09 June 2013

Palestinians Have Suffered … at the Hands of Their Leaders

From Commentary, 7 June 2-13, by Jonathan S. Tobin:

Sometimes a great truth can be found even in a compendium of lies. That’s the upshot of the latest rant against Israel from a Palestinian leader. The leader in question is Jibril Rajoub, who currently serves as head of the Palestinian Olympic Committee, though prior to assuming that post this senior official of the Fatah Party was an Arafat advisor and a terrorist who was imprisoned for throwing a hand grenade at an Israeli bus. Rather than concentrating on trying to get Palestinian kids to turn to sports as a preferable outlet to violence, Rajoub has been outspoken about his commitment to conflict with Israel recently and was quoted as having said that Palestinians suffered “three times as much” as Israelis as a result of the 1972 Munich massacre.

There is something egregious about a Palestinian Olympic official attempting to rationalize or even downplay the significance of an event in which terrorists under the command of Arafat and Fatah (albeit operating under the false flag of “Black September” which was merely a front for the PLO) murdered 11 Israeli athletes. But as wrong as Rajoub is about so much else, he’s right that the Palestinians have suffered more as a result of these events even if he doesn’t quite understand what the source of the suffering really was.

When he spoke of Palestinian suffering, Rajoub was referring to the Israeli efforts to kill all those involved in that bloody terror attack. But the real suffering was the ultimate impact on the Palestinian people of that crime and the thousands more like it committed in the name of Palestinian nationalism. By embracing terror, the Palestinians have doomed themselves to decades of war and hardship that might have been entirely avoided had they decided to devote themselves to reconciliation and coexistence. Rather than focus on the supposed misdeeds of the evil Israelis, as Rajoub would have his people and those that wish them well do, Palestinians would do well to finally realize that the ones who have been inflicting suffering on them are their own violent and corrupt leadership.

Rajoub’s checkered career has included some time spent trying to cultivate the affection of Israeli and American Jewish left-wingers via the Geneva Initiative, of which he was one of the signers. But in the last year, he has been among the most outspoken Palestinians when it comes to attempts to demonize Israel. As the Times of Israel reports:

Rajoub, former director of the Preventive Security Force in the West Bank, told a conference in October 2012 that “Jews are Satans, and Zionists the sons of dogs.”

In an interview with the Lebanese TV channel al-Mayadeen on May 1, he said that, for Fatah, “resistance to Israel remains on our agenda.

“I mean resistance in all of its forms,” he elaborated. “At this stage, we believe that popular resistance — with all that it entails — is effective and costly to the other side [Israel],” Rajoub said in the hour-long interview, which was highlighted by the watchdog group Palestinian Media Watch.

“If you ask me as a Palestinian,” he continued, “I say — our battle is with the Israeli occupation. Our main enemy, not [just] as Palestinians but as Arabs and Muslims, is Israel and the Israeli occupation.”

These sorts of statements are in keeping with the general tone of Palestinian politics in which vilification of Israel and support for conflict is always in fashion. But Rajoub’s reference to Munich is an opportunity to address just how badly those who act on such sentiments have damaged the Palestinians.

Violence against Jews and rejection of Israel has been the key element of Palestinian nationalism throughout its history. But imagine what the outcome would have been if instead of concentrating on trying to kill Jews, be they Olympic athletes or the children slaughtered by suicide bombers during the second intifada, Palestinians had focused their efforts on peaceful development, refugee resettlement or peaceful outreach. Untold suffering, death and destruction would have been avoided on both sides. And there’s little doubt the Palestinians would have achieved an independent state long ago.

Israelis have suffered from Arab terror such as the Munich massacre. But it is probably true that as awful as that pain has been, the Palestinians have been the much big losers in the exchange. It’s a pity that Rajoub can’t realize that. It’s even more of a pity that the people he supposedly represents haven’t come to the same conclusion and ousted their corrupt and violent Fatah and Hamas leaders in exchange for leaders who wish to end their suffering rather than prolong it in the name of an endless unwinnable war against Israel.