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No one left for Bibi to blame – except, of course, Abbas

Israel is in a crisis – the heaviest Palestinian street violence in a decade, the threat of a full-blown third intifada – and here’s how Netanyahu is managing it: by seizing on the last available scapegoat.

Outside of the Netanyahu government and its supporters, does anyone believe that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) is inciting the rioting and terror in East Jerusalem? Does anyone think the gunmen and killer drivers and adolescent stone-throwers are taking their cues from Ramallah’s 79-year-old bureaucrat-in-chief? Conversely, does anyone think that if Abbas were to call publicly and repeatedly for an end to Palestinian violence in the capital, it would stop?

This is a ridiculous notion. Yet this is the message that Israel’s big four, Prime Minister  Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, keep flogging after every terror attack in East Jerusalem, and in between as well. Blaming Abbas is the beginning and end of this government’s diplomatic strategy for dealing with the current crisis – the heaviest Palestinian street violence in a decade, the threat of a full-blown third intifada.

After a suspected Hamasnik drove into a crowd on the “seam line” between East and West Jerusalem on Wednesday, killing a Border Police officer and wounding over a dozen other people, Netanyahu said, “the vehicle attack in Jerusalem is a direct result of Abu Mazen’s incitement.” Ya’alon upped the ante, saying, “Abu Mazen’s rhetorical incitement, in which he disseminates lies and hatred against Israel, while praising Palestinian terrorists who harm Jews, are responsible for the bloodshed in Jerusalem.” Bennett decided to outdo everyone, saying Abbas was “the driver of the death car and the terrorists his emissaries.” But he had competition from Liberman, who said, “a leadership such as the Palestinian Authority, which glorifies and encourages terror, creates a ‘terrorcratic’ entity that only leads to more bloodshed.”

First of all, they’re exaggerating about Abbas’ rhetoric. True, he hasn’t helped calm the situation by saying that “settlers … desecrate” the Noble Sanctuary (the Temple Mount to Jews) with their visits; accusing Israel of “declaring war” on the Palestinians by closing the holy site for a few hours for (genuine) security purposes; and heaping blame on the “murderous, terrorist gangs in the Israeli occupation army” for killing Muataz Hijazi, the apparent Islamic Jihad member who tried to assassinate Yehuda Glick, a leading Temple Mount activist. (However, in his condolence letter to Hijazi’s family, Abbas did not praise Hijazi for the shooting or otherwise endorse it, despite what Netanyahu and Co. would have people believe.)

Abbas is pissed off; he’s departed from his usual role as the voice of non-violence and patience. But whatever he says or doesn’t say, his words count for exactly nothing with the young rebels and Islamic radicals in East Jerusalem.

And if we judge Abbas by his deeds, not only isn’t he stoking the violence in East Jerusalem, he’s doing what he’s been doing for the last 10 years – keeping the West Bank amazingly quiet even when Palestinians are at war with Israel elsewhere, usually in Gaza. (On Wednesday night a Palestinian drove his van into three Israeli soldiers standing near a West Bank refugee camp, injuring one of them seriously — in what may have been an accident. But at any rate it’s still clear that Abbas’ Palestinian Authority is doing a much better job controlling violence in the West Bank’s cities, villages and refugee camps than the Israel Police is doing in East Jerusalem, where the PA isn’t allowed.)

Last week Orit Perlov, a social media analyst at Israel’s leading strategic think tank, the Institute for National Security Studies, wrote in Haaretz why she didn’t think a third intifada was in the offing. Here was one of her reasons:

Since Operation Brother’s Keeper in the summer, the security forces of Israel and the Palestinian Authority have been engaging in a wide-scale operation to “cleanse” the West Bank and East Jerusalem of Hamas and Islamic Jihad infrastructures. This operation has been met with a wave of protests against the Palestinian Authority and its head, Mahmoud Abbas.

