Commentary Magazine


Topic: Martyrs Brigade

The Other Side of the “Peace” Process

While most of the world rattles on about how Israel’s impudent decision to build apartments for Jews in an existing Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem will harm the peace process, the real obstacles to peace staged yet another demonstration of Middle East realities. In the last two days, Palestinian terrorists fired three rockets into southern Israel. Two landed near the town of Sderot in Southern Israel on Wednesday. One adult and a child suffered from shock from that blast. Then today, a rocket hit nearby Moshav Netiv Ha’asara, killing a worker from Thailand. Thirty such rockets have landed in southern Israel since the beginning of 2010.

Apologists for the Hamas terrorists, who run Gaza as a private fiefdom, were quick to blame the attacks on splinter groups beyond the control of the supposedly responsible thugs of Hamas. Two such groups claimed responsibility. One is an al-Qaeda offshoot, and the other is none other than the al-Asqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, the terrorist wing of the supposedly moderate and peace-loving Fatah Party that controls the West Bank.

The rockets were an appropriate welcome to the Dame Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s top foreign-policy official, who was in Gaza for a visit. Though Ashton won’t meet with Hamas officials, her trip to Gaza is seen as helping the ongoing campaign to lift the limited blockade of the terrorist-run enclave even though Israel allows food and medical supplies into the Strip, so there is no humanitarian crisis. Those who would like to see this Hamasistan freed from all constraints say that the “humanitarian” issues should take precedence over “politics.” But their humanitarianism takes no notice of Israelis who still live under the constant threat of terrorist missile attacks. Nor do they think Hamas should be forced to free kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for an end to the blockade.

Such “humanitarianism” is also blind to why Israelis are leery of any further territorial concessions to the Palestinians – because they rightly fear that the ordeal of Sderot could easily be repeated in any part of Central Israel, as well as in Jerusalem, once Israel’s forces are forced to completely withdraw from the West Bank. Gaza is not just a symbol of the failures of Palestinian nationalism, as the welfare of over a million Arabs has been ignored as Hamas pursues its pathologically violent agenda of hostility to Israel. It is also a symbol of the failure of Ariel Sharon’s unilateral withdrawal policy, which Americans once hoped would allow the area to become a zone of peace and prosperity.

For all of the recent emphasis on Israel’s behavior, Gaza stands as both a lesson and a warning to those who heedlessly urge further concessions on Israel on behalf of a peace process in which the Palestinians have no real interest.

While most of the world rattles on about how Israel’s impudent decision to build apartments for Jews in an existing Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem will harm the peace process, the real obstacles to peace staged yet another demonstration of Middle East realities. In the last two days, Palestinian terrorists fired three rockets into southern Israel. Two landed near the town of Sderot in Southern Israel on Wednesday. One adult and a child suffered from shock from that blast. Then today, a rocket hit nearby Moshav Netiv Ha’asara, killing a worker from Thailand. Thirty such rockets have landed in southern Israel since the beginning of 2010.

Apologists for the Hamas terrorists, who run Gaza as a private fiefdom, were quick to blame the attacks on splinter groups beyond the control of the supposedly responsible thugs of Hamas. Two such groups claimed responsibility. One is an al-Qaeda offshoot, and the other is none other than the al-Asqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, the terrorist wing of the supposedly moderate and peace-loving Fatah Party that controls the West Bank.

The rockets were an appropriate welcome to the Dame Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s top foreign-policy official, who was in Gaza for a visit. Though Ashton won’t meet with Hamas officials, her trip to Gaza is seen as helping the ongoing campaign to lift the limited blockade of the terrorist-run enclave even though Israel allows food and medical supplies into the Strip, so there is no humanitarian crisis. Those who would like to see this Hamasistan freed from all constraints say that the “humanitarian” issues should take precedence over “politics.” But their humanitarianism takes no notice of Israelis who still live under the constant threat of terrorist missile attacks. Nor do they think Hamas should be forced to free kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for an end to the blockade.

Such “humanitarianism” is also blind to why Israelis are leery of any further territorial concessions to the Palestinians – because they rightly fear that the ordeal of Sderot could easily be repeated in any part of Central Israel, as well as in Jerusalem, once Israel’s forces are forced to completely withdraw from the West Bank. Gaza is not just a symbol of the failures of Palestinian nationalism, as the welfare of over a million Arabs has been ignored as Hamas pursues its pathologically violent agenda of hostility to Israel. It is also a symbol of the failure of Ariel Sharon’s unilateral withdrawal policy, which Americans once hoped would allow the area to become a zone of peace and prosperity.

For all of the recent emphasis on Israel’s behavior, Gaza stands as both a lesson and a warning to those who heedlessly urge further concessions on Israel on behalf of a peace process in which the Palestinians have no real interest.

