October 4, 2010

Absolving arafat, ten years later

In her thoroughly dishonest valedictory as New York Times correspondent from Israel, And yet so far, Deborah Sontag wrote:

In the tumble of the all-consuming violence, much has not been revealed or examined. Rather, a potent, simplistic narrative has taken hold in Israel and to some extent in the United States. It says: Mr. Barak offered Mr. Arafat the moon at Camp David last summer. Mr. Arafat turned it down, and then ''pushed the button'' and chose the path of violence. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is insoluble, at least for the forseeable future.

But many diplomats and officials believe that the dynamic was far more complex and that Mr. Arafat does not bear sole responsibility for the breakdown of the peace effort. There were missteps and successes by Israelis, Palestinians and Americans alike over more than seven years of peace talks between the 1993 Oslo interim agreement and the last negotiating sessions in Taba, Egypt, in January.

Mr. Barak did not offer Mr. Arafat the moon at Camp David. He broke Israeli taboos against any discussion of dividing Jerusalem, and he sketched out an offer that was politically courageous, especially for an Israeli leader with a faltering coalition. But it was a proposal that the Palestinians did not believe would leave them with a viable state. And although Mr. Barak said no Israeli leader could go further, he himself improved considerably on his Camp David proposal six months later.

Later on Sontag writes of a meeting between Arafat and Barak prior to Ariel Sharon's walk on the Temple Mount ten years ago, the ostensible reason for the so called, Aqsa Intifada.

All this behind-the-scenes movement was reflected in the atmosphere at that dinner party at Mr. Barak's home. The prime minister, who had refused to talk directly to the Palestinian leader at Camp David, now courted him. Mr. Ben-Ami, then foreign minister, said he left the dinner and told his wife that Mr. Barak -- whom he describes as ''deaf to cultural nuance'' -- was so intent on forging a peace agreement that he was willing to change ''not only his policies but his personality.''

But Palestinians drove away from that dinner with something else on their minds -- Mr. Sharon's coming visit to what Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary and Jews know as the Temple Mount. Mr. Arafat said in an interview that he huddled on the balcony with Mr. Barak and implored him to block Mr. Sharon's plans. But Mr. Barak's government perceived the planned visit by Mr. Sharon, then the opposition leader, as solely an internal Israeli political matter, specifically as an attempt to divert attention from the expected return to political life by a right-wing rival -- Benjamin Netanyahu, the former prime minister.

On the heels of very intricate grappling at Camp David over the future status of the Old City's holy sites, Mr. Sharon's heavily guarded visit to the plaza outside Al Aksa Mosque to demonstrate Jewish sovereignty over the Temple Mount set off angry Palestinian demonstrations. The Israelis used lethal force to put them down. The cycle of violence started, escalated, mutated and built to a peak between mid-May and June 1 with the Israeli use of F-16 fighter jets in Nablus and the terrorist bombing outside a Tel Aviv disco.

The idea that Arafat "implored" Barak not to allow Sharon to visit the Temple Mount is a fiction promulgated by Arafat and his apologists that Sontag reported because it fit her narrative. How do we know the story is false? Because when she originally reported on the meeting, a year earlier, there was no record of any discord. The meeting went well. As I've blogged in the past, Sontag's contemporaneous account called it "...the single best meeting ever between the Palestinian and Israeli leaders."

Sontag had to have known very well what she reported a year earlier. Her decision to "report" about Arafat's phony objection was a purposeful act of deceit for which she should have been fired. But it was important, for it confirmed the New York Times's narrative of absolving Arafat.

Sontag wrote that Arafat was accused of "push[ing] the button" for violence but that the "the dynamic was far more complex." Now there's further proof that this was malarkey. And yes, it was a lie. There was no complexity here; Arafat instigated the terror and it was planned well before Sharon's walk on the Temple Mount.

Khaled Abu Toameh reports (h/t Yaacov Lozowick):

Mahmoud Zahar, a prominent Hamas leader, has just revealed that Yasser Arafat, when he failed to get what he wanted at the negotiating table, instructed Hamas to launch terror attacks in the heart of Israel. Hamas obviously took Arafat's orders seriously, waging an unprecedented campaign of suicide booming and terror attacks that killed and injured thousands of Jews and Arabs. ... Zahar made this revelation during a lecture at the Islamic University in Gaza City marking the 10th anniversary of the second intifada, which erupted in September 2000, a few weeks after the failure of the Camp David summit.

This is the first time that a Hamas leader openly admits that his movement carried out terror attacks against Israel on instructions from the Palestinian Authority leader. Arafat is believed to have issued the orders to Hamas after the botched Camp David summit, which was hosted by President Bill Clinton.

Do you think that Zahar is lying? I don't. First of all there have been reports before to this effect. Zahar, though, is the highest ranking Hamas official to make this claim. But on September 18, 2000, Ha'aretz reported:

Over the past several weeks, the Palestinian Authority has granted extended vacation leaves to dozens of jailed Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists, among them militants who were involved in serious terror attacks against Israel.Ha'aretz: PA granted dozens of jailed Islamic Jihad, Hamas terrorists "extended vacation"

Note too, Ambassador Lancry's letter to Kofi Annan from October 2, 2000:

The events in these areas represent the latest and most severe developments in a wave of violence that has been building over the past few weeks. The attacks began with the throwing of stones and Molotov cocktails in the vicinity of the Netzarim Junction on 13 September. This was followed by the killing of an Israeli soldier by a roadside bomb on 27 September, and the murder of an Israeli police officer by a Palestinian policeman in a joint patrol on 29 September.

The events of this past Friday on the Temple Mount represent a further escalation of the Palestinian violence. Muslim worshippers, out of a desire to violently confront both Israeli police and civilians on the eve of the Jewish New Year, hurled rocks and other objects at Jewish worshippers gathered at the Western Wall below. Israeli police attempted to turn back the protesters through non-violent means, but the mob persisted, attempting to force its way out of the Temple Mount area and through the Mughrabim gate to the Western Wall plaza. At this point, Israeli forces, who had been deployed outside the perimeter of the Mount, were compelled to enter the area to push back the charging mob. The stone-throwing mob continued in its violence for a period of more than four hours.

The violence had been going on for weeks; not days. It was orchestrated by Arafat; aided and abetted by Hamas.

The idea that Arafat was somehow misunderstood is undermined by Zahar's boast AND a contemperaneous news accounts. Sontag's effort to whitewash Arafat stands exposed a journalistic fraud.

Crossposted on Yourish.

Posted by SoccerDad at October 4, 2010 11:56 PM
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