Friday, October 09, 2015

What Ben Rhodes Doesn't Understand About Hope, Horizons & Palestinian Intentions

I heard Ben Rhodes, the U.S. deputy national security adviser, talking to Ilana Dayan on Army Radio Thursday morning, while I was driving to a meeting in the Tel Aviv area.

Rhodes is one of President Barack Obama's most loyal aides – Dayan (who is a top notch journalist and leans in the dovish direction) noted his longevity which is atypical -- most of the original White House crowd is long gone.

In addition to the customary bunch-of-words-strung-together you'd expect to hear from a professional wordsmith, Rhodes commented that one of the reasons the Palestinian Arabs had (again) turned to murderous violence is that there is no diplomatic solution on the horizon; there is a sense of hopelessness. If only there were a horizon of hope, he implied, this would not be happening.

That sounds reasonable. Only that it is wrong and shows how little he (and the administration he speaks for) understands Palestinian Arab sentiment.

Back on September 13, 1993, Israel and the PLO signed the Oslo Accords known as the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements. 

This was the apex of hope for Palestinians (and many Israelis). Here was something more than a diplomatic horizon. Here was a blueprint for the creation of Palestinian Arab interim self-government. In return, the PLO (supposedly) recognized Israel and (supposedly) committed to stop terrorism (i.e. anti-civilian warfare).

So, most reasonable folks would agree that September 13, 1993 might be a good starting point to gauge the correlation between "hope" or political horizon and Palestinian behavior.

What happened next?

Sep 24 93 - Yigal Vaknin was stabbed to death in an orchard near the trailer home where he lived near the village of Basra. A squad of the HAMAS's Iz a-Din al Kassam claimed responsibility for the attack.

Oct 9 93 Dror Forer and Aran Bachar were murdered by terrorists in Wadi Kelt in the Judean Desert. The Popular Front and the Islamic Jihad 'Al-Aqsa Squads' each publicly claimed responsibility.

Oct 24 93 Two IDF soldiers, Staff Sgt. (res.) Ehud Rot, age 35, and Sgt. Ilan Levi, age 23, were killed by a HAMAS Iz a-Din al Kassam squad. The two entered a Subaru with Israeli license plates outside a Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip, whose passengers were apparently terrorists disguised as Israelis. Following a brief struggle, the soldiers were shot at close range and killed. Hamas publicly claimed responsibility for the attack.

Oct 29 93 Chaim Mizrahi, resident of Beit-El, was kidnapped by three terrorists from a poultry farm near Ramallah. He was murdered and his body burned. Three Fatah members were convicted of the murder on July 27, 1994.

Nov 7 93 Efraim Ayubi of Kfar Darom, Rabbi Chaim Druckman's personal driver, was shot to death by terrorists near Hebron. HAMAS publicly claimed responsibility for the murder.

Nov 9 93 Salman 'Id el-Hawashla, age 38, an Israeli Bedouin of the Abu Rekaik tribe who was driving a car with Israeli plates, was killed by three armed men driving a truck hijacked from the Gaza municipality, in a deliberate head-on collision.

Nov 17 93 Sgt. 1st Cl. Chaim Darina, age 37, was stabbed by a Gazan terrorist while seated at the cafeteria at the Nahal Oz road block at the entrance to the Gaza Strip. The perpetrator was apprehended. The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the murder.

Nov 24 93 Maurice (Moshe) Edri, age 65, was killed in a terrorist attack in Netanya

Dec 1 93 Shalva Ozana, age 23, and Yitzhak Weinstock, age 19, were shot to death by terrorists from a moving vehicle, while parked on the side of the road to Ramallah because of engine trouble. Weinstock died of his wounds the following morning. Iz a-Din al Kassam claimed responsibility for the attack, stating that it was carried out in retaliation for the killing by Israeli forces of Imad Akel, a wanted HAMAS leader in Gaza.

Dec 5 93 David Mashrati, a reserve soldier, was shot and killed by a terrorist attempting to board a bus on route 641 at the Holon junction. The Islamic Jihad Shekaki group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Dec 6 93 Mordechai Lapid and his son Shalom Lapid, age 19, were shot to death by terrorists near Hebron. HAMAS publicly claimed responsibility for the attack.
Dec 22 93 Eliahu Levin and Meir Mendelovitch were killed by shots fired at their car from a passing vehicle in the Ramallah area. HAMAS claimed responsibility.

Dec 23 93 Anatoly Kolisnikov, an Ashdod resident employed as a relief watchman at a construction site there, was stabbed to death while on duty.

Dec 24 93 Lieut.Col. Meir Mintz, commander of the IDF special forces in the Gaza area, was shot and killed by terrorists in an ambush on his jeep at the T-junction in Gaza. The HAMAS Iz a-Din al Kassam squads publicly claimed responsibility for the attack.

 Dec 31 93 Chaim Weizman and David Bizi were found murdered in a Ramle apartment. ID cards of two Gaza residents were found in the apartment, together with a leaflet of the Popular Front 'Red Eagle' group, claiming responsibility for the murder.

