The Coming Crisis of the Palestinian Authority, and What Israel Can Do about It

On Sunday, the Central Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) appointed two loyal followers of its chairman, Mahmoud Abbas, to key positions within the organization, and ensured the continued dominance of his Fatah faction. Abbas is eighty-six years old, in the eighteenth year of his four-year term as president of the Palestinian Authority (PA), and faces declining popularity. Yohanan Tzoreff explains that these appointments signal to Palestinians that Abbas is “giving up on public legitimacy and nullifying it as a source of authority for his camp,” by shutting out his political rivals and, by extension, their supporters.

The decisions will also be interpreted as tying his fate and the fate of his rule to Israel and the international community—or some part thereof—and with Arab countries that for a while now are eager for quiet from the direction of the Palestinians. This would in effect be opening a broad new front vis-à-vis the Palestinian public, which is disillusioned and yearns for change, and with respect to the Palestinian factions that are part of the opposition. These could be joined by the factions of Mohammed Dahlan, Marwan Barghouti, and other disheartened Fatah figures, who are harmed by the decisions, which in effect leave them without a political home.

In such a reality, the pressure exerted on the West Bank by Hamas from the Gaza Strip and from within the West Bank itself could increase, with the aim of stirring up the population and increasing the protests against the Palestinian Authority and Israel. If many disillusioned figures and factions join this effort, it could arouse a large portion of the public, full of antagonism toward the PA and its security apparatuses. This would test and gradually erode the loyalty that these forces currently display toward the Palestinian Authority, as they would be accused of collaborating with Israel.

In this case much pressure would fall on Israel’s shoulders, not only as the ruler of the West Bank but also the patron of the Palestinian Authority. The use of attacks and terrorism could increase and the security of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank would require reinforcements and control of territories for the purpose of security and defense. Such a development could return Israel to the places that it left before the Oslo process and in certain areas even to go back to ruling over Palestinian populations.

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Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Israeli Security, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority, PLO

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter