FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Morton A. Klein, 212-481-1500
Compared Palestinian cause to Amer. Revolution
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has condemned the Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice’s keynote speech last week to the American Task Force on Palestine as the most pro-Palestinian Arab, anti-Israel speech in memory by a major US Administration official ( State Department, October 11). Secretary Rice condemned Israel’s “daily humiliation of occupation” of Palestinian Arabs; stated that there “could be no greater legacy for America than to help to bring into being a Palestinian state … for a people … who have been humiliated too long”; compared the PLO/Palestinian Arab movement to the American Revolution and implied the comparison of Palestinian Arab leaders to America’s founding fathers; praised America’s support of the Palestinian Authority (PA) legislative elections in January 2005 that Hamas won, saying that now Hamas can be held accountable; called PA president Mahmoud Abbas a “moderate”; and praised the Palestinians as being committed to a better future, i.e., without violence and terrorism, while saying nothing about a major cause of the problem being the PA regime’s promotion of hatred and violence against Jews in their media, textbooks and speeches.
All these points made by Secretary Rice in her keynote address to the American Task Force on Palestine are false. Consider her statements:
- “I know that sometimes a Palestinian state living side by side in peace with Israel must seem like a very distant dream. But I know too, as a student of international history, that there are so many things that once seemed impossible that, after they happened, simply seemed inevitable. I’ve read over the last summer the biographies of America’s Founding Fathers. By all rights, America, the United States of America, should never have come into being”: By saying this, Secretary Rice is implying a comparison of Yasser Arafat and Hamas leaders to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. By suggesting that the Palestinians simply seek a state of their own, not the destruction of another people’s state which also happens to be a close American ally, Secretary Rice falsely dignifies the Palestinian extremist agenda and suggests its fulfillment would be a sublime event worthy of the American Revolution. Comparing the American Revolution, aimed at the establishing freedom and democracy, with the Palestinian cause that is dedicated to the destruction of Israel utilizing the constant murder of innocent Jews is simply obscene. Never has an American Secretary of State compared the noble ideals and realization of the American Revolution to a terrorist cause, let alone in such glowing terms.
- “I believe that there could be no greater legacy for America than to help to bring into being a Palestinian state for a people … who have been humiliated too long”: It is astonishing that Rice claims that the establishment of Palestinian state would be America’s greatest legacy. Such a state would simply be a terrorist state. In any event, would such a US goal be the most important legacy for America? Apart from the fact that this would be a disaster in itself, could such a US goal be the most important? Is establishing a Palestinian state more important than defeating Islamofascism, preventing North Korea and Iran and other rogue states from becoming nuclear armed tyrannies or ending the domestic health care crisis where almost 50 million Americans are uninsured? Also, with Hamas now overwhelmingly elected to govern the PA, there should be absolutely no talk of a Palestinian state. It is simply wrong that the US continues to lend support to this idea irrespective of Palestinian acts and choices, like electing Hamas. The election of a virulent terrorist regime should terminate discussion of the subject, not induce Secretary Rice to perversely support such a goal as the greatest legacy America could offer. Instead, what Secretary Rice should have done was to raise the critical issue which, if addressed, could transform the situation and provide the possibility of a future peace — the absolute necessity for the PA to dismantle the terrorist groups and end once and for all the cult of terrorism and the incitement to hatred and murder that feeds it. Regrettably, Secretary Rice said nothing at all on this all-important subject. Her speech represents a low point of the Bush Administration on the subject.
