Peace in Middle East? Views From Israel
Comment at end
Updated 13th December, 2007
(As Israelis & Palestinians meet for the first time in 7 years)
A VERY interesting article
“As the Quartet’s representative, former Prime Minister Blair is perhaps the most intriguing — and holds out the best hope for letting go of his flawed assumptions. All leaders ought to respect this man, who guided his country and army in a preventative war against jihadist Islam.
Unfortunately, he was unable to persuade the international community and particularly the United Nations to deal with those who threaten the world with violence and chaos.”
Unless Tony Blair, Condoleezza Rice and other emissaries shake off the conventional wisdom that settling the Israel-Palestinian conflict is a prerequisite for Middle East stability, their visits to the region will be nothing more than mere meddling.
By Moshe Ya’alon, Israel Opinion
After a few years of benign neglect, Israel is again appearing on the radar screens and itineraries of well-meaning foreign emissaries.
In just the last month, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, now the Quartet’s envoy, and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Israel and our neighbors; the resulting press conferences, pronouncements and promises of “progress” were all-too-familiar.
Over the years, and particularly during my years as the chief of staff of the IDF, I met and briefed many previous emissaries sent to our region to try to solve the 100-year-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
While I deeply appreciate the willingness of Blair, Rice and the others to wade into the fray, I am nonetheless left skeptical: Unless Blair, Rice and the others sure to come are able to shake off long-disproven aspects of the conventional wisdom about Israeli-Palestinian conflict, their efforts are doomed to failure. To achieve real progress — and not just press conferences — those seeking to bolster peace must re-examine and reframe many of the primary assumptions that inform their view of the conflict.Primary among these is the belief that solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a prerequisite for stability the Middle East. This view might be common in the West and even in Israel, but it is entirely fallacious.
The Middle East is riven by multiple clashes that have nothing to do with Israel (even though some of the actors in them do exploit the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for their own aims). To name a few examples, the Jewish state plays no role in the conflicts between the Shi’a and the Sunni, between Persians and Arabs, or between Arab nationalists and Arab Islamists.
Dovetailing with this is the assumption that Israeli territorial concessions are the key to progress in the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. Again: Completely false. The reality is that we are confronting an ascendant jihadist Islam that believes that it is leading the battle against Israel and the West.
In this context, Israeli territorial or other concessions — whether made unilaterally or according to an agreement — simply fill the jihadists’ sails: They reinforce the jihadi belief that Israel and the rest of the West are weak and can be conquered by military means. Not only are Israeli territorial concessions not the key to solving the conflict, they actually make it worse.
It is important, nonetheless, to note that the majority of Israelis supported Israel’s unilateral withdrawals from Lebanon in 2000 and from Gaza in 2005; they (mistakenly) believed that meeting Hizbullah and Palestinian territorial demands would nullify the cause of the conflict. We know now what the result was:
The Hizbullah and Palestinian reactions made clear that the central conflict in our region is not territorial —it’s ideological. And ideology cannot be defeated by concessions. It didn’t work in the lead-up to the Second World War and it won’t work today. Unfortunately, it’s not only the foreign emissaries who haven’t yet internalized this reality: In Israel there remain many, even among our political leadership, who hold onto the cherished, false belief that, if we just surrender enough territory, we can have peace.
Unfortunately, our experience shows that the opposite is true.
Why did they destroy the Erez industrial zone?
The false assumptions are not limited to the conflict between jihadist Islam and the West. Too many in Israel and throughout the West believe that the problem between Israel and the Palestinians is “the Occupation.”
When people in the West use the term, “the Occupation” usually means the territories Israel conquered in the 1967 defensive war known as the Six Day War. But many Palestinians, and some Israeli Arabs, use “Occupation” to refer to all of the land of Israel (“from the sea to the river”).
