The following is from my ms They’re so Smart cause We’re so Stupid, in response to a tweet from Daniel Rubenstein. It follows a discussion of Arafat’s Hudaybiyya speech.
This Muslim outcry essentially forbade infidel critics from examining evidence relevant to their pressing concerns. Instead, peace enthusiasts viewed Arafat and the Palestinian leadership, as they themselves insisted they were in English, as full-fledged modern players who wanted their own nation and their freedom, and whom one could trust to keep commitments to the ‘peace of the brave.’ When the opportunity presented itself at Camp David in 2000, they believed, Arafat would choose the imperfect, positive-sum, win-win, over the zero-sum, all-or-nothing, win-lose. They ‘believed’ in the positive-sum Palestinian leadership and rejected indignantly anyone ‘racist’ enough, who dared to suggest the Palestinians leadership was still in limbic captivity to atavistic revenge.
Thus, when Arafat tried in 1995 to convene the PLO
to rewrite their charter and eliminate calls for the destruction of Israel, as
prescribed by the Oslo Peace Accords, he found the resistance too great. Even a
‘moderate’ like Hanan Ashrawi opposed such a move, which, she claimed, echoing
Saïd, “will appear to
be a succumbing to Israeli dictate.” In
other words, obligations to a positive-sum resolution took second seat to
Palestinian concerns about the honor-driven optics of “appearing to submit.” So
instead the Palestinians delayed any actual changes in their charter, and gave
it to a committee that promptly buried the initiative. Yani.
deep in an election campaign, hailed the prevarication as “one of the most
dramatic developments of the 20th Century,” and the media did everything it
could to cover for the Palestinians: “P.L.O. Ends Call for Destruction of
Jewish State,” blared the NYT headline whose content contradicted it. To this
day, the charter remains unchanged; and while Palestinians politicians and
religious figures continue to adhere to liberating Palestine “from the River to
the Sea,” their spokesmen insist in English that they’ve fulfilled all their
obligations. And the media, and their invited experts, rather than challenge
them, repeat their talking points.
Western journalists and policy experts not only failed (and continue to
fail) to challenge such claims, they ignored the long and troubling list of
Palestinian violations of the accords, and pressured Israel, to stop harping on
the negative, lest they ‘queer’ the peace process. In
discussing the Hudaybiyya speeches, the New Yorker’s Buck notes:
The speeches were
violations of the spirit, if not the letter, of the accords, and, although the
Rabin-Peres Labor government rarely acknowledged it publicly, there were many
other violations as well… “We had books and books filled with violations,” this
person told me, and added, “I saw Rabin and Peres so angry at what they had to
eat from the Palestinians…”
But of course, this was the price of peace… letting them violate the
agreement without complaining, lest those who so complain, ruin the chances for
After all, Israel was hardly white as snow in this process.
Thus, even as Jerusalem and Washington prepared for a grand finale to
the peace process at Camp David in the summer of 2000, even as Israel’s media
prepared their people for peace, Arafat’s media prepared Palestinians for war. In
the summer of 2000, Palestinian TV featured horrendous and staged footage of
Israeli troops murdering Palestinian children and raping their women – the full
panoply of lethal narratives with which the PA incited its people to war. And despite being warned, none of the key
decision-makers paid any attention. They were sure everyone was ‘so close.’
 For a
recent example of this double-talk, see “Palestinian
hypocrisy: Jibril Rajoub forbids Palestinian-Israeli sports, yet in
Paris says sports is “a bridge of love and connection with the international
community,” PalWatch, June 13, 2019.
Dennis Ross has an interesting account of a second ‘try’ at getting the
Palestinians to revise their charter, in which the Palestinian maneuvering to
give the impression of a change, in the presence of the visiting President
Clinton, became clear, but, in the end, face-saving for all involved: The
Missing Peace, pp. **-**. On the media’s pack repetition of the Palestinian
English talking points over two decades later, see Landes, “Everybody Agrees,”
Second Draft, February 2018.
Prime Minister’s office prepared a white paper on Palestinian violations of the
accord, which they only released November 24, 2000: “Palestinian
Authority and P.L.O. Non-Compliance with signed agreements and commitments: A
record of bad faith and misconduct,” Barak Government White Paper,
November 24, 2000. Even though this came almost two months after Arafat had opened
the Oslo Trojan Horse, it got criticized both within and abroad: Aluf Benn, “White
Paper Tiger Unleashed,” Haaretz,
November 29, 2000.
source fingers the fear of public humiliation that drove Peres and Rabin not to
admit they were wrong about Arafat (“The Wounds of Peace,” p. **). Add to that
the enormous (messianic) pressure to get the peace to succeed. See Golan Lahat, Hapitui Hameshihi: Aliyato Unefilato shel Hasmol Haisraeli (Tel Aviv:
Am Oved, 972 series, 2004), chapter **,