- The Bush Administration believes that Palestinians should be “forever free of the daily humiliation of occupation”: It is nothing but Palestinian propaganda to talk of Palestinians suffering under ‘the daily humiliation of occupation.’ First, Secretary Rice ignores the fact that the land in question is not occupied territory, but disputed territory at a minimum. In fact, Israel’s religious, political and historical arguments that it is Jewish land are far stronger than Arab claims. This land came under Israeli control in the 1967 war of self-defense fought by Israel from Jordan and Egypt, both of which had illegally occupied Judea, Samaria and Gaza in 1948 and to which they lacked any legal title. Neither Egypt nor Jordan set up a Palestinian state during the period of their illegal occupation (1948-1967). Israel, in contrast, is the legal successor to the British Mandate and has a better claim than any other group or state to the territory . Second, Secretary Rice did not acknowledge that Israel ceded half of Judea and Samaria and all of Gaza, the land on which the Palestinian Authority (PA) was established. Third, she failed to note that 98% of the Palestinian Arab population of Judea, Samaria and Gaza is living on territory ceded by Israel to the PA, under Palestinian control. How exactly can it be said therefore that Palestinians are ‘occupied’? Fourth, in earlier periods of temporary calm before September 2000, there were no Israeli checkpoints, road-blocks, barriers, curfews and other restrictions of which Palestinians now complain. Israeli security measures exist solely and as a direct consequence of the Palestinian terrorist campaign since September 2000 that has resulted in the murder of 1,500 Israeli men, women and children and the maiming and injuring of thousands more. If there was no Palestinian terrorism, Israeli security measures would be unnecessary. Secretary Rice should have lamented — and condemned — the cause of Israel’s security measures, not the measures themselves. Fifth, Palestinians, of their own free will, rejected statehood under the Peel Royal Commission Plan of 1937, the UN partition plan of 1947 and the Barak peace plan in 2000, preferring war and terrorism in a bid to destroy Israel. In the case of the Barak peace plan, Israel agreed to Palestinian sovereignty over 97% of Judea and Samaria, all of Gaza and even some Israeli territory, providing the PA was willing to live in peace. For Rice to say that Palestinians deserve a life free of occupation misstates the facts, ignores Palestinian culpability for their present situation and confers legitimacy on PLO and Hamas victimhood propaganda.
- “When it was time for [Palestinian] parliamentary elections earlier this year, we … supported the Palestinians’ right to choose their own leaders, and as you know, a plurality of voters cast their votes for Hamas. At the time of the election, there were those who criticized our support for the election. And many still do. But I would ask everyone, ‘Is there a better way than to allow people to express their views, to have a role in choosing those who will govern them?’ And now look at how things are changing … Today … the Palestinian people and the international community can hold Hamas accountable”: It is surprising that Secretary Rice would seek at this stage to defend the Bush Administration’s decision to press for Palestinian legislative elections that included Hamas, a vicious terrorist group prohibited by the terms of the 1995 Oslo II agreement (Annex II, Article II) which the US should have insisted not take part. Palestinian society, as successive opinion polls show, support suicide bombing, kidnapping Israeli soldiers, and the so-called ‘right of return’ which would see Israel destroyed. It is easy to see therefore why Palestinians supported Hamas, but the US backing the elections that brought Hamas to power was no service to either peace or democracy, both of which must be built up over time. It is also false to suggest that enabling the election of extremist terrorists devoted to Israel’s destruction and the murder of Jews has a positive side to it. Would Secretary Rice argue that it is good that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected to power? Or Adolf Hitler? Did this make either Iran or Nazi Germany more accountable, lessen the danger to the world or avert bloodshed?