If the problem between Israel and the Palestinians was just the ‘67 territories, and the solution was dividing the land (as was proposed by the British Mandate in 1937, by the UN in 1947 and by the prime minister of Israel in 2000), then the conflict would have ended long ago. The heart of the problem between Israel and the Palestinians is that a Palestinian leadership willing to recognize Israel as an independent Jewish state has not yet risen. The problem’s actual heart is that Fatah, Hamas and even some Israeli Arabs do not recognize the Jewish people’s right to an independent state, recognition granted by Blair’s predecessors during the British Mandate through the Balfour Declaration, and affirmed again and again in the international arena.Another misconception is the belief that the Palestinians want and have the ability to establish a state that will live in peace alongside the state of Israel. The clear-eyed among us understand that this hope has been dashed. Arafat established a gang rule that refused to take responsibility for its people and accept accountability for their welfare.
Mahmoud Abbas did not and does not want to take responsibility and enjoys his “weakness” — and the results are apparent. A society that educates and encourages a culture of death is a society with a built-in mechanism for self-destruction. We need simply to look at the sad case of the Gaza Strip: Palestinian nationalists won, received overwhelming political and economic support from the global community and from Israel, and the miserable outcome is apparent to all.Many in Israel and the rest of the West, looking through western glasses, believe that economic development is an engine capable of neutralizing nationalistic and religious feelings, which will bring peace, which will in turn bring security.
If you still believe this, I recommend that you hearken to David Ben-Gurion at the opening session of the Knesset in 1960: He termed those who believed this “naïve Zionists.” Those still clinging to this misconception ought to demand that the Palestinians explain what they did with the $7 billion they received over the last few years.
Seven billion reasons for economic progress — and yet: Why did they destroy the Erez industrial zone? Why do they attack the passages in the Gaza strip? Why is the Palestinian economy in shambles? Why are they so much worse off under the rule of the Palestinian Authority than they were prior to Arafat and his cronies assuming power in May 1994?
All leaders ought to respect Blair
And so, the well-intentioned emissaries must be asked: Looking to the future in the light of the last decade, do you see a chance for a politically and economically sustainable and viable Palestinian state in the ‘67 territories? Given the Hamas coup in the Gaza Strip and Fatah’s behavior, do you think there is a chance for a political entity that is not hostile to Israel (and to Jordan) in the ‘67 territories? And is it in the best interests of the West to bring such an entity in being?
Once shorn of all these mistaken assumptions, the clear-eyed are left with a disturbing picture (no wonder, then, that so many cling to the misconceptions). So what course of action do I recommend?Western governments must refrain from pressuring Israel, which leads only to short-term gains (and to longer-term complications). Instead, try to convince the Palestinians to commit to a long-term strategy: One premised upon educational, political and economic reforms that will lead to the establishment of a civil society that cherishes life and not death, that values human rights and freedom, and that develops a middle class and not a corrupt, rich elite.
Don’t waste money propping up Abu Mazen or his security organizations. Direct funds toward educational reform and toward encouraging small businesses in order to facilitate the growth of a middle class, which is the core of civil society.
At the same time, act to solve the Palestinian refugee issue through humanitarian means: Establish an international fund that will offer refugee families an appropriate amount to aid in their resettlement and integration ($100-200,000.00 per family), on the condition that the acceptance of this money represents the resolution of their refugee status. Don’t be tempted to take the easy route of grabbing short-term — and short-sighted — “gains,” such as demanding that Israel uproot settlements or refrain from military activity in Palestinian towns. As I wrote, Israeli concessions will be viewed as yet another victory for Islamist jihad. Emissaries who press for the cessation of IDF activity in Palestinian areas are asking for a renewal of the terror war Israelis endured following the September 2000 withdrawal from Lebanon. Blair — who sent the British army to Afghanistan to prevent terror attacks in London, Madrid and New York — particularly understands that the best defense is a good offense. And a good offense includes the freedom to capture and arrest terrorists in their hideouts.
The emissaries must not be tempted to talk to Hamas, even in the face of pressure from home (be it political or economic, such as that from British Gas, which has interests in the Palestinian Authority that apparently outweigh moral considerations). For the sake of Palestinian society, Hamas and its ideology must be defeated.
Emissaries are sent to address with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but they maintain clarity: The Israeli-Palestinian dispute is not the most significant conflict today. That title belongs to the battle between jihadist Islam and the West; Israel is merely one theater where that fight is being waged.
The West cannot overcome jihadist Islam without overpowering the regimes, organizations and ideologies that support and feed it — and the Hamas is one of largest jewels in the crown.
