Thursday, February 4, 2010

For Palestinians, State-Building Is Better Than State-Breaking

For as long as the Palestinians' top priority has been the destruction of Israel rather than the establishment of their own state, they have failed. When their destructiveness is subordinated to state-building, achievement becomes possible.

This principle is now being demonstrated by the collaborative efforts of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Fayyad, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Tony Blair and Israeli, American and Palestinian military and police forces. In small steps, they have shown West Bank residents that a few months of building an infrastructure and laying down the fundamentals of an economy have served them far better than 63 years of trying to break Israel.

As Einat Wilf has pointed out in the Jerusalem Post, we may actually be witnessing cultural change among the Palestinians, and the short term rewards enjoyed by West Bank society are likely to deepen and accelerate this change.

We now have two very different processes occurring that affect the future of Palestinians and Israelis. The first is the external pressure to have a fruitless “peace process.” Among the reasons for its fruitlessness is the fact that, regardless of any progress which may be made in negotiations, no Palestinian state can emerge while Gaza is controlled by Hamas, a terrorist group which will never be a meaningful partner in that process.

Simultaneously, we have meaningful infrastructure-building in the West Bank, which, if it survives its infancy, can form the basis of future statehood in a post-Hamas world. Plans for Palestinian statehood become much more viable if there are “facts on the ground,” such as realistic national institutions, to support it.

What implications do these processes have for the policy-making of Israel, America and the West? Several come to mind: First, it is vital to continue to support Palestinian self-reliance and responsibility, including careful monitoring of the uses to which western aid to the Palestinian Authority is put, and support of Fayyad’s positive efforts.

Second, we should turn our attention away from wasted efforts at the peace process and towards the removal of Hamas from power in Gaza. This should be implemented by continued isolation of Hamas, support of home-grown opposition to that regime, and, most importantly, by dealing more effectively with the source of Hamas’ strength, Iran. If the improved quality of life we are seeing in the West Bank can be brought to the attention of Gaza residents, the seeds of cultural change may be planted there as well.

Finally, we must proceed with care. Recall the glee with which we approached the apparent change on the part of Palestinian leadership in the early 1990's. The result was the Oslo accords disaster. While supporting positive change, we should temper our optimism with caution, lest the state which Palestinians are preparing turns out to be one whose mission is state-building now and state-breaking later.

That being said, the importance of the change in the West Bank should not be underestimated. It is clear evidence that radical Islam can be overcome by the responsible exercise of non-violent power by moderates.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Abbas Threatening to Quit? Fire Him Instead!

As he has done in the past, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is threatening to not run for re-election. This theatrical move is pulled out of his bag of tricks to show the west that he is so frustrated by lack of progress in the peace process (read: lack of unilateral concessions by Israel), that he is willing to throw all into chaos if he doesn’t get his way.

Instead of giving him the option of reneging on his threat once again, Palestinians should confirm his decision by sending him home jobless. After all, he has failed completely in the three most important missions with which he has been charged:

First, he has failed to rid the PA of the rampant corruption he inherited from his predecessor, Yaser Arafat. The PA still runs on a system of bribery, nepotism and favors. Despite being the recipient of more international aid than anyone else in the world, the PA has nothing to show for it. Abbas’ old guard consists of many of Arafat’s old cronies (including Abbas himself), and for a time, their shenanigans caused many Palestinians to support Hamas over the PA. That stopped, of course, when they saw how brutal life is like under Hamas in Gaza. Abbas’ old boys preclude young Palestinians from any positions of power.

Second, he has failed to pose a threat of any kind to Hamas in Gaza. As long as Hamas’ reign of terror continues there, no hope exists for a better life for its residents, and no hope exists to move the peace process forward, regardless of Abbas’ theatrics. Hamas won't make peace with Israel, and how can Israel make peace with only half of would-be Palestine?

Finally, he has failed in his mission to bring statehood to the Palestinian arab people. While conditions have improved in the West Bank, due largely to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s plan of economic growth there, Abbas has lacked the courage and ability to put together the institutions and infrastructure necessary for statehood, despite ample opportunity and funding. Then again, while we in the west see the establishment of statehood as his primary mission, is that the view of the Palestinians themselves? Poll after poll has shown that they are not yet ready to take the steps necessary to live in peace with Israel, such as giving up the so-called “right of return,” or recognizing that Israel is the legitimate state of the Jewish people.

Abbas has continued the long tradition of perpetuating statelessness as a preference over having a state next to, rather than in lieu of, Israel. In light of the attitude of most Palestinians, that might be why he has held on to his job as long has he has.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

CAIR – The Truth Exposed by Rep. Sue Myrick and Chris Gaubatz

Recently, two important events have shown us the true nature of CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations, despite that organization’s efforts to protect its secret workings.

First, Rep. Sue Myrick, together with others, held a press conference, in which they courageously and publicly called for a federal investigation of CAIR, which was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the case of the United States v. Holy Land Foundation et al. That case provided clear evidence of relationships between CAIR and its founders and the Palestinian Committee, a Hamas related group.

At the press conference, an internal CAIR memo was made public. The memo set forth one of CAIR’s goals: to place its own interns into the offices of strategically selected members of Congress. Specifically targeted were members of the Homeland Security, Judiciary and Intelligence Committees.

So here we have a Hamas-related group trying to infiltrate Congress. That threat to our national security certainly warrants an investigation. Weren’t these the same people who claimed the “Israel lobby” has too much influence?

We have long known that the founders of CAIR, Omar Ahmad and Nihad Awad, are former officials of the Islamic Association of Palestine, which has been described by Oliver Revell, a former FBI counterterrorism chief, as "a front organization for Hamas." The FBI has concluded that CAIR is Hamas affiliated and has suspended all formal contacts with CAIR.

But now, thanks to Chris Gaubatz, we know even more. Chris worked as a CAIR intern for six months and has gathered, and now exposed, a plethora of information on the inner workings of CAIR. His father, P. David Gaubetz, and Paul Sperry have just released a book, Muslim Mafia; Inside the Secret Underworld That’s Conspiring to Islamize America (WND Books).

The book exposes numerous deceptions put forth by CAIR. Despite its claims to be a purely American organization which raises funds domestically, CAIR raises a great deal of its funds from donors outside the country. Those funding sources include the ruler of Dubai ($978,000 in 2002), and over $600,000 from Saudi princes. “Gifts” such as these form a large bulk of CAIR’s funding. In 2002, less than three percent of its income came from membership dues. So much for CAIR’s claims of being “independent.”

Other members of Congress, such as Senators Charles Schumer and Barbara Boxer, have also had the courage to come forward to speak out against CAIR. Thanks to them, and people like Chris Gaubatz, the facts about CAIR’s radical origins and agenda are coming to light. Now that we know the truth, there is no excuse for dropping the ball. Let's get on with a federal investigation.