New York — The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has expressed concern at the news that just-retired British Prime Minister Tony Blair has been appointed Middle East envoy by the Middle East ‘Quartet’ ( United States, European Union, United Nations, Russia). Tony Blair has stated that he views the Arab-Israeli issue as the primary reason for all the conflict in the region and the cause of Islamist terrorism around the world. Also, the ZOA is also concerned at the possible influence that might be exerted by his wife, Cherie Booth. Only after a huge uproar and under enormous political pressure did she finally apologize for making the remark regarding Palestinian Arabs that “As long as young people feel they have got no hope but to blow themselves up you are never going to make progress” ( Guardian [London], February 9, 2005). Additionally, Blair has repeatedly referred to PA-controlled territories as ’ Palestine,’ though no such countries exists or has existed.
Tony Blair made his troubling views clear to a joint session of the U.S. Congress by stating the following regarding his view of the Arab-Israeli issue:
“When we removed the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, this was not imperialism. For these oppressed people, it was their liberation. And why can the terrorists even mount an argument in the Muslim world that it isn’t? Because there is one cause terrorism rides upon, a cause they have no belief in but can manipulate. I want to be very plain: This terrorism will not be defeated without peace in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine. Here it is that the poison is incubated. Here it is that the extremist is able to confuse in the mind of a frighteningly large number of people the case for a Palestinian state and the destruction of Israel, and to translate this moreover into a battle between East and West, Muslim, Jew and Christian” (Tony Blair, Address to a Joint Session of Congress, July 17, 2003)
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “The ZOA acknowledges that there are surely worse individuals than Tony Blair who could be appointed to this post. We are also aware of the fact that, during last year’s Lebanon war against the Islamist terror group, Hizballah, Mr. Blair understood that Israel was under assault from a terrorist organization and took the position that was unpopular in his party that Israel needed be given time to dispose of the threat posed by Hizballah. However, we are also keenly aware that Mr. Blair sincerely believes and has argued repeatedly that an Arab-Israeli peace is not only possible at this stage but something that would defuse other Middle Eastern conflicts as though these conflicts were caused by it. This argument is utterly incorrect and anyone who holds it is bound to continue making the terrible mistakes that have been made during and since the Oslo peace process.
“The Arab war on Israel has no connection to the war in Iraq, Iran’s drive to obtain nuclear weapons, Syria’s efforts to continue to control Lebanon or Al-Qaeda terrorism directed at both non-Muslim and Muslim nations alike. All these conflicts would be on-going even if Israel had never existed. The only thing that the Arab war on Israel shares with these other conflicts is the extreme Islamist and pan-Arab ideologies that drive it. Arab nationalism has no place for non-Arab states in the Middle East and Islamism has no place for non-Muslim states in the Middle East and beyond.
“When Tony Blair argues that regional peace depends upon an Arab-Israeli peace settlement involving the creation of a Palestinian Arab state, he fails to note that Arabs were murdering Jews in 1920, 1921, 1929, and during 1936-9 — even before there was a Jewish state. He also fails to notice that Palestinian Arab terrorism is the result of a desire to eradicate Israel, not the absence of a Palestinian state. The Palestinian Arabs have been offered statehood three times — in 1937, 1947 and 2000 — and on all three occasions refused because acceptance meant accepting the existence of a Jewish state alongside it. With Palestinian Arab society indoctrinated with hatred and incitement to mass murder by the Palestinian Authority organs like the media, mosques, schools and youth camps that Mahmoud Abbas controls, there is no possibility of peace in the near future. The danger is that Mr. Blair’s conviction that peace can be achieved with Abbas will probably lead him as Quartet envoy to pressure Israel to make more dangerous concessions to Abbas. Yet more Israeli concessions will only further empower terrorists, permit Abbas and the PA to continue to avoid the fulfillment of their Oslo obligations to end terrorism and the incitement to hatred and murder that feeds it and thus endanger Israeli lives.”
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