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Dr. Ahmed Tibi, MD, an Arab member of the Israeli Knesset and former advisor to PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, recently wrote an op-ed in the Richmond Times-Dispatch attacking US House Majority Leader Eric Cantor for having declared that “If the Palestinians want to live in peace in a state of their own, they must demonstrate that they are worthy of a state.” In and of itself hardly a remarkable position considering the history of organized Palestinian Arab terrorism that has gone on unabated since the founding of the PLO in 1964 and before. Yet Dr. Tibi then infers that Mr. Cantor therefore “holds all Palestinians responsible for the violence of a few.”
This interesting assumption made by Dr. Tibi is that Palestinian Arab violence and support of said violence is the handiwork of a “few,” a small minority. To determine whether this is true, two basic issues have to be clarified. One, whether or not said violence is the result of only “a few” who implicitly carry out their violent work against the wishes of the Palestinian Arab leadership and without popular support from the Palestinian Arab population. And two, what is considered to be moderate and non-violent means in the view of Dr. Tibi.
Let’s first take a glance at Dr. Tibi’s own behavior. As noted above, he served as an advisor to PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, a man he first met in 1984 in Tunis to where Arafat had fled after being ignominiously chased out of Beirut by the Israelis in 1982. Arafat, head of Fatah and subsequently the entire PLO, was responsible for airplane hijackings, indiscriminate murder of civilian targets, including the September 1972 kidnapping and murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic games, the 1973 abduction and murder of Western diplomats in Khartoum, Sudan, – where Arafat himself personally gave the order to kill US Ambassador Cleo Noel and two other diplomats. And after Arafat signed the 1993 Oslo Accords and supposedly changed his ways, he and the Palestinian Authority pursued a campaign of massive incitement in the official PA media and school textbooks, and supported ongoing terrorist activities, including suicide bombings, and in its first 5 years more Israeli civilians were murdered by Palestinian Arab terror attacks than in the previous 15 years. To avoid the guilt by association card, let us examine Dr. Tibi’s own “moderate and non-violent” approach.
Dr. Tibi writes in his op-ed: “I, too, reject the Palestinian violence Cantor mentioned that is directed at Israeli civilians, but unlike Cantor I believe in strengthening nonviolent efforts to overcome Israeli domination.” But does he really believe in “strengthening nonviolent efforts”?
According to a report in the Haaretz daily newspaper, on August 16, 2000, during the Jewish Fast Day of Tisha B’Av (9th day of the Hebrew month of Av) when Jews mourn the destruction of both the First and Second Jewish Temples in Jerusalem, Dr. Tibi, already a Member of Knesset, led a large Arab crowd chanting, “with blood and fire we will liberate Palestine,” while physically blocking an annual police-approved pilgrimage of the Jewish Temple Mount Faithful group to enter the Temple Mount. One wonders what part of “with blood and fire” is “strengthening nonviolent efforts”?
As far as the alluded lack of popular support for violence, a March 2008 report by the Palestinian Center for Policy & Survey Research (PSR) noted that 67% of the Palestinian Arab population supported armed attacks against Israeli civilians inside pre-1967 Israel, and not merely Israeli military targets or “settlers,” with only 31% opposed. So much for Dr. Tibi’s “few.”
Dr. Tibi also takes former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to task because Mr. Gingrich “recently claimed that we Palestinians are an ‘invented people.’ And what, pray tell, are the Americans? Gingrich’s people are every bit as invented, perhaps more, as they come from every corner of the globe.”
The comparison Dr. Tibi wishes to convey is that if the “Palestinians” are an “invented people,” well so are the Americans. And if the Americans are an “invented people” too, then at the very least, the “Palestinians” are no less entitled to a state than are the citizens of the United States of America (AKA “Gingrich’s people” by Dr. Tibi). Clever, but the comparison doesn’t quite work.
It is true that the United States is a country comprised of a “melting pot” of citizens who arrived from many other countries around the world. Not only do Americans not deny this (as Dr. Tibi and friends do regarding the invented Palestinians), it is considered an issue of accomplishment and pride among Americans. Further, it is a matter of record that since the formal and recognized establishment of the United States of America in 1781 following the end the American Revolutionary War, the overwhelming percentage of the current American population arrived in the 150 or so years after that time. And in line with the Emma Lazarus sonnet engraved on a plaque on the Statue of Liberty that declares: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” Americans are proud of their humble antecedents. But all these people came to a functioning and internationally recognized country.
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