Almost two decades of US and Israeli policy toward the Palestinians now lies shattered in ruins. This is the end result of the "peace process": a totalitarian takeover of the one unoccupied Palestinian territory, Gaza, by the Palestinians' most fanatical, unreformed Islamist faction.
It is a fitting symbol of this collapse that victorious Hamas looters broke into Yasser Arafat's former home and stole his Nobel Peace Prize medal. That medal is now where it belongs—with the people who were the Nobel Committee's real beneficiaries when they sought to prop up Arafat and the fraudulent "peace process."
None of this is a great surprise to those of us who have been watching the regression into barbarity of the Palestinian "suicide bomb society." So I was glad to see the Wall Street Journal sum up the meaning of the new conflict this way: "The deeper lesson here is that a society that has spent the last decade celebrating suicide bombing would inevitably become a victim of its own nihilistic impulses."
As usual, however, the US and the Europeans are going to try their best to prop up the very people responsible for the Palestinian slide into a murder-suicide frenzy. Thus, our leaders have announced a new policy of supporting Yasser Arafat's tired old Fatah faction in the West Bank as a "moderate" alternative to the new Hamas regime in Gaza.
This plan would have something to say for it—if it were a "divide and conquer" strategy, in which we were playing one terrorist faction against another, in order to destroy both. But that is not what the new policy means. It's not just that Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas has proven weak and ineffectual. (He hasn't even had the guts to outlaw Hamas in the West Bank, and the only power preparing to take back Gaza is Israel.) The problem is that we have tried this tactic before: back in the 1990s, we supported Arafat and demanded that he suppress Hamas.
Instead, over the long term, Arafat appeased Hamas and competed with it in a contest to show which faction was more intransigent in its desire to murder Jews. That's what you get when he support a fanatical, ideologically motivated terrorist to oppose another fanatical, ideologically motivated terrorist. Some small sense of the foolishness of this policy is sketched out in the op-ed below by Barry Rubin.
"Our Fatah 'Allies'," Barry Rubin, Jewish World Review, June 18 The United States is backing Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas with aid and probably military assistance. Israel's government will do everything possible to preserve that regime, too….
Abbas…is a loser and only if he is replaced can one even begin to believe in Fatah's survival. He is the closest thing in the Palestinian movement to a French intellectual, not the kind of person you would like to have by your side in a knife fight.
Consider his first two decisions. Who did Abbas make prime minister? Muhammad Dahlan, who has been warning about the Hamas threat for more than five years, or some other warrior? No, Salam Fayyad, a professional economist. Why? Does Abbas intend to launch a major development and anti-poverty campaign? No, it's because Fayyad, an honest and experienced guy it is true, but certainly no wartime consigliore, is more likely to bring in Western aid money.
In addition, Abbas has refused to outlaw Hamas on the West Bank. Perhaps he hopes for reconciliation? Or wants to avoid a confrontation on his remaining turf?...
There is something deeper, too, in the desire by many in the West or Israel to believe in an alliance with Fatah, a group which still carries on terrorist attacks and doesn't believe in Israel's right to exist. This is the obsession with the peace process dream….
So, all right, work with Fatah but have no illusions or expectations. And don't give something for nothing.