The emissaries must also keep in mind that their actions vis a vis the Palestinians may influence other Arab societies and can play a role in the larger conflict between jhadist Islam and the West. All leaders must act based on long-term visions with no shortcuts — and forgo the hunger for short-term accomplishments.
My advice here is not ideological: I am a kibbutz member who has always cherished life above land, one who was certainly willing to accept territorial compromise — until the failure of the Oslo accords and all that came after it demonstrated the futility and false hopes of such an approach.
As the Quartet’s representative, former Prime Minister Blair is perhaps the most intriguing — and holds out the best hope for letting go of his flawed assumptions. All leaders ought to respect this man, who guided his country and army in a preventative war against jihadist Islam.
Unfortunately, he was unable to persuade the international community and particularly the United Nations to deal with those who threaten the world with violence and chaos.
As long as the international community attacks and condemns Israel — a country defending itself from intentional attacks on civilians waged by their who use their own people as human shields — rather than isolating and punishing states like Iran and Syria and organizations like Hizbullah and Hamas, the West will not win.Even in his own country, though several legislative changes followed the terror attacks there, there are still Islamic “charities” active in Britain that raise funds to support terrorist groups (the US is better off in this respect).
Those who just sought to attack London and Glasgow had nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (nor did Israel have anything to do with the attacks on New York, Madrid, the London subways or elsewhere).
Though we Israelis are doing our best as a country and an army to win this war while remaining true to our values, we hear the voices blaming Israel and the rest of the West, and more loudly, in Europe. The voices in the media and academia are rising in volume and in conviction — even as they continue to miss the point in the most grandiloquent manner imaginable.
Rice, Blair and the other emissaries must be the countervailing voices, offering vision, clarity and leadership. A war fought on false assumptions cannot be won.
And yet I, the son of a soldier who fought in the British Army’s Jewish Brigade in World War II, a graduate of the British Command and Staff College, and one who dedicated his life to fighting those who threaten Israel and the rest of the West, must refrain from traveling to Britain in order to avoid the embarrassment of arrest in some show-trial on unfounded propagandist charges of “war crimes.”
As long as this is the case, there is no chance for success in our battle against jihadist Islam. This victory is not dependent on solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; it depends upon moral clarity and sober understanding.
The emissaries who travel here must drawn on their rich experience, free themselves from petty politics — especially from the binds of “political correctness” — to lead us all toward the goals of freedom, security—and true progress toward peace. Anything else is mere meddling.
Lt. Gen. (Res.) Moshe Ya’alon is a fellow at the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies at the Shalem Center. He served as the 17th Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces
This from IsraPundit websiteIntelligence and Terrorism Information Center
at the Israel Intelligence Heritage & Commemoration Center (IICC)August 26, 2007
The Islamic Liberation Party recently held mass rallies in Al-Bireh and other cities in the Palestinian Authority. It has no military wing, but, its radical Islamic ideology and global deployment make it a source for the potential recruitment for Islamic terrorist organizations in the PA-administered territories and around the world.
Islamic Liberation Party (HuT1) rallies in the PA-administered
territories and around the world.
1. On August 10 and 11, 2007, the Islamic Liberation Party (Hibz ut-Tahrir in Arabic) held a series of mass rallies in Al-Bireh, Hebron , Tulkarm and Gaza City . The rallies are held annually by the HuT during the first half of August throughout the Arab-Muslim world.
2. The largest and most impressive rally in the PA-administered territories was held in Al-Bireh. Chartered buses brought 10,000 people from all over Judea and Samaria and even some Israeli Arabs . During the rally in Tulkarm the HuT announced that it was beginning a youth movement in Judea and Samaria called Ashbal al- Khilafah (“Lion Cubs of the Caliphate”) 3. According to the media, the HuT also held a book fair (possibly also in Al-Bireh) at which the party’s ideological material was distributed.
