for more risk-taking
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has praised U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, for calling upon UN members to replace anti-Israeli vitriol with recognition of Israels legitimacy and right to exist in peace and security. At the same time, however, ZOA was critical of the fact that Ambassador Rice mentioned no consequences for Mahmoud Abbas Palestinian Authority (PA) if it fails to end incitement to hatred and murder against Israel and Jews. Speaking yesterday at a Jerusalem conference organized by Israeli President Shimon Peres, Ambassador Rice also described as part of the goal of re-launching peace negotiations as encompassing peace for a Jewish state of Israel, with true security for all Israelis. As ZOA has noted in the past, the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership, from Mahmoud Abbas down, have repeatedly refused to accept the legitimacy and permanence of Israel as Jewish state.
While in Israel, Ambassador Rice also reaffirmed to the Netanyahu Government that the Obama Administration would continue to oppose the U.N. Human Rights Councils Goldstone Report on Gaza and work to prevent adoption of a U.N. resolution seeking to give effect to its recommendations. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu thanked Washington for its vigorous opposition to the report and its support for the Jewish state. ZOA, however, opposed Ambassador Rices calls for further Israeli risking taking and concessions to prove it is serious about peace.
In her speech, Rice said:
[W]e all must decide whether we are serious about peace or whether we will lend it only lip service. As President Peres always reminds us, being serious about peace means taking risks for peace. Being serious about peace means understanding that tomorrow need not look like yesterday that Israel can find peace, security, and prosperity with not just its immediate neighbors but in the region as a whole and that Israel can truly and fully take its rightful place among the nations, and that Palestinians can at last enjoy the dignity and blessings of freedom in an independent state of their own the UN must do more, much more, to live up to the brave ideals of its founding and its member states must once and for all replace anti-Israel vitriol with a recognition of Israels legitimacy and right to exist in peace and security (Remarks by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, At the Israeli Presidential Conference 2009, Facing Tomorrow, Jerusalem, October 21, 2009).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, We applaud Ambassador Rices call for the ending of incitement to hatred and murder against Israel and Jews as essential to the cause of peace. But her statement is hollow without specific steps to hold the PA accountable. As Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) urged last week in his letter to Secretary of state Hillary Clinton, the U.S. 800 million in aid to the PA ought to be predicated on at least some level of assurance that the beneficiaries are committed to long-term peace. It is pity that Ambassador Rice didnt take this opportunity to take up Senator Specters idea.
ZOA applauds Ambassador Rice for her call for the Palestinians and Israels other neighbors to accept Israel as a Jewish state, something PA officials have repeatedly and vociferously refused to do during both the previous Bush Administration and now during the Obama Administration. Similarly, we applaud her reiteration of the Obama Administrations resolve to oppose within the U.N. any resolution aimed at advancing the recommendation of the thoroughly biased and terrorist-boosting Goldstone Report which perverted legal norms in order to allege that Israel had committed war crimes in Gaza.
As I have said previously, ZOA is pleased that the Obama Administration has raised the vital issue of incitement to hatred and murder, because it is the single most serious issue that makes peace impossible and that as long as you teach hate, it will be immaterial what concessions Israel makes. ZOA has been beating this drum for all 16 years since the 1993 Oslo agreements.
In this context, our only misgiving is that the all-too-infrequent calls for the Palestinians and the Arab and Muslim worlds more widely to desist from their vicious campaign of demonizing Israel and the Jewish people has, at least until now, not been translated into an operative factor in U.S. policy. At no point during this Administration has the U.S. conditioned its stance on the behavior of the Palestinians or Israels neighbors with regard to this vital issue.
The U.S. has not said that it will cut funding to the PA until it stops arrests terrorists, dismantle terror and stops inciting hatred, glorifying terrorism and educating its youth to become suicide bombers. It should do so without delay. Surely the U.S. should be using all its considerable leverage $900 million for the Palestinians this year alone if it was committed to effecting this change that is actually a prerequisite for producing peace and reconciliation? It is vital that Ambassador Rices words in Jerusalem yesterday are translated into policy.
We are also frankly oppose Ambassador Rices call for Israel to take risks for peace is unjustified, given the record of massive Israeli concessions over 16 years ceding half of Judea and Samaria, all of Gaza, giving assets, funds and even arms to the PA, only to receive more hatred and terrorism and bloodshed in Israels streets in return. It may appear even-handed to call on all sides to take risks for peace but, when Israel has already actually taken risks, made major and dangerous concessions that have cost her dearly, Israel is entitled to be spared further calls for further concessions until and unless the Palestinians take decisive steps to end terrorism and the incitement to hatred and murder that feeds it which they have not.
In her speech, Ambassador Rice also spoke of the importance of human dignity and the former struggle of African-Americans for equality before moving on to discuss the importance of peace-making. Although there was no stated linkage between this and her other subject matter, she did say that the importance of equality has powerful geopolitical implications, from which it seems reasonable to deduce that Ambassador Rice was tacitly comparing the Obama Administrations goal of establishing a peaceful Palestinian state with the civil rights movement in America.
If Ambassador Rice was doing this, it needs to be said in response that Palestinians are not waging a civil rights struggle against an Israel that sought to rule them. If Arabs had not sought to eliminate Israel in 1967, the Palestinians would never have been under Israeli rule in the first place. Moreover, since the Palestinian Authority was established in 1994, increasing numbers of Palestinians have lived under Palestinian rule, not Israeli rule. Today, more than 95% of the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria live under the PA. There is no occupation and, more importantly, this was never the cause of the very violent, terrorist struggle Palestinian Arabs have waged against Israel.
The Arab war on Israel is not about borders or a Palestinian state, which Palestinians have been repeatedly offered only to turn it down it is about their refusal to accept the existence of a sovereign Jewish state. The civil rights struggle in this country was fought by honorable, peaceable African-Americans and their supporters, not by jihadist murderers, suicide bombers, kidnappers and hostage-takers. Rev. Dr. King unlike Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinian leaders never called terrorists heroes. He never called terrorist chieftains martyrs. He did not refuse to confront extremists in his own camp and he was also a firm and principled defender of Israel against Arab aggression and opponent of anti-Semitism masquerading as anti-Zionism.