...................................................for Australian friends of Israel.
22 August 2017
Deconstructing a fake "Friend of Palestine"
Mike Khizam op-ed in Adelaide Advertiser: A
In an online op-ed for
Advertiser on Friday 11 August, AIJAC guest Dr Eran
Lerman congratulated the South Australian Legislative Council for
rightly calling for a negotiated outcome between Israel and the
Palestinian Authority prior to a Palestinian state being recognised.
in response to this, Australian Friends of Palestine Association
executive officer Mike Khizam had his own piecepublished
on the Advertiser's website
on Monday 14 August.
Dr Lerman used nuance and reason to make his point, Khizam relied on
anti-Israel canards, missing context and blatant mistruths to press his
own misinformed views.
is much wrong with the piece, but I will focus on a few key issues:
new motion effectively supports business as usual for Israel and its
fifty year occupation of the Palestinian territories. It only supports
recognition at the end of negotiations; at the end of a currently
non-existent peace process.
peace process at the moment is most definitely stalled, but whose fault
is this? Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu frequently repeats
an open invitation for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to
come to the negotiating table without preconditions.
2008, then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud made Abbas an unprecedented final
status offer, which gave Palestinians land equivalent to all
of the West Bank and Gaza after land swaps and included the painful
concession of giving up Jerusalem's Old City to international control.
He told Abbas, "it will be 50 years before there will be another
Israeli prime minister that will offer you what I am offering you now.
Don't miss this opportunity". Abbas never responded. Recently,
Abbas described his
response to that offer in an interview with the
following words, "I rejected it out of hand."
2010, the United States requested a 10-month settlement construction
freeze to coax Abbas to the table; he waited nine months before
entering negotiations, and even then only wanted to discuss extending
Indyk, Chief US negotiator during the 2014 negotiations between Israel
and the Palestinian Authority, toldThe Atlantic in
July 2014: "I saw him [Netanyahu] sweating bullets to find a way
to reach an agreement." But Abbas simply walked away.
it is Abbas who refuses to negotiate in good faith, and it is Abbas who
walked away from negotiations in 2008, 2010 and 2014. Similarly, his
predecessor Yasser Arafat rejected Ehud Barak's offers in 2000 and
2001. So if the peace process is stalled, it certainly isn't Israel's
fault. Yet Mike Khizam wants to reward the Palestinian Authority for
its consistent intransigence and refusal to negotiate in good faith.
is designed to help force the Israelis to engage in genuine
negotiations and to stop activities, like settlement building on
Palestinian land, that undermine the possibility of peace.
Israelis are not shunning negotiations and as for settlement building
undermining the possibility of peace, as we have demonstrated here,
settlements take up 2% of the West Bank's land no new settlements have
been built since 1999. Furthermore, construction that has occurred In
the last eight years under the Netanyahu government, always
within existing settlement
boundaries, has in fact barely kept up with natural
"settlement building on Palestinian land", under the Oslo
Accords, there are no restrictions on Israel building in Area C of the
West Bank. Article 5, Section 3 of the Accords,
which specifies what will be discussed during permanent status
negotiations, makes it clear that the future of the settlements would
be resolved only through direct negotiations between the two parties.
Furthermore, it is generally accepted - even by the Palestinians - that
under a future agreement, Israel would retain the main settlement blocs
of Maale Adumim, Gush Etzion and Ariel, compensating the Palestinians
with land swaps.
Peace Watch's Lior Amihai said in a 2014
interview that despite settlements, "if the
parties were to reach an agreement today then the two-state solution is
recognition of Palestine does not impose peace on Israel.
is hard to disagree, recognising Palestine doesn't impose peace on
anyone. On the contrary, it attempts to give the Palestinians statehood
without any obligation to make peace. With no expectations placed upon
the Palestinians, it leaves Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority
thinking they are free to continue on a path of intransigence,
rejectionism and incitement against Israel. We have seen the results of
such a path, most recently in Halamish where three members of the
Salomon family were brutally murdered in their home by a Palestinian
terrorist whose actions were a direct result of such incitement.
Furthermore, this murderer will now
receive a US $3120 monthly salary as a reward from the
would have readers believe it's all Israel's fault that there has been
no solution to the conflict over the last 50 years. Never mind that
Israel tried to return Gaza and the West Bank to the Arab world
immediately after capturing them in 1967, only to be met with the
infamous "three no's"
from the Arab World - no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel
and no negotiations with Israel.
and time again since the Oslo Accords, Israel has sought to settle the
dispute once and for all. Arafat rejected offers in 2000 and 2001,
Abbas rejected the offer in 2008, refused to negotiate in 2010 and the
2014 negotiations were shuttered before there was a chance for real
progress. Israel's total unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 was
met with rockets and terror tunnels rather than peace.
is only when the Palestinians own up to their own failings, renounce
incitement and terror, accept that Israel is here to stay and return to
negotiations in good faith, that there can be progress towards real
are desperate for peace, for normality, for security, and for a future
for their children.
don't doubt everyday Palestinians are indeed desperate for these
things. But their leadership clearly is not. This is a leadership that spreads
incitement and rejectionism among its people, through
PA-controlled media, children's television programs and in schools. As
above, it is a leadership that pays salaries to terrorists and their
families. The same leadership recently
named a children's camp after a terrorist who murdered
this is a leadership who, when offered in 2008 a peace deal giving them
everything they claim to desire, reacted by, in the words of PA
President Abbas, rejecting it "out of hand."
the Palestinian Authority truly wanted a future for its people, it
would have long ago turned its efforts towards building a state for
them instead of extending every effort to delegitimise, incite against
and demonise the Jewish one.
