Commentary Magazine

Terror and the Peace Talks

Terror and the Peace Talks

Secretary of State John Kerry has been rewarded for months of effort with a new round of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians taking place in Washington. With little reason for optimism, some observers believe that Kerry is counting on the specter of failure to achieve a breakthrough: If talks fail, the chances of a new explosion of Palestinian violence increase, and Kerry may think that prospect puts extra pressure on Israel to make concessions. But the connection between Israel’s putative peace partners and terrorism is not theoretical. Kerry has already forced Israel to release more than 100 convicted terrorists, including many who have murdered Jews, for the privilege of negotiating with the Palestinian Authority. Shortly after the talks began, the official Facebook page of PA leader Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah Party posted a series of entries boasting that the terrorist attacks committed by its members were heroic achievements. These included the 1972 Munich massacre and the 2003 double-suicide bombing in Tel Aviv that set what Fatah considers the record for most murders in a single incident committed by a Palestinian. The releasing of terrorists and the honor accorded to their acts remind us that the chances for real peace remain remote as long as the Palestinians cherish a culture of violence.

 Not One Israeli in Palestine

The opening of the new talks was marked by a vow made by PA leader Abbas, who declared that he would not settle for a result that would leave a single Israeli in a state of Palestine. While there is scant evidence that Abbas has the will or the desire to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn, the creation of a new state where no Jew may dwell should be regarded as an ominous development. Israel would be loath to leave any Jew behind in Palestinian territory since their prospects of survival would be dim. But imagine the reaction if Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu were to proclaim that peace would mean that not a single Arab would continue to reside in Israel. If he said such a thing, Israel would be denounced as a racist nation and compared to apartheid South Africa and even Nazi Germany. And yet few in the international press think it wrong for Abbas to state that his goal is a Jew-free Palestine.

Iran’s Moderate and His Fans

In June, the election of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani set off a frenzy of optimism among those who were eager for the United States to make a deal with the Islamic republic regarding its nuclear program. He was considered the most moderate of a group of regime-approved candidates. But the gap between perception and reality was highlighted in early August, when Rouhani spoke at an anti-Israel rally before his inauguration. Instead of being angered by Rouhani’s description of Israel as a “wound on the body of the Islamic world,” his apologists chose to note that Iran’s state press agency had initially made a translation mistake in adding that the wound should be removed. With or without the additional phrase, there is little difference between Rouhani’s position on Israel and that of his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Just as discouraging was his inaugural address, which reaffirmed his support of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s position on the country’s nuclear program, saying that neither sanctions nor war would force Iran to change. Rouhani’s perceived “moderation” is more a function of the West’s desire to avoid confronting Iran than any actual desire on Rouhani’s part to change Iran’s policies.

Iran’s Plutonium Plan

The West’s talks with Iran over its nuclear program have centered on plans that would prevent the Islamist regime from continuing to refine enough uranium to make bombs. But even if a deal could be made on that issue, the Iranians have another card up their sleeve. In August, reports emerged that rather than rely solely on its massive uranium-enrichment program, Iran could bring a heavy-water nuclear reactor on-line by the end of 2014, enabling the use of plutonium in bombs. This development is yet another sobering consequence of time spent on fruitless negotiations.

 Hate TV for the Holiday

Once again this year, Ramadan provided many in the Arab world with an opportunity to kick back and enjoy the best in anti-Semitic television. Dubai TV’s Khaybar miniseries depicts the destruction of Jewish tribes in seventh-century Arabia by the forces of the Prophet Muhammad. That historical incident is best remembered as an example of what happens when one party to a peace agreement—the Muslims—reneges on its pledges and uses the impasse as a stepping stone to war, a point that Yasir Arafat made when explaining why he signed the Oslo Accords. The popularity of such fare tells us a lot more about the culture of the Arab and Muslim worlds than canned statements about peace aimed at the Western press ever will.

Polish Ban Not Kosher

In recent decades, Poland has made a major effort to woo the international Jewish community and to commemorate the heritage of the Jewish life that once flourished there. But in July, the Polish parliament rejected a measure that would have protected the practice of kosher slaughter in the country that, thanks to a court ruling, effectively bans kashrut and creates a hostile atmosphere for the Jewish community. This exposes a key point about European nations that seek to expiate their guilt over the gruesome toll of anti-Semitism via monuments and museums. As much as such efforts to honor the Holocaust are welcome, Europe still seems to have a problem with living Jews, whether it is those in Israel who wish to defend themselves or those at home who wish to practice their faith.

About the Author

Jonathan Tobin is senior online editor of COMMENTARY.

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