by Boris Shusteff
The utter helplessness of the pro-Israel informational campaign is stunning. It appears that not only Israel's supporters but Israel as well has resigned herself to the thought that it is impossible to fight against outrageous anti-Israeli falsehoods and inaccuracies due to their sheer magnitude. As a result, the truth of the Arab-Israeli conflict has been deeply buried under an avalanche of fabrications, hypocrisy, insincerity and falsifications.
The main blame for this must be squarely put on Jewish shoulders. The Jews, famous for their analytical and research capabilities, become inexplicably lazy and unable to counter the outpouring of lies even when the refutation is on the surface. Nothing demonstrates this better than two recent developments that highlighted just how absurdly ineffective Israel's PR has been.
On March 25 British Foreign Minister Jack Straw told the BBC World Service that he "understood Arab concern" about what he described as "injustice against the Palestinians." He said,
"There is a real concern too that the West has been guilty of double standards -- on the one hand saying the United Nations Security Council resolutions on Iraq must be implemented; on the other hand, sometimes appearing rather quixotic over the implementation of resolutions about Israel and Palestine."
Israel's reaction to Straw's statement was ridiculously toothless. As reported by Arutz-7, Jerusalem's officials said, "It is regrettable that no distinction is made in Europe between a bloodthirsty dictator who threatens the entire world, and a democratic country that is dealing with the worst wave of terrorism in the world."
Israel missed the forest for the trees. Israeli officials inexcusably left unanswered the brunt of Straw's attack - the more than transparent accusation that Israel is ignoring UN resolutions. This false accusation is a continually restated Arab position, and by not confronting it Israel adds scores of points to Arab credibility, which is, in reality, nothing more than a card-house of lies.
The most interesting thing is that Israel does not have to reinvent the wheel. The "double standards" accusation was perfectly refuted on February 17, 1998, during a Worldnet interview by then American Assistant Secretary of State Martin Indyk. This is what he said:
"I know that there are a lot of people in the Arab world who feel that there is some double standard being applied here... As I've said before, the Security Council resolutions in the case of Iraq are mandatory. They demand that Iraq comply... and sanctions are applied in order to get Saddam Hussein to comply with the Security Council resolutions. In the case of the Arab-Israeli conflict, there are Security Council resolutions that govern the settlement of that conflict. Those are 242 and 338. And those resolutions... provide for negotiations. They are not mandatory, they are not self-implementing. They lay out the principles that should govern peace negotiations -- direct negotiations between Israel and its neighbors."
On April 3, 1998, Swedish Foreign Minister Lena Hjelm-Wallen, well known for championing the Arabs' position, in an interview with the London al-Quds al-'Arabi, grudgingly confirmed the validity of Indyk's statement, when she answered the question - "What about the double standards that the United States and Europe adopt when it comes to Arab issues?" She said, "I understand this view, which is common in many Arab countries. Nevertheless, the UN resolutions passed on Iraq are DIFFERENT, because they are binding for all nations according to Article 7 of the UN Charter. Meanwhile, THE RESOLUTIONS PASSED AGAINST ISRAEL ARE NOT SUBJECT TO ARTICLE 7 OF THE CHARTER" [emphasis added].
While it is hard to believe that somehow Indyk's and Hjelm-Wallen's statements escaped the radar screens of Israeli Public Relations officials, it is even more unbearable to watch the impotence of Israeli PR directed against Abu Mazen. It appears that everyone who writes about Mahmoud Abbas (a.k.a. Abu Mazen), the soon-to-be Palestinian Prime Minister, is capable to bring forth only two discrediting facts from his biography. According to one of them Abu Mazen wrote in his doctoral thesis in 1960 that "the Holocaust was invented by the Jews so as to arouse the compassion of the world" and that "the figure of six million Jews murdered by the Nazis was a false one."
The second fact pertains to Abu Mazen's statement from his interview given to the Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper on March 3, in which he said that "if the Israelis came and settled themselves on your land, it would be in your right to defend yourself using any means necessary." As was explained by several commentators, Abu Mazen's comments "justify the continuation of the armed struggle against Israeli civilians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip." They also imply that Israeli residents of these regions are legitimate targets.