3. The slogan of the rally in Al-Bireh on August 10 was “ The Caliphate is the rising force .” Telephone speeches given by party leaders in several countries (including Turkey and Pakistan ) were relayed by loudspeaker. A recorded speech was also broadcast, given by Ata’ Khalil Abu al-Rushtah , the party’s leader (“Amir”), currently in Lebanon after having been released from a Jordanian prison. Abu al-Rashta is Jordanian but his family came from Hebron . In 2003, when party leader Abd al-Kadim Zallum died, Abu al-Rashta replaced him. Zallum was also from Hebron and was one of the party’s founders.
4. The speakers at the rally in Al-Bireh related to the liberation of “ Palestine ,” but noted that “the liberation of the lands of Palestine from the hands of the occupiers” would be realized only when the Islamic Caliphate had been restored . Party leader Abu al-Rushtah noted the importance of restoring the Caliphate, which he claimed had been destroyed by the West (in effect it was dissolved by Ataturk). Yilmaz Čelik , the party spokesman in Turkey , called for “…the liberation of the Muslim land from the infidel imperialist forces of the Americans, British, French, Russian, Indian and Chinese who have occupied Muslim lands.” Nafiz Butt, the party spokesman in Pakistan , called the establishment of an Islamic state the path to victory for Muslims and Palestinians (Ma’an News Agency, August 11).
Yilmaz Čelik, whose speech was broadcast at the Al-Bireh rally,
was arrested by the Turkish authorities in September 2005
following a demonstrating he organized in Istanbul .
5. Yahya Ayyash headed the operative-terrorist wing of Hamas in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. He specialized in the preparation of explosive charges and dispatching suicide bombers in the years 1994-1996, with the clear purpose of undermining the Oslo Accords, signed in 1993. He was codenamed “The Engineer” since he had a degree in Electric Engineering from Bir Zeit University , and used the knowledge he gained during his studies to manufacture the explosive charges used by the suicide bombers. Yahya Ayyash was responsible for killing some 55 Israeli civilians and injuring some 430 in a series of particularly devastating terrorist attacks that struck the cities of Israel . He died in a retaliatory targeted killing by the Israeli security forces on January 5, 1996.
Portrait of the Islamic Liberation Party (HuT)
6. The HuT is a radical Islamic political movement, founded in Jordan in East Jerusalem in 1952 and officially established in 1953 without formal legal Jordanian authorization. Its founder was Taki al-Din al-Nabhani , a judge in the Shari’ court in Jerusalem , who was born in the village of Ijzim , which is today Kerem Maharal (on the western slopes of the Carmel mountain range).
7. The party’s objective was to restore the Islamic Caliphate dissolved by Mustafa Kamal Ataturk in 1924 and to impose the dictates of Islamic law (the Shariah) on its populace. That was to be done by indoctrinating them with its worldview in preparation for revolutions against secular Islamic regimes. That would be done either by enlisting the elite (such as army officers) or by assassinating the regimes’ leaders, which is why the party has been persecuted by most of the regimes in the Arab-Muslim world.
8. The HuT is in favor of “the liberation of Palestine ,” that is, the destruction of Israel through jihad, and firmly opposes a political settlement with Israel . However, according to its ideology, that is not the duty of an individual or of a Muslim government, but only of the Islamic Caliphate when it is restored . Therefore, as an organization the party is not involved in the terrorist activities of the Palestinian terrorist organizations or of the global jihad (although in the past it has expressed sympathy for the attacks carried out by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad). It tries to realize its world view by long-term preaching (the da’wah ) to the Palestinian population in the PA-administered territories and among Islamic communities around the world, alongside its political and welfare activities , whose objective is to bring it popular support.
9. When the party was established it was persecuted by the Jordanian government, which kept it from operating. From Jordan it spread to most of the Arab and North African countries, to Turkey and Iran . It also spread to the Muslim countries in Southeast and Central Asia ( Indonesia , Bangladesh and Uzbekistan ), Muslim communities in Europe (particularly in Britain and Germany ) and in North America, Australia and Japan . According to the data available, the party has representatives in no less than 45 countries around the globe.