- Traveled to the Middle East last week to “confer with moderate voices … leaders like … President Abbas”: Mahmoud Abbas is a man who not only co-founded Fatah with Yasser Arafat and served as his deputy for 40 years, but also funded the Munich massacre and wrote a PhD thesis and book denying the Holocaust. To this day, Fatah is committed in its Constitution to the destruction of Israel (Article 12) and the use of terrorism (Article 19). It has been as active as Hamas in Palestinian terrorism, killing 405 Israelis between September 2000 and December 2005, as against 442 killed by Hamas in the same period. Abbas himself has said of Palestinian terrorists that “Israel calls them terrorists, we call them strugglers” (Jerusalem Post, December 25, 2004) and further described them as “heroes fighting for freedom” ( The Age [Melbourne], January 3, 2005). When asked by President Bush at the Aqaba summit last year to state publicly that he accept Israel’s existence as a Jewish state, Abbas refused to do so. In recent months, Abbas endorsed the so-called ‘Prisoners’ Plan,’ a document produced by jailed Palestinian terrorists that endorses continued terrorism against Israel, legitimizes the murder of Jews, does not accept Israel’s existence as a Jewish state, abrogates Palestinian obligations under the signed Oslo agreements and the 2003 Roadmap peace plan, and insists on the ‘right of return.’ He has also attempted to form a unity government with Hamas, whose Charter calls for the destruction of Israel (Article 15) and the murder of Jews (Article 7). Last December, Abbas approved legislation mandating financial benefits to be paid to families of Palestinian shahids [ i.e., dead terrorists]. Under Abbas, the PA has never fulfilled its commitments under successive signed agreements and the 2003 Roadmap peace plan to fight, arrest, extradite and jail terrorists and confiscate their weaponry and end the incitement to hatred and murder in the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps that feeds it. To the contrary, anti-Semitic theories are propagated and terrorism glorified in the PA, PA maps, atlases and textbooks do not even display a country called Israel and streets, schools and sports teams are named after suicide bombers. Following Hizballah’s unprovoked assault on Israel earlier this year, Abbas praised the Islamist terrorist group as a source of pride and for setting an example for “Arab resistance” ( Jerusalem Post, August 6, 2006). Only last month, Abbas stated plainly that “It is not required of Hamas, or of Fatah, or of the Popular Front to recognize Israel” ( Al-Arabiya [Dubai] and Palestinian TV, October 3, 2006).
- “I know the commitment of the Palestinian people to a better future. I know firsthand the commitment of President Abbas and moderate Palestinians to that future …Let us find new and more determined ways to realize our shared vision of two states, Palestine and Israel, living side by side in peace and security.”: Especially now with the rise to power of Hamas, it is simply inappropriate to even discuss the possibility of a Palestinian state. Statehood would give Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups greater power and opportunity to promote their terrorists agenda; it would not moderate them. Iran, Syria and North Korea are all sovereign states. This fact has not made them more peace-loving or less dangerous. Sovereignty does not end promotion of terrorism; to the contrary, it strengthens the ability to promote the underlying hateful agenda. Secretary Rice’s praise of Palestinian moderation is not only unmerited in view of the PA’s refusal to end terrorism and incitement to hatred and murder, but is completely at variance with the findings of successive polls that show that Palestinians consistently approve of suicide bombings and terrorism (57% and 61% in two September polls, 56% in a June poll), rocket attacks on Israel (63% in September, 60% in July) and the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers (75% in September, 77% in July). An August 2006 poll showed that an overwhelming 97% of Palestinians supported the unprovoked aggression against Israel by the Lebanese terrorist group Hizballah. Successive Palestinian polls over recent years always show high levels of support for the ‘right of return.’ All evidence points to Palestinians neither accepting Israel’s existence as a Jewish state nor repudiating terrorism.
- “The United States recently increased our direct assistance to the Palestinians to $468 million a year”: As the PA and Palestinians in general approve of terrorism, it is simply inappropriate for the Bush Administration to provide financial assistance to them courtesy of the American taxpayer. US funding for Palestinians sends only one message — that the Palestinians need not change, that their goals and terrorist conduct is not a problem. By doing this, the US takes out of the equation the one piece of leverage that it holds over the PA. In January 2005, Palestinian Arabs elected Hamas in legislative elections, fully aware that its Charter calls for the destruction of Israel (Article 15) and the murder of Jews (Article 7). A society that votes in terrorists with a genocidal program is not one deserving of humanitarian aid. Such aid is fungible and will free up other PA funds for supporting terrorists and their murderous acts. Supporting Mahmoud Abbas and the PA is nothing less than support for a terrorist regime and is the antithesis of the Bush Doctrine.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We are deeply distressed by Secretary Rice’s deeply troubling speech pandering to Arab Americans and other Arabs by making a series of false declarations. This speech is surely at odds with an Administration that claims it is ‘the best friend Israel ever had.’ If President Bush does not support the themes expressed in this speech, we urge him to make that publicly clear by distancing himself from it.”
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The Zionist Organization of America, founded in 1897, is the oldest pro-Israel organization in the United States. The ZOA works to strengthen U.S.-Israel relations, educates the American public and Congress about the dangers that Israel faces, and combats anti-Israel bias in the media and on college campuses. Its past presidents have included Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis and Rabbi Dr. Abba Hillel Silver.