[This article is reprinted from Jerusalem Post.]
On Sunday thousands of Israel haters gathered in Istanbul to welcome the Turkish-Hamas terror ship Mavi Marmara to the harbor. Festooned with Palestinian flags, the crowd chanted “Death to Israel,” “Down with Israel” and “Allah akbar” with Hizbullah-like enthusiasm.
The Turkish protesters promised to stand on the side of Hamas when it next goes to war with Israel. They may not have to wait long to keep their promise. Over the past two weeks Hamas has steeply escalated its missile war with over 30 launches. Last week, a missile that narrowly missed a nursery school wounded a young girl.
Since Operation Cast Lead two years ago, Iran has helped Hamas massively increase its missile and other military capabilities. Today the terror group that rules Gaza has missiles capable of reaching Tel Aviv. It has advanced antitank missiles. As Hamas spokesman Abu Obeida said Saturday, “We are now stronger than before and during the war, and our silence over the past two years was only for evaluating the situation.”
That evaluation has not tempered Hamas’s aim of annihilating the Jews of Israel. As Obeida’s colleague Ahmed Jaabari said Saturday, Israel’s Jews have two choices, “death or departing Palestinian lands.”
IDF commanders are taking Hamas’s new brinksmanship seriously. In recent days several have said that Israel’s deterrence has eroded. Another Cast Lead is just a matter of time, they warn.
In the meantime, Fatah – Hamas’s sometime rival and sometime brother – is preparing its next round of political warfare with its many friends around the world. Despite some recent tactical repositioning, its goal is clearly to proceed with its plan to declare statehood with maximum international support within the next nine to 12 months.
To this end, Fatah and its allies are operating on multiple fronts. On November 24 the UN General Assembly passed a resolution to hold a Durban III conference on September 21. The first conference, held in Durban, South Africa in September 2001, is mainly remembered as a diplomatic pogrom against Israel and Jews which complemented the shooting war in Israel.
As Jews were being butchered in pizzerias in Jerusalem, Jew-haters gathered to deny that Jews have human rights. They used the UN’s anti-racism banner to assert that it is not racist to kill and incite the murder of Jews. Jews were singled out and condemned as the only nation in the world whose national liberation movement – Zionism – is racist.
BUT EVEN more important than its service in glorifying suicide bombers and their political commissars just three days before the September 11 jihadist assault on the US, the Durban conference was the place where the blueprint for the political war against Israel was authored. At the NGO conference which took place as an adjunct to the governmental conference, self-proclaimed “human rights” groups from around the world agreed that their job was to criminalize the Jewish state to isolate it politically, diplomatically and economically. As key organizers put it, the “activists’” job was to conduct a nonviolent jihad to complement the work of the “resistance fighters” massacring children and parents in Israel.
The Durban II conference last year in Geneva was supposed to reinvigorate the political war that was launched in 2001. But it was a bust. The only head of state to address the proceedings was Iranian dictator Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He used the occasion to again call for the eradication of the Jewish state.
To prevent another flop, last month the Palestinians and their supporters agreed that the 10th anniversary conference will be held in New York during the opening of UN General Assembly. Their goal is to piggyback on that conference to get heads of state that are in New York already to join in their anti-Israel political war.
And they have every reason for optimism. Although Canada and Israel have announced their plans to boycott the conference, the Obama administration has been noticeably unwilling to distance itself from it.
Given the swank locale of Durban III, the Palestinians and their friends trust they will enjoy a reprise of the virulently anti-Jewish NGO conference of a decade ago. The resolution clearly advocates such an outcome in its call for “civil society, including NGOs to organize and support” the conference “with high visibility.”
For Fatah leaders like the Palestinian Authority’s unelected president Mahmoud Abbas and its unelected prime minister Salam Fayyad, the Durban III conference will be the culmination of their current campaign to delegitimize Israel.
Last week the PA announced it will ask the UN Security Council to pass an anti- Semitic resolution defining Jewish building in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem as illegal. This move dovetails nicely with Abbas’s statement over the weekend that “Palestine” will be Jew-free. As he put it, “If there is an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, we won’t agree to the presence of one Israeli in it. When a Palestinian state is established, it would have no Israeli presence.”
To date neither of these racist bids to deny Jews basic rights to their homes and land just because they are Jews has been opposed by any government or human rights group. And if the Obama administration allows the PA’s anti-Semitic resolution to go forward in the Security Council, the move would be a massive victory for the political war against Israel.
