Commentary Magazine

Palestinian Independence, for Real

In the weeks before the UN General Assembly began debating a resolution that would recognize an independent Palestinian state, the world got a preview of what the creation of such a nation would mean. In late August, a series of deadly terror attacks against Israel were launched from Hamas-run Gaza. The resultant “cycle of violence” consisted of Israeli attempts to counterattack terror strongholds, matched by a massive barrage of missiles launched against cities in southern Israel. These actions demonstrate that despite the claim that Palestinians have been denied freedom and sovereignty, there already is an independent Palestinian state on Israel’s doorstep. Gaza is not only an Islamist tyranny, but also a secure terror base. That is exactly what would arise if an independent Palestinian state, including the West Bank, were under the control of a terrorist movement such as Hamas—or even the supposedly more moderate Fatah party of Mahmoud Abbas. Gaza is not merely the contemporary face of Palestinian independence; it also provides a glimpse of the future should Israel ever allow the West Bank similar independence under conditions akin to those today.

Egypt’s Flagmen
The deadly Palestinian attacks on Eilat and southern Israel on August 16 didn’t make much of an impression on world opinion, but they did resonate in Egypt. Public opinion there ignored the use of the country’s territory by terrorists, and was instead inflamed by a shooting incident along the border in which Israelis pursued killers who fired on Egyptian troops. The subsequent demonstrations around Israel’s embattled embassy in Cairo led to the tearing down of the flag of the Jewish state by individuals who were hailed as heroes. The fervor of the crowd’s anti-Israel animus was a manifestation of the widespread anti-Semitism that Mubarak allowed to exist. This anti-Semitism has become part of the cultural mainstream in Egypt, and there is no longer an effective check on it. 

Turkey Tilts Toward Hamas
The decision of the Turkish government to downgrade its relations with Israel says far more about Ankara than it does about Israel. Turkey was once one of Israel’s strongest allies, a pro-Western and aggressively secular republic that sought to align itself with a democratic Jewish state. But since an Islamic political party rose to power in 2003, the Turks have demonstrated they are more interested in the Muslim world than in maintaining their traditional alliances. The Marvi Marmara incident, in which several Turkish nationals were killed while attacking an Israeli boarding party, did not create the crisis between the two countries. It was merely a pretext for the Turks to proclaim their disdain for Israel as Turkey moves closer to rogue nations like Iran. This further isolates Israel while diminishing American influence in the region. 

Iranian Nukes Plugged In
In September, Iran plugged its first fully functional nuclear power plant into the country’s national energy grid. Although this may be perceived as further evidence of Tehran’s interest in peaceful atomic energy, new evidence surfaced this summer that the ayatollahs are not allowing international sanctions to deter them from pursuing nuclear weapons. Days earlier, the International Atomic Energy Agency reiterated its concern that Iran was moving toward the production of nuclear payloads for its missiles. Iran not only stepped up its enrichment of nuclear fuel, but also moved the centrifuges essential to this process into hardened bunkers less vulnerable to attack. All these actions point to a situation in which only Iran’s apologists believe its nuclear prevarications. 

Echoes of Hatred in Poland
Post-Communist Poland has been more than a democratic success story. In its efforts to recognize the important role of Jews in their history and culture, the Polish republic has done much to promote reconciliation and delegitimize anti-Semitism.Yet, the hatred that was once dominant in Polish culture is still in evidence. The monument at the site of an infamous 1941 Polish massacre of Jews was recently defaced. In response, local officials organized a “March of Unity” in Bialystok to protest this and other recent troubling incidents. Sadly, this lightly attended march was subjected to abuse from 30 far-right protesters, who reportedly shouted racist and nationalist slogans. Anti-Semitism may no longer be the law of the land in Poland—quite the opposite—but it is far from dead culturally. 

Silencing the Music
The disruption of a performance by the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra at London’s Royal Albert Hall during the course of the annual Proms concerts represented a new twist in anti-Zionist behavior. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which was responsible for the incident, is open about its intent to eradicate Israel. And campaigners have been clear about their plan to silence every expression of Jewish identity. 

The Terror Connection
Jerusalem Post columnist Larry Derfner became a poster child for the anti-Zionist left when he lost his job after writing a blog post claiming terror attacks on Israeli targets were justified because Palestinians have been denied independence. He ultimately apologized for his obscene assertion but continued to insist his purpose was to point out the connection between “the occupation” and violence. The Palestinian refusal to make peace demonstrates the illogical basis for this argument. The important connection to explore that is between intellectual apologias for Palestinian terror and the shedding of Jewish blood. Whatever his supposed intent, Derfner is no martyr to free speech.

About the Author

Jonathan Tobin is senior online editor of COMMENTARY.

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