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.
Dr. Tibi knows full well that “Palestine” as an Arab political entity never existed throughout history, hence there were no Arab Palestinians until they were recently invented. After all, the very name of the nationality is not Arabic. There is no distinctive national history, culture or even cuisine that distinguishes them from other Arabs in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan or Egypt. Nor can Dr. Tibi name the first, last, or any Arab Palestinian king, during the long centuries the current Palestinian Arab leadership claims to have existed prior to the return en masse of the Jews to the Biblical Land of Israel in the past 200 years.
Therefore, Dr. Tibi attempts to imply that even if the “Palestinians” were invented, they still have the same rights as American citizens have to the United States. And there is the fallacy in his reasoning. The United States came into existence, was recognized by all, and then absorbed the majority of its present population via mass immigration. But the newly invented Arab Palestine never existed, does not now exist, and those who currently claim to be part of the recently invented Palestinian Arab people predicate the validation of their demanded statehood on invalidating an already existent state with a Jewish nation that has a unique and well-documented history in the land of Israel upon which part is officially the internationally recognized State of Israel.
Interestingly, Jews the world over just finished celebrating the eight day holiday of Chanukah. Anyone reading the story of Chanukah with its Jewish uprising to free their land and nation of the brutal occupation of the Seleucid Greeks might wonder where were the “Palestinians”? They needn’t wonder, the Palestinians hadn’t yet been invented and wouldn’t be for more than two thousand years. Luckily for the Maccabees, today’s mainstream media outlets hadn’t yet been invented either.
After trashing more Republicans Dr. Tibi laments, “Democrats, however, give no indication they will be any better.” This is all the more remarkable after three years of the most blatantly pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel American administration in recent history.
US President Barack Obama’s long list of anti-Israel words and actions since taking office three years ago belie the standard pro-Israel platitudes he has uttered when domestic politics demand it. From his unprecedented pressure on Israel to implement a ten-month moratorium on Jewish building in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria (AKA “West Bank”) stemming from his fixation on accepting Israel as the “Occupier” of “Palestinian Lands”; his rejection of the Bush-Sharon exchange of letters which was ratified by overwhelming majority in the US Congress as a continued US commitment to Israel; drawing a parallel between the mass murder of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust with the current plight of the Palestinians in his “Cairo Speech to the Muslim world”; his attempts to appoint known anti-Israel figures to important positions in his administration (e.g. Chaz Freeman; fmr. Senator Chuck Hagel); his public humiliation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House; his pushing Israel to withdraw to the pre-1967 lines as the basis for negotiations with the Palestinians; ad infinitum. Although apparently not one-sided enough for Dr. Tibi.
Dr. Tibi concludes: “American politicians can use their free speech to taunt Palestinians and inflame tensions in the region or they can think sensibly about what they would do were they oppressed and dispossessed by Israel. My fear in this campaign season is that it will only get worse and the winner will be confronted with a Palestinian people who have zero confidence that the president will treat them fairly and be willing to press Israel to end the occupation. Consequently, the America that was once respected around the world is increasingly reviled in the Middle East for backing Israeli domination rather than Palestinian freedom.”
In Dr. Tibi’s eyes, American politicians have no right to take into account Palestinian Arab behavior (i.e.: “with blood and fire,” suicide bombers, terrorist attacks on school buses and kindergartens, firing missiles on civilian targets, etc.) which has major support by the same people that publicly danced with joy after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
Although there was no Palestinian Arab entity prior to the return en masse of the Jewish People to their historical homeland, the Palestinians were nonetheless “dispossessed by Israel.”
Speaking the truth about the Palestinian Arabs will, in Dr. Tibi’s opinion, “inflame tensions,” and the “Palestinian people [will] have zero confidence that the [American] president will treat them fairly and be willing to press Israel to end the occupation.” Or put simply, we, the Palestinians, don’t have to negotiate. You, the Americans, have to pressure Israel to give in to all our demands if you want to avoid continued violence initiated by us.
Somehow, I think US House Majority Leader Eric Cantor hit the nail squarely on the head. “If the Palestinians want to live in peace in a state of their own, they must demonstrate that they are worthy of a state.”
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