In 2014, almost 800 years after the Magna Carta was bravely delivered to King John and 225 years after the Founding Fathers of the United States ratified the brilliant United States Constitution, most of the people in the world still do not enjoy freedoms that many of us in the West and Israel take for granted: freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, habeas corpus, and the right to regularly participate in meaningful elections (many readers will recall the infamous Soviet “elections” or the “elections” in Iraq when Saddam Hussein would supposedly receive 98% of the vote).
Despite the fact that the most successful countries in the world are free countries that embrace the value expressed in the United States Declaration of Independence that “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed” and that in the history of the modern world no two democracies have declared war on each other, much of the world’s population lives in countries where their governments plainly do not believe in the democratic ideals of a government by the people, for the people, and whose main purpose is to serve and protect the people. To the contrary, much of the world’s population live in places where the leaders still embrace the self-serving and archaic notion that they are somehow entitled to rule their country “for life” and that it is the people’s job to serve them.
Even more tragically, many people on the planet not only live under regimes that do not embrace the principle that they govern to serve the governed, they live under regimes that viciously exploit their citizens and often literally terrorize them for the benefit of their rulers.
The Middle East is one part of the world where governments that respect the rule of law, and have regular democratic elections where the leadership of the country is changed peacefully are indeed rare. In fact, Israel is the only country in the Middle East that holds regular elections and where all of its citizens enjoy freedom of speech, assembly, religion, etc. All of the rest of the countries in the Middle East are at best “moderate” dictatorships and at worst, horrific kleptocratic dictatorships that regularly murder, torture and exploit their residents.
In Iran, protestors are shot and beaten in the street. On average, two people are executed every day by the Iranian government. Thousands of people are regularly jailed for their political activities. Gays are hung from scaffolds. And Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the “Supreme Leader” of Iran (hint, if your country has a “supreme leader,” then something is very very wrong) is reported to have amassed (meaning stolen) a financial empire worth over $95 Billion.
Merely 800 miles away in Syria, their dictator, Bashar Hafez al-Assad, is so addicted to power that challenges to his right to rule with an iron fist (for life) have led to a regional war that has killed nearly 200,000 people and countless incomprehensible human rights abuses, torture and slaughter on mass scale. Before him, his dad, the previous “President for Life” in Syria led a corrupt regime where “friends and family” got rich and anyone who complained about it was imprisoned, tortured or worse. Back in 1982, in the City of Hama, as a foreshadowing of the tragedy that is today’s Syria, the Syrian regime – in response to calls in Hama for an uprising – bombarded the City of Hama for 27 days with tank and artillery fire and then entered the city with ground troops, ultimately killing at least 40,000 of their fellow citizens.
In Saudi Arabia, one family – by virtue of the first “king” of Saudi Arabia’s (Ibn Saud) murders and conquests from 1904-1929 – rules the entire country solely for their benefit and to make them and their cronies incredibly wealthy based on the happenstance that the desert they control sits on an ocean of oil (discovered by American geologists working for Standard Oil in 1938). This year alone, the Saudi regime has beheaded at least 59 people. They even execute people for the crime of “sorcery.” While no one in Saudi Arabia can vote or has the freedoms that those of us in the West enjoy, women in Saudi Arabia, along with other minorities regardless of gender, have it much worse. They are essentially chattel/property and must act accordingly. In Saudi Arabia women are not allowed to drive a car, and Saudi law requires that a woman be accompanied by a male guardian at all times in public. It is common in Saudi Arabia for woman to be punished for being raped on the grounds that their rape violated the country’s sex segregation laws.
The sad truth is that with the exception of Israel there is no country in the Middle East that is free, where men and women vote in free and regular elections, and where a person cannot be thrown in jail or have their property taken from them without being charged with a crime and having a right to due process. That is why Israel is the only country in the Middle East with a successful economy that does not rely on a single limited natural resource, oil. That is why Israel is an inventive and creative society that regularly produces products and inventions that make the world a far better place (e.g. drip irrigation, the PillCam, Disk On Key, Solar Windows, Desalinization technology …). That is why a country with 8 million free people out-invents 22 Arab countries with over 300 million people; and that is why even with all of their oil wealth the average per capita GDP in the Arab countries is around $5000 per year and the average in Israel is $36,151 (for reference, in Britain the per capita GDP is $38,592 and in Germany it is $43,742).
