I've debated Isi Liebler on cable television. A supporter of Oslo during the '90s, he turned into a bitter critic of peacemaking efforts because of terrorism. His regular column in the Jerusalem Post is very hardline, because he totally distrusts the Palestinian leadership. I'm sure that his views are mirrored on the Palestinian side by many who totally distrust the Israeli leadership because of the settlements.
Do you think that anything he writes here is true? I know that he's basically correct on these ceremonies; how do moderates like ourselves handle such questions on proving the PA's goodwill? [I quote Liebler here:]
Mahmoud Abbas was adamant that the Palestinian Authority would not contemplate any compromises. He told Al Kuds newspaper that "we're not talking about a Jewish state and we won't recognize Israel as a Jewish state... you can't expect us to accept this." Interviewed by Al Ayyam he said, "If they demand concessions on the right of the refugees or the 1967 borders, I will quit. I can't allow myself to make even one concession." He also told the Egyptian media that while he would contemplate NATO forces being deployed in a future Palestinian state, he would not tolerate the presence of Jews among NATO forces and "will not allow even one Israeli to live among us on Palestinian soil."Hussein Ibish's response:
.... It should be noted that Abbas failed to explicitly condemn the recent killings by Hamas and merely noted that the timing of the assassinations "contradicts Palestinian interests."
.... We continue downplaying the criminal nature of Palestinian society such as the sanctification of "martyrs" engaged in appalling crimes against our civilians, as well as incitement against Jews and Israelis in PA mosques, in the media and throughout the educational system. In Ramallah a square was recently named in honor of Dalal Mugrabi who massacred 37 Israelis on a bus.
A few weeks ago Abbas and his prime minister, Salam Fayyad, participated in a ceremony honoring Amin al-Hindi one of the chief architects of the murder of the Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics.
Most of it's either distorted or false. The ceremonies are right, but to reduce Amin al-Hindi to someone suspected of having a role in the Munich terrorist act is to misunderstand his role in Palestinian society. It's a little bit like objecting to Israelis honoring former members of Irgun or the Stern gang. The statements attributed to Pres. Abbas are not accurate at all, and they have been thoroughly rebutted by the PLO and the PA. That's definitely not what he said and it's not their position at all. Yes, there are plenty of people on the Palestinian side, maybe most, who totally distrust the Israeli leadership, and not just because of settlements, but also because of violence and the occupation. Anyone capable of including a phrase such as “the criminal nature of Palestinian society” or “the criminal nature of Israeli society” has little to offer and is just looking for reasons not to strive for peace. To call it unhelpful would be a serious understatement.
[Abbas is] on the record as saying the opposite: that he welcomes NATO forces, including Jews and even if commanded by Jews, and many Palestinian officials have said Jews can stay in the Palestinian state, only not as settlers. Abbas obviously didn't say no Jews in Palestine; he said no more settlers, which is a completely different matter since it's about their status and not their identity.
Anyway, I'm really not interested in refuting this guy, because I've never heard of him and anyone who wants to engage in this kind of finger-pointing is wasting all of our time. We can talk about Lieberman, Yousef and all the others too. But this is a stupid zero-sum approach that concentrates on proving why the other party is bad, and which is therefore completely pointless.