by Daniel Greenfield
There is no debate within the Obama Administration on whether to support Israel or not, mainly because there is no one within there who supports Israel. The only debate is which Anti-Israel terrorist group to support, Fatah or Hamas. That is because the civil war between Palestinian Arab terrorist groups, Fatah and Hamas, isn’t just taking place in Gaza and the West Bank, but also within the foreign policy establishment. Unlike the actual civil war, no one is being thrown off buildings or shot in the head, rather there are position papers and fierce behind the scenes debates. The split falls roughly between along ideological lines between the Clinton Administration veterans and some of Obama’s new radicals. Between liberals and the hard left.
Liberals were often sympathetic to Yasser Arafat and his PLO because of its Socialist/Marxist alignment and ties to the USSR. The PLO had its Islamist layer, and when Arafat was given the chance to create a Palestinian Authority, its schools became cults of death, teaching a generation that their only purpose in life was to kill Jews and go to Paradise. But they chose to ignore that. Old line lefties like Christopher Hitchens will still make careful distinctions between the good terrorists who were committed socialists and the bad terrorists who are religious fanatics. Usually they will also claim that the bad Hamas terrorists were part of an Israeli plot to destabilize Arafat’s good terrorists, while completely ignoring that Arafat worked together with Hamas in order to blackmail Israel. The support for Arafat and Fatah was an ideological affinity for the mass murderers whom they thought were revolutionary socialists like them.
It was no surprise then that the Clinton Administration championed Arafat and his Palestinian Authority. When it became clear that Arafat’s Fatah party was hopelessly and criminally corrupt, the Clinton and Bush administrations tried to slap “reform” band aids on the problem, sending in generals to train their security forces and pushing infrastructure projects to stimulate the economy. There was a whole rolodex of Palestinian leaders who were supposed to solve the problem, from Barghouti (still in an Israeli jail for organizing suicide bombings, despite Condoleezza Rice’s best efforts) to Salam Fayyad, the current savior of the hour.
But the Obama Administration brought a foul new wind with it. Radicals who supported Islamist terrorists as a vigorous new anti-American force. The Islamists, once despised as narrowminded religious fanatics, had come to be seen by the left as committed anti-globalists and anti-imperialist allies resisting US backed puppet regimes. And the post-
Arafat Fatah corps looked like another US puppet regime to them. They conducted backdoor negotiations with Hamas in order to try and bring it into the process. They pushed for an immediate crackdown on Israel and agitated for an end to the blockade of Gaza.
Since then, the Ex-Clintonites have become associated with Fayyadism, championing Salam Fayyad as the reformer who’s going to roll back corruption, win back popularity for Fatah and create a Palestinian Muslim state. The radicals on the other hand have become Hudnaites, abandoning the “peace” part of the Peace Process, and instead calling for Israel to give in to Hamas’ demands in exchange for a 10 year truce during which the Islamist terrorist group will be able to solidify power and prepare for a new campaign against Israel.
Foreign policy pundits tug one way and another. Hudnaites, such as the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Nathan Brown, poke holes in Fayyadism, rightly pointing out that Fayyad was never a popular political figure and has no electoral legitimacy. Meanwhile Fayyadists like Tom Friedman sing the praises of a sweeping wave of reform that will finally give birth to a Palestinian state, while ignoring all evidence to the contrary.
The choice between the Hudnaites and Fayyadists is a choice between two evils, two terrorist groups, both of whom have pledged to destroy Israel. The Hudnaites argue that Fatah is hopelessly corrupt, while ignoring that Hamas is just as corrupt, stealing aid and inflating the price of gasoline. The Fayyadists argue that Hamas offers no solution, while ignoring that Fatah also offers no solution, it just spends a lot more time dancing around the obvious. The Hudnaites point to Hamas’ popularity, but if Hamas actually stuck to a 10 year truce, Fatah would be driven to reclaim their popularity through a campaign of terror. And they would succeed, becoming transformed into a force of opposition to Israel and Hamas’ corruption, thereby turning the tables on Hamas, as Hamas had turned the tables on them. The Fayyadists argue that institutions are more important than elections, but the disconnect between institutions and elections leads to out of control corruption.
