Published by The Freeman Center
The Maccabean Online
Political Analysis and Commentary
Oslo – A Lesson that was Never Learnt
We are Arab people; when we report, we predate, and postdate,
we add and we omit, but we do not mean to lie.
(Ibn Qutaybah, Arab writer, 9th century)
The Oslo agreements signed in Washington on 13 September 1993 were aimed at ending all acts of hostility, both physical and verbal, between Israel and the Palestinians. The Israeli leaders at home presented the agreements in almost Messianic terms, pointing to the “historic reconciliation between the Palestinians and the Israelis.” It was clearly understood that the Palestinians would not only stop all acts of violence against Israel but would change the tone of their propaganda, and endeavor to disseminate messages of peace and good neighborliness. The Israeli public was led to believe that, as in Israel, the Palestinian Authority would develop special educational programs for the schools to educate the young generation in the spirit of peace, and prepare it to live in a new era of no war, just as Israel had been doing for years on all levels of education, and in the media. It was also hoped that the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic line of propaganda, common in the Palestinian media would at least be tempered if not completely shunned.
The least that even those who were most skeptical about the agreements had hoped was that on the official level the notorious symbols of the hatred for Israel, in the official documentation of the PLO would be modified, notwithstanding the Palestinian Covenant and the FATAH Charter. For once, it was hoped, the name of Israel would appear on the Arab maps.
In reality none of these anticipations was realized.
After the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, terrorist actions against Israeli citizens were intensified. Israel became more accessible, and the terrorists had the necessary havens under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, in which they prepared their acts of murder, and to the safety of which they withdrew after perpetrating them. Israeli property also became easily accessible, and the theft of Israeli vehicles and cattle, field products and machinery became a Palestinian national sport, causing Israel tremendous economic damage.
Over and above all this, the Palestinian Authority, from the minute of its establishment, did nothing to change the atmosphere of hatred among the Palestinians. On the contrary, the language of hatred, the incitement for war against the Jews, the belligerent speeches - the books in schools, the ideology negating Israel’s existence, and the Jewish right to a homeland remained the same as they had been before. Nothing changed in the ideology but much has changed in the intensification of its dissemination, and the availability of the facilities to bring it to almost every individual: through the press, the electronic media, and the internet.
Palestinian achievements in Oslo
The acquisition of real estate property, namely land ceded to the Palestinians by Israel, in return for a general, non-binding “condemnation of terror.”
According to the Arab lexicon, terror does not exist at all on the Palestinian side. When the Arabs condemn “terror” they mean, Israeli terror, represented by the sheer existence of the State of Israel. The Arab definition of the killing of Israeli citizens by Palestinian terrorists is: “Palestinian freedom fighting.” For this reason, all Arab declarations “against terror,” are absolutely meaningless, but the Arabs quickly learnt that even for these empty words the Israelis pay handsomely, with land, with money, and services, and with support in the international arena.
The formation of an army, under the disguise of “a strong police force.”
The Palestinian Authority, brought the entire PLO fighting force which had been stationed in Tunisia and other Arab countries, into the territories which it received from Israel. This is a well-trained army, indoctrinated for war against Israel. Its slogan is: “With our souls and blood we shall redeem thee O Palestine,” which the soldiers, inflamed by ‘Arafat’s speeches, chant. Most of the members of this army are not even disguised as policemen. They wear combat uniforms, are organized in military units, get military training, and none of them have any idea about police duties or police work. The agreements limit the number of “policemen” to 30,000, yet the actual size of the standing Palestinian army is double this number, and its arsenals constantly swell with arms strictly forbidden by the agreements, including artillery and rockets, smuggled by the agents of Palestinian Authority itself.
The legitimization of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), which was, and still should be, defined as a terrorist organization.
This legitimization is a particularly important achievement, because it was conceded by the very victims of this organization’s acts of terror. In this way Israel, the major victim of the PLO, accepted it as a legitimate freedom-fighter body, exactly as this organization had been claiming, and abandoned its demand that the PLO should be accountable for the atrocities it had perpetrated for more than a quarter of a century. Moreover, Yasser ‘Arafat who had not disgarded his original goal to destroy Israel “in stages” for one moment, and declared the Oslo agreements void a few days after they were signed, received the Nobel Prize for Peace.
