On Tuesday we saw the opening of Fatah’s sixth convention. With the kind assistance of Israel, which as always believes that Palestinian moderates are good for it, thereby granting Abbas’ request to allow the entry of representatives from Lebanon and Syria; perhaps so that they imbue the convention with their moderation and vision in respect to the notion of a new Middle East and the Jewish State’s place within it.
The fact that the draft decision to be submitted to the convention calls for objection to defining Israel as a Jewish State, the opening of a strategic channel vis-à-vis Iran, a tougher struggle against the settlements, the security fence, and the Judaization of Jerusalem – through limited violent means – and the implementation of the right of return is apparently not supposed to weaken the resolve of those who work day and night to secure an agreement with the Palestinians.
After all, for the past 15 years we were required, time and again, to recite the spirit of the verse: “Where there is no peace and revelation, the people cast off restraint.” Yet “as destiny would have it,” Israel had been haunted by calamities precisely when it put its faith in Scandinavian peace visions and Palestinian swindlers, who did wonders with false promises custom-designed for their innocent Israeli interlocutors.
Against this backdrop it would be good to recall the words uttered by Abbas, who back in 1999 said in an interview with al-Sharq al-Awsat that “all the conflicts within Israeli society were exposed in the wake of the peace process…all we need to do is prompt the Israelis to fully believe that we, the Arabs, really want peace…that will bring them out of their tanks and fortresses.” And complete faith, as we know, is an essential ingredient around here. Especially for some Israelis who are regularly called upon to interpret the “peace language” of our “moderate partners,” which as we know are very different than the radicals.
Palestinian demands haven’t changedAs we recall, first there were Shimon Peres and the Oslo apprentices, who found it difficult not to endorse Nobel Prize Laureate Yasser Arafat’s dedication to “peace of the brave.” Regardless of his speeches and learned explanations about the deception inherent in the deals with Israel, the illegitimacy of the Jewish State, his loyalty to the way of the martyrs, his commitment to the phased elimination of Israel, or the importance of the armed struggle, Arafat’s defense attorneys in Israel ceaselessly kept on clearing up the Palestinian leader’s name.
“He wants to help us curb terror. Hamas and Jihad are getting in his way,” said Peres at the time, even if this interpretation of events was fir for superb raw material for a sad parody on the new Middle East.
“What, don’t we have dreams? So they can have dreams too,” Peres said at the time when he could no longer face up to the Palestinian denials, thereby granting a kosher certificate to the not-so-hidden desires of the Palestinians in respect to us. However, the Palestinian president was a man of action too, and between hate speeches about Israel he also directed attacks, winked to Hamas terrorists, smuggled arms and wanted suspects in his private helicopter, and turned the revolving door policy into a glorious Palestinian vision.
Only after he went too far, and the reports about this partner’s “peace acts” accumulated into a pile that could no longer be swept under the rug, Peres agreed to make a far reaching statement for his standards, arguing that Arafat is wrong. As if Arafat’s activity did not constitute an authentic expression of his worldview, but rather, an error that happened to taint his acts and speeches.
And when the first president bid us farewell in 2004, and was replaced in Ramallah by the second president, many of Arafat’s tireless defense attorneys were willing to admit that it was indeed difficult to deal with him, and perhaps he wasn’t the ideal partner, with the bold ones among them even “daring” to shift him to the group of the “bad guys.”
Of course, all of this did not prevent them from mentioning in the same breath that with Abbas it’s a whole different story, as an agreement can be finalized with him. The tiny problem is that even without a kaffiyeh and a handgun, and with a new president filled with great “moderation” and “goodwill,” the Palestinian demands remained the same as during the first president’s era.
“The Palestinian Authority rejected an Israeli offer for an agreement that included Palestinian concessions on the issues of Jerusalem and the refugees,” Abbas said in November 2008, not before pledging allegiance to the way of the martyrs and a few years after declaring that “Israel made its’ gravest error by signing the Oslo Accord.”
So now, upon the opening of the new Fatah convention, with the organization’s most moderate figures such as Mohammad Dahlan admitting that “the Fatah Movement never recognized Israel,” and with the basic demands of most of its members being impossible even for many within Israel’s leftist camp – we would do well to ask whether it isn’t better to reconcile ourselves already to the shattered peace dream, instead of yet again subjugating ourselves to its unattainable mirages.
Dr. Shaul Rosenfeld is a philosophy lecturer