The absurdity of this entire farce is that neither faction wants a Palestinian state. Fatah is incapable of ever signing on to a final solution agreement that makes any territorial compromises, as that would be political suicide. It’s much easier for Fatah to play would be statemakers to the West and heroic resistance fighters to the East, cashing in on both sides of the aisle. Hamas is an Islamist organization, with little commitment to Palestinian Arab nationalism. Their interest is not in a state, but in a Caliphate, allying with fellow Muslim Brotherhood members in Egypt, Jordan and Syria to create a regional Islamic Sunni superstate.
For Hamas, Israel is a useful wedge, a rallying point to help overthrow the Egyptian and Jordanian regimes that have made deals with Israel, before moving on to Syria. That is why Egypt is so blatantly hostile to Hamas and the various Gaza activist groups. Mubarak is no friend of Israel, but Hamas rule poses a direct threat to him and his son. For Fatah, Israel is a meal ticket, allowing a bunch of thugs and their families to enjoy the good life, paid for in Dollars and Euros by the West. In this state of perpetual negotiations and terrorism, the money keeps coming in, and the actual functions of a state are provided for by Israel’s infrastructure and Western aid.
Yet the entire basis of the Peace Process was to create a Palestinian state in order to bring stability to the region. And Clinton who invested so much energy and prestige into the process, came out at the other end, baffled that it had failed to do either. Both the Clinton Administration’s romanticization of revolutionary violence and Third World socialism, and the Bush Administration’s romanticization of capitalism and democracy as cures for everything, foundered on the shoals of reality. A reality they were unwilling to acknowledge because it cut against their philosophies and their assurance that the world could be set right, if things were done in accordance with those philosophies. Empowering “moderate” terrorists and giving everyone a chance at a piece of the American Dream, was supposed to work. That it went against the values of the culture they were dealing with, never occurred to them. However it has certainly occurred to the “Jakarta street kid” who succeeded them.
Unlike his two predecessors, Barack Hussein Obama does not merely sympathize with Palestinian Muslim terrorists for political reasons, or seek to empower them for geopolitical ones. Instead he positively despises Israel, as another Western colonialist entity run by white men which needs to be destroyed for the greater glory of the Third World. He is not alone in this view, yet his administration’s foreign policy has fallen into the hands of more moderate voices, some like Hillary Clinton, may hate Israel nearly as much, but are more pragmatic in regard to policy matters. Which is why the more pragmatic Fayyadists won out over the radical Hudnaists.
There are practical reasons for this, beginning with the continuing presence of Jews in the Democratic party, who are not J-Street members and don’t pop the champagne every time there’s a suicide bombing. They actually think that their party is pro-Israel, and the party needs them to think that in order to keep the votes and the checks coming in. In Obama’s initial hubris, the hostility became overt. But the backlash came and it became clear that this was not what the party needed going into an election. And there was the question of Obama’s own bottom line. A campaign of hate against Israel might reap dividends in Tehran and Berkeley, but unlike Europe, America still has a small Muslim population and its radical left is vocal, but not all that numerous. Past Presidents had used the peace process to showcase their accomplishments. Bashing Israel is not considered an accomplishment outside of certain neighborhoods in France and universities in England. And so by necessity, the current occupant’s policy has begun to look like a somewhat uglier version of his predecessors. For now.
Because the Fayyadists are doomed. Not because Fayyad will fail. Arafat and Abbas have failed over and over again, at simple tasks like cleaning the streets, concluding a final status agreement, and not stealing money or starting wars. It isn’t about the money. The EU and the State Department would have no objection to pouring money into the Swiss bank accounts and villas of Fatah leaders, without ever seeing anything more than a suicide bombing or two as payment. The terrorists have never been held accountable for anything they do or don’t do, except briefly during Bush’s first term. That isn’t going to change now. The blame will always fall on Israel, not because of the facts, but because the only real reason to create a Palestinian state was out of antipathy to Israel or to cater to the Muslim world’s antipathy to Israel. Taking such motivations into account, it is clear that Israel will never be considered in the right here.