At the same time, the Shin Bet security service and the PA’s intelligence agencies have been tightening their surveillance of the social networks and the shapers of Palestinian public opinion on the Internet. The Internet is supposedly an open place where people can express opinions freely, but actually, every young Palestinian who tries to organize a public protest to put pressure on the authorities or start an escalation is arrested or called in for questioning.

It’s Abbas who stands between Israel and a third intifada. If not for Abbas and his troops, Israel would be back where it was before the Oslo Accords, its soldiers deployed in every West Bank alley in place of the PA forces who’ve been doing the job all these years. This is a nightmare scenario for Israelis.

So why are Netanyahu and the others dumping on Abbas? They sure as hell don’t want to get rid of him. They don’t want his security men to move into East Jerusalem, either. And this isn’t about gaining a diplomatic advantage; there’s no diplomacy to speak of on the Israeli-Palestinian front. All Israel cares about right now is putting down the violence in East Jerusalem. So do Israel’s leaders really want Abbas to publicly denounce the stone-throwing and killing, even though it would do no good and only lower his standing further on the Palestinian “street,” where he is widely seen as a collaborator (and which is probably one of the reasons Abbas has been toughening up his rhetoric)?

Netanyahu and his crew may indeed be that blind. But I think the reason they’re blaming Abbas for the upheaval in East Jerusalem is actually very simple: He’s all they’ve got left. Who are they going to blame, Hamas? They already did that over the summer, they already bombed Gaza to bits, what are they going to do, bomb Gaza again? Meanwhile, Qatar has become irrelevant; so has Turkey. ISIS isn’t in East Jerusalem; neither is Iran. And they can’t blame Kerry anymore – he’s gone. The only scapegoat who’s still available, who’s still vulnerable, who they can still get some mileage out of beating up, is Abbas, so he’s it.

This whole story reminds me of ‘50s movies like “A Face in the Crowd” and “Born Yesterday,” in which the tyrant becomes steadily more megalomaniacal as reality becomes harder to control, until he’s driven everyone away with his ranting and raving except for one last loyal servant, on whom he takes out all his frustrations. The Netanyahu government has been bashing the Palestinians with steadily more fury while defending itself ever more shrilly, until nobody can bear to listen to them anymore, except Abbas, who has no choice. And now even he seems to be turning away.

Israel is in a crisis, and this is how Bibi and the boys are managing it – by whaling away at a  punching bag. By screaming accusations at a ghost. What else are they going to do, accuse themselves? They should, of course, but if they did, they wouldn’t be the tyrants they are.

Related:
Minister: Demolish homes in response to deadly J’lem attack
How Likud became the Almighty’s contractor at the Temple Mount
The fraud that is the Temple Mount movement

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    1. Pedro X

      Abbas and Fatah have been inciting violence in the Jerusalem envelope. Abbas incited violence in October by saying that Al-Asqa had to be defended by any means. That message was rebroadcast 19 times in the following three day on PA TV. Other Palestinian officials from Fatah such as Abu Alaa have made similar statements, including one attacking the conference at which Glick appeared and then was shot. Abbas has also written a letter praising the dead terrorist’s who shot Rabbi Glick. Abbas’ actions and statements form the background for Palestinian society to act.

      Recently the PA National Security Forces published a cartoon showing an Israeli soldier with a enlarged nose about to rape a jailed Palestinian woman wearing a headdress of the Dome of the Rock. A cartoon in al-Hayat Al-Jadida newspaper shows an older man speaking to a young Palestinian child in front of a backdrop of the Dome of the rock saying “Purification before prayer is performed with stones.” Another cartoon from a day earlier shows a man standing on top of the Dome of the Rock shooting with a slingshot while giving blood to the Dome.

      There is a reason for Abbas stoking the incitement to violence fires in Jerusalem. It serves his purposes for gaining public support for himself and Fatah which it lost in the Gaza War.

