Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Cynical Use of the Palestinian Cause

During his long rule over Egypt, from the early 1950s until his death in 1970, Gamal Abdel Nasser was one of the most influential figures in the Arab world. The leading proponent of “pan-Arabism,” he spoke often of the need to destroy the Jewish state, and engaged in three wars against it, the second of which—the Six-Day War of 1967—ended in catastrophic defeat. While he remains very popular among Palestinians, Michael Sharnoff writes, his engagement with their concerns appears to have been wholly opportunistic:

Nasser’s endorsement of the Palestinian cause was not particularly motivated by concern for Palestinian national rights, for pan-Arabism viewed the Palestinians not as a distinct nation deserving a state of its own, but as an integral part of the prospective unified Arab state. [In 1956], Nasser told a Western journalist, “The Palestinians are useful to the Arab states as they are. . . . Can you imagine yet another nation on the shores of the eastern Mediterranean!”

Whatever his true sentiments about the Palestinians, Nasser was keenly aware that winning the pan-Arab mantle required escalating his anti-Israel rhetoric and policies as this ideology rejected the existence of a Jewish state on what it considered a part of the “pan-Arab patrimony.”

In yet other instances, Nasser’s propaganda contained straightforward anti-Jewish bigotry. In 1965, for example, the Egyptian information department circulated an anti-Semitic tract in Africa titled, “Israel, The Enemy of Africa,” which vilified Judaism and denigrated Jews as “cheats, thieves, and murderers.” . . . For its part, the journal of the Egyptian military described freemasons as a secret Jewish society seeking to eliminate Christianity by “luring young Christians into the arms of Jewesses and into moral ruin.”

No less importantly, in 1964, Nasser created, with Soviet assistance, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and appointed the Lebanese-born Ahmad Shukeiri, a former Syrian and Saudi ambassador to the UN, as its chairman. On the face of it, this was a bold move to promote the Palestinian national cause; in fact, it was a shrewd ploy to give the Egyptian president full control of this cause, as Yasir Arafat’s rival Fatah organization, established a few years earlier, quickly pointed out.

By 1969, a year before Nasser’s death, Arafat would take over the PLO. As for Nasser, Sharnoff notes that he engaged in a number of negotiations where he appeared willing to abandon the Palestinians in exchange for territory.

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Read more at Middle East Quarterly

More about: Egypt, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Palestinians, PLO, Yasir Arafat

Iran’s Responsibility for West Bank Terror

On Friday, a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli police officer and was then shot by another officer after trying to grab his rifle. Commenting on the many similar instances of West Bank-based terror during the past several months, Amit Saar, a senior IDF intelligence officer, predicted that the violence will likely grow worse in the coming year. Yoni Ben Menachem explains the Islamic Republic’s role in fueling this wave of terrorism:

The escape of six terrorists from Gilboa prison in September 2021 was the catalyst for the establishment of new terrorist groups in the northern West Bank, according to senior Islamic Jihad officials. The initiative to establish new armed groups was undertaken by Palestinian Islamic Jihad in coordination with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, implementing the strategy of Qassem Suleimani—the commander of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards who was assassinated in Iraq by the U.S.—of using proxies to achieve the goals of expansion of the Iranian regime.

After arming Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, Iran moved in the last year to support the new terrorist groups in the northern West Bank. Iran has been pouring money into the Islamic Jihad organization, which began to establish new armed groups under the name of “Battalions,” which also include terrorists from other organizations such as Fatah, Hamas, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. First, the “Jenin Battalion” was established in the city of Jenin, followed the “Nablus Battalion.”

Despite large-scale arrest operation by the IDF and the Shin Bet in the West Bank, Islamic Jihad continues to form new terrorist groups, including the “Tulkarem Battalion,” the “Tubas Battalion,” and the “Balata Battalion” in the Balata refugee camp.

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Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Palestinian terror, West Bank