Islamic Liberation Party rallies and conventions around the globe (August 2007)
10. In the Western countries, the activities of the HuT are noteworthy in Britain and the United States :
1) Britain : Since the beginning of the 1990s the party has been very active in the British Muslim community, especially in the universities . 8 It was headed by a Muslim cleric named Omar Bakri Muhammad , who left the HuT in 1996, founded a radical Islamic organization named Al-Muhajirun (“the emigrants”), expressed support for Al-Qaeda and was forced to leave Britain for Lebanon . In recent years there has been a marked increase in the party’s activities in Britain , and in a number of instances it has operated openly (the British branch of the party has a Website which disseminates its ideology and political announcements).
The British party’s home page. The site is technically advanced
and is often updated, including video clips.
2) The United States : Most of the founders of the American branch emigrated to America in the 1980s. The younger generation makes extensive use of the Internet and markets the party’s ideology through consumer products bearing Islamic propaganda and through blogs and Internet forums.
The use of consumer products to market the Islamic Liberation Party’s ideology
The www.khalifahklothing.com home page.
Various products can be ordered online by United States residents.
An analysis of the potential threat posed by the HuT
11. Although the HuT does not have a terrorist operative wing and is not, as a party, involved in terrorist acts, it is potentially dangerous . Its radical Islamic ideology, its implacable hostility to the State of Israel, the West and Arab regimes, and its intensive da’wah preaching activities are liable to motivate individuals becoming ideologically extreme to turn to violence and terrorism. In addition, it is widely deployed throughout the PA-administered territories, Middle Eastern countries and the Muslim communities abroad (including in Western countires). That makes it potentially convenient for HuT activists to be recruited and handled by terrorist organizations and dispatched on terrorist missions for both the Palestinian terrorist organizations and global jihad elements whose ideologies are close to the party’s.
12. For example, there were a number of instances in Britain in which Islamic activists underwent a process ideological radicalization during their participation in HuT and similar party meetings, and were afterwards involved in terrorist activities which were unrelated to the HuT. British newspapers have recently published reports based on statements made by a former member of the HuT, according to which one of the terrorist operatives who carried out the terrorist attack at the Glasgow airport at the end of June 2007 was a member of an HuT cell in Cambridge University ( Sunday Times , July 8, 2007; New Statesman , July 16, 2007).
Islamic Liberation Party activities in Judea and Samaria
13. There are overtly and covertly active radical Islamic movements and organizations which operate in the PA-administered territories. Two of them, Hamas and the PIJ, are clearly Palestinian-Islamic in character (although their leadership is geographically outside the PA) and they favor violence and terrorism ( muqawamah ) as the means to achieve their goals. Other organizations (such as the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic Liberation Party) are branches of radical Islamic organizations which are globally deployed throughout the Arab world and in Muslim communities abroad, and whose leadership is outside the PA-administered territories . They focus their activities on ideology and the political struggle against their opponents without establishing terrorist-military wings and do not promote their world view by military-terrorist means.
14. Before the Six Day War the HuT was active in Judea and Samaria as an opposition force to the Jordanian regime. Between 1967 and 1977 it severely curtailed its party activities, fearing Israel would take steps against it. In the early 1990s it gradually renewed its activities, and more so after the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, which it strongly opposes.
15. With the rise of Islamic extremism in Palestinian society during the current violent confrontation with Israel (the second intifada), there was a renascence of activity among radical Islamic organizations, including the HuT. Another increase in the HuT’s activity occurred after Hamas’ rise to power (2006-2007), in our assessment because some of the radical Islamic Palestinian populace was disappointed with the Hamas government .
16. The HuT has focal points of support in the Jerusalem-Ramallah-Hebron region. There is a particularly hard core of activists in Jerusalem who regularly pray in the mosques on the Temple Mount . They have been involved in violent events during visits of Muslim rulers or Christians to the Temple Mount , including the July 1999 visit of the Turkish president, the March 2000 visit of the Pope, the December 2003 visit of Ahmad Maher, the Egyptian foreign minister, and the May 2005 visit of American First Lady Laura Bush.