      It is true that Abbas has his security services keep order in other parts of the West Bank. This is because he is protecting Fatah’s position of hegemony in Palestinian politics and power. He is not cooperating with Israel for Israel’s sake but for preventing Hamas and Islamic Jihad from gaining the upper hand from Fatah and ousting Fatah as Hamas had planned earlier this year.

      Reply to Comment
      • Brian

        Note the entitlement, the arrogance: It’s not enough that Abbas, the leader of a foreign state belligerently occupied by Israel, and a leader constantly, publicly vilified and wholly unsupported by that occupying state, should faithfully execute Israel’s contracted security work, but he should do it “for Israel’s sake.” That ungrateful wretch hasn’t become a Zionist yet. The nerve of him.

        Reply to Comment
      • Bryan

        yes Pedro, hatefulness is horrible in all its forms. Why don’t we do our best to end it by ending the occupation and the intensification of colonization in East Jerusalem.

        Reply to Comment
        • Pedro X

          The Arab colonists are free to leave any time. In 1967 there were only some 67,000 Arabs in Jerusalem. Now there are over 300,000.

          Jerusalem is a Jewish City which in modern times since the 19th century had a Jewish majority. The Jordanian occupation of a portion of the Jewish city for 18 years did not make it Jordanian or a Palestinian City. For 47 years Jerusalem has again been an undivided city as it has been for over 3500 years.

          Reply to Comment
          • Bryan

            Pedro – you are a fool. You are comparing apples and pears. The 1967 figure (which I agree with) was based on the much smaller boundaries of pre-occupation Jerusalem. By the end of that year the Israeli authorities had added huge swathes of East Jerusalem and the West Bank (previously heavily populated by Arab Palestinians) to the municipal boundaries, so of course the non-Jewish population increased enormously, without immigration, without colonization, simple as a result of annexation. Israel has of course controlled residence in the city since 1967, forbidding West Bankers, even those married to Jerusalem residents, from settling in the city, so how could there be any Arab colonists. The colonists you are obviously referring to are the rabid fundamentalists recently arrived from New York, and now deliberately stirring up discord in the city with their stupid refrain of God gave me this land, God approves of oppression, ethnic cleansing and occupation.

            Reply to Comment
          • Bryan

            As for Jews having formed a majority “since the nineteenth century” you obviously meant to say “since the very end of the nineteenth century” since Albert Shaw writing in 1894 is the first in the literature to assert that Jews formed a small majority. (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographic_history_of_Jerusalem) As for Jews constantly occupying the city, Nahmanides, a Jewish scholar found two (2!) Jewish families in the city in 1267. In other words for most of the last millenia Jews have been a very small minority in the city, and the overwhelming majority of Jerusalem Jews are very recent immigrants / colonists.

            Reply to Comment
    2. Bruce Gould

      I sure hope Salim Shawamreh has cut down on his smoking – he was a 3-pack a day guy when I met him. Then again, you might be a heavy smoker too if your home has been reduced to rubble 6 times (the folks at ICAHD rebuilt it each time). People who want a first hand account of what it means to live under occupation might be interested in “Palestine Speaks” by Malek and Hoke, available on Amazon.

      Reply to Comment
    3. bar

      “Nobody left for Bibi to blame except for the person who is responsible, Abbas.”

      Reply to Comment
    4. Richard

      You’re right, its not Abbas to blame, its the entire Palestinian political and ideological leadership, which is 99% rejectionist. Mainstream Palestinian values are rejectionist. They want the Jews gone and they say it everyday. They brag about terrorizing Israelis by shelling Tel Aviv. They brag about shutting down an airport. Who cares whether Bibi is blaming Abbas. You know all of the above is 100% true and still Bibi is in the docket. Denial is one hell of a drug, for you and the rest of the world.