The other sad truth is that despite the fact that: (1) almost no resident of the European Union or the USA would willingly give up their right to live in their free and open societies, (2) recognize that it is inherently better to live in free societies, and (3) understand that free societies create more good in the world and cause less conflict, many people in the European Union and the USA are clamoring to create another horrible despotic, corrupt and racist country – the first ever “State of Palestine.”
In the last few weeks we have seen Sweden “recognize Palestinian Statehood,” the British Parliament vote to “recognize Palestine as a state,” and the EU’s new Foreign Policy Chief, Federica Mogherini, tell European media that she would “like to see a Palestinian state” in the near future. Setting aside that it is entirely unclear which “State” Sweden, the British Parliament, or Ms. Mogherini are referring to (is it the one headed by Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah or by Khaled Mashal’s Hamas?), the biggest mystery and tragedy is the apparently overwhelming desire by people that live and enjoy the right to live in free and open societies to create another dictatorial state.
And not just any dictatorship – in Hamas controlled Gaza, there have been no elections since Hamas took over from Fatah in a brutal coup in 2007. Gazans are regularly arrested and detained without arrest warrants and without ever being charged with a crime. Due process of course does not exist. Women are chattel and being gay is a crime that is punishable by death. On the subject of executions, in Gaza Hamas regularly murders people for the crime of being “collaborators,” without providing these people with a trial. Of course, being a “collaborator” in Hamas’s eyes includes disagreeing with Hamas’s action, such as the use of civilians as human shields. Like most dictators in the Middle East and certainly like their primary funders in Iran and Qatar, Hamas’s leaders use their dictatorship to make themselves rich and do little to lift the vast majority of Gazans out of poverty. There are over 1600 “Hamas millionaires” in Gaza and Khaled Mashal is worth over $1 billion!
The “government” known as the Palestinian Authority (PA) and headed by Fatah’s Mahmoud Abbas in the so-called West Bank is unfortunately not much better. The PA is itself a dictatorship run by Abbas who has not gone to elections in more than a decade. Abbas is in the 10th year of his “4 year term.” Abbas pays himself a “salary” of over $1,000,000 per month (the President of the USA – the largest economy in the world – has an annual salary of $400,000) and Abbas runs a kleptocracy enriching his sons Tarik and Yasser who – by virtue of their dad’s dictatorship (a la Saddam Hussein’s sons Uday and Qusay) control the construction and cigarette trade, among other lucrative industries in the areas under PA control in the West Bank. In addition to literally looting their own people (who per capita receive more aid money than any population on the planet – over $1 billion per year in aid money provided to the PA by the EU and the USA alone), the PA is a dictatorship that just like Hamas regularly arrests dissidents and political activists without any due process or charging them with a crime. Homosexuality is also illegal under the PA and “honor killings” of women have increased by more than 300% over the past 3 years alone in the territories controlled by the PA.
In addition to being absolute dictatorships that pillage and plunder their people for their own wealth and power, the other common denominator between the Hamas/Mashal dictatorship and the Fatah/Abbas dictatorship is that both promote vicious racism and anti-Semitism and regularly incite and encourage extreme violence against Jews.
Hamas’s genocidal Charter speaks for itself. It is replete with anti-Semitic descriptions of Jews that would make Hitler and Goebbels proud. Hamas’s controlled media is even worse, including vile children shows that (right out of the Hitler Youth playbook) indoctrinate children to believe that Jews are equivalent to “dogs and pigs” or even worse, a cancerous tumor that the Arab world has to excise. Hamas Imams on Hamas TV station, as well as in its printed media, regularly refer to Jews as a “cancer expanding” in “the land of Palestine,” “threatening the entire Islamic world.” According to Hamas, Jews are “spreading corruption” in the land of Islam. “Deceit and usury are stamped in their nature,” and they are all “thieves, monopolists, and usurers.”
