Why Arab Regimes Don’t Trust Palestinian Leaders

Feb. 18 2020

Unlike in the West, writes Yoram Ettinger, in the Arab world “historical memory is very long; nothing is forgotten [and] nothing is forgiven.” Thus, Jordan hasn’t forgotten that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) nearly overthrew its monarchy in 1970; nor has Lebanon forgotten the PLO’s role in igniting its bloody civil war. Ettinger calls attention to the less-known case of Kuwait, a country where, at the beginning of 1990, Palestinian refugees made up a fifth of the population:

Kuwait was the most generous Arab host of Palestinian migrants, providing them with a high level of social, economic, and political freedom, and facilitating their rise to senior managerial, civil-service, media, and professional positions. . . . Kuwait’s Palestinian migrants, [who included] relatives and loyalists of Yasir Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas, evolved into the wealthiest Palestinian migrant community. . . . The oil-producing sheikhdom levied a 5-percent excise tax on all Palestinian earnings, and transferred it to the stashed accounts of the two PLO leaders. It also extended $65 million of annual aid to the PLO.

Kuwait’s generosity [was] intended to reduce the threat of Palestinian terrorism, and constrain the explosive potential of Palestinian migrants. . . . In return for Kuwait’s hospitality and generosity, PLO leaders displayed deep sympathy toward [Kuwait’s enemy] Saddam Hussein. They spent much time in Baghdad during the months leading up to the August 1990 invasion [of Kuwait], which was facilitated by three PLO battalions stationed in Iraq and vital intelligence that was provided by Palestinians in Kuwait. The PLO [then] heralded the plunder of Kuwait, lobbying . . . against an Arab League resolution that called for military action for the liberation of Kuwait.

As a result of such instances, Arab leaders continue to pay lip service to the Palestinian cause, but little else:

Therefore, contrary to Western conventional wisdom, there has been an unbridgeable gap between . . . pro-Palestinian Arab talk and the [very different] Arab walk. Arab leaders have [followed] the fundamental Middle Eastern [aphorism], “on words one does not pay customs tax.”

Are Western democracies aware of the costly Palestinian terroristic track record? Do they intend to learn from past mistakes by avoiding—rather than repeating—them?

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at The Ettinger Report

More about: Kuwait, Mahmoud Abbas, PLO, Saddam Hussein, Yasir Arafat

Condemning Terrorism in Jerusalem—and Efforts to Stop It

Jan. 30 2023

On Friday night, a Palestinian opened fire at a group of Israelis standing outside a Jerusalem synagogue, killing seven and wounding several others. The day before, the IDF had been drawn into a gunfight in the West Bank city of Jenin while trying to arrest members of a terrorist cell. Of the nine Palestinians killed in the raid, only one appears to have been a noncombatant. Lahav Harkov compares the responses to the two events, beginning with the more recent:

President Joe Biden called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to denounce the attack, offer his condolences, and express his commitment to Israel’s security. Other leaders released supportive statements as well. Governments across Europe condemned the attack. Turkey’s foreign ministry did the same, as did Israel’s Abraham Accords partners the UAE and Bahrain. Even Saudi Arabia released a statement against the killing of civilians in Jerusalem.

It feels wrong to criticize those statements. . . . But the condemnations should be full-throated, not spoken out of one side of the mouth while the other is wishy-washy about what it takes to stave off terrorism. These very same leaders and ministries were tsk-tsking at Israel for doing just that only a day before the attacks in Jerusalem.

The context didn’t seem to matter to some countries that are friendly to Israel. It didn’t matter that Israel was trying to stop jihadists from attacking civilians; it didn’t matter that IDF soldiers were attacked on the way.

It’s very easy for some to be sad when Jews are murdered. Yet, at the same time, so many of them are uncomfortable with Jews asserting themselves, protecting themselves, arming themselves against the bloodthirsty horde that would hand out bonbons to celebrate their deaths. It’s a reminder of how important it is that we do just that, and how essential the state of Israel is.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Lahav’s Newsletter

More about: Jerusalem, Palestinian terror