What do these two scenarios have in common ?
Imam Rauf, of the near-Ground Zero mosque notoriety, has said several times that if the mosque is not built, the denial will strengthen the “radicals” in Islam, cause a wave of resentment against American to sweep the Muslim world, and even provoke these same “radicals” to violence against Americans. (The latter sentiment was echoed by General Petraeus.) In other words, “give us what we want, or else… and I am not responsible for the consequences.”
Palestinian Authority “President” Mahmoud Abbas (whose term expired 20 months ago, but why obsess on technicalities) has said repeatedly in the last few weeks, seconded by his aides, that if PM Netanyahu does not continue the freeze on building Jewish homes in the heartland of the Jewish state then he – Abbas – will break off “peace” negotiations. In other words, “do as I say, or else…and I am not responsible for the consequences.”
And these are the “moderates.” An observer might reasonably conclude that the “moderates” and the “radicals” actually work in tandem, and share the same goals and objectives. It is not even that they differ tactically, but rather that each group plays its assigned role – the “radicals” commit the acts of violence and terror to secure their ends, and the “moderates” provide intellectual, political and social cover for them, while weakening the resolve of the West (or Israel) that naturally longs for an end to the respective disputes. It is a macabre dance that is well-choreographed.
In Israel, the PA provides the cover for Hamas, and still largely funds the Hamas functionaries in Gaza notwithstanding that Hamas and the PA are rivals. Does that make sense ? Yes. Hamas and the PA might share the same goals, but they are competing for Western dollars, for which the PA now has the upper hand. To continue the flow of Western money that has made fools of the West and millionaires of the PA leadership (while little of that money trickles down to or improves the life of the average citizen), the PA must project the illusion of moderation in reality – by limiting Hamas terror which undercuts their rule – and in fantasy – by making sham arrests of Hamas terrorists, like the PA did after the murders of four Jews two weeks ago. Undoubtedly, all those terrorists have already been released, but the show – literally – of “force” created the right image in the gullible Western media.
The PA as negotiators have fashioned for themselves an ideal situation: if Israel pulls out of the talks, then Israel is demonstrating its disinterest in peace. But if the PA pulls out of the talks, then…Israel is demonstrating its disinterest in peace by provoking the Palestinians to leave. Can the PA ever demonstrate its disinterest in peace ? Categorically not. In these negotiations, in which Israel foolishly participates on the terms of its enemies, only Israel’s surrender to Palestinian dictates demonstrates Israel’s morality and its commitment to peace. Israel’s sagacity and viability are other matters entirely.
The PA, like Imam Rauf, have adopted and perfected the tactics of the bully. The bully uses threats and intimidation to achieve his ends. The bully insists that only he is right, and that compromise itself is an insult and a provocation. The bully does not “negotiate” in any real sense of the term, as he views his interlocutors as inferior and vulnerable. The bully warns of dire consequences if his demands are not met. But the bully can be stopped, by superior will, force and morality.
Israel can – and should – match the PA threat for threat. Any intimation of an Arab walkout should be met with an intimation of an Israeli walkout. Every restatement of Arab demands should be met with a restatement of Israeli demands and interests, a clear articulation of red-lines, along the lines of “failure to agree to Israel’s existence as a Jewish state,” or “insistence on the expulsion of Jews from their homes,” or “ a denial of the right of Jews to build anywhere in the land of Israel,” or “the demand that Jerusalem be re-divided” are “all non-starters, a sign of bad faith, and will immediately cause a cessation of negotiations.” Since the “negotiations” are doomed either to fail or to gravely weaken Israel, the former is preferable to the latter.
By the same token, Americans should unequivocally repudiate the implied threats of Imam Rauf. Indeed, Americans do not need to be lectured on tolerance or sensitivity by any Muslim, including Imam Rauf. The United States has always been the world’s leading force for freedom, tolerance and human rights, whereas Islam has a long history of repression and persecution of non-Muslims, mitigated only by its grudging toleration of minorities (including Jews and Christians) who were relegated in Muslim lands to dhimmi (second-class) status.
America does not need the “bridge” that Rauf wants to build, nor a mosque to celebrate “moderate Islam.” There are plenty of mosques in America, and more will surely be built – and even this one will eventually be built in another location.
If Imam Rauf wants to build a mosque to show the face of “moderate Islam,” here’s a friendly suggestion: build it where it will do some good. Don’t build it in America where that message is unnecessary, and certainly not near Ground Zero where its presence would be a sacrilege.
Build your citadel to “moderate Islam” where it would do the most good – in Riyadh, in Mecca, in Gaza, in Sanaa, in Tehran, in Baghdad, in Kabul, in Waziristan or in Islamabad. They need the message of “moderate Islam” more than we do. Those places and their inhabitants need to be educated about freedom, tolerance, human rights and dignity – not Americans. Build it there, not here, and you will have earned the respect of all peace-loving peoples. Build it there, and preach the tenets of “moderate” Islam – respect for all people of faith, the sanctity of all human life, the recognition of Israel as the Jewish State, the repudiation of terror and murder of innocents, and the renunciation of the Islamic drive for world domination. Try it. Maybe they will like it, and we certainly don’t need such reminders here in the land of the free. Perhaps they will even let you live.
We don’t need to be convinced of the joys of “moderate Islam.” Muslims do, by the tens of millions.
For once, let the PA and the Imam prove their moderation and good intentions. When we stand up to bullies and fight back, argue with them and make counter demands, we will realize their bluffs are empty and their threats are idle bluster. And if speaking softly does not do the trick, there is always the big stick that is ready to put the bully in his place, wherever that place is.