a deranged teacher.

Then there is the proposal by the NRA. They want to station armed police guards in every school. While many people are outraged by this, I don’t see it that way. If properly trained they too could have prevented the Newtown massacre had they been there.

The NRA points to Israeli schools who have this exact situation. Israel as we all know has been frequently subjected to terrorist attacks by suicide bombers. I don’t blame them a bit for protecting their schools in this way.

It would put my mind at greater ease to know that Israeli trained sharpshooters were on alert in my child’s school for any terrorist that might enter. Israel’s attitude about guns is more along the lines of the NRA. It is also true that a civilian carrying a handgun is a fairly common sight there. I also believe there has never been an incident like this in Israel’s history… where in the US it seems like every Monday and Thursday we see one.

Are armed guards a viable option here in America? I don’t know. Counter claims are being made that it would be ineffective. Columbine had an armed guard that was somehow eluded and students were massacred there by other students.

But still you can’t argue with the success of such a program in Israel. I think it is therefore really a matter of better training. Something the Israelis could help us with.

What about a Jewish school? Should we have armed guards in every day school? That would make quite a sight… something we are all not used to here at all. Or maybe we should all carry guns the way Meir Kahane once suggested. He coined the phrase “Every Jew – 22.” Twenty-two is the caliber handgun he suggested we own. He claimed that had the Jewish people had guns at the beginning of the Holocaust they could have fight back effectively.

That of course is very debatable. It may have made the annihilation of six-million Jews more difficult – but I doubt it would have done anything more than delay it.

Rabbi Kahane said that a Holocaust could happen anywhere; anytime. And we should be ready for it by having our own weapons. That is of course ridiculous. But I understand where he was coming from. He did not want to see us to go like sheep to the slaughter – which is what happens when an armed tyrannical government starts rounding up its unarmed citizens like Germany did to the Jewish people during the Holocaust.

But still, if every Jew carried a handgun – that would include every teacher and Rebbe. That would surely prevent the kind of massacre that happened in Newtown.

Does this sound like a viable idea to anyone?

Some have also suggested that the real issue here is mental illness, not handguns. While I agree – that too is an issue that ought to be addressed here, I don’t think that mental Illness will be cured anytime soon. No matter how much time and energy we devote to it. Although I fully agree that we need to devote a lot more time and money to it than we do now it does not offer any real solutions in the short term.

One thing seems clear to me. One way or the other something needs to change here in a big way. Because if it doesn’t. We may not have seen the last of this kind of thing.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

Hamas Hates Fatah, Sunnis Hate Shiites, But They All hate Jews So Much More

Monday, December 24th, 2012

There are many points of disagreement between Fatah and Hamas; so many that they fought an ugly civil war in 2007, leaving Hamas in control of Gaza and Fatah in control of the West Bank. It is a mistake, however, to conclude from their often violent enmity, that Fatah, the so-called “moderate” faction, is or can be a partner to Israel in “peacemaking” or in finding the “two state solution” so beloved of Western politicians.

It is also a mistake for the U.S. and the West to push Israel toward concessions to Mahmoud Abbas in the hope of strengthening Fatah against Hamas.

The enemy of my enemy is not my friend. It is entirely possible for two parties to hate each other, but to agree they hate you more. And so it is in this case. Hamas and Fatah are not opposite ends of some mythical Palestinian political spectrum – they are merely different approaches to the same end.

Hamas is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, rooted in Sunni expansionism but aligned with Iran for purposes of money, training and weapons.

This is another instance in which two parties (Sunnis and Shiites) can be at war at one level, but agree to make war together on a third party (Israel). Fatah is open to a (very temporary) political settlement with Israel as long as it brings millions of Arabs into Israel over whom Israel would exercise no functional control.

For both Fatah and Hamas, the bottom line is that the establishment of Israel in 1948, with the blessing of the United Nations, was a mistake by the international community that needs to be corrected.

It was a Western delusion to believe that the parameters of the deal the U.S. and Israel were pursuing was also the goal the Palestinians were pursuing.

