Making Sense of the Juxtaposition of the Jerusalem Embassy Opening with the Gaza Riots

Today, while America opened its embassy in Jerusalem, the riots on the Israel-Gaza border, which have been going on for weeks, continued and escalated. Ira Stoll corrects those who have misread the former event as the cause of the latter, and draws some more significant conclusions:

Arab or Islamist violence has been remarkably consistent for nearly a century. Nearly 70 Jews were killed in the 1929 Hebron riots. Palestinian terrorists killed eleven Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972. Another 25 Israelis were killed by Palestinian terrorists in the Ma’alot massacre in 1974. The 1990s and 2000s saw a series of Palestinian suicide attacks on Israeli passenger buses, at the Dolphinarium disco, at the Sbarro restaurant.

These attacks happen when Washington sides with Israel, as it has during the Trump administration, and when it tries to pressure Israel or mediate more even-handedly, as it did in other administrations. The attacks target America, as they did on September 11, 2001, and they target European capitals with foreign policies that are more tilted toward the Arabs. More than 190 were killed in the Madrid train bombings of 2004, more than 50 in the 2005 London transit bombings, hundreds more in the attacks in Paris and Brussels in 2015 and 2016. America’s embassy in Iran was seized in 1979 and Pan Am Flight 103 was downed in 1988. . . .

The Gaza violence is sad. Press coverage of it often notes that no Israelis have been killed in the clashes, as if it would somehow be better if the deaths were more evenly distributed. Yet if the choice is between deaths of Palestinian rioters in Gaza or civilians in New York, London, Madrid, Brussels, Paris, Jerusalem, or Tel Aviv, electorates and foreign-policy hands alike aren’t going to spend a lot of time agonizing. [And the] Gaza riots . . . make it clear that the primary Palestinian complaint isn’t about Israeli settlers or occupation—Israel withdrew its settlers from Gaza in 2005—but about Israel’s existence.

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More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza withdrawal, Israel & Zionism, Terrorism, U.S. Foreign policy

Yasir Arafat’s Decades-Long Alliance with Iran and Its Consequences for Both Palestinians and Iranians

Jan. 18 2019

In 2002—at the height of the second intifada—the Israeli navy intercepted the Karina A, a Lebanese vessel carrying 50 tons of Iranian arms to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). But Yasir Arafat’s relationship with the Islamic Republic goes much farther back, to before its founding in 1979. The terrorist leader had forged ties with followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini that grew especially strong in the years when Lebanon became a base of operations both for Iranian opponents of the shah and for the PLO itself. Tony Badran writes:

The relationship between the Iranian revolutionary factions and the Palestinians began in the late 1960s, in parallel with Arafat’s own rise in preeminence within the PLO. . . . [D]uring the 1970s, Lebanon became the site where the major part of the Iranian revolutionaries’ encounter with the Palestinians played out. . . .

The number of guerrillas that trained in Lebanon with the Palestinians was not particularly large. But the Iranian cadres in Lebanon learned useful skills and procured weapons and equipment, which they smuggled back into Iran. . . . The PLO established close working ties with the Khomeinist faction. . . . [W]orking [especially] closely with the PLO [was] Mohammad Montazeri, son of the senior cleric Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri and a militant who had a leading role in developing the idea of establishing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) once the revolution was won.

The Lebanese terrorist and PLO operative Anis Naccache, who coordinated with [the] Iranian revolutionaries, . . . takes personal credit for the idea. Naccache claims that Jalaleddin Farsi, [a leading Iranian revolutionary], approached him specifically and asked him directly to draft the plan to form the main pillar of the Khomeinist regime. The formation of the IRGC may well be the greatest single contribution that the PLO made to the Iranian revolution. . . .

Arafat’s fantasy of pulling the strings and balancing the Iranians and the Arabs in a grand anti-Israel camp of regional states never stood much of a chance. However, his wish to see Iran back the Palestinian armed struggle is now a fact, as Tehran has effectively become the principal, if not the only, sponsor of the Palestinian military option though its direct sponsorship of Islamic Jihad and its sustaining strategic and organizational ties with Hamas. By forging ties with the Khomeinists, Arafat unwittingly helped to achieve the very opposite of his dream. Iran has turned [two] Palestinian factions into its proxies, and the PLO has been relegated to the regional sidelines.

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More about: Hamas, History & Ideas, Iran, Lebanon, PLO, Yasir Arafat