      Reply to Comment
      • Bryan

        If it were not for non-Jews the world would live in perfect peace and harmony. But along came the Egyptians, the Amelakites, the Philistines, the Babylonians, the Assyrians, the Greeks the Romans, the Christians, the Arabs, the United Nations, the Mufti, Nasser, Arafat, Ahmadinejad, Saddam Hussein, Obama and Abbas. Have you noticed the enemies of Israel have become increasingly innocuous, and the two remaining (Obama and Abbas) are both lame-ducks as well as enormously solicitous for the well-being of Israel. When they are gone who will be the next scapegoat, or will you have to come to terms with the fact that Israeli policy is the cause of the injustice, repression, occupation and exploitation that keeps this dispute smouldering?

        Reply to Comment
          • Richard

            *stop paying attention: I can’t make you stop but when you stop its all over.

            Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            The Hitchens video is very funny thank you I got a kick out of it. I think it also quite funny that by sheer coincidence there are TWO Brians, Brian and Bryan!, that you can’t answer. (‘Bryan’ is NOT me.) The evil twins! Do you feel you are going mad? What if Ryan shows up??? Aaaaaugh!! As therapy you might watch Monty Python’s Life of Brian tonight?
            But here’s the thing, Richard. No one cares if you answer me or not. Really. It’s not all about you. That’s vanity. It’s about the truth, which is out there.
            But another funny video would be appreciated.

            Reply to Comment
    5. Barry Meridian

      Here’s a great satire article which pretty much describes the left in Israel.

      http://www.preoccupiedterritory.com/opposition-time-running-out-to-let-aging-abbas-slaughter-us/
      Opposition: Time Running Out To Let Aging Abbas Slaughter Us
      October 7, 2014

      Opposition leaders are warning that given the advanced age of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, there may be precious little time remaining for Israel to make self-destructive concessions to him before he dies or steps down.

      The heads of opposition parties in the Knesset called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to give away large swaths of territory crucial to Israel’s security while Abbas is still in office, as the latter will not be around forever and whoever succeeds him might not be willing to pave the way for the extermination of all Jews between the River and the Sea in exactly the same way. The coming weeks or months may prove critical in determining who might preside over such an endeavor, they say, and Israel cannot expect to enjoy the same approach to genocide of Jews that Abbas represents from any subsequent Palestinian leader.

      “We urge the prime minister to seize this fading opportunity. We don’t know how long Abu Mazen will be around,” said Labor Party chairman and Opposition leader Isaac Herzog, using Abbas’s nickname. “I, for one, am not confident that Bibi will do the courageous thing and commit us to a future of rocket attacks on our airport, to the threat of tunnel infiltration and terrorism from north to south, but there is still time to ensure that it is Abu Mazen and not some other Palestinian leader who takes us in that direction. We just don’t know how much time.”

      Meretz Party leader Zahava Gal-On added, “Abu Mazen has been waiting since before Israel was established to wipe us out, and we’ve only got a few years at most until he loses the opportunity to lead that effort. It is a historic opportunity, and we in the Opposition encourage the prime minister to rise above the narrow ideology of his party, which is blinded by their insistence on Jewish survival in the Jewish ancestral homeland. Time is running out for us to enable Abu Mazen to fulfill that dream.”

      Opposition figures noted that, poignantly, if Netanyahu does not cede Israel’s vital interests to him, Abbas would not be the first to fall short of destroying the Jews after getting so close. “It’s really only about once every hundred years that anyone ever gets the opportunity to commit genocide on such a grand scale – the twentieth century was more or less an exception to that rule, with the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire, the Cambodians, Rwanda, the Holocaust, and a few other minor episodes,” explains MK Hanin Zoabi of the Balad Party, though she asked reporters not to let her constituency know that she acknowledged the Holocaust as historical fact. “Before that, you had sporadic massacres and systematic persecution, but you have to go back hundreds of years to find anyone poised to wipe out an entire people.”

      “It would be cruel, and therefore perfectly consistent with his character, for Netanyahu to deny Mahmoud Abbas the privilege of ending the Jewish enterprise once and for all,” she said. “But one can still dream.”

      Reply to Comment
      • Brian

        Meh. Weak.

        Reply to Comment