After Mahmoud Abbas: A Bloodbath in the West Bank?

March 5 2018

The day after his February 20 address to the UN, the Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas checked himself into Johns Hopkins Hospital for what his spokesmen say was a routine checkup. Despite these official assurances, Abbas’s hospital visit set off much speculation about his health, which in turn revived conjectures as to who would replace him in the event of his death. Benny Avni comments:

It’s . . . possible that, . . . as Israelis fear most, in lieu of a clear line of succession, a Palestinian bloodbath will determine the winner.

Abbas has never named a successor. Yes, he recently crowned a deputy Fatah chairman. But the man, Mahmoud al-Aloul, is almost unknown outside Ramallah and thus is a weak contender: as in much of the Arab world, would-be Palestinian leaders must be backed by armed men. Gray apparatchiks are at a distinct disadvantage.

Which brings us to Hamas, the uncontested ruler of Gaza. According to the Palestinian constitution, once the current president can no longer function, the speaker of the legislative council becomes interim leader. That position is held by a Hamas politician, Aziz Duwaik. As is shown by Abbas’s twelve years as president after being elected for four, temporary can last forever.

So Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, may end up taking over West Bank politics, burying any hope of better Israeli-Palestinian relations. Washington, as yet, has been mostly mum, but if America wants to remain relevant in the Mideast, it must draw some red lines and clarify our interests: avoid a bloody succession battle; make sure Hamas stays out of power; ensure the next leader continues security coordination with our allies Jordan, Egypt and, most crucially, Israel.

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More about: Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority, West Bank

For Israelis, Anti-Zionism Kills

Dec. 14 2018

This week alone, anti-Zionists have killed multiple Israelis in a series of attacks; these follow the revelations that Hizballah succeeded in digging multiple attack tunnels from Lebanon into northern Israel. Simultaneously, some recent news stories in the U.S. have occasioned pious reminders that anti-Zionism should not be conflated with anti-Semitism. Bret Stephens notes that it is anti-Zionists, not defenders of Israel, who do the most to blur that distinction:

Israelis experience anti-Zionism in a different way from, say, readers of the New York Review of Books: not as a bold sally in the world of ideas, but as a looming menace to their earthly existence, held at bay only through force of arms. . . . Anti-Zionism might have been a respectable point of view before 1948, when the question of Israel’s existence was in the future and up for debate. Today, anti-Zionism is a call for the elimination of a state—details to follow regarding the fate befalling those who currently live in it. . . .

Anti-Zionism is ideologically unique in insisting that one state, and one state only, doesn’t just have to change. It has to go. By a coincidence that its adherents insist is entirely innocent, this happens to be the Jewish state, making anti-Zionists either the most disingenuous of ideologues or the most obtuse. When then-CNN contributor Marc Lamont Hill called last month for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea” and later claimed to be ignorant of what the slogan really meant, it was hard to tell in which category he fell.

Does this make someone with Hill’s views an anti-Semite? It’s like asking whether a person who believes in [the principle of] separate-but-equal must necessarily be a racist. In theory, no. In reality, another story. The typical aim of the anti-Semite is legal or social discrimination against some set of Jews. The explicit aim of the anti-Zionist is political or physical dispossession.

What’s worse: to be denied membership in a country club because you’re Jewish, or driven from your ancestral homeland and sovereign state for the same reason? If anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are meaningfully distinct (I think they are not), the human consequences of the latter are direr.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Palestinian terror