Leaders of the Religious Zionists of America's Philadelphia Chapter say that U.S. officials wouldn't be so surprised by the Palestinian Authority's move to join forces with Hamas, a terrrorist organization, if they looked harder at its past actions and long-range concept of peace.
The Palestinian Authority’s new unity pact with Hamas “surprised officials in Washington,” The New York Times reports. The Obama administration was “apparently taken unawares” by the P.A.’s move, according to the Washington Post.
It’s hardly the first time.
In December 1988, the incoming George H.W. Bush administration announced that recent statements by Yasser Arafat were sufficiently “moderate” to warrant U.S. negotiations with the Palestine Liberation Organization. Eighteen months later, the Palestine Liberation Front, a PLO constituent group, launched a major terrorist attack against Israel and Arafat refused to condemn it. Surprise, surprise. The shocked Bush administration ended its dealings with the PLO.
In 2000-2001, during the wholesale terror of the “second intifada,” the George W. Bush administration insisted that Arafat and his Palestinian Authority were peace-loving moderates and repeatedly pressured Israel to make more concessions to the P.A. Israel warned that Arafat had never changed his terrorist ways, but nobody listened. Until January 2002, that is, when Arafat was caught red-handed after Israel intercepted the Karine-A, a ship loaded with several tons of rockets, mines, assault rifles, explosives and ammunition that Arafat bought from Iran. Once again, the White House was shocked.
In 2006, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice thought that having Palestinian elections in the Gaza Strip would be a great idea. It turned out that democratic elections do not always produce democratic leaders: Gazans voted to install a Muslim Brotherhood-style theocracy headed by the Hamas terrorists. The White House was surprised. Israel got stuck with the consequences, in the form of rockets fired daily at the kindergartens and synagogues of Sderot, including several last week on the last day of Passover.
Now Israel’s “peace partner” Mahmoud Abbas walks away from nine months of negotiations relentlessly pursued by John Kerry and signs a unity deal with Hamas.
The question is: Why are U.S. officials always so surprised by Palestinian actions?
The answer is: It’s simple projection. Our leaders project the logical, rational ways of our world onto the Palestinians. They assume that since most Americans are reasonable, most Palestinians must be, too. Since most Americans want to live in peace with their neighbors and are open to compromise, the Palestinians’ leaders must be, too.
No reasonable American leader would reject half a loaf and choose to wage endless war in order to get the whole loaf. White House and State Department policymakers can’t bring themselves to understand that Palestinians, deep down, are any different. After all, aren’t we all human beings? Don’t we all have the same basic human needs and desires? Aren’t there common human values that we all share?
That’s why they keep pouring U.S. taxpayers’ money into the Palestinian Authority — at least $500 million annually, sometimes more, since 1994. They think that Palestinian leaders, like most Americans, care primarily about jobs, quality housing, and other material comforts. Give them enough prosperity, and they’ll be happy. It’s inconceivable to the White House and the State Department that Palestinian leaders would steal most of that money for themselves, and throw away a peace deal, in the hopeless and never-ending pursuit of destroying Israel.
Thus, the constant stream of “surprises:” the phony promises to recognize Israel; the treaties that are signed and then broken; the negotiations that proceed in fits and starts, with nothing ever accomplished and the Palestinians demanding endless concessions just to keep the talks going; the claims to oppose terrorism, and then the unity pact with the terrorists. It’s one “surprise” after the next.
Here’s the sad truth: The Palestinians’s leaders are not just like ours. Their basic values and goals are not the same as those of Americans or Israelis, who choose their leaders democratically.
Like the rest of the Arab world, they don’t really believe in democracy — which is why the Arab regimes are headed by kings, generals, presidents-for-life, or, in the case of the Palestinian Authority’s Mahmoud Abbas, leaders who are still in office eight years after their term expires.
Like the rest of the Arab world, they don’t embrace the values of tolerance and pluralism. That’s why in the Palestinian Authority and its Arab neighbors, women are murdered for the sake of their families’ “honor,” political dissidents are tortured and religious minorities are persecuted.
Like the rest of the Arab world, the Palestinian Authority believes that terrorism against Israeli Jews is justified. That’s why the P.A.has not stamped out the terrorists in its midst, extradited terrorists to Israel (as required by the Oslo accords) or even outlawed terrorist groups. It can’t even bring itself to unequivocally condemn terrorist attacks, let alone cease teaching it in their schools.
And like the rest of the Arab world, the Palestinian leadership’s long-range concept of “peace” is one in which Israel does not exist.
Until our leaders recognize this simple reality, they will find themselves “surprised” again and again by the very unsurprising behavior of the Palestinian Arabs and their leadership.
Moshe Phillips is president of the Religious Zionists of America, Philadelphia Chapter; Benyamin Korn is the group’s chairman.