President Bush and Secretary of State Rice have found it useful to claim that last week’s summit in Annapolis, Maryland, has brought peace between Israel and the Palestinians a step closer to reality. Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, whether or not they genuinely believe that to be the case, have found it useful to echo the Bush administration’s upbeat assessment of the summit and its achievements.
But a brief review of recent developments in the Palestinian territories suggests that genuine peace between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs is no more than a figment of these leaders’ imagination.
Consider the findings of the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education, an Israeli NGO that reviews textbooks produced by the Palestinian Authority to replace Jordanian and Egyptian texts that had previously been in use. On November 25, the institute held a briefing in Jerusalem in which it released the results of its seven-year study of Palestinian texts for the 11th and 12th grades. The criteria used in assessing these books have been established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The institute’s disturbing findings:
- Jews are represented as foreigners without rights in the land. There are no Jewish holy places. For example, Rachel’s tomb is alluded to as "Bilal bin Rabbah Mosque."
- Palestinians are seen as the only legitimate inhabitants of the land, descended from the Canaanites and Jebusites, who are said (without genuine historical justification) to be Arabs.
- When information is given about the inhabitants of the land, the Jews are excluded.
- Israel is not recognized as a legitimate state. Israel is instead portrayed as a Zionist, imperialist, western, racist usurper.
- Israel is omitted from all the Palestinian political maps. When Israel must be alluded to, alternative terms are used, such as “pre-1948 lands.” For example, Modern History of Palestine, Grade 11, 2006, says “The green line is an imaginary line separating land occupied before 1967 and land occupied after.”
- Palestine is presented as an existing sovereign state, established in 1988.
- Jews are demonized, seen as a hostile enemy, and the source of all evils in Palestinian society, e.g., cause of drug addiction. Twenty-five alleged crimes against the Palestinians are enumerated.
- Individual Jews are never mentioned, so the humanity of the Jews is lost.
- The fabricated, anti-Semitic “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” was represented in a text as factual. When representatives of Belgium, which underwrote production of this book, were informed, they protested and a new version of the book, omitting the “Protocols” was published. However, the old version is still available in PA book stores and there is no evidence that the new version is actually in use in the schools.
- The textbooks contain praise of jihad and martyrdom. Terrorism is not openly advocated but its acceptance is implicit. Armed groups are celebrated.
When Mahmoud Abbas first came to power as PA Chairman, there was a marginal improvement in the textbooks that were released. This improvement was reflected, for example, in two Israeli maps that were reproduced in one text. It now appears that this will be the extent of the progress under Abbas.
These textbooks are not the only signs that talk of peace is premature. Four days before Annapolis, a Friday sermon was delivered at the Al Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount and broadcast by PA radio, which is Abbas-controlled. The translation from the Arabic includes the following:
Israel wants to be recognized as a Jewish state…If this request is granted…there will be no withdrawal to 1967 boarders, no partition of Jerusalem and no deportation of the Israeli settlers. This is a serious danger to the Palestinian people…Israel's request to be recognized as a Jewish state confirms that they are a racist regime…The effects on the Palestinians will be vast…The 1948 refugees will not be allowed to return to their homes…Jerusalem will become more Jewish…with the support of the U.S, which views Jerusalem as the capital of the Israeli state.
The conference coincides with American interests…The enemies of the Arab nation are mistaken. We [reject] the attempt to turn our holy city Jerusalem to Jewish. There must be an Islamic awakening…We call for a unified nation that follows one leadership and obeys the Koran. The conflict is a conflict between religions, but Allah has declared Palestine to be the land of Islam at the beginning of Al Israel' verse in the Koran. The same verse heralds victory to the Muslims.
On the day after Annapolis, Palestinian Media Watch caught on PA television a map in which Israel – not labeled as Israel – was shown in the colors of the Palestinian flag. The PA, inarguably, is promoting a vision for its people of Palestine “from the river to the sea” and not a “two-state solution.”
On security issues, we also see failure of honest intentions. In the weeks before Annapolis, much was made of the increased willingness and capacity of PA security forces to take control in the West Bank and to defeat terrorist forces.
But Abbas is the unchallenged master of make-believe. Earlier this month, after considerable delay, a contingent of 300 from those security forces was deployed in Nablus to keep order. They were then sent into the nearby UNRWA Balata refugee camp – a major action because all of the UNRWA refugee camps in the West Bank are controlled by armed militia and barred to PA forces. Jerusalem Post journalist Khaled Abu Toameh reported that one of the officers of these forces said that "he and his men had not received clear instructions to crack down on the gunmen, especially those belonging to Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades. ‘No one told us that our mission was to disarm or arrest members of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades.’”
With regard to the PA posture towards Hamas, the picture is similar: several Hamas “militants” were arrested by the PA in recent weeks. But not one has been prosecuted, and most have already been released. It’s the old “revolving door” policy, which has not changed from Arafat’s time.
Not only is the PA not acting against Hamas, but it considers the terrorist organization an ally in its unrelenting war against Israel. Thus, two days after Annapolis, a senior Fatah official told Abu Toameh that that if and when there is an Israeli invasion of Gaza, “Fatah won't remain idle…We will definitely fight together with Hamas against the Israeli army. It's our duty to defend our people against the occupiers…The homeland is more important than all our differences.” So much for peaceful partnership with Israel and the crackdown on terrorists.
At issue is more than Abbas’s reluctance to take out the terrorist infrastructure. The terrorists, at his bidding, are incorporated into the very heart of the PA. Now we learn that Ido Zoldan, an Israeli killed in a drive-by-shooting, was in fact murdered by Al Aksa terrorists who are members of the PA Security Forces.
The idea that Annapolis has changed the political situation in the Middle East is not just nonsense. To the extent that it ignores the Palestinians' ongoing war to exterminate the Jewish State, it is dangerous nonsense.