Sunday, November 11, 2012

Lara Friedman's Desperation

Following in the footsteps of Daoud Kuttab last week, Lara Friedman of Peace Now has stepped onto the Huffington Post to try to convince her audience that Mahmoud Abbas is the only person who can make peace with Israel. In other words, peace has never been farther away. Like Daoud Kuttab before her, Friedman makes a big deal out of the recent interview Abbas gave on Israeli TV, and also like Daoud Kuttab she ignores what immediately happened afterward.
"The deafening silence in response to this interview -- in U.S. political circles and in the organizational Jewish community -- is telling.  For years critics and skeptics of peace efforts have asked: Where is the Palestinian leader truly ready to live in peace with Israel?  Where is the partner? Well, here he is.  Here's a Palestinian leader who talks the talk and walks the walk, even at tremendous political risk. "
And what exactly makes you conclude that he 'walks the walk,' Ms. Friedman? Because I'm pretty sure giving an interview and then immediately taking it back qualifies solely as "talking the talk."  Which as US political circles and the organizational Jewish community know has been the Palestinian pattern of behavior for years now. No wonder they couldn't be bothered to notice when the boy cries wolf just one more time.

Furthermore, what exactly is the "tremendous political risk" here? Daoud Kuttab pointed out that Abbas is not running for office again, and that's why he can make peace. If Ms. Friedman is implying that Abbas might get dragged out into the street and shot (or even just voted out) because of his allegedly moderate views, well I guess that says it all about who really wants peace now doesn't it? Of course neither of these Huffington Post bloggers are going to point out that Abbas has no directorate to speak for the people at all, given that his term of office expired years ago. The truth is that there has never been a Palestinian leader in a worse position to make peace. Compared to Abbas Arafat had a strong hold on power and could have been the change he wanted to see in the world. But let's get back to Friedman. After pointing out that Abbas has (a) said all the right things and (b) not started another war, which is apparently praiseworthy, she proceeds to just blame Israel:
"There is no doubt: Abbas is a leader with whom Israel could make peace, if Israel's leaders truly wanted to do so.  Regrettably, it appears that isn't the goal of Israel's current leaders.  Rather, in word and deed, many of those in power in Israel today make it clearer every day -- including with the announcement, only days after Abbas' interview, of new settlement construction -- that their goal is to make such a solution impossible."
Ah yes, the tired old settlement card. Abbas is barely clinging to power and even her referring to riots and protests as "some Palestinians condemned Abbas' brave words," is not going to change the facts on the ground. I remember Abbas' behavior during Obama's first term, Ms. Friedman. He refused to negotiate until his demands were met and then even when they were he still refused. He went to the UN not once but now twice in an attempt to wring out concessions and violate his PLO's own agreements. And of course low level violence continued.

Israel's current leaders are definitely not perfect, but you'd have to be blind not to see that not only does Abbas not want to make peace, he can't. Sure, you can blame Israel for this like you can for everything else but don't expect me to simply go along with it. You can throw the settlement card all you want but I think even President Obama knows at this point what is really stopping peace breaking out. 
"If they keep this up, then they -- and the rest of the world -- can rest assured, Abbas won't last much longer in his current job.  But let no one have any illusions: under these circumstances, Abbas won't be replaced by a new Palestinian leader who is more willing to make "peace" with Israel based on the kind of terms that Netanyahu and his ilk are offering -- terms that are tantamount to permanent disenfranchisement, deprivation of rights, and abject humiliation."
You know, what Netanyahu is offering is positively liberal compared to what Yitzhak Rabin expected a two-state solution would look like. But it's always nice to see that Ms. Friedman can take on the same talking points as the most extreme Palsbarist at the drop of a hat. I'd be curious to see what exactly Ms. Friedman is referring to when she talks about "permanent disenfranchisement" and "abject humiliation," especially given that Netanyahu has yet to actually make a formal offer.

But that doesn't even matter: Abbas won't be around much longer anyway. But I like how Ms. Friedman doesn't even try to deny that the Palestinian people (you know, the ones who supposedly want peace) would be all too happy to put someone extreme and violent in his place:
"Rather, he'll be replaced by leaders who, like too many of their Israeli counterparts in power today, reject the two-state formula, scoff at the notion of mutual respect and reconciliation, and are determined to pursue a zero-sum agenda by any means and at any cost.  Even Hamas will seem moderate in comparison to what is likely to emerge."
If that sounds like a threat, it's because it is. Sorry Ms. Friedman but Israel learned its lesson. You're asking them to make peace with a weak puppet now so that whoever replaces him will betray you (like in Egypt) or else not make peace and have to deal with that same replacement who will also want to fight you (like in Egypt). Gee, what an obvious decision! I can't imagine why Israel doesn't race to work with the guy who has never made a realistic compromise and has no mandate from his people!

All the mafia style threats won't work to convince Israel to put its people at risk, sorry. If the Palestinians that you claim love peace so much can't be trusted to follow through on their claims, that's hardly Israel's problem. Abbas' time is over. If the Palestinians want democracy and peace, time that they start working for it.

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