On Wednesday a group of notable Palestinian intellectuals published a full-page ad in a Palestinian newspaper, appealing for the Palestinian resistance movement to change certain tactics. This development was optimistically reported in the press with headlines such as "Prominent Palestinians publicly condemn suicide bombings" . In fact, the ad said nothing of the kind. It offered only the modest appeal to end "military operations targeting civilians in Israel" And what does this really mean? [IMRA's English translation of the ad is here]
NPR's All Things Considered aired an interview Thursday with one of the signatories, political scientist Musa Budeiri. I've posted a full transcript of the interview here
On the surface this sounds like an encouraging development, but in fact it is even worse than "too little, too late". The subtext contains a number of disturbing messages. Having carefully read both the ad itself and listened to Budeiri's interview, I'm struck by the following:
The ad explicitly labels the attacks on civilians as "military operations", not as crimes, not as immoral acts. The rationale for ending them is the signatories' conclusion that these "operations" are counter-productive, not that they are unjustifiable.
The ad specifically mentions "...targeting civilians in Israel". This implies that targeting civilians outside of Israel, and targeting non-civilians wherever you can target them is okay. This begs the question, how do you define Israel? Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, the #2 signatory on the ad, said on Tuesday after the Gilo bus bombing
"There is no solution except for Israel to withdraw from all our lands up to the border of June 4, 1967".But wait, both of this week's bus bombings, in Gilo and French Hill, took place in Jewish neighborhoods that were annexed in 1967, and therefore not part of the Ashrawi's definition of Israel. So the writers of the ad exploit the world's revulsion at the bus bombings, and ride into town on a white horse claiming the mantle of moderation ("you see," Cherie Blair might say, "there are Palestinians who condemn terrorism!") But the essence of the ad's condemnation does not even extend to this week's murders. And excuse me. The ad doesn't condemn any "military operations", it only:
wishes that those who stand behind [the operations] reconsider their policy and refrain from recruiting young Palestinians for the purpose of mounting military attacks.
There is a clear message that the ends justifies the means. The ad text:
The positive and negative features of a military operations is defined by whether political goals are achieved and not by the operations as a standard onto themselves.reinforced by Budeiri's comments on NPR:
People think that in this kind of situation any kind of response is justified and any kind of response is in that sense a military operation.(to Budeiri's credit, he said that he personally has moral objections to certain attacks, but it doesn't seem to bother him that so many of his fellow aspiring countrymen do not share his ethics)
With these statements, these Palestinian "moderates" clearly reject the validity of concepts such as "war crimes" or "human rights". That should be no surprise, but of course, you know who will be demanding a Hague Tribunal whenever a would-be terrorist is inconvenienced on the way to committing murder.
But what practical contribution will this ad make to the physical safety of Israeli schoolchildren? None whatsoever, of course. Like Arafat's perennial statements condemning terrorism, this is more of an avuncular encouragement to "try a more effective type of murder, instead". The last thing on Budeiri's mind is for any Palestinian to enforce this appeal.
We do not want to play the role of Israel's security guards. We are not QuislingsQuisling? Never missing a chance to portray the Jews as Nazis, the historically challenged political scientist is apparently unaware that no Norwegian has ever exploded himself in a German supermarket. He goes on to say that
once [a negotiated peace agreement] is arrived at, if people break that commitment then that becomes an internal matter which the Palestinians will have to deal with but not before.No, Musa, it is not only a Palestinian internal matter when non-Palestinians are murdered. And if you and your people are unwilling to make your own people toe the line today, what possible confidence should anybody have that you will be able to enforce an agreement in the future? In the meantime, thank you for explaining exactly why Israel is fully justified in reimposing the occupation.
So once again, we have a classically duplicitous statement that is seen as positive by credulous and hopeful westerners, that is seen as a wink-wink sign of encouragement by the thugs and murderers of Palestine, and that is seen for what it is by those who read it carefully.
Try again, Hanan and Musa and the rest of you. In the meantime, your people will continue to pay the price for your incompetent leadership and diplomacy.Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at June 21, 2002 06:06 AM