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Op-Ed: Saeb Erekat’s Op-Ed in Newsweek perpetuates the same lies with no solutions

Experienced blogger Nathan Salant responds to a senior level Palestinian Authority official’s recent Op-Ed that appeared in Newsweek by asserting that the leaders in the West Bank and Gaza are the real oppressors of those living in these areas.
Saeb Erekat (archives) Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

In a recent Op-Ed in Newsweek, the Palestinian Authority's Chief Negotiator, Saeb Erekat, engages in the standard "blame Israel for everything" line that even bores his fellow Arabs these days. The PA and Hamas are losing support in Europe, where the influx of refugees - and the behaviors that come with them - are suddenly forcing the Europeans to see things a bit differently. Erekat is angry that Israel is gaining support among Europeans and others around the world - but he really should be looking in the mirror, along with his fellow so-called "Palestinian" leaders - if he wants to see the face of the true oppressors of those living in the West Bank and Gaza.

Which brings us to the next question: Has anyone ever examined Dr. Erekat's birth certificate to see if he is listed as a "Palestinian?" After all, he was born in the West Bank village of Abu Dis in 1955. At the time, Jordan controlled the area, but if it was really "Palestine," then shouldn't that be on his birth certificate?

And then the salient point: If the Arabs who claim to be "Palestinians" are to be believed, then we should see evidence of a culture (unique language, religion, history dating back at least 500 years, a nation-state at some point in the past, etc.) - but we see none prior to 1964.

There was no agitation for independence under Jordanian rule from 1949-67 - despite the fact that Jordan's control of the West Bank was an illegal occupation (that's right, Jordan seized what was supposed to be a UN-created Arab country - check the details of the 1947 vote and the maps that were officially approved by the UN and accepted by the Jewish leadership in what became Israel, but rejected by the Arab leaders).

And, if you do a little digging, you discover that the Jordanians did everything possible to wipe out all evidence of Jewish life, culture, history and religious ties to the area - blowing up synagogues, pulling thousands of tombstones out of the Mount of Olives Cemetery for use as cobblestones and walls for stables and latrines - but did nothing to improve the lives of the local Arabs, let alone nation-building designed to lead to a future state. But they missed a few synagogues, didn't find Hezekiah's Tunnel (including its ancient Hebrew cornerstone) and failed to remove or destroy all 200,000 tombstones in the Mount of Olives Cemetery, etc.

Investigate every other ethnic group that wants its own country - or at least autonomous region - and you will find the shared unique elements and a thousand years of history, or more: Kurds, Basques, Scots, Flemish, Yazdis, South Sudanese, Tibetans. You do not find anything unique with the Palestinians, other than the rise of terrorism as a method for obtaining their true goal, which is to destroy Israel and force any Jews who wish to stay into dhimmis status.

If you want to see the REAL persecutors of the Arabs who live in the areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, you need look no further than the leaders of those two organizations. Those leaders rule by force - what parent truly wants his/her child digging tunnels that frequently collapse, going to military training summer camps, sitting in a classroom next to an arsenal of missiles and mortar shells (let alone having them fired from outside their window) or starving while Hamas leaders are driving BMWs and Mercedes and living in luxury in the so-called "slum" of Gaza? There is no freedom of speech - there hasn't even been a national election in nearly 12 years - Muhammed Abbas is nearing the end of his 11th year of a four-year term as the President of the Palestinian Authority! What has he accomplished? Has he ever satisfactorily explained his rejection of the much-publicized offer of a Palestinian State, including most of East Jerusalem?

What other entity in the entire world pays stipends to the families of those who are convicted and jailed for - or killed attempting to, during or after - killing innocent people, all too often children? Is this how you convince your alleged oppressors - let alone the rest of the world - that you are fit to self-rule and can take a seat among the civilized nations of the world? What did Great Britain do when the IRA used terror to try to gain independence? It never gave in until the IRA renounced violence, proved it on the ground and sat down to truly negotiate. How did Spain handle the Basque Separatists in the days when that organization was blowing up trains, bridges and tunnels? Need a hint? There is no Basque nation today.

Mahmoud Abbas Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

Ask yourself this question: How did Yasser Arafat - himself an Egyptian - purchase a $24,000,000 estate in France? Where did that money come from? Here's another: Who owns the largest cell phone company in the West Bank and forced his way into partial ownership of its chief rival? Abbas' son! How did that happen? Take a ride through the West Bank and notice the beautiful homes some of the local residents own. While the overwhelming majority face poverty and unemployment, a small number of elite are multi-millionaires who spend more time vacationing and living in Qatar, Dubai and the UAE than improving the quality of life for their neighbors.

How much of the money donated to the PA has actually been used for infrastructure, creating jobs, building homes, etc.? The truth is that they've squandered $10 billion over the past 15 years! Where have the money and supplies donated to Gaza gone? With that $3 billion, there should be dozens of new schools, hospitals, malls, resorts, infrastructure and homes - but there aren't.

So please, Mr. Erekat, take a good hard look in the mirror. Tell us what you've done personally to better the lives of your fellow Arabs residing in the West Bank. And please don't tell us how you employ many workers as "household staff" and "construction workers" in the mansions your extended family owns! Explain exactly what you've accomplished by refusing to sit down and negotiate. Show us your map of what the country you yearn for would look like - with reasonable borders and a realistic plan for addressing Israel's security concerns (and while you're at it, clearly delineate the steps you will take to prevent a Hamas takeover of the new country - your record in Gaza isn't so good).

The simple, sad fact is that you, Abbas, Hamas and all of the others with power have no plan for helping your fellow Arabs who live in the West Bank and Gaza at all - just a voracious appetite for power that you maintain by stoking the evil of ignorance with the flames of hate.

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