Jan 12 94 Moshe Becker of Rishon Le-Zion was stabbed to death by three Palestinian employees while working in his orchard. The Popular Front claimed responsibility for the murder.

Jan 14 94 Grigory Ivanov was stabbed to death by a terrorist in the industrial zone at the Erez junction, near the Gaza Strip. HAMAS claimed responsibility for the attack.

Feb 9 94 Ilan Sudri, a taxi driver, was kidnapped and murdered while returning home from work. The Islamic Jihad Shekaki group sent a message to the news agencies claiming responsibility for the murder.

Feb 9 94 Shai Shuker, aged 22 of Herzliya, was killed in a terrorist attack in Tira
Feb 10 94 Naftali Sahar, a citrus grower, was murdered by blows to his head. His body was found in his orchard near Kibbutz Na'an.

Feb 13 94 Noam Cohen, age 28, member of the General Security Service, was shot and killed in an ambush on his car. Two of his colleagues who were also in the vehicle suffered moderate injuries. HAMAS claimed responsibility for the attack.

Feb 17 94 Yuval Golan, stabbed on December 29, 1993 by a terrorist near Adarim in the Hebron area, died of his wounds.

Feb 19 94 Zipora Sasson, resident of Ariel and five months pregnant, was killed on the trans-Samaria highway in an ambush by shots fired at her car. The terrorists were members of HAMAS.

Feb 25 94 Sam Eisenstadt, age 80, was assaulted with an axe in the center of Kfar Saba. He died of his wounds shortly afterwards.

I want to interrupt this litany (it is only partial) to sadly acknowledge that on February 25, 1994 Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 unarmed Palestinian Arabs at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

Back to the Arabs. 

On Mar 23 94 Victor Lashchiver, employed as a guard at the Income Tax offices in east Jerusalem, was shot and killed near Damascus Gate on his way to work. The Popular Front claimed responsibility for the attack.

Mar 29 94 Yitzhak Rothenberg, age 70 of Petah Tikva, was attacked on a construction site by two residents of Khan Yunis by axe blows to the head. He died several days later of his wounds. The murderers, apprehended the next day, stated that they carried out the attack in order to clear themselves of suspected collaboration with the Israeli authorities.

Mar 31 94 Yosef Zandani, age 28 of Bnei Ayish, near Gedera, was found murdered in his apartment. Near the body was a leaflet of the DFLP "Red Star", explaining that the murder was carried out in revenge for the shooting of one of its members by an Israeli citizen. The Israeli acted in self-defense.

Apr 6 94 Asher Attia, 48, of Afula, bus driver; Vered Mordechai, 13, of Afula; Maya Elharar, 17, of Afula; Ilana Schreiber, 45, a teacher from Kibbutz Nir David; Meirav Ben-Moshe, 16, of Afula; Ayala Vahaba, 40, a teacher from Afula; and Fadiya Shalabi, 25, of Iksal were killed in a car-bomb attack on a bus in the center of Afula. HAMAS claimed responsibility for the attack. Ahuva Cohen Onalla, 37, wounded in the attack, died of her wounds on April 25.

Apr 7 94 Yishai Gadassi, age 32 of Kvutzat Yavne, was shot and killed at a hitchhiking post at the Ashdod junction by a member of HAMAS. The terrorist was killed by bystanders at the scene.

Apr 13 94 Rahamim Mazgauker, 34, of Hadera; David Moyal, 26 of Ramat Gan, an Egged mechanic; Daga Perda, 44, who immigrated from Ethiopia in 1991; Bilha Butin, 49, of Hadera; and Sgt. Ari Perlmutter, 19, of Ir Ovot in the Arava were killed in a suicide bombing attack on a bus in the central bus station of Hadera. HAMAS claimed responsibility for the attack.

So within the first six months or so of being offered an unprecedented political horizon the Palestinian Arabs barely took a break from their blood-lust.

Ben Rhodes might want to take a closer look at Palestinian intentions. If he did he'd understand that this issue isn't hope or horizons or the illusion of momentum the peace process offers Europeans and Americans. It isn't about settlements (there were no settlements between 1948 and 1967). It is "original sin" or as the Arabs call it the "nakba" -- the creation of Israel within any boundaries,

When Arafat proposed the phased destruction of Israel to his comrades and his polity -- they balked. Many would not even suspend the "struggle" because, what if, what it they stopped the killing and practiced coexistence and then lost their will to kill....the will to return to the "struggle" somewhere down the line once Israel pulled back to the 1949 Armistice Lines.

Simply put, the Palestinians are engaged in a zero sum struggle.

Until Ben Rhodes comprehends Palestinian intentions he will continue to offer well articulated banalities about finding horizons to end the "conflict."

He means well, no doubt. But it is our lives that are at stake.

PS. Please don't excuse the violence with the mantra that the extremists were trying to torpedo Oslo. You can't have it both ways: You can't credibly argue that when there is no hope some Palestinians turn to violence, but when there is hope other Palestinians turn to violence.  

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