That war has already won some other significant victories of late. The decision by five South American governments to recognize “Palestine” along the 1949 armistice lines, like the decision by a number of European states – following the US – to upgrade the PLO’s diplomatic status are tactical gains.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signaled this month that the Obama administration is wholly on board Fatah’s political warfare bandwagon. In her speech at the Brookings Institute on December 10, she said the Obama administration supports Fatah’s plan to build facts on the ground that will make it more difficult for Israel to maintain its control over Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem.
After calling Jewish presence in the areas “illegitimate,” Clinton pledged the US “will deepen our support of the Palestinians’ state-building efforts.”
Among other things, she pledged to continue training and deploying a Palestinian army in Judea and Samaria and pressuring Israel to withdraw the IDF from the areas.
As she put it, “As the Palestinian security forces continue to become more professional and capable, we look to Israel to facilitate their efforts. And we hope to see a significant curtailment of incursions by Israeli troops into Palestinian areas.”
These then are the contours of the Palestinians’ war plans for 2011. Hamas will launch an illegal missile war to provoke an IDF campaign in Gaza. Iran, Syria, Hizbullah, Turkey, the UN and a vast array of NGOs and leftist governments from Norway to Brazil will support its illegal war.
Fatah will escalate its political war. Its campaign will be supported by the US, the EU, the UN and a vast array of NGOs and leftist governments.
The purpose of these two campaigns – which complement one another and which will likely culminate at the UN in September – is to weaken Israel militarily and politically with the shared purpose of destroying it in the fullness of time.
SO WHAT must Israel do? In the first instance, it must decide that its goal is not merely to weather this storm, but to win both of these wars.
In recent days we have been witness to a mildly entertaining fight between Defense Minister Ehud Barak and former prime minister Ehud Olmert. Olmert accused Barak of purposely failing to defeat Hamas during Operation Cast Lead. Barak, Olmert alleged, “did everything he could to defend Hamas and to prevent its downfall in the Gaza Strip.”
Barak responded to Olmert’s broadside by accusing the leader who failed to defeat Hizbullah in the 2006 war of “phony Churcillianism.”
Ironically, of course, both are right. Both of them led Israel in war with extreme incompetence. Both refused to put together strategies for victory.
Now as the country contemplates a reprise of Cast Lead, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu must ensure that when the IDF acts, it acts decisively and emerges victorious. If this means firing Barak, then he must be fired.
The same is true in the political realm. The Palestinian offensive must be met by a counteroffensive that is informed by a strategy for victory. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman demonstrated the starting point on Sunday when he told Israel’s ambassadors that peace with the Palestinians is impossible. But this is not enough.
Any strategy for victory in political warfare must begin with a clear recognition of reality. Peace is impossible because like Hamas, Fatah is the enemy. Its leaders and rank and file reject our right to exist. They are building a state that will be at war with us. They are avidly working to delegitimize us with the intention of destroying us together with their brothers in Hamas – whom they finance with US and other foreign aid.
A political war against Fatah would involve actively discrediting its members and leaders. Today Fatah is running a campaign libeling IDF soldiers and commanders as war criminals. Israel must file valid war crimes complaints against Fatah terrorists and political leaders in the international and foreign judicial bodies.
Fatah uses the UN to delegitimize us. Our delegations at all UN bodies must daily submit resolutions calling for the condemnation of the Palestinians for their efforts to criminalize us and carry out war crimes against us.
Israel must also rally its allies to its side. We must ask our friends in the US Congress to defund the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA. The PA is a terroristic and criminal syndicate that uses US taxpayer dollars to finance terrorism and pad the pockets of terror masters and apparachiks. UNRWA, which is supposed to be a welfare organization, openly acknowledges that it employs terrorists, allows its schools and camps to be used as jihad indoctrination centers, training camps and missile launching pads. The Congressional Research Service has stated that it is impossible to claim that US funds to UNRWA do not at least indirectly finance terror groups.
At home the government must stop all tax transfers to the PA. It must prohibit the deployment of the US-trained Palestinian army in Judea and Samaria. It must rebuff US pressure to curtail IDF counterterror operations in Judea and Samaria.
The government must outlaw all organizations assisting the Palestinians in their military and political warfare operations. It should support class action lawsuits against the PA by terror victims in local courts. It should withhold diplomatic visas to representatives of countries like Britain where Israeli politicians and military personnel are barred from travelling due to Palestinian lawfare operations.
The government should implement Netanyahu’s open airwaves plan and encourage the launch of a private all news network along the Fox News model.
The Palestinians clearly see the coming year as a decisive year in their war to destroy Israel. The Netanyahu government needs to muster its forces to battle. These are battles we can win. But to do so, we must commit ourselves to victory.