Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
Last week, between Stephen Colbert’s usual juvenile vulgarity and the House passing a bill to “repeal and reform” Obamacare, few noticed yet another performance of the long-running Middle East “two-state” Kabuki drama. Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, and leader of the terrorist PLO and its largest faction, Fatah, came to D.C. for a state visit with President Trump. And so the elaborate, stylized diplomatic farce of legitimizing terrorists dressed up as statesmen continues into its seventh decade. Maybe it’s time to bring down the curtain on this show and move on to a strategy that might actually work.
The whole affair should have embarrassed Donald Trump. The shrewd Abbas––a holocaust denier who financed the infamous 1972 Munich Olympics massacre and has called it a “heroic operation” ––adroitly flattered Trump’s “great negotiating ability,” along with his “courageous stewardship” and “wisdom.” Trump in turn said it was an “honor” to meet the terrorist. He later took down the tweet with the grotesque gaffe, but left it on his Facebook page.
Even more offensive was letting Abbas get away with claiming that the PLO, er, Palestinian Authority teaches their children “peace.” A golden opportunity was lost to publicly call out Abbas to his face on a blatant lie, instead of observing diplomatic niceties no terrorist deserves–– particularly one who is not the president of a nation, who hasn’t run for office in a free election since 2005, whose corruption has earned him a net worth of $100 million, and who doesn’t represent the nearly two million Palestinian Arabs living in the Gaza Strip, which is dominated by his rival, the genocidal terrorist gang Hamas.
Trump’s mixed signals and seeming ignorance of the conflict’s historical and religious roots do not bode well for the chances that the president will follow through on finally discarding the long, fruitless attempt to make the illusion of “two states living side-by-side in peace” into a reality.
Yes, Trump cautioned Abbas about rejecting the legitimacy of Israel and inciting terrorist violence by paying the families of murderers and demonizing Jews in grade school curricula. But absent a credible threat to cut off every U.S. dollar to Abbas’ corrupt PA, a terrorist cartel disguised as a government, Trump’s words will be dismissed as empty bluster. Yes, Trump is “giving serious consideration” to moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, as Vice President Mike Pence said, a seeming retreat from Trump’s definitive January statement, “We will move the American embassy.” Yes, all 100 Senators last week signed a letter calling on the UN to end its anti-Israel bias. A few days later, an unimpressed UNESCO passed, on Israel’s Independence Day, a resolution denying Israel’s historically factual link to Jewish religious and cultural sites in the region. No word on any punishment for this obvious insult to the Senate.
The diplomats and State Department group-thinkers always respond to such criticism by speaking of the “complexity” and “nuances” of the problem, the “cycle of violence,” the “unhelpful settlements,” the legitimacy of “Palestinian nationalist aspirations,” and other empty mantras designed to avoid making hard decisions based on reality. That reality is simple: a majority of Arabs do not, nor ever have, recognized the legitimacy of Israel as a state, have no interest in the “two-state solution,” and see terrorist violence as a legitimate and useful tactic for executing the “stages” strategy for the destruction of Israel “from the river to the sea.”
Indeed, the roots of the conflict do not lie with Israel. As a nation built on the territory of its ancient homeland, Israel is more legitimate than the other states in the region created by the mandatory powers after World War I, pursuant to several international treaties and the League of Nations. As for the “Palestinian” people and its thwarted national self-determination, no such nation has ever existed. Sha’i ben-Tekoa’s search through the UN archives didn’t find the Palestinian people mentioned until 1970, three years after Israel reclaimed Judea and Samaria in the Six Day War. “Palestinian national self-determination” has for half a century been a pretext for waging an eliminationist war against Israel and the Jews, one that after three ignominious defeats will not be waged by full-scale war. Listen to Zouhair Muhsin, a member of the Executive Council of the PLO during the 1970s: “There are no differences between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. We are all part of one nation. It is only for political reasons that we carefully underline our Palestinian identity… Yes, the existence of a separate Palestinian identity serves only tactical purposes. The founding of a Palestinian state is a new tool in the continuing battle against Israel.”
