Monday, September 6, 2010

On the Nose

As in Australia:

"Voters... can smell a politician who puts self-preservation ahead of the national interest. They can smell it even when they're not sure they fancy the measures needed to advance the national interest. And they're never impressed." (Ross Gittins, Voters censure Labor's lack of principles, SMH, 23/8/10)

So in Palestine, only the smell is worse, much worse, as you'd expect from collusion and betrayal:

"Abbas is fully aware that he goes to Washington with many Palestinians, including some of those closest to the PA, viewing him as having at best surrendered and at worst as being a traitor. He was badly shaken when, in the wake of his initial support for a postponement of the discussion on the Goldstone report, his grandson came to him crying and explained that children at his school had called his grandfather a 'traitor'. And it is well known that Abbas has checked into a Jordanian hospital on more than one occasion suffering from exhaustion and stress brought on by a process he once had faith in but which has delivered only pain to his people." (Abbas: The man & the politician, Lamis Andoni,, 1/9/10)

"Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told US Jewish leaders on Wednesday that he would never deny Jews their right to the land of Israel, according to participants of the 2-hour roundtable discussion." (Abbas tells US Jews: I would never deny Jewish right to the land of Israel, Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz, 10/6/10)

"Shalom to you in Israel. I know we have disappointed you. I know we have been unable to deliver peace for the last 19 years..." Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat's pitch to Israelis on Israel's Heskem TV, 28/8/10)

But none of this is new. The stench of collusion has been around for years now:

"'Be certain that Yasser Arafat's final days are numbered, but allow us to finish him off our way, not yours. And be sure as well that... the promises I made in front of President Bush, I will give my life to keep'. Those words were written by Fatah warlord Mohammed Dahlan, whose US- and Israeli-backed forces were routed by Hamas in the Gaza Strip last month [June, 2007], in a 13 July 2003 letter to then Israeli defense minister Shaul Mofaz and published on Hamas' website on 4 July this year. Dahlan, who despite his failure to hold Gaza, remains a senior advisor to Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas, outlines his conspiracy to overthrow Arafat, destroy Palestinian institutions and replace them with a quisling leadership subservient to Israel. Dahlan writes of his fear that Arafat would convene the Palestinian legislative council and ask it to withdraw confidence from then prime minister Mahmoud Abbas, who had been appointed earlier in 2003 at Bush's insistence in order to curb Arafat's influence. Dahlan wrote that 'complete coordination and cooperation by all' was needed to prevent this, as well as 'subjecting [Arafat] to pressure so that he cannot carry out this step'. Dahlan reveals that 'we have already begun attempts to polarize the views of many legislative council members by intimidation and temptation so that they will be on our side and not his [Arafat's]'. Dahlan closes his letter to Mofaz saying, 'it remains only for me to convey my gratitude to you and the prime minister [Ariel Sharon] for your continued confidence in us, and to you all respect'." (From Overcoming the conspiracy against Palestine, Ali Abunimeh, The Electronic Intifada, 18/7/07)

In fact, the rot set in at least as long ago as 1993 with the launch of the so-called peace process, symbolised by PLO head Yasir Arafat shaking hands with Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin on the White House lawn at President Bill Clinton's urging. The late Edward Said's damning assessment, written at the time, of Arafat's performance and its fateful consequences for the future of the Palestinian struggle for national liberation and independence has proved prophetic indeed:

"Now that some of the euphoria has lifted, what emerges from the Israeli-PLO agreement is a deal that is more flawed and less favorable for the Palestinian people than many had first supposed. The vulgarities of the White House ceremony, the degrading spectacle of Yasir Arafat thanking everyone for what, in fact, was the suspension of most of his people's rights, and the fatuous solemnity of Bill Clinton's performance - like a 20th-century Roman emperor shepherding two vassal kings through rituals of reconciliation and obeisance - all these only temporarily obscure the truly astonishing proportions of the Palestinian capitulation. So first of all let us call the agreement by its real name: an instrument of Palestinian surrender, a Palestinian Versailles... I doubt there was a single Palestinian who watched the White House ceremony who did not also feel that a century of sacrifice, dispossession, heroic struggle, had finally come to naught. Indeed what was most troubling was that Rabin in effect gave the Palestinian speech, whereas Arafat pronounced words that had all the flair of a rental agreement. Far from being the victims of Zionism, the Palestinians saw themselves being characterized before the world as its now repentant assailants, as if the thousands killed by Israel's bombing of refugee camps, hospitals, schools in Lebanon, its expulsion of 800,000 people in 1948 (whose descendents now number about 3 million, most of them stateless refugees), the conquest of their land and property, its destruction of over 400 Palestinian villages, the invasion of Lebanon, to say nothing of the ravages of 26 years of brutal military occupation, were reduced to the status of terrorism and violence, to be renounced retrospectively or dropped from reference entirely. Israel has always described Palestinian resistance as terrorism and violence, so even in the matter of diction it received a moral and historical gift. In return for exactly what? Israel's recognition of the PLO, undoubtedly a significant step forward. Beyond that, by accepting that land and sovereignty are being postponed till 'final status negotiations' the Palestinians in effect have discounted their unilateral and internationally acknowledged claim to the West Bank and Gaza: these have now at most become 'disputed territories'. Thus with Palestinian assistance Israel has been awarded at least an equal claim to them. The Israeli calculation is that by accepting to police Gaza - which Begin tried to give Sadat 15 years ago - the PLO would soon fall foul of local competitors, of whom Hamas is only one. Moreover, rather than becoming stronger during the interim period, the Palestinians will grow weaker and more under Israeli control, and thus less able to dispute the Israeli claim when the last set of negotiations begins." (Edward Said, from his October 1993 essay The Morning After in Peace & Its Discontents: Essays on Palestine in the Middle East Peace Process, 1995, pp 7/10-11)

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