Guest column

Government represses, betrays Palestinian Arabs

I can empathize with the suffering of many Palestinian Arabs, but cannot accept their unjustified scapegoating of Israel for the situation they and their leaders have brought upon themselves with the complicity of their Arab brethren, the United Nations, particularly UNRWA, and other so-called friends and allies.

I also strongly oppose their continuing war to destroy Israel, the world's only Jewish state, the only real democracy in the Middle East and America's only reliable friend and ally in that volatile region.

In his guest column recently published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, "Palestinians at mercy of Israeli soldiers," Raouf Halaby starts by assuming the truth of wild accusations made against Israeli forces acting against Palestinian terrorists and using them as the basis of a hateful screed against Israel.

The reality bears little relation to what Halaby wrote.

Almost all the Palestinian Arabs have lived under their own government--or since Hamas' bloody coup in 2007, two governments--for nearly three decades. This is the only time in their brief history that they have ever governed themselves, and it has been a bloody disaster for everyone except the leaders of the Palestinian Authority, the PLO, Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and myriad other Palestinian organizations that, by ordinary standards, are terror groups.

Israel does bear some blame, generally not for its actions which have drawn criticism, but rather for listening too much to outside criticism and standing by as Yasser Arafat blatantly violated the Oslo Accords from the very beginning and, rather than abandoning and fighting terrorism, did the exact opposite.

On the same day as the famous ceremony on the White House lawn 30 years ago, Arafat addressed his people in a prerecorded message in Arabic broadcast by Jordanian television and explained the "Declaration of Principles" was simply part of the implementation of the PLO's "phased strategy" for destroying Israel.

Israel's leaders foolishly ignored that, as well as the speech he gave in South Africa in May 1994, in which he said, "This agreement, I am not considering it more than the agreement which had been signed between our prophet Mohammed and Koraish." That was an agreement Mohammed abrogated after two years and slaughtered the tribe of Koraish.

Two years after that speech, Palestinian Arabs were blowing up buses in Jerusalem.

Still, even as Yasser Arafat was ramping up terrorism rather than abandoning it, Israel not only kept to its commitment to stay out of Area A of Judea and Samaria, which had been turned over completely to the Palestinian Authority, but also out of Area B, where under the accords it was supposed to retain security control.

In 2000 at Camp David, Israel offered the Palestinian Arabs a sovereign state in almost all of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, plus control over portions of Israel's own capital of Jerusalem and its holiest site, the Temple Mount. Arafat didn't just reject that sweetheart deal, but shortly thereafter launched a bloody terror offensive, now euphemistically and misleadingly known as the Al Aqsa Intifada, which he had started planning even before Camp David.

Even then, Israel not only stayed out of Areas A and B, but offered Arafat a more generous deal in 2001, giving up (temporarily) only after the infamous Passover Seder Massacre in 2002 at the Park Hotel, which coincidentally is located down the street from my apartment in Netanya. I am reminded of that terror attack constantly as I walk or ride my bike past the hotel.

Although Israel was forced to re-enter the Arab population centers it had turned over to the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian Arabs in those areas are still able to live free of any involvement with Israel unless they want to enter into Israel or into Area C, the portion of the disputed territories still governed by Israel, or when they are around when Israel is forced to enter portions of the Palestinian Authority, either to arrest terrorists after an attack or to prevent an attack being planned.

Since breaking the back of Arafat's terror offensive, Israel completely turned over Gaza to the Palestinian Authority (2005) and in 2008 made an even more generous offer of the equivalent of 100 percent of the disputed territory, as Mahmoud Abbas has conceded. Instead of jumping at it, Abbas walked away; he has effectively avoided all negotiations in the decade and a half since then, and his foreign minister announced they will never again negotiate directly with Israel.

It's obviously difficult to achieve peace when the Palestinian Arabs refuse to even pretend to negotiate.

Mahmoud Abbas has also instituted a perverse "pay-to-slay" policy, spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year to reward terrorists and families of terrorists for deadly terror attacks on Jews.

It's hard to conceive of any government being as considerate of an enemy dedicated to its destruction, or of another military, even the American military, acting as humanely as the Israeli army does if confronted with the level of incessant terrorism Israel faces.

By any objective standard, Israel merits enormous praise.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Arabs need to put their own house in order and begin to consider living in peace with Israel. Anti-Israel screeds such as Halaby's do them no favors.

Alan Stein, Ph.D., is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Connecticut, where he taught mathematics for nearly four decades. He now resides with his wife in Israel while maintaining a home in Massachusetts and dealing with the incessant misinformation spread about Israel. He is the founder of PRIMER-Israel and PRIMER-Massachusetts and President Emeritus of PRIMER-Connecticut. PRIMER is an acronym for Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting.

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