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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

December 06, 2002

PA Reforms and The Arab Tradition of Out-manoeuvring the West

On June 24, 2002, Bush made the famous speech in which he demanded that the PA reform, spelling out specific steps to be taken:

My vision is two states, living side by side in peace and security.
I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror. I call upon them to build a practising democracy, based on tolerance and liberty. If the Palestinian people actively pursue these goals, America and the world will actively support their efforts.
True reform will require entirely new political and economic institutions, based on democracy, market economics and action against terrorism.
A Palestinian state can only serve its citizens with a new constitution which separates the powers of government.
And the United States will not support the establishment of a Palestinian state until its leaders engage in a sustained fight against the terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure.
I've said in the past that nations are either with us or against us in the war on terror. To be counted on the side of peace, nations must act. Every leader actually committed to peace will end incitement to violence in official media, and publicly denounce homicide bombings.
Since the “vision thing” speech was made, the ZOA has been keeping tabs on the progress made with regard to the four point highlighted above; the weekly reports are reproduced by IMRA on a regular basis. The last of these reports was posted by IMRA on December 3, 2002. It concludes as follows:
[On dismantling terrorist infrastructure]: No Terrorists Arrested...No Terrorists Extradited...No Terror Groups Outlawed...No Terrorists' Weapons Seized...No Closing of Bomb Factories...No Punishing of PLO Terror Factions...

New Terrorist Attacks ...during Nov.16-Dec.1, 2002, there were at least 48 terrorist attacks or attempted attacks, in which 17 people were murdered and
93 wounded...
[Re End Incitement:] The PA's official newspapers, television, and radio continued to broadcast a steady stream of anti-Israel, anti-American, and pro-violence incitement, and PA officials continued to make inciting statements.

[Re Elect New Leaders Not Compromised by Terror]: The PA has announced that it will hold elections for chairman of the PA and members of the Palestinian Legislative Council on January 20, 2003, if Israel withdraws from various parts of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza.

[Re Build Democracy Based on Tolerance and Liberty]: The PA continues to claim that it is in the process of implementing what it describes as its "reform plan," but experts doubt that the reforms will be genuine. Robert Satloff of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said of the plan: "While it offers promising elements of change, the plan is only likely to strengthen the unacceptable status quo." On October 29, 2002, Arafat announced the appointment of a new cabinet; however, 16 of the 19 cabinet members had likewise been members of the outgoing cabinet.

Furthermore, on October 29, 2002, the PA announced it had condemned to death an Arab human-rights worker (Heidar Mahmoud Hussein Ghanim, an employee of the leftwing Israeli group Btselem) for "spying for Israel."
It is hardly surprising that no progress is made, since the EU and the US continue to subsidize and support the Palestinians anyway. Indeed, just the other day we learnt that Bush declined to apply sanctions for PA non-compliance, as reported by Ha’Aretz on December 5, 2002:
President George Bush decided Monday to impose sanctions on the Palestinian Authority for not fulfilling its obligations to fight terror, but the president has frozen their implementation for the time being.
The complicated wording of the White House decision is meant to convey dissatisfaction with the Palestinians, but without imposing any kind of punishment that would be problematic for the administration.
One has to conclude that the PA has succeeded once again in manipulating the West into supporting it without giving up anything in return: Teflon-Arafat is firmly placed at the head of the PA, terrorism against Israel continues on a daily basis, and the Gang of Four (“Quartet”) continues its unrelenting effort to “destroy Israel by other means”.

Horror of horrors, Sharon himself has endorsed the creation of a second Palestinian-Arab state, as documented by an IMRA report, December 4, 2002, quoting Sharon’s words:
As I have promised in the past, President Bush's sequence will be discussed and approved by the National Unity Government which I intend to establish after the elections, and I will do my utmost to establish as broad a National Unity Government as possible.
Anyone who believes that in the end, Sharon will out-smart Arafat and will not permit a second Palestinian-Arab state without adequate guaranties, indeed, anyone who believes that in the end, the West will see the light and out-manouevre the Palestinians, should look into history to learn about the phenomenal success of the Arabs in turning the tables and out-manoeuvring the West. Let me cite but one example which concerns the way in which King Abdullah outwitted Churchill and the British government in the 1920's.

If one reads popular versions of Jordanian history, as presented, for example, on the Focus site, one is led to believe that Jordan (formerly, Tansjordan) came into being like Athene out of the head of Zeus:
Transjordan was incorporated into Britain's League of Nations' mandate of Palestine. Transjordan was treated separately from Palestine, however, and its residents were assured that it would not be affected by the establishment of a Jewish homeland in the future. His majesty king Abdullah, Faisal's brother, was chosen to rule over Transjordan in 1921. He cooperated closely with the British, who helped create the Arab Legion, a small army later commanded by Sir John Glubb. In 1928 a treaty with Britain made Transjordan a constitutional monarchy. A second treaty with the British on Mar. 22, 1946, created the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan.
But quite a different picture emerges from detailed, scholarly works, such as:

Fromkin, David. A Peace to End All Peace. New York: Avon Books, 1989.

