Thursday, January 05, 2012

Yedidya Atlas Refutes Ahmed Tibi Op-ed in Richmond Times-Dispatch Attacking Eric Cantor

Back in December, Ahmad Tibi wrote an editorial in The Richmond Times-Dispatch entitled World Beginning to Understand Palestinians' Hopes for State, attacking House Majority Leader Eric Cantor for saying
If the Palestinians want to live in peace in a state of their own, they must demonstrate that they are worthy of a state.
Yedidya Atlas responds that Eric Cantor Gets the Mideast Conflict, noting Tibi's criticism of Cantor that "he appeared to hold all Palestinians responsible for the violence of a few."


While Tibi is described merely as "a Palestinian citizen of Israel and a member of the Knesset," Atlas notes the irony in Tibi's own background:

Let’s first take a glance at Dr. Tibi’s own behavior. As noted above, he served as an advisor to PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, a man he first met in 1984 in Tunis to where Arafat had fled after being ignominiously chased out of Beirut by the Israelis in 1982. Arafat, head of Fatah and subsequently the entire PLO, was responsible for airplane hijackings, indiscriminate murder of civilian targets, including the September 1972 kidnapping and murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic games, the 1973 abduction and murder of Western diplomats in Khartoum, Sudan, – where Arafat himself personally gave the order to kill US Ambassador Cleo Noel and two other diplomats. And after Arafat signed the 1993 Oslo Accords and supposedly changed his ways, he and the Palestinian Authority pursued a campaign of massive incitement in the official PA media and school textbooks, and supported ongoing terrorist activities, including suicide bombings, and in its first 5 years more Israeli civilians were murdered by Palestinian Arab terror attacks than in the previous 15 years. To avoid the guilt by association card, let us examine Dr. Tibi’s own “moderate and non-violent” approach.

Dr. Tibi writes in his op-ed: “I, too, reject the Palestinian violence Cantor mentioned that is directed at Israeli civilians, but unlike Cantor I believe in strengthening nonviolent efforts to overcome Israeli domination.” But does he really believe in “strengthening nonviolent efforts”?

According to a report in the Haaretz daily newspaper, on August 16, 2000, during the Jewish Fast Day of Tisha B’Av (9th day of the Hebrew month of Av) when Jews mourn the destruction of both the First and Second Jewish Temples in Jerusalem, Dr. Tibi, already a Member of Knesset, led a large Arab crowd chanting, “with blood and fire we will liberate Palestine,” while physically blocking an annual police-approved pilgrimage of the Jewish Temple Mount Faithful group to enter the Temple Mount. One wonders what part of “with blood and fire” is “strengthening nonviolent efforts”?
Yedidya Atlas refutes Tibi on a number of points. On Tibi's last point, Atlas notes:
Dr. Tibi concludes: “American politicians can use their free speech to taunt Palestinians and inflame tensions in the region or they can think sensibly about what they would do were they oppressed and dispossessed by Israel. My fear in this campaign season is that it will only get worse and the winner will be confronted with a Palestinian people who have zero confidence that the president will treat them fairly and be willing to press Israel to end the occupation. Consequently, the America that was once respected around the world is increasingly reviled in the Middle East for backing Israeli domination rather than Palestinian freedom.”

In Dr. Tibi’s eyes, American politicians have no right to take into account Palestinian Arab behavior (i.e.: “with blood and fire,” suicide bombers, terrorist attacks on school buses and kindergartens, firing missiles on civilian targets, etc.) which has major support by the same people that publicly danced with joy after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

Although there was no Palestinian Arab entity prior to the return en masse of the Jewish People to their historical homeland, the Palestinians were nonetheless “dispossessed by Israel.”

Speaking the truth about the Palestinian Arabs will, in Dr. Tibi’s opinion, “inflame tensions,” and the “Palestinian people [will] have zero confidence that the [American] president will treat them fairly and be willing to press Israel to end the occupation.” Or put simply, we, the Palestinians, don’t have to negotiate. You, the Americans, have to pressure Israel to give in to all our demands if you want to avoid continued violence initiated by us.

Somehow, I think US House Majority Leader Eric Cantor hit the nail squarely on the head. “If the Palestinians want to live in peace in a state of their own, they must demonstrate that they are worthy of a state.”
The Arabs are not big on criticism, least of all coming from outsiders--but that is the point. Tibi's position that the Arab position must be accepted in toto simply does not wash and avoiding the truth under the excuse that the "Arab Street" will get angry is both an excuse and a threat.

But criticism will be made, and the Palestinian Arabs will have to deal with it--especially if "they must demonstrate that they are worthy of a state."

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