New York – The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is surprised and worried about the alacrity of Israel’s return to negotiations with the Palestinian Authority (PA). But even more worrisome is the optimism and comfort level Israel has displayed concerning Palestinian leader and Holocaust denier Mahmoud Abbas and his regime. We are also deeply concerned with the significant concessions that Sharon has also made to Abbas at this early stage in Abbas’ tenure.
Israeli minister Natan Sharansky shares some of these concerns. Financial Times and former Wall Street Journal editorial writer Amity Schlaes wrote, “Sharansky argues that the PA is still a ‘fear society’ whose citizens are not free. This type of society is intrinsically belligerent. Sharansky believes premature elections can be fatal, sustaining dictatorship rather than bringing freedom. Before elections, the rule of law must be established as well as a free media and some sense of civil society. Only when the ‘fear society’ is dead can elections institutionalize freedom.”
Schlaes noted that “Sharansky’s theories proved correct with Rabin’s Oslo accords. Instead of liberating Palestinians, Oslo funded another decade of corruption and violence in the PA. Sharansky said, ‘there was less freedom and more fear within Palestinian society after Oslo than before.'”
Schlaes added, “It was therefore wrong of America to endorse the PA elections following Arafat’s death — they were taking place too soon. There should have been a clearer break with the old tolerance of terror. And to pour $350M in aid for Abbas this early, as Mr. Bush has just promised, may be to repeat Oslo’s error.”
ZOA President Morton A. Klein said of the Sharon-Abbas meeting, “As Yogi Berra would say, this is deja vu all over again. This is a repeat of the Clinton/Rabin/Peres/Beilin madness. Israel and the US have apparently learned little from the Oslo disaster during which major concessions were made to Arafat without any accountability and with nothing in return.
Mahmoud Abbas is simply Yasir Arafat in a suit. This newly elected Palestinian leader was Arafat’s deputy for 40 years, co-founder of the terror group Fatah, a mastermind of the Munich and Maalot massacres, and wrote a Ph.D. thesis and a book 20 years ago denying the Holocaust. In the last month, he called Israel ‘the Zionist enemy,’ and terrorists ‘heroes fighting for freedom,’ and then called for ‘implementing Arafat’s policies’ with a ‘big Jihad.’
“He has not dismantled or disarmed terror groups, ended incitement, closed bomb factories, or arrested terrorists. But he has demanded the ‘right’ for millions of Palestinian Arab ‘refugees’ to move to Israel, demanded Israel stop all building in the territories, demanded Israel stop building the fence and hand over Jerusalem to the PA.
Despite all of this, Sharon, in Peres/Beilin fashion, has agreed to amnesty for terrorists, agreed to the release of 900 convicted Palestinian criminals and terrorists, agreed to move the Israeli army out of the territories, and to leave the security of Israelis to Abbas’ police force, which is hiring Hamas members. And to top it off, the Bush administration is doubling the aid to Abbas to a level of $350M in US taxpayers’ money, which is more than four times the amount President Clinton gave to them.
“Because of these misguided policies, there is great cause for concern. Col. Jonathan D. Halevi of Dore Gold’s Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs is worried that the Palestinian Arabs may well be viewing this period of reduced terror as temporary. Halevi points out that the Arabs are using the Arab term for calm, tahdi’a to describe this period, not the Arabic word for cease-fire.
Halevi adds that ‘paramount interest of Hamas and Islamic Jihad is to reorganize and rebuild their capabilities after they were severely degraded by the Israel Defense Forces.’ In fact, Hamas leader Khaled Mashal referred to this period as a ‘rest for the warrior.’ Adding more credence to these concerns is a relevant report on Israeli TV that Abu Mazen promised Hamas, ‘If everything falls apart, they can return to the path of armed struggle.'”
Barbara Tuchman wrote a famous book called The March of Folly, describing serious mistakes nations made that led to disaster. We at the ZOA regret to say that this mistaken appeasement and propping up of Abbas’ terrorist regime could end up being the next chapter in Tuchman’s book.
On behalf of the ZOA, Klein stated, “We urge the Bush administration and Congress to stop this folly and stop the funding of the Palestinian Authority terrorist regime until they fulfill their 11 year old obligations under Oslo and two year obligations under the Road Map. This is appeasement of the worst sort; Mr. Bush, don’t close your eyes to the facts of Abbas’ actions and inactions.
As Churchill said, ‘You must look at the facts for the facts are looking at you.’ Churchill added, ‘Those who appease the crocodile will simply be eaten last.’ The US proposal to increase aid and establish a Palestinian Arab state when no structural reforms have been made, sends a message to terrorists everywhere that terrorism can and does pay. It also sends a clear message to Abbas that the US is not that serious about Abbas fulfilling his obligations.
This lack of demanding accountability of Abbas by the US is shocking. This is especially so since only a few years ago, most Clinton Administration Middle East specialists, and Israeli and Jewish leaders, publicly acknowledged that the biggest mistake made during Oslo was not to demand compliance by Arafat. This also harms our international war against terror.”
The ZOA will be taking the message of demanding PA compliance with the Road Map before any funds can be distributed to the PA to every member of Congress. We will be speaking out publicly on this issue throughout the country and in the media, and will be placing ads promoting the truth about Abbas’ policies and the mistaken US policy of prematurely supporting him and his regime. In his major speech on the Mideast, President George Bush demanded of the Palestinian Arabs, “new leaders — not compromised by terror.” Abbas is not such a leader and does not deserve our U.S. tax dollars provided by hard-working U.S. citizens.