4. Legal precedent
The establishment of a precedent, according to which a sovereign state negotiates, officially, with a terrorist body of no legal or political standing whose declared aim is to obliterate it.
Israel did this without demanding the abolishment of all the official PLO documents calling for the destruction of Israel, as a precondition for even meeting for negotiations.
5. Avoidance of cardinal issues
The creation of a situation by which the Palestinian side acquired meaningful, and real achievements without having to enter into any commitment regarding the major issues which are the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict: Delineation of accepted Borders, solution to the problem of the refugees, and the determination of the final status of Jerusalem.
The Israelis, so eager to have the Palestinians as partners, regarded the sheer act of the negotiations as a great achievement, and interpreted them as amounting to Palestinian recognition of the State of Israel.
For propaganda purposes, especially in the West, official Palestinian bodies, adopted this Israeli interpretation, but they left out the geographical definition of “Israel”, namely, they refrained from speaking about Israel within any borders, not even the armistice lines of 1949. Similarly, Israel remained completely absent from the Palestinian maps: there is no such a state in the Palestinian atlas (as well as in any other Arab atlas).
The voice of Palestinian rejection
The Palestinians who rejected Oslo, whether these were independent Islamic bodies such as the HAMAS, or elements inside the PLO, claimed that by recognizing Israel, even in an indirect manner, and within any borders, no matter how diminished they may be, the Palestinian negotiators had negated fundamental principals of the Palestinian Covenant. These principals forbid the division of Palestine, do not recognize the Jews as a people, reject Jewish history altogether, reject any form of recognition of the Jews’ right to have a state of their own, and regard Zionism as a terrorist, racial and colonialist movement, which should be rooted out together with Israel and its Jewish population.
The Muslim elements, endorsing each one of these ideas, also emphasized the fact that Jihad, the Holy War against the Jews, the historical enemies of Islam, could not, and should not, be stopped. The Qur’an decreed that the Jews must be forever demeaned and degraded, and it follows that they may never rule, especially over an Islamic land. It goes without saying that the Muslims should not accept a situation, even post factum, in which Jews rule over Muslims, or abolish the principle which prescribes that only Muslims should govern not only over their own holy places but also over the holy places of others. In other words, it is impossible that the Muslims would willingly relinquish the cardinal principle that Jews, and Christians, can only be dhimmis: they may live under Islamic rule only as an inferior class of “protected people.” As far as the Muslim organizations led by the HAMAS are concerned: “Islam is the solution, and jihad is the way.”
The Palestinians who signed the Oslo agreements ( including Mahmud Abbas alias Abu Mazen, his nom-de-guerre) though not defined as “Muslim fundamentalists,” do not oppose this Islamic ideology. Moreover, in essence they even support it, spreading it in every possible manner. Their argument, however, is that this Islamic ideology may be implemented at anytime. Meanwhile, all efforts should concentrate on the achievement of real gains (acquiring territory, building a fighting force, receiving international support), which at the right time, will enable the successful implementation of the Islamic ideology.
The Palestinian policy of free gains
The father of this line of thought is Yasser ‘Arafat, who bequeathed it to his right-hand man Mahmud Abbas, the current blue eyed Palestinian“peace-lover” of the Israeli government and the American “Arabists” of the State Department. Here are the major components of the Palestinian “free gains” policy:
1. The Palestinian covenant, calling for the annihilation of Israel, is not, and will not be, abolished. However, it is important to present the world, from time to time with a formula which sounds like its abolishment, taking advantage of the ignorance and of the sympathy of the Israeli and international media. For example, ‘Arafat once declared in Paris that the Covenant is “caduc” (null and void), or the Palestinian National Council takes a decision to nominate a committee to decide which of the articles of the Covenant should be amended, or ‘Arafat announces that Israel herself should adopt a constitution prior to the amendment of the Covenant and so on. The basic idea behind these arguments is that the world, and the media in general would accept, adopt, and give currency even to the most outrageous absurdity, if it is repeated long enough.