17. Unlike its previous clandestine activities, in recent years the HuT has often been in the public eye , especially in its power centers of Jerusalem , Ramallah and Hebron . Breaking with the past, it has now begun to involve itself publicly in welfare issues aimed to broaden its power base within Palestinian society . The following are some examples of its activities during the past two years (in addition to the recent mass rallies):
1) Jerusalem-Ramallah : On July 18, 2007 the HuT distributed a flyer harshly critical of the violent confrontations between Fatah and Hamas; on July 15 the party held a large rally at the mosque in Al-‘Eizariya in East Jerusalem; on October 25, 2006 HuT student activists held a rally at Beir Zeit University to condemn the anti-Muhammad cartoons printed in Denmark and the harm being done by the Americans to the Iraqi people; in August 2006 the party held a rally in Al-Bireh attended by 3,000 people (among whom were activists from Hebron and Nablus, and Israeli Arabs).
2) The Hebron region : In May 2007 the HuT led a campaign against the establishment of a new missionary school in Hebron; on August 26, 2006, it held a mass rally (attended by 15,000 people) to mark the anniversary of the fall of the last Caliph; party activists called upon the populace to boycott the local municipal elections in the Palestinian Authority (2004-2005) and the Palestinian presidential elections (January 2006), claiming they had no Islamic legitimacy; on January 28, 2006, the party led a demonstration against the damage done to the prophet Muhammad by the cartoons which appeared in Denmark; in November 2005, 450 HuT activists took over the Hebron city hall as part of a difficult but successful struggle to lower electricity rates.
The rivalry between the HuT and Hamas
18. It is noteworthy that there are serious ideological disagreements between Hamas and the Islamic Liberation Party. While Hamas is in favor of the establishment of an Islamic state in “ Palestine ,” the HuT firmly adheres to the idea of establishing an Islamic Caliphate not based on territory or nationality, which would embrace the entire Islamic world. While Hamas regards the use of terrorism (“resistance”) as the main tool to advance its goals, the HuT is in favor of preaching and fostering an ideological elite which would enable it to take rule by force with the aid of key elements in the administration (and thus avoid establishing a military wing and using terrorism).
19. In recent years, HuT activists have tried to represent themselves as an ideological and political alternative to Hamas while continuing their hostility to the Palestinian Authority . In January 2006 They conducted a struggle for the boycott of the Palestinian Legislative Council elections (with little real success). On January 17, 2006, HuT activists tried to attack Salam Fayyad during a visit he paid to Qalqilia during the election campaign. After the Hamas victory in the elections and the establishment of the Hamas governments, HuT activists held gatherings in the mosques in Hebron , Nablus and Ramallah to preach their position and to call upon Hamas to give up the government, bringing down the wrath of Hamas upon themselves.
The name of the party in Arabic is Hibz ut-Tahrir, the Liberation Party. For example, in Lebanon , where the party was authorized to operate openly in 2006, it held its second annual rally on August 12. In Indonesia , the rally was held in the Jakarta stadium and attended by 100,000 people. In Malaysia the rally was held on August 12, and the rally in London drew a few thousand people. The party leader Abu al-Rushtah at the rally in Al-Bireh said they were held during the Muslim month of Rajab (which came in August this year), the month in which the Islamic Caliphate fell, Jerusalem was liberated from the Crusaders and Muhammad ascended to heaven.
The caliphate (from the Arabic khilāfah ) is the Islamic form of government representing the political unity and leadership of the Muslim world, and established after the death of the prophet Muhammad, and dissolved by Ataturk in 1924.
According to http://www.alokab.com/forums/lofiversion/index.php?t118-200.html For the party’s activity in Uzbekistan , see our May 16, 2005 Bulletin entitled “Radical Islamic activity in Uzbekistan : the latest events in Andijan and their connection with the Islamic Liberation Party” .
For the party’s activity in the United States, see the article by Madeleine Gruen, “Hizb-ut-Tahrir’s Activities in the United States,” Terrorism Monitor , Vol. V, Issue 16, August 16, 2007, pp. 7-9. A first-hand description of the HuT’s activities can be found in a recently-published book written by a former HuT member: Ed Husain, The Islamist: Why I Joined Radical Islam in Britain , What I Saw Inside and Why I Left ( London : Penguin Books, 2007).
Omar Bakri Muhammad’s fear of the British authorities made him leave for Lebanon in August 2005. They will not allow him to return. During the second Lebanon war he asked to be evacuated from Lebanon to Britain and was refused.
For further information see Madeleine Gruen’s article in Terrorist Monitor , cited above.