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Obama’s Stand on Gilo Gives Palestinian Snipers a Moral Victory

Apologists for the Obama administration have been arguing that there is no real difference between his stand opposing Jewish settlements and that of George W. Bush. There was some truth to this when it came to settlements in the West Bank, though this assertion ignores the fact that the Bush administration publicly acknowledged that some of the larger settlement blocs would be retained by Israel in any peace agreement and that building within them was not really an issue. But even the most ardent fans of Obama must understand that there is a major difference between the two presidents when it comes to Jerusalem. Granted, the United States has never formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital or formally accepted the unification of the city that was made possible by the Six-Day War. As much as the U.S. routinely protested settlement-building in the West Bank, it never made a stink about building homes in Jerusalem. And that’s where Obama parts company with his predecessors.

Though the administration has backed off a bit on its determination to pressure Israel into a total settlement freeze — a policy that only incited Palestinians to be even more intransigent than before — Obama made a point of personally opposing the construction of 900 new apartment units in the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo. Obama condemned the new housing in an interview with Fox News during which he stated that the apartments could embitter Palestinians in a way that was “very dangerous.”

The president’s decision to speak as if this part of Jerusalem was a “settlement” where Jews had no right to live and build is not just a provocative escalation of the administration’s hostile attitude toward Israel. It also gives the Palestinian terrorists who made the apartment complexes in this neighborhood their personal shooting gallery throughout the second intifada an unexpected boost. Palestinian Authority–backed snipers based in the neighboring Arab village of Beit Jala regularly shot into Gilo during that conflict. Gilo also became more than just a middle-class Jerusalem neighborhood. It assumed the role of a symbol of Israeli tenacity and courage, and the area became a regular stop for visitors to the city. At the time, the United States condemned the attacks on Gilo. The presence of Jewish homes there was not an issue. Even media outlets that were far from supportive of Israel, such as the New York Times, were wont to describe it as a Jerusalem neighborhood, as this report from 2001 by Clyde Haberman during the height of the fighting illustrates. The word settlement is never used once in the article. Today, however, the Times used that word to describe Gilo in the headline of the story about Obama’s broadside.

Though I doubt the White House even thought of it in this context, Obama’s decision to treat as illegitimate Gilo’s existence as a Jewish community is, in a very real sense, a moral victory for those al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade killers whose goal was to make the neighborhood a place where Jews could no longer live. So just as visitors who wanted to bear witness to the determination of Israelis to not yield to terror needed to go to Gilo in 2001, anyone wishing to see just how far the United States has drifted from a position of support for the Jewish state must today go to the same place.

Apologists for the Obama administration have been arguing that there is no real difference between his stand opposing Jewish settlements and that of George W. Bush. There was some truth to this when it came to settlements in the West Bank, though this assertion ignores the fact that the Bush administration publicly acknowledged that some of the larger settlement blocs would be retained by Israel in any peace agreement and that building within them was not really an issue. But even the most ardent fans of Obama must understand that there is a major difference between the two presidents when it comes to Jerusalem. Granted, the United States has never formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital or formally accepted the unification of the city that was made possible by the Six-Day War. As much as the U.S. routinely protested settlement-building in the West Bank, it never made a stink about building homes in Jerusalem. And that’s where Obama parts company with his predecessors.

Though the administration has backed off a bit on its determination to pressure Israel into a total settlement freeze — a policy that only incited Palestinians to be even more intransigent than before — Obama made a point of personally opposing the construction of 900 new apartment units in the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo. Obama condemned the new housing in an interview with Fox News during which he stated that the apartments could embitter Palestinians in a way that was “very dangerous.”

The president’s decision to speak as if this part of Jerusalem was a “settlement” where Jews had no right to live and build is not just a provocative escalation of the administration’s hostile attitude toward Israel. It also gives the Palestinian terrorists who made the apartment complexes in this neighborhood their personal shooting gallery throughout the second intifada an unexpected boost. Palestinian Authority–backed snipers based in the neighboring Arab village of Beit Jala regularly shot into Gilo during that conflict. Gilo also became more than just a middle-class Jerusalem neighborhood. It assumed the role of a symbol of Israeli tenacity and courage, and the area became a regular stop for visitors to the city. At the time, the United States condemned the attacks on Gilo. The presence of Jewish homes there was not an issue. Even media outlets that were far from supportive of Israel, such as the New York Times, were wont to describe it as a Jerusalem neighborhood, as this report from 2001 by Clyde Haberman during the height of the fighting illustrates. The word settlement is never used once in the article. Today, however, the Times used that word to describe Gilo in the headline of the story about Obama’s broadside.

Though I doubt the White House even thought of it in this context, Obama’s decision to treat as illegitimate Gilo’s existence as a Jewish community is, in a very real sense, a moral victory for those al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade killers whose goal was to make the neighborhood a place where Jews could no longer live. So just as visitors who wanted to bear witness to the determination of Israelis to not yield to terror needed to go to Gilo in 2001, anyone wishing to see just how far the United States has drifted from a position of support for the Jewish state must today go to the same place.

Read Less




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