Thursday, December 6, 2007

Promoting Peace Can Prevent Peace

One must pursue peace not just with passion, but also with intelligence and wisdom. Those who blindly pursue peace are often counterproductive. Neville Chamberlain is Exhibit A, but there are plenty of exhibits available relating to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Perhaps the most prominent example is the way the Oslo Process was effectively sabotaged by those who wanted it to succeed so much they ignored the blatant violations by the Palestinian Arabs.

It should not take much common sense to recognize that an organization whose very basis for existence, imbued in its charter, calls for the destruction of Israel is not much of a peace partner. I don't agree with everything in the following response by the Zionist Organization of America's response to Peace Now regarding portions of the Fatah constitution which clearly disqualify it as a peace partner, but I think it is worth reading.

Unmentioned is the fact that, despite all the hoopla in 1996, the PLO has also never changed the provisions in its charter calling for the destruction of Israel.

From: Zionist Organization of America

June Walker, Chair
Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice-Chair
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
633 Third Avenue, 21st Floor New York, NY 10017

5 December, 2007

Dear Ms. Walker & Mr. Hoenlein,

Americans For Peace Now (Peace Now) has recently sent a letter to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organization criticizing ZOA's resolution asking the Conference of Presidents to call upon the Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas to rescind portions of the Fatah Constitution. The Fatah Constitution contains 10 horrific clauses, of which we provide here a sample of three which call for 1). Israel's demolition; 2). the use of terrorism as an essential element in the strategy to obtain that objective; and 3). rejection of any negotiated solution as a matter of principle:

(Article 12) "Complete liberation of Palestine, and eradication of Zionist economic, political, military, and cultural existence."

(Article 19) "Armed struggle is a strategy and not a tactic, and the Palestinian Arab People's armed revolution is a decisive factor in the liberation fight and in uprooting the Zionist existence, and this struggle will not cease until the Zionist state is demolished and Palestine is completely liberated."

(Article 22) "Opposing any political solution offered as an alternative to demolishing the Zionist occupation in Palestine."

Peace Now questions the existence of such a document and we shall deal with each of its arguments in turn:

It claims that it was unable to find such a document in either Arabic or English and that the quotations from the Fatah Constitution that we provided are "thus far unsubstantiated" but if, however, such a document does exist, the accuracy of the English version found online "cannot be confirmed."

It claims that it is unaware of the mechanism for the Fatah Constitution's amendment and that experts on Palestinian legal affairs and Fatah senior members were unable to provide one.

Assuming, however, that all this could be clarified, Peace Now expressed "serious reservations about the timing and motivations behind this resolution" and urges the Conference against "indulging those elements in the Conference that prefer to look for new pretexts to thwart Israel's peace efforts."

1. The Fatah Constitution (1964) is the document laying out the mission of the organization co-founded by Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas. The complete text of the Fatah Constitution is available on at least five websites, including in the Arabic original at and in English at

The Fatah Constitution can also be found in English translation on diverse websites, including on MidEast Web; Israeli/Palestinian; the Ariel Center for Policy Research; and the Israel/Palestine Center for Policy Research . The translations offered by these sites do not substantively differ from the one we used in our resolution. Far from being unsubstantiated, the quotations we provided from the Fatah Constitution are confirmed by a number of sources. Nor were the Constitution's contents a matter of dispute until ZOA made its call for Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah to show seriousness to the cause of peace by abrogating this pro-terror, anti-Israel document.

Peace Now mentions that the Constitution dates from the mid-1960s, implying that it is old, obscure and thus of no practical relevance, yet it is surely obvious that most countries in the world have constitutions ranging in ages from several decades to several centuries. No-one would claim that these documents are irrelevant or somehow lack force today.

2. We are not surprised that senior members of Fatah, which has engaged since Oslo in the double game of asserting to credulous Westerners that they accept Israel while reaffirming to their own constituents in Arabic their continuing fidelity to eventually demolishing Israel, were unable to enlighten Peace Now on the procedures or mechanism for revoking the Fatah Constitution. However, whether these procedures are simple or complex, it is clearly something only Fatah and its leadership can and must do.

3. Peace Now casts aspersions on ZOA's motives in bringing the truth about the Fatah Constitution to the Conference's notice and accuses us of looking for "pretexts to thwart Israel's peace efforts." But this is surely a case of shooting the messenger. We did not invent Fatah's Constitution or Fatah's record, which Peace Now evidently has such difficulty acknowledging and confronting. Moreover, this is the most appropriate time for Fatah to abrogate its murderous Constitution, before Israel has undertaken more concessions which would entail more security risks endangering the lives of Israelis. There is never an inappropriate time for Fatah to do this. We ask Conference members to judge Fatah's record for themselves.