2. The presentation of the agreements with Israel as temporary ones, avoiding the term “peace.” It follows that it is permissible, even desirable to sign them, especially since they come cheap, even free, and are useful. Their usefulness is clear: territory, military force, bases to resume the war at will, and, not least, respectability. In this context the PLO leaders used the language of the Islamic HAMAS, relying on a historical precedent established by no less a person than the Prophet Muhammad himself.
This treaty is defined as hudnah – ceasefire – the only agreement permitted between Muslims and non-Muslims. It is known as the “Treaty of Hudaybiyyah.” ‘Arafat at the time likened Oslo agreements to this treaty.
The programme of Israel’s gradual elimination
Therefore, following Muhammad’s precedent, the Oslo agreements are temporary, a mere phase in the overall strategy of destroying Israel in stages.
The theoretical foundation of this strategy was already formulated in 1975. It is based on the principle which says: use every opportunity to secure territorial acquisitions paying with ambiguous declarations. ‘Arafat and his disciples established this principle in Oslo of cheap acquisitions, without abandoning the option of war.
Following this line of thought, the Palestinian authorities are developing and spreading the ideas which existed in the various Palestinian movements, the PLO notwithstanding, long before Oslo. These ideas touch on three cardinal issues which were not discussed in Oslo, nor since Oslo in spite of the fact that they should have been the first to be put on the agenda. These are the problems on which, theoretically, the final settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict depends. (In a side note, it must be emphasized that the Palestinians have no interest in discussing the final settlement, because such negotiations would, by their nature, prevent them from making maximal use of the Oslo agreements that enable them, as has already been emphasized, to acquire maximum property for no price).
The Palestinians have very clear ideas regarding the three problems, which I have already mentioned: Borders, Refugees and Jerusalem:
Palestine, between the Jordan and the Mediterranean is indivisible. It belongs only to the Palestinians. It follows that Israel’s existence, is just a temporary presence. The final aim is to replace it with an Arab-Palestinian state, which would comprise the whole Palestinian territory between the Jordan and the Mediterranean, as it was during the British Mandate.
For this purpose the Arab citizens of Israel must be recruited too, and they should take part in the national Palestinian struggle from within the State of Israel, making use of Israel’s democracy, the Israeli media, and the Israeli legal institutions. The aim of replacing Israel with an Arab-Palestinian State can be achieved in two ways.
(a) War. This option involves the recruitment of all, or most of the Arab countries, notably Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq at a convenient time, preferably after Israel is contained, at least, within the 1967 borders.
(b) Changing Israel’s character. This is a plan, which aims at the cancellation of Israel as a Jewish state by bringing it to forsake its national Jewish symbols, to abolish the “Law of Return” thus preventing free Jewish immigration, and to open its borders for the free influx of Arabs. In the long run, once ethnically changed, Israel would be defeated by its own democracy. All agree that this option demands a longer period of time, but its implementation is possible, especially since it does not involve bloodshed, and is likely to gain the support of many Israelis too.
It is possible to shorten the last mentioned process, if the Palestinians begin the negotiations about the borders not from the 1949 armistice lines (“The 1967 Green line”) but from the 1947 UN “Partition Plan,” according to which they can demand most of the Galilee and sizeable part of the Negev.
It should be pointed out that already following the Oslo agreements the Palestinians developed a plan to take over parts of the Negev through the establishment of a corridor, under Palestinian jurisdiction, which connects the Gaza Strip with the “West Bank,” and which cuts Israel in half. Both sides of this planned corridor are populated by huge Bedouin tribes, Arab-citizens of Israel, who have undergone a sharp process of Palestinization in the last decade, and are destined to take an active part in this plan.