1948 they lost 78 per cent of their country to the new state of
was not and has never been a country. The name "Palestine" is
not Arabic; it was given to the area by Hadrian in 135 AD after the
conquest of Judea. Over the centuries various foreign empires - from
the Byzantines to the Umayyads to the Crusaders to the Mamaluks -
claimed control over the geographical area that was only occasionally
known as Palestine, but never anything resembling a state or other
it was liberated from Ottoman rule, the British ruled over what they
called the Palestine Mandate (which also included what is now Jordan)
from 1920 until 1948. During this time there were two competing
national movements - the Zionist movement of the Palestinian Jews (who
were then known merely as "Palestinians") and that of the
Arabs (now known as "Palestinians"), but it belonged to
could have had most of the good land from that area if they agreed to
partition in 1947 (the Jewish state was given slightly more territory
under than plane but most of it was in the almost uninhabited Negev
desert) and created a Palestinian state for the first time in history.
Instead they rejected it. Now, Khazim implies, they only want the
remaining 22% - but they were offered the equivalent of that in 2008
and couldn't bring themselves to say yes.
and were denied self- determination in their own homeland because they
were Muslims and Christians.
is possibly the most vile canard of all, with not a shred of truth to
it. The Palestinian Arabs were not denied self-determination
"because they were Muslims and Christians". On the contrary,
they rejected self-determination for themselves if it meant having to
accept self-determination for the Jews.
Nations Resolution 181, also known as the partition plan, proposed to
divide what was left of the Palestine Mandate into separate states for
the Jews and Arabs. Though it was far less than what they had been
hoping for, the Jews agreed. The Arabs rejected it, and upon the
declaration of the Jewish state, five Arab
armies launched a war aimed at annihilating it. These
are facts of history which even Israel's harshest critics accept.
Mike Khizam to instead allege that the Palestinians were denied
self-determination "because they were Muslims and Christians"
is a complete and utter fiction and a vicious calumny. It takes a mere
five-second google search to expose this libel for what it is.
750,000 people, then half of the Palestinian population were ethnically
slanderous fabrication. There was an attempt to ethnically cleanse a
people from the land, however it was the Arabs trying to ethnically
cleanse the Jews. But according to Khizam's version of events, the 1948
War of Independence, in which Israel fought for its very survival,
never happened. It is true that up to 750,000 Palestinian Arabs left their
homes during that war, for a variety of reasons - so
did many Jewish residents. But to completely leave out any mention of
the defensive war the fledgling State of Israel was fighting, and to
say the Palestinians were "ethnically cleansed", is
also seems to choose which refugees he shows concern for. There is no
mention of the 850,000
Jewish refugees who were expelled or forced to flee
from Arab nations in the decades following Israel's establishment.
twenty years ago the Palestinian leadership made peace with Israel and
accepted the loss of 78 per cent of their country.
signing the Oslo Accords, the Palestinians have neither made peace with
Israel nor accepted its existence within its internationally recognised
borders (what he calls "78 per cent of their country", a
country which I've already pointed out never existed).
very Palestinian leader who put pen to paper on the Accords, then
Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, commanded
the Second Intifada, in which over a thousand Israeli
civilians lost their lives in suicide bombings and other terror attacks
- not something you do to people you've made peace with.
for recognising Israel, political expediency may have seen the PLO
"talk the talk" prior to the Oslo Accords, but the
Palestinian leadership in practice does not "walk the walk"
to act contrary to this recognition. Official PA maps
regularly omit any
reference to Israel, the PA continues to deny Jewish
history in Jerusalem and Palestinian school textbooks demonise
Israel as "an evil entity that should be
they keep saying no to offers that would give them their state.
the while Israel takes more and more of Palestine...
already pointed out earlier in this document that no new settlements
have been built since 1999; nor have the geographical boundaries of
existing settlements expanded. It is simply untrue that the settlement
footprint in the West Bank is expanding.
must either give the Palestinians their freedom or give them the vote.
Khizam is genuinely concerned about Palestinian freedom and voting
rights, his anger is being seriously misdirected. Around 98 per cent of
Palestinians live under either Palestinian Authority or Hamas rule.
Their freedoms are indeed severely restricted - by their own leaders.