And as UNESCO and the Orwellian-titled Human Rights Council serially demonstrate, the corrupt UN has been the instrument and enabler of this historical falsehood, and the instigator of global Jew-hatred. As Jean Kirkpatrick, Ronald Reagan’s Ambassador to the UN, once said, “The long march through the UN has produced many benefits for the PLO. It has created a people where there was none; a claim where there was none. Now the PLO is seeking to create a state where there already is one.” Returning our policies in the region to reality require that we exclude the UN.
All this is obvious, both the facts and the decades of impotent diplomacy. So why is Donald Trump repeating some of the same mistakes? Did treating the terrorist thug Yasser Arafat as a statesman, even giving him a Nobel Peace Prize, lead to a “Palestinian” state? He was Bill Clinton’s favorite White House guest, and all Clinton got was a humiliating rejection of an offer that the Palestinian Arabs keep saying is all they want. Israel got a terror campaign killing 1,100 of its citizens, with thousands more wounded. Barak Obama marginalized Israel and made it the scapegoat for Palestinian recalcitrance, and got nothing but Abbas bragging about how he said “no” to Obama twelve times. Even the deal-maker Trump can’t close a deal when there is no “meeting of the minds” on which to base one. The only thing on the Palestinian Arabs’ minds is destroying Israel.
So far Donald Trump has been an enormous improvement compared to his deluded predecessors. But most of it has been talk. Strong action is now needed more than merely repeating the diplomatic theater of White House photo-ops, “summits,” or “agreements”: Madrid (1991), Oslo (1993), the Wye River Memorandum (1998), Camp David (2000), Taba (2001), the Arab Peace Initiative (2002), the Roadmap (2003), the Geneva Accord (2003), Annapolis (2007), and Washington (2010) ––none have changed anything. Palestinian children are still tutored in virulent Jew-hatred, pre-school tots are still dressed in suicide-bomber gear, Israelis continue to be murdered, Hamas continues to rain down mortars and missiles on them, and Hezbollah continues to amass a stockpile of missiles on Israel’s northern border. The only success has been the first Camp David agreement that created the cold peace between Egypt and Israel, at the cost of $2 billion a year in U.S. foreign aid to Cairo.
So forget this stale drama, President Trump. Cut off every dime of the $8 billion we taxpayers send to the UN, $355 million of which goes to the UN Relief Works Agency, the only UN agency focused on one group, the “Palestinians,” and an abettor of incitement and terrorism. Cut off every dime of the $357 million we give to the PA, funds that contribute $55 million for “supplies and training” to PA security forces, a spokesman for whom in 2013 called the 1978 Mother’s Day terrorist attack that killed 37 Israelis, including 12 children, “honorable.” Put an end to taxpayer dollars going to finance corrupt thugs and terrorist killers, and to pay subsidies to their families. Passing the Taylor Force Act, which would eliminate funding to the PA unless it stops paying stipend to families of terrorists, would be a good start, but only a start.
And most important, stop treating the Palestinian Arabs and their self-inflicted misery as the most important global crisis. Stop using words like “occupied territories” for lands that were last under the sovereignty of the Ottoman Empire, and the disposition of which still awaits a final settlement. If we are going to decry occupation, let’s talk about the Turkish occupation of Norther Cyprus, now in its fifth decade after an invasion accompanied by ethnic cleansing, population transfers from Turkey, and the destruction or vandalizing of 300 churches. Stop promoting the lie that Arabs who ended up in the historic homeland of Israel because of invasion, colonization, and immigration are somehow the indigenous people deserving their own nation. If we truly believe in national determination, then let’s focus on the Kurds, a people with indisputable ties to their homeland dating back at least 2500 years, a people with a distinct language, history, and culture that make them truly worthy of their own country. Don’t let selective or fabricated history and politicized double-standards set the terms for understanding the conflict.
In short, stop wasting money on people who want to destroy the only vibrant, tolerant, open, democratic country in the region. Stop abusing history and language. Stop treating aggressors as victims. Stop enabling terrorism. And stop treating corrupt, unelected terrorist thugs like legitimate heads of state. We’ve tried seven decades of lies and empty talk; let’s see how truth and vigorous action work.