Appended to the definition of Israel’s borders is the thesis which has long acquired international approval, namely that, unlike all other refugees in the world who have always been rehabilitated after wars, the Arab refugees are kept as a permanent problem, fully supported by the international community. Moreover, the Arabs have succeeded in imprinting on the international mind the idea that a Palestinian refugee is not a temporary condition, but a status inherited and bequeathed, from generation to generation. A Palestinian refugee is always a refugee, and so also are his descendants. The “Palestinian refugees” therefore are always on the increase, and a whole UN machinery has been established to support, and encourage this anomaly, and perpetuate the existence of this human bomb at Israel’s doorstep.
The Palestinians understand the tremendous advantage of the refugees problem in their plan to destroy Israel, emphasizing that all the refugees, and their millions of offspring, belong to the original places in which they had lived before the 1948 war, (which the Arabs initiated and lost). Their right to return to these places, most of which have long ceased to exist, has been the cornerstone in the Arab-Palestinian policy towards Israel. There is no attempt to disguise the reason behind this demand. Flooding Israel proper even with a few hundreds of thousands of Palestinian-Arab, (let alone “five million” as the President of Iran said lately) means the end of the Jewish state within a few years. On the other hand, however, the refugee camps are a great asset for the Arabs which they would endeavor to keep even if an agreement on reparations is reached some time in the future.
According to the Arabs, Jerusalem belongs only to the Muslims, the Jews do not have, and have never had any right to it. In many of his speeches ‘Arafat used to repeat the absurdity that since the destruction of the First Temple the Jews have not been in Jerusalem, and that they have only recently been brought to it by the British.
‘Arafat was only repeating the false “facts” which are part of the intensive re-writing of “Palestinian history,” which has been taking place for more than seventy years, similar to the rewriting of the history of Iraq, Egypt, Syria, and other Arab states which were born after World War I. In their re-writing of history the Palestinians aim at obliterating any memory of the Jews from Jerusalem in particular, and from the historical map of the Holy Land in general. This they do by presenting the whole history of ancient Israel as an insignificant episode between the Canaanites – who are identified as “Palestinians” – and the Islamic conquests, which are presented as just another wave of Arabs coming to historical Arab lands, and the “liberation movement” of the those ancient Palestinians from Christian rule!
The Islamic conquests in the 7th century also established the legal relations between the Arab-Muslim rulers and the Christian dhimmis; the Jews being of no consequence, in addition to the fact that they possessed no holy places. Only through this falsification of history was it possible to present the Muslim conquests as the legal source for the establishment of a system of “protection” bestowed by the Muslims on the Christians, who were confined to a few non-Muslim holy places.
Following this reasoning, all the Palestinians leaders, theologians, and intellectuals, repeatedly hammer the idea that the Jews possess no holy places in the Holy Land. These are either Muslim or Christian. Moreover, Israel as a state has no legal right even to offer protection to the Christian holy places; this is a sole Islamic prerogative. Only Muslims may benevolently bestow their dhimmah-protection on the Christians, if the latter adhere to the Islamic law regulating their status.
The Palestinian-Arab-Muslim ideology regarding the Jews, which followed the Oslo agreements, is the same as the one prior to them. It negates any connection between the Jews and their historic homeland including all the Jewish historical holy places. All the holy places to which the Jews lay claim are accordingly presented as Muslim holy places with Arab names: The Western Wall is al-Buraq, The Temple Mount is al-Haram al-Qudsi, Hebron is al-Khalil. Classical Islamic texts already Islamized the major figures of Jewish history from Abraham to Solomon – they are all Muslim personalities, Muslim prophets. All the holy places connected with them are therefore, by definition, Muslim holy places. The re-writers of Palestinian history are making maximum use of these old texts.
The Palestinian program as defined in the current policy, in the educational system, in the media, and in the literature is clear: the eye, the ear, and the heart of the future generations of Palestinians should be recruited to the one and only aim – the removal of Israel. For external consumption this ideological bundle is presented in glitzy verbal wrapping, pleasant to the Western ear, and as a meal of deceit spiced to suit the palate of the European, American and the Israeli Left.