President Obama, in one of his first speeches on the subject (2009) as president, said:

Let me be clear: The United States strongly supports the goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. That is a goal shared by Palestinians, Israelis, and people of goodwill around the world… That is a goal that I will actively pursue as President of the United States.

The President was asserting that the Palestinians agreed that their national aspirations could be satisfied with a split, rump state wedged between a hostile Israel and an even more hostile Jordan.

The Palestinians never agreed to original division of the British Mandate into Jordan under a Hashemite King (77%) and west-of-the-Jordan (23%) for the Jews. The Palestinians also never agreed that west-of-the-Jordan could be further subdivided to give the Jews a permanent, legitimate, sovereign piece of land . Obama was mistaken. Palestinian leadership has yet to be bribed or forced to agree that Israel is a legitimate, permanent player in the region.

Israel seeks recognition of Israel as a Jewish State and Mr. Obama appears to agree, having said only a few months ago, “The road is hard but the destination is clear – a secure, Jewish State of Israel and an independent, prosperous Palestine.”

Abbas demurs. “I do not accept it. [Israel as a "Jewish state"] It is not my job to give a description of the state. Name yourself the Hebrew Socialist Republic – it’s none of my business.” Later he said, “Israel can call itself…the Jewish-Zionist Empire.” Last year he said, “Let me make something clear about the story of the ‘Jewish state’… I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I will never recognize the Jewishness of the state, or a ‘Jewish state.’”

This is not a semantic problem. If the United States is wrong about the outline of a future deal, it also wrong about Palestinian internal politics. Hamas and Fatah are seeking “unity;” where they converge is in agreeing that political advances for the Palestinians put Israel at a disadvantage (the Fatah position), and that military advances for the Palestinians also put Israel at a disadvantage (the Hamas position).

So, in an uneasy alliance, Fatah pursues one and Hamas the other.

Unity, however, should not be confused with shared power. Only one faction will ultimately speak for the Palestinians, and Hamas is presently on course to swallow Fatah despite the loss of patronage from Syria.

Fatah’s political advances, including UN General Assembly recognition of “Palestine” as a “non-member state,” attracted little visible enthusiasm from the public, and Abbas’s PA is mired economic disarray compounded by corruption.

Hamas, on the other hand, is basking in local glory for its attacks on Israel and its breakout from diplomatic isolation.

Abbas and company understand that Hamas may ultimately succeed in taking control of the Palestinian Authority. For example, Hamas rallies were permitted on the West Bank for the first time since the civil war. Abbas is discussing a possible future confederation with Jordan. Fatah has been curtailing security cooperation with the IDF and there are those who believe a third “intifada” has already begun. [Leaving an odd problem for Israel – would the IDF try to save Abbas and his corrupt administration in the face of popular enthusiasm for Hamas?] Even partial success in allowing Hamas to accede to power with minimal internecine killing might allow Fatah officials to escape to a safe haven — their money having probably already escaped.

Abbas has flown in the face of each request by President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton for movement toward an agreement with Israel. It was inevitable because they — and Israel — were asking for something he does not wish to deliver: not a “two state solution,” but a Fatah-Israel alliance against Hamas.

All the years, all the dollars, all the military training and assistance including stewardship by three American generals, all the political acceptance — including an “embassy” in Washington and diplomatic status — could not buy the United States one iota of political clout where it counted. It is an enormous American failure of understanding to think those things would trump the natural morphing of Palestinian leadership toward the convergence of politics, religion and “national origin” against the “foreign.” Rather than face their lack of insight and the concomitant failure of their vision, the default position of the Administration and its European allies is to blame Israel – for a lack of “empathy” and “generosity,” and for “provocation” of Palestinian irritation.

If the Palestinian leadership continues to unify under Hamas, the question will be whether the U.S. and Israel will finally be able to admit the inherent limitations of the “peace process,” or whether the West will continue to push for a “two state solution” at Israel’s expense.

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/hamas-hates-fatah-sunnis-hate-shiites-but-they-all-hate-jews-so-much-more/2012/12/24/

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