Palestinian Media Watch has a round-up of anti-Obama and anti-American material from the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the wake of the U.S. veto of a one-sided anti-Israel UN resolution. The U.S. government had made clear that it would vote in favor of a resolution condemning Israel for building on existing settlements in the West Bank if it also included some language criticizing terrorism and the behavior of both sides.
Two quotes are particularly interesting. One is from Hafez Barghouti, editor of the official PA newspaper, al-Hayat al-Jadida:
“We understand very well that the protests and revolutions blazing in the Arab countries have economic and social roots, and that they are related to corruption and social injustice. However, this is a result of police states which enforced oppression, first and foremost for the sake of their ties with the Americans. Every corrupt Arab has a foreign or Israeli partner, and the most corrupt and the richest in Egypt have partners in Israel in the field of gas and the like. Therefore, the rebellion against oppression and corruption must be directed towards the godfathers of the thieves of natural resources and the oppressors of nations, not only against their agents.”
There is, of course, a bit of remarkable humor in this statement, “Every corrupt Arab has a foreign or Israeli partner.” After all, the corrupt leaders of the PA have plenty of such partners. Of course, the PA never gives thanks for the partners who have provided it with billions of dollars of aid, despite its consistent failure to live up to its commitments. The Palestinians, you see, are eternal victims and so are entitled to unlimited support. And, of course, “corrupt” PA leaders have stolen a remarkable amount of that money.
What Barghouti is saying, though, is that the main fire of the Arab upheavals should be directed against America and Israel as—in language basically borrowed from historical antisemitism—“the oppressors of nations.”
Talk about biting, munching, and even wolfing down the hand that feeds you! Of course, the joke is on the PA since the Mubarak regime—though it had its differences with the PA—was basically sympathetic to it. Now Egypt is likely to be friendlier to Hamas, even without an Islamist government in Cairo.
The most important point is, however, what PA leader Mahmoud Abbas says in the January 24 edition of the newspaper:
“The US is assisting us in the amount of $460 million annually. This does not mean that they dictate to us whatever they want, because we do what we view as beneficial to our cause. I recall that they said, ‘Don’t go to the Arab Summit in Damascus,’ but we went. They demanded that we should not sign the Egyptian reconciliation document [between Fatah and Hamas], but we…[signed] it.”
Of course, the PA has a right to act in what it perceives to be in its own interests. And of course Israel also doesn’t do whatever the United States asks it to do.
But here are the differences: First, Israel tries to accommodate the U.S. government. For example, when the United States pressed for a freeze of construction on settlements, Israel did so. When President Obama demanded there be no construction in Jerusalem, Israel complied. When the White House pushed for Israel-PA negotiations, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately and repeatedly agreed.
Second, Israel knows that if the U.S. government is dissatisfied with its policy, this will be loudly stated by the White House and State Department. In other words, there is a price to pay for disagreement. Certainly not as high a price as other countries might face—given Israel’s support in Congress and in American public opinion polls—but a real cost nonetheless.