Within 24 hours of the death of former Israeli president Shimon Peres, official Palestinian Authority (PA) described him as “the greatest fraud in the history of the Zionist movement” and the “greatest man of war in Israel.”
As shown in a Palestinian Media Watch report – http://tinyurl.com/jd88n7d – the website of Fatah, the self-styled “moderate” faction of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, featured a cartoon of a trembling, handcuffed Peres with the Grim Reaper, who is holding a list of all the crimes Peres committed. The flames of Hell in the background suggest Peres’s final destination.
And, when Abbas attended the funeral of Peres and shook hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he was widely condemned by Palestinians as a traitor and collaborator with Israel.
None of this should be surprising to close observers of the Middle East. Nor should the reaction of one of Israel’s most diehard critics, Robert Fisk of Britain’s The Independent: “When the world heard that Shimon Peres had died, it shouted ‘Peacemaker!’ But when I heard that Peres was dead, I thought of blood and fire and slaughter.”
The usual suspects had the usual opinions about Peres – from the predictable demonizers to the equally predictable hagiographers. Since my opinion of the idealistic Peres was somewhere in the middle, and I had nothing particularly unique to say about him, I had not planned to write about him or his legacy.
But then I saw an op-ed in the New York Times by Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian lawmaker and member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee, blaming Peres and Israel for the failure of the Oslo Accords. http://tinyurl.com/jzwjllp
Like Ashrawi herself – who is widely viewed as a moderate, although she famously rejected suicide bombing as a tactic in 2002 because it was politically damaging, not because it was morally wrong – the article is reasoned, intelligent and articulate. And, like any good piece of propaganda, it contains many true statements.
Yes, Peres was an early supporter of establishing settlements on disputed territory. Yes, he fought in Israel’s War of Independence, during which tens of thousands of Arabs – Ashrawi says 750,000 – fled what was to become the Jewish State.
Yes, he was involved in the establishment of Israel’s atomic weapons program. And, yes, he was president during the tenure of the hardline Netanyahu.
And, yes, if Peres had called early elections after the 1995 assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, the Oslo Accords might have been salvaged (though at what cost to Israel is a whole other discussion).
But the brilliance of Ashrawi’s argument is what she doesn’t say.
She doesn’t mention, for example, that Palestinians fled or were displaced in 1948 because their leaders declared war on Israel and continue to refuse to recognize its legitimacy.
She acknowledges “flaws” in Oslo’s Declaration of Principles – not, of course, its crucial flaw of legitimizing Yasser Arafat and the PLO, but because it allegedly gave Israel too much power.
In brilliant understatement, she does concede, “Palestinians certainly made mistakes.”
Since she fails to itemize any of these failures, allow me.
Nobel Peace Prize to the contrary, Arafat never truly embraced the Oslo Accords. Indeed, he proudly compared them to the Islamic prophet Muhammad’s Hudaybiyyah peace treaty with the Quraish tribe of Mecca – a 10-year deal that Muhammad violated after two years when he attacked and conquered Mecca. http://tinyurl.com/jrm67gq
For Arafat, treaties were clearly a temporary means to accomplish his true goal of destroying Israel.
It’s easy to focus on settlements, borders and the unattainable “right” of every descendant of every displaced Palestinian to return to his or her original home within Israel’s borders as obstacles to peace.
But let’s not forget that Arafat and the Palestinian Authority never even tried to live up to their agreements in Article XXII of the Oslo II Accord to abstain from incitement and to educate their children to seek peace with Israel.
Instead, they unleashed a series of terror wars that have killed more than 1,600 Israeli civilians since the first Oslo Accord was signed in 1993.
Abbas and his ministers continue to praise terrorists and glorify terror. Indeed, they pay salaries to terrorists and their families – the more Israelis killed, the higher the salary.http://tinyurl.com/oyk3mdm
Whatever the faults of Peres, Arafat and the terrorists he mentored and glorified did not resort to violence because the Oslo Accords failed.
The Oslo process, and every subsequent attempt at a peace deal, failed because the Palestinian leadership has never given up on its true goal of eliminating Israel and the Jewish people.