Under Abbas and Fatah, there has been no PA action to jail terrorists and dismantle their organizations. Indeed, Abbas explicitly ruled out doing that, contrary to Oslo and the Roadmap. The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which has carried out the lion's share of recent terror attacks, is actually part of Fatah. The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades is on the U.S. terrorism list. Moreover, U.S. aid and arms to Abbas' Fatah have ended up in Hamas' hands; Abbas has called Hamas "an integral part of the Palestinian people." The other week, he actually met with Hamas officials and promised to engage in further talks if Hamas cedes control of Gaza.

Even worse has occurred since the Annapolis meeting. Abbas himself has reiterated Palestinian rejection of Israel as a Jewish state and said that he will try to form an alliance with Hamas ( Jerusalem Post, December 1, 2007); PA officials have sworn to fight alongside Hamas if Israel intervenes in Gaza to deal with the incessant terrorism emanating from there (Jerusalem Post , November 29, 2007); PA TV has displayed a map from which Israel is erased (Palestinian Media Watch, November 28, 2007) and a senior PA official has argued that all Palestinians jailed for murdering Israelis must be released as they are engaged in legitimate "resistance" and are not acting contrary to the peace process (Independent Media Review Analysis, December 2, 2007).

Abbas has not condemned terrorist acts against Israelis as a crime, merely as a public relations nuisance that harms the Palestinian cause. He has praised terrorists as "heroes" (Age [Melbourne], January 3, 2005)," declared that "Allah loves the martyr" (Wall Street Journal , January 5, 2005), says "our rifles are aimed at the occupation," (Jerusalem Post, January 11, 2007) and that "it is our duty to implement the principles of Yasser Arafat" ( Haaretz, January 3, 2005). Abbas has supplemented these anti-peace words with deeds, approving legislation mandating payments to the families of suicide bombers (Israel National News, December 11, 2005); calling for a political partnership with Hamas (Jerusalem Post, February 5, 2007).and endorsing last year the "Prisoners Plan" and the Hamas/Mecca agreement which called for more violence against Israel.

Under Abbas-Fatah rule, the PA has not ended the incitement to hatred and murder that suffuses the PA media, mosques, schools and youth camps. Abbas himself revealed - to an Arab audience - the subterfuge of PA-Fatah policy when he told a PA TV audience in October 2006 that, while a PA government had to diplomatically recognize Israel in order to obtain any concession from it, "It is not required of Hamas, or of Fatah, or of the Popular Front to recognize Israel" (Palestinian Media Watch, October 5, 2006). Is Peace Now aware of this revealing disclosure? If so, on what basis do they urge no action to hold Fatah accountable?

Peace Now claims that the Conference would be supporting Israel's democratically elected government in its efforts to engage Abbas by discarding efforts to get Fatah to change its Constitution. We answer that no harm will come to Israel's diplomacy by pressuring Fatah to take this long overdue step. On the contrary, such pressure, by highlighting Fatah's true nature and the difficulties this poses for peace, ultimately assists Israel and strengthens its hand. Clearly, Israel would be pleased by Fatah abrogating this document and such a development ought to be welcomed by everyone interested in peace.

Contrary to the make-believe world of Peace Now, there is both need and urgency to pressure Abbas and Fatah into renouncing the Fatah Constitution and acting, at long last, on their basic obligations to end terrorism and the incitement to hatred and murder that feeds it. We would have thought that an organization like Peace Now, professing such deep interest in peace, would work for obtaining the essential conditions of peace-making. We note that Amoz Oz, a noted supporter of the Peace Now in Israel, wrote just before the ill-fated Oslo process began that:

WHAT if they cheat? What if they take whatever we give them and demand even more, still exercising violence and terror? . Once peace comes, Israeli doves, more than other Israelis, must assume a clear-cut "hawkish" attitude concerning the duty of the future Palestinian regime to live by the letter and the spirit of its obligations . If the Palestinians want to hold onto Gaza and Jericho, eventually assuming power in other parts of the occupied territories, they will have to prove to us, to themselves and to the whole world, that they have abandoned violence and terror, that they are capable of suppressing their fanatics, that they are renouncing the destructive Palestinian Charter and withdrawing from what they used to call "the right of return." They will also have to show that they are willing to tolerate in their midst a minority of Israelis who may choose to live where there is no Israeli government.

The ZOA urges the Conference to proceed in the best interests of Israel and put the ZOA's resolution to a vote.

Yours sincerely,

Morton A. Klein National President
Daniel Mandel, PhD Director Center for Middle East Policy

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