Tuesday, December 31, 2013

31-Dec-13: Reality-checking: are we closer to peace this morning or further away?

The scene in Ramallah early this morning [Image Source: Getty]
A handful of observations here in the wake of the dismaying freeing of 26 convicted Palestinian Arab murderers in the dark of the night just ended.

From a piece by Maher Abukhater in the Los Angeles Times [source]:
"Right-wing Israelis who consider the prisoners terrorists staged a sit-in outside the Old City residence of one of the Jerusalem prisoners"
Abukhater and the LA Times editors evidently take the same view as the US Secretary of State whose Deputy Spokesperson told a media briefing that the question of whether the convicted killers being freed under intense US pressure by Israel are political prisoners, freedom fighters or terrorists was a toughie and that further enquiries would have to be carried out in the office. (Check this if you don't believe us: transcript, video, the whole thing.)

The man from the LA Times doesn't feel obliged to take a position on this either; it's enough to brand those Israeli outraged by the injustice of criminals being freed by politicians as "right-wing". We happen to know many of the people who are outraged by what the freeing of convicted felons stands for. Calling them right-wing is prejudicial, inaccurate and cheap.

Abukhater again:
"Dozens of cars followed the buses through Ramallah to the presidential headquarters, where Abbas and other officials greeted the prisoners, shaking hands with each and kissing them on the cheek. Abbas described the event as "a happy day for all of us and for our heroic prisoners, who have come out today to freedom to live as free people, even though they were also free when in prison."
What realistic prospect of peace, with the painful compromises that peace inevitably entails, can be expected from an aging and weak political figure like Abbas who kisses convicted murderers on the cheeks and calls them heroic? Many of the victims of the acts of murder for which they were tried, convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison terms, were fellow Arabs. Arab family members of those dead victims must have been seeing this on their living room TVs this morning. Do they see a politician who wants to make peace with the Israelis, or a man who is telling them that victory is coming and any price, including the deaths of his fellow citizens, is OK? Are we closer to peace this morning, or yet another step further away?

Also from the LA Times
"Adnan Afandi of Bethlehem, one of the freed men, had served 21 years in prison. "I feel that we came out from the grave and into life once again," he said."
It might have been journalistically valuable had the LATimes' readers been given a  little more context. For instance, what if the writer had gone on to explain how the perpetually-bankrupt PA presided over by Mahmoud Abbas is about to hand Afandi and his fellow former grave-dwellers the sort of reward of which convicted murderers could never dare to dream? The details are here ["10-Nov-13: Who finances those savage acts of terror? And why is this so poorly understood?"]. Afandi is about to start "earning" a salary of $2,000 per month - among the most generous to be paid to anyone in the Palestinian territories. He will also be given a top job in the PA's civil service and a cash grant of an unimaginable $50,000. We explained this, with evidence, in "10-Dec-13: In Brussels, is the EU preparing to whitewash PA corruption?"

As for Afandi himself, might it not have been interesting to know he had been serving a term of thirty years. And that "political" offense of his? An attack, using a kitchen knife, on two unarmed, unsuspecting Israeli civilians. He was convicted of attempted murder. His prime minister calls his deed heroic. How close should we and our children stand, in the days to come, to Palestinian Arabs with access to kitchen knives? How can you tell when one of the Palestinian Arabs on the bus or standing in line with you at the post office or in a Jerusalem hospital ward has decided to become a hero? Or wealthy?

And on the subject of painful compromise, this from the Washington Post
Qadura Farres, head of the Palestinian prisoners, said that Israel was not doing the Palestinians any favors and that all these prisoners should have been released as part of the Oslo Accords, an agreement to establish a measure of Palestinian self-rule and partial withdrawal of Israeli troops. Despite this, Mr Farres said, he was happy about Monday's release, adding that it gives a "ray of hope for the release of all our other prisoners".
Not doing anyone any favours is a key message in an entitlement-based society like the one the Palestinian Arabs have constructed. Compromise? Peace process? Who's kidding whom? Fares is a close associate, according to Wikipedia, of the convicted murderer Marwan Barghouti. Barghouti's principal victim was a Greek Orthodox priest, murdered while driving his own car because his beard made him look too Jewish.

Again from the Washington Post:
“They will participate in a special torch-lighting to celebrate the beginning of the new year,” Palestinian Minister of Prisoner Affairs Issa Karak said in an interview. “We are very happy for the release of our prisoners, who have spent 20 years in jail, and see this as a step towards freedom for all our prisoners.”
Did anyone, even John Kerry, imagine we would hear the PA's minister  for convicted murderers say the release makes them happy because it's a step towards making peace? Is anyone paying attention to what Karak did say? He has just articulated his side's main goal: they are doing what they are doing so that their "prisoners", convicted felons and many of them cold-blooded murdering savages, can walk free. That's their program. And it's succeeding.

Any suggestion that peace forms some part of their strategic plan, as a succession of US government officials has been saying non-stop since the relentless pressure got underway, is 100% wishful thinking. If we're wrong, show us the evidence, please. Perhaps Marie Harf of the State Department has some for us?

1 comment:

NormanF said...

A country that has no respect for itself is not going to win the respect of its enemies.

Jews don't care about their own dead! Why on earth should they expect the Arabs to care about the lives of living Jews? The Arabs themselves see with their own eyes there is no real price to be paid for murdering a Jew in cold blood.

What is equally apparent is the Israeli elite has been oblivious to the humiliation of past releases of convicted murderers and has learned nothing from this one also. There is then every reason in the world to expect that they will do exactly the same thing all over again when the final tranche of terrorists to be released comes due next April.

Above all, the one thing every one can be sure of is that peace is not in the offing.