The real problem is that in the aftermath of Hamas’ electoral victory and its takeover of Gaza, the Fatah run Palestinian Authority looks like a puppet regime. Which is exactly what it is. Abbas lacked the canniness and presence of Arafat. He was a placeholder for a divided Fatah, and the whole house of cards collapsed under him. The only things still propping up that house are the US and Israel, who are invested in the Two State Solution and a New Middle East. Arafat gained power through the fiction that he was the popular representative of the Palestinian people, itself another fiction. But Abbas is not the popular representative of anyone. Neither is Fayyad. Strip that away and you’re left with another puppet regime meant to keep the plug on Muslim violence. The Middle East is already filled with those, and the left hates them worse than it hates the Jews.
For the liberals, Fayyad is their Prince Charming. Their last ditch effort to restore Fatah’s credibility. Fayyad is supposed to reform the Palestinian Authority and make it state-ready. Reform its institutions, end the corruption and restore confidence in Fatah rule. But if Fayyad were to actually end the corruption and reform the institutions, then the Palestinian Authority would collapse in a single day. Because the Palestinian Authority, like every Middle Eastern government, is built and run on corruption. Without the payoffs and the money trickling out, there would be no one left to defend the Palestinian Authority against Hamas or its own gangs and militias. The entire thing would collapse like a balloon with no air. And Fayyad and Abbas know it. Fayyad can tinker with the structure, make it run a touch more efficiently and add a few modern touches. But he can’t fix it. No one without an army behind him could.
But if Fayyad is doomed and Abbas goes down, what of the peace process then? This entire horrifying boondoggle was premised on two states living side by side in peace. Without that endgame, what happens to the process? That’s where the Fayyadists exit, and the Hudnaists enter.
While the Fayyadists are still trying to retain some semblance of a hopelessly wrecked peace process, the Hudnaists have already moved beyond it. Israel entered into the peace process in order to secure a permanent agreement. But Hamas has no interest in permanent agreements. Neither do the Hudnaists. They have a new model, in which Israel makes concessions, not in order to secure peace, but to secure occasional respites from attack. Meanwhile the incitement, the boycotts and the terrorism would continue to grow–
The new model will not be based on peace, but on temporary truces between Israel and the terrorists, enforced by UN troops inside Israel. This would move the Lebanon model inside Israel proper. It would roll back the clock to the mandate era, and set the stage for the actual destruction of Israel. Israel would be left unable to respond to terrorist attacks or control its own borders. The violence would increase, and it would always take the blame, which would accordingly increase the jurisdiction of UN forces. And when a UN resolution forces elections within the entire territory in order to create a single state, complete with as many refugees/immigrants willing to hold up house keys, Israel would have to fight a desperate war against a dozen occupying armies to survive, or give in and be turned into a Muslim state. It would be 1948 all over again, with Israel on the losing side.
This has been the endgame in a lot of foreign policy circles all along. To blunt Israel’s momentum, force it back, shrink it down and then dismantle it. The end result would be a Jewish minority living under Muslim rule, as had been intended by Arabist High Commissioners all along. Kissinger’s plan for a “small and friendly” Israel, succeeded with the betrayal of the Yom Kippur War. The next step was to force Israel to cut a deal with the PLO, something that was on the agenda of every single administration afterward. Clinton succeeded at that. And Israel found itself under siege inside its own borders. Israel accepted voluntary diminution in the name of peace, but now it is told that it must accept it for temporary truces. At this rate it will eventually it will have to accept it at gunpoint.
For the Hudnaists, the only mandate is to empower terrorists. Israel’s interests don’t enter into the picture. The Hudnaists will mumble something about temporary truces leading to long term solutions, but it’s nonsense and they know it. Hamas will never agree to accept Israel. The attempt to find “moderate” Hamas leaders was a farce. All the Hudnaists can really do is talk up Hamas’ honesty, reliability and popularity. But their crush on Islamist terror aside, they have nothing to offer but a straight line to destruction of Israel, and its neighbors, and their transformation into a Sunni Iran. Which is apropos enough, as their mentors oversaw the transformation of Persia into the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The civil war between the pragmatists and the radicals, the liberals and the left, can only be settled one way. The Democratic party has moved steadily to the left, and there is no sign of that trend changing any time soon. Groups like J Street are being propped up in order to provide manufactured consent by American Jews to the dismantling of Israel. The sun of Fayyadism is setting and the wolves of the Hudna have begun to howl.