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Friday, March 13, 2009

The "moderate" Mustafa Barghouti

One way to see how far from reality Palestinian Arabs are is to look at what their so-called pragmatic, moderate leaders say. One such leader is Mustafa Barghouti. His moderate bona-fides include publicly advocating non-violent resistance, strongly criticizing Fatah and PLO corruption, and heading an NGO dedicated to health care in the territories.

Today, Barghouti published an op-ed in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which tries very hard to tell Americans that supporting Israel is...un-American.

I believe that under an Obama administration Israel will no longer have carte blanche to lay waste to Gaza. But the new administration must recognize that there can be no peacemaking without talking to the whole Palestinian political spectrum following democratic elections in 2006.

I brokered the first Hamas-Fatah agreement in 2007. The same can be done now, but there must be assurances from the West that a unity government will be recognized.

Despite the Obama administration’s reluctance to deal with the government Palestinians elected, a breath of fresh air is clearly blowing through Washington. And just in time....

The Obama administration, alert to the closing window of opportunity for a two-state outcome, will have to counter Netanyahu’s prescriptions for Palestinian economic development — a Potemkin village on the West Bank — as a substitute for Palestinian freedom.

Netanyahu’s plan is a fig leaf. My recent conversations in Washington suggest it will be seen as such. Economic development cannot replace political freedom. The question is whether American officials will have the courage to stand up to Netanyahu and an Israel lobby that for the most part lacks the moral courage to criticize Lieberman’s racism, let alone Netanyahu’s intransigence on ending the occupation.

The administration can help level the playing field by taking three steps. First, insist Israel immediately stop all settlement activity. Second, reject Israel’s embrace of apartheid. One set of laws for Jewish settlers and another for Palestinians is unacceptable. Third, accept our democratic choice.

I am convinced that an evenhanded mediator such as former Sen. George Mitchell will soon find that we are not the recalcitrant party. He will uphold American principles and serve American interests if he has the courage to say so. And let us hope that more American officials go see for themselves the harm Israel is causing Palestinians — and long-term Israeli interests — with American tax dollars.

Notice that Barghouti does not think that Palestinian Arabs have any responsibilities whatsoever in a peace agreement. They deserve rights, Western aid, respect - but they do not have to earn any of those. A unity government that he is advocating can openly call for Israel's destruction, it can adopt the Hamas charter in total romanticizing the genocide of all Jews, and it can include daily calls for "death to America" - but Barghouti is trying to say that this is irrelevant, because it is supposedly the democratic choice of the Palestinian Arabs.

He is knowingly pushing a false logic: that a nation that supports democracy must respect the democratic choices made by another people, even if those choices are in fact bigoted and terrorist.

Barghouti doesn't say that Hamas must accept Israel or eschew terror. Barghouti doesn't say that Palestinian Arabs have to stop incitement, or criminalize terror groups, or stop shooting rockets at Israeli civilians. Barghouti is trying to manipulate his American audience to think that a democratically elected leadership has carte-blanche to act however they want, and they must be respected.

Unless, of course, the democratically-elected leadership was elected by Israelis. Suddenly, democracy is not so important to Barghouti. Washington must uncritically accept Palestinian elections of terrorists but must reject Israeli elections of anyone he personally finds distasteful. Washington must not send American tax dollars to a true friend and reliable ally in the Middle East - but it must send unlimited amounts of money to a people who dance in the streets when Americans die.

This is how a Palestinian Arab "moderate" thinks.

(h/t jh in the comments)