Abbas is now in his 12th year of a four year term and no parliamentary
elections have been held since 2006. In the Palestinian Authority, freedom of
speech and freedom of the press are virtually
non-existent. Palestinians living in Gaza face a similar or worse
situation under Hamas. So Palestinians should indeed be given a vote -
by their own leaders.
if Israel withdrew tomorrow to the 1967 borders, turning over the
entire West Bank to the PA (presumably what Khizam means by giving
Palestinians "their freedom"), Palestinians would not have
their freedom. In fact, the 300,000-odd Palestinian residents of East
Jerusalem, who currently enjoy residency of Israel, would experience a
severe drop in their freedoms.
is on the wrong side of history in so far as it pursues colonial
expansion and constructs a new apartheid state in the occupied
and "apartheid" seem to be two popular buzzwords used by
anti-Israel activists. The former is used to suggest a foreign people
came to a land in which they had no ties and displaced the local people
- a gross fallacy. The ties of the Jewish people to the land of Israel
can be proven beyond doubt. Or Avi-Guy says it
"Once Israel is falsely depicted
as a ‘colonial enterprise,' instead of the result of long struggle for
self-determination for the Jewish people (who came not just from
Europe, but rather from all over the world - including many who are
indigenous to the Middle East region), one can pretty much be certain
that we are not talking about settlements, human rights or peace
anymore ... too often the settlements are merely a distraction, when
the real objection is to ‘Zionist national identity,' and its political
manifestation - Israel - alone of all the national identities in the
for the "apartheid" allegation, this too is patently false.
Justice Richard Goldstone, who wrote and then retracted the infamous
Goldstone Report after Operation Cast Lead in 2009, wrote in a New York
"The charge that Israel is an
apartheid state is a false and malicious one that precludes, rather
than promotes, peace and harmony.
"The situation in the West Bank is more complex. But here too
there is no intent to maintain ‘an institutionalized regime of
systematic oppression and domination by one racial group.' This is a
critical distinction, even if Israel acts oppressively toward
Palestinians there. South Africa's enforced racial separation was
intended to permanently benefit the white minority, to the detriment of
other races. By contrast, Israel has agreed in concept to the existence
of a Palestinian state in Gaza and almost all of the West Bank, and is
calling for the Palestinians to negotiate the parameters.
"But until there is a two-state peace, or at least as long as
Israel's citizens remain under threat of attacks from the West Bank and
Gaza, Israel will see roadblocks and similar measures as necessary for
self-defence, even as Palestinians feel oppressed."
has successfully pursued a strategy of sidelining the UN, international
law and its obligations under agreements it has signed.
to the UN. The Palestinians, along with many of Israel's detractors,
have pursued a strategy of demonising and delegitimising
Israel at the UN, which seems all too happy to accommodate
their behaviour. The Palestinians have pursued a unilateral strategy at
the UN to avoid negotiations with Israel and more recently within UNESCO to
see absurd resolutions spirited through denying Jewish history and
legitimacy at some of Judaism's holiest sites.
for international law, no official legal body has made a definitive
ruling on its application in the West Bank. Even the highly politicised
and flawed UNSC Resolution 2334, which calls settlements a flagrant
violation of international law, according
to UN Watch, is lawless "because it purports to state a
legal conclusion which it is unqualified to do and which is
fact, as Ambassador Alan Baker - who participated in the negotiation
and drafting of the Oslo Accords - argues,
Israel is well within its rights under international law to have a
presence in the lands it took from Jordan in 1967 and even the
settlements which are on state land (not the illegal outposts) are
legitimate under international law. This is not to say the Palestinians
have no right to a negotiated sovereignty over parts of the West Bank
in the future, but as Amb Baker quite correctly points out:
"Even the Palestinians
themselves, in the Oslo agreement that they signed with Israel,
acknowledge the fact that the ultimate permanent status of the
territory is to be determined by negotiations. Therefore, even the
Palestinians accept the fact that this is not Palestinian territory,
it's disputed territory whose status is yet to be settled."
segues us nicely to the point of who is actually sticking to the
agreements they have signed - hint: it's not the Palestinians. The
Palestinian Authority is obligated under the accords to recognise
Israel, and while it did this in English to the world, it tells its
population something very different in Arabic and in the maps
schoolchildren study in PA schools. It is obligated not to incite
against Israel yet as discussed earlier in this piece incitement,
including by PA President Mahmoud Abbas himself, is rife, not to
mention the financial rewards the PA dishes out to terrorists and their
families. The Palestinian Authority is obligated not to seek unilateral
actions, yet this has been its sole strategy for the past five years as
it continues to avoid negotiations.
continues to fight any sign of support for the legitimate rights of the
does not fight "any sign of support for the legitimate rights of
Palestinians". Israel does fight demonisation and
delegitimisation, such as that promoted by the anti-Israel boycott
movement. Sadly, the purveyors of this hate like to package it as
support for Palestinian rights, but you never hear them speaking up for
the rights of Palestinians in Lebanon, Jordan or Syria. Nor do they
bring up the autocratic PA or brutal Hamas regime who curb Palestinian
rights in the West Bank and Gaza respectively.
when Israel can be blamed, demonised or delegitimised are the rights of
the Palestinian people suddenly important.
problem is that views such as Mike Khizam's are one of the reasons the
Palestinian Authority continues its intransigence, rejectionism and
incitement. It is only when the Palestinians own up to their own
failings, renounce incitement and terror, accept that Israel is here to
stay and return to negotiations in good faith, that there can be
progress towards real two-state peace.