However, the aforementioned facts are only partially helpful in unmasking one of Arafat's closest allies. In order to better understand the magnitude of the threat posed by Abu Mazen one must realize that he, together with Arafat and Farouk Qadoumi, make up the only three still-living so-called "founding fathers" of Fatah. Arafat always used Abu Mazen to create an image of a "peaceful" Fatah. From the very beginning of Abu Mazen's career as a professional ideologue-terrorist he was assigned to lead the dialogue with the Israeli left. It was always his responsibility to calm their fears and he had tremendous success at this task during the negotiations that led to Oslo.
Abu Mazen, a wolf in sheep's clothing, developed a political strategy to be used during the "peace stage" and explained it in his 1998 book Racial and Religious Polarization in Israel,
"There is no doubt that the war [with Israel] was essential and that it might be essential [again] in the future. However, since the current stage is the stage of peace, this process must be exhausted... All that is required from us is to bring the Israelis to the absolute conviction that we Arabs really want peace, because such conviction will deepen the dispute in Israeli society and bring the Israelis down from their tanks and out of their fortresses."
Abu Mazen is very honest. Israelis must be "ABSOLUTELY CONVINCED" that the Arabs "really want peace." He does not say that there will be peace; on the contrary, the war "might be essential in the future," but at today's "stage of peace" it is important to give the Israelis a sense of security and peace in order to bring them "out of their fortresses." It is this pragmatic approach of exhausting the peace process, which drives all of Abu Mazen's actions and speeches. He bluntly explained on March 3, "We didn't talk about a break in the armed struggle. We talked about a break in the militarization of the Intifada. Armed struggle requires conditions and possibilities that are not here with us in Palestine... Therefore, military activity, in light of these conditions, is not efficient."
It is not that Abu Mazen is against "military activity". The only reason that he calls for a "break in the armed struggle" is its INEFFICIENCY. He said in December 2002 talking to the heads of the Popular Councils of the Gaza strip refugee camps that the Intifada complicated the situation and did not allow the Palestinians "to complete our way for full realization... of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, ending the occupation and the settlements, and solving the Palestinian refugee problem in accordance with Resolution 194" (1).
Abu Mazen, more than anyone else among the leaders of the Palestinian Arabs, demands that Israel accept the "right of return." It is because the recently-touted Saudi plan (referred to as the "Arab Initiative") includes the right of return - the anathema for the Jewish state - that Abu Mazen is so excited about it. He explained,
"The Arab summit convened and ratified the initiative that includes the refugee problem. This initiative was among the most successful initiatives that have arisen in modern history... With the 'Arab Initiative,' we managed to base the right of refugees in principle" (1).
Being an ideologue deeply versed in international politics, Abu Mazen, well aware of Intifada's failure, tries to salvage as much favorable international public opinion as possible. As he said in Gaza,
"If we stop now, we will be able to continue conveying [a message] to the world that we were massacred and destroyed, that this is a crime that must be stopped, and that we want peace - and then anyone who believes in genuine peace will stand by our side. In this framework, I want to point out that for the first time, the world has begun to talk about a Palestinian state. And this is something that has not been said before..." (1).
It is quite possible that, in the current situation, Abu Mazen sincerely favors the non-military approach to dealing with Israel. However, this does not make him less dangerous. One must recall that prior to the Oslo process, it was very difficult for the Arabs to exercise their "military option." In the 25 years prior to the inexcusable Oslo blunder, Arab terrorist activity "only" took the lives of 440 Jews, i.e. on average less than 1.5 persons per month. In comparison, during the 29 months since the beginning of the second Intifada on September 29, 2000, 731 Israelis have been killed, which is more than 25 per month on average, or an increase of 1,667% (!). And during some of these "peaceful" Oslo months over 100 Jews were brutally murdered by the Arabs.
It is by bringing the Arabs closer to Israel, and by implanting Arafat, Abu Mazen and their ilk in Judea, Samaria and Gaza that Israel created conditions in which it became possible to kill so many Jews. By not exposing Abu Mazen's real image, Israeli commentators and politicians are playing in tune with his intentions to "deepen the dispute in Israeli society and bring the Israelis down from their tanks and out of their fortresses." One need not be a prophet to predict what will happen after that. 03/29/03
1. The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) Special Dispatch #449. December 15, 2002. www.memri.org
Boris Shusteff is an engineer. He is also a research associate with the Freeman Center for Strategic Studies.