Fromkin's research, together with material culled from additional sources, indicates the following chain of events.

In March, 1920, the Emir Feisal, son of Hussein king of Hejaz, was crowned King of Syria, Feisal having marched into Syria with his armed followers. In April, 1920, the San Remo conference confirmed the mandates allocation, according to which Britain would receive the mandate over Palestine (which would include both banks of the Jordan), and France would received the mandate over Syria/Lebanon. To France, the latter decision was incompatible with Feisal ruling as Syria’s king; the French solution was to occupy Syria/Lebanon and expel Hussein (July 1920).

But Arab attacks on the French continued, and Britain was concerned that France would use the hostilities as a pretext to invade Palestine. This issue was one of many Middle East problems that Churchill (as colonial secretary, 1921-1922) had to deal with. To discuss these issues, Churchill called the “Cairo Conference” for 12-22 March, 1921. While the Conference was ongoing, news arrived that Abdullah, brother of the deposed King Hussein of Syria, arrived in Transjordan at the head of two hundred Bedouin warriors. It was believed that Abdullah intended to go to war on the French and reinstate his brother as king of Syria. Alarmed, Churchill proposed to offer Abdullah the following deal: in return for Abdullah agreeing not to attack French Syria, Churchill would appoint Abdullah as temporary ruler of eastern Palestine, with the express mandate of establishing order and preventing attacks on the French in Syria/Lebanon.

Herbert Samuel and Wyndham Deedes, respectively, the High Commissioner and the Chief Secretary for Palestine, objected to this proposal on the grounds that Eastern Paelstine was included in the League of Nations mandate for Palestine, and that Churchill could not change the terms unilaterally. But Churchill argued that Abdullah’s position would be temporary, for a few months only, and with this argument succeeded in persuading the British cabinet.

As the Cairo Conference closed on March 22, 1921, Churchill travelled to Jerusalem and met Abdullah in person. In these meetings, Abdullah agreed to govern Transjordan for six months, with the advice of a British chief political officer and with a British financial subsidy.

Within weeks it became clear that Abdullah was unable to either quell the internal fighting among the local tribes or to prevent attacks on the French in Syria. But when summer turned to fall and the British doubts about Abdullah became clear, he simply made it know to his British handlers (especially to TE Lawrence “of Arabia”) that he would not leave. Abdullah knew that the Arabists in the British Colonial Office would prefer to see him installed permanently under their tutelage, rather than eject him by force of arms, and he was right: Abdullah had succeeded to out-manoeuver Churchill. Faced with this reality, Britain used her clout to redraft the San Remo terms, so that the mandate given to Britain by the League of Nations in July 1922 did indeed permit Britain to exclude Eastern Palestine from the Jewish National home.

Fromkin summarizes the subsequent developments thus:

[T]he Colonial Office's temporary and merely administrative set of arrangements for Transjordan in time hardened into an enduring political reality. The Arabian prince with his foreign retinue settled in Amman and became a permanent new factor in the complex politics of the Palestine Mandatory regime... The newly created province of Transjordan, later to become the independent state of Jordan, gradually drifted into existence as an entity separate from the rest of Palestine; indeed, today it is often forgotten that Jordan was ever part of Palestine.
There are numerous examples that demonstrate the same trend, such as Egypt’s success in garnering the support of the West at the same time as she was firmly in the Soviet camp during the Cold War era. But if the story of Abdullah and the other historical examples are not enough of a warning, consider how effectively the Arab propaganda machine is succeeding in turning governments and public opinion in Europe against our sister-republic, Israel, to this very day. One has to marvel how a collection of autocracies with hands dripping with blood can subvert the minds of educated, freedom-loving people, inducing them to regard a vibrant sister-democracy as the devil incarnate - and yet the Arabs are doing so continually. Arab propaganda has out-manoeuvred reason and facts, using little more than petro-dollars and terrorism.

Which is why I cringe when I hear leaders from Bush to Sharon accept the notion of a second Palestinian Arab state, and the more I hear about imposing conditions of “reform” and “demilitarization”, the more I cringe: I've seen "conditions" before.

Another obvious example of how Arab countries outwit the West is Iraq, a topic which warrants a separate article. I mention this point in closing only to call attention to a recent article by David Warren, an article which should be read in its entirety. To whet one’s appetite, I quote but one paragraph that encapsulates much of the story:

The Iraqis had found the previous U.N. inspector, the distressingly competent Richard Butler, much too confrontational, and found the American's proposed compromise candidate, another Swede, Rolf Ekeus, also too confrontational. Mr. Blix was the sort of sap they were looking for, and in 1998 the Clinton administration was persuaded to accept him as the head of the newly watered-down UNMOVIC after long nights of filibuster by the Russians, French, and Kofi Annan.
Is there any wonder the Arabs laugh at us?

Contributed by Joseph Alexander Norland. This piece is cross-posted on IsraPundit and Dawson Speaks.