And while constantly calling for the genocide of Jews, Hamas denies that the previous attempt to wipe the Jews from the face of the Earth, the Holocaust, ever happened or it attempts to minimize the horror of the Holocaust. Abd al-Aziz al-Rantisi, Hamas leader from Gaza, has denied the Holocaust in the Hamas weekly al-Risala, while simultaneously charging that “the Zionists were behind the Nazis’ murder of many Jews,” with “the aim of intimidating and forcing them [the Jews] to immigrate to Palestine.” Furthermore, he claimed that the Nazis “received tremendous financial aid from the Zionist banks and monopolies,” prior to their seizure of power and that “this great financial aid helped the Nazis build the military and economic force needed to destroy Europe and annihilate millions.” So obviously, Hamas and its leaders are not only terrible dictators and abusers of their own people’s rights, they are vicious and disgusting racists and Anti-Semites of the highest order.
But what of Mahmoud Abbas (the supposed rational “partner for peace”) that all of these sophisticated and enlightened Europeans presumably envision as the head of this Palestinian state they are rushing to recognize? Certainly, even though he is plainly a corrupt dictator that steals millions (if not billions) in aid money, meant for his people, he is not an extreme racist and Anti-Semite like those lunatics running Hamas?
Unfortunately, President “for life” Abbas is not only a dictator that steals from his people, he is also – just like his counterparts at Hamas – a despicable racist and Anti-Semite. In fact, Abbas – unlike his counterparts at Hamas and other famous Holocaust deniers (such as every leader of Iran over the last 34 years) – literally has a PhD in Holocaust denial. Abbas’s published 1982 dissertation at the Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow, U.S.S.R. (another dictatorship where being an Anti-Semite would score you points) called “The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism,” claimed that the “Zionists collaborated with the Nazis in order to spur more Jewish immigration to Palestine.” Abbas’s disgusting dissertation also argued that the figure of 6 million Jewish victims of the Holocaust was exaggerated by the Jews for political gain, and claims that one million is a more reasonable estimate (though what happened to the 9.5 million Jews that lived in Europe before WWII must be a mystery for Dr. Abbas). So just like al-Rantisi, Abbas simultaneously denies the Holocaust but then at the same time accuses those “evil Zionist Jews” of collaborating with the Nazis to kill the Jews he is willing to admit the Nazis killed. The wickedness of a person that can make these claims cannot be understated.
And in concert with the Anti-Semitism of its dictator, the PA stands toe to toe with Hamas in producing vile Anti-Semitic and racist propaganda designed to indoctrinate Palestinians to hate and to want to murder Jews. Just last week the PA posted on its security FaceBook page a cartoon showing an Israeli soldier about to rape the Al-Aqsa Mosque portrayed as a woman in jail. The “woman” is weeping in a prison cell while the “Israeli soldier” is undoing his pants outside the cell, saying: “Come on, sweetheart.” The woman is wearing a headdress shaped as the Dome of the Rock. The cartoon appeared with the text: “Al-Aqsa is being raped.” Notably, the cartoon depicts the Israeli soldier with a large hooked nose, using Anti-Semitic imagery that would have fit in wonderfully in the Nazi weekly, Der Stürmer.
Of course, this form of despicable Anti-Semitic propaganda being used by the PA dictatorship should come as no surprise to anyone that has been paying any attention to the PA over the last 20 years (which one would think the EU and the USA would be doing given the $billions they have given to the PA since 1995). The PA regularly depicts Jews in its various media arms as a force for evil throughout history. According to numerous PA publications and media outlets Jews are purported to be responsible for practically all the world’s problems: wars, financial crises, the spreading of AIDS, etc. PA officials often expound on this theme of the Jews as the main danger to the world. Just ask Ibrahim Mudayris, a PA religious official. On PA TV (paid for by EU and US tax dollars) Mudayris said: “The Jews are a virus similar to AIDS, from which the entire world is suffering. This has been proven in history… Ask Britain! Ask France! Ask Portugal. Ask Czarist Russia – who invited the Jews and they plotted to murder the Czar! Don’t ask Germany what it did to the Jews, since the Jews are the ones who provoked Nazism to fight the entire world.”
Last year, Abbas’s PA released a “documentary” about the alleged history of the Fatah movement: “Fatah: Revolution until Victory.” Since Palestinian identity is apparently based more on hating Jews than anything else, the film opens with the following narrative: “Faced with the Jews’ schemes, Europe could not bear their character traits, monopolies, corruption, and their control and climbing up positions in government. In 1290, King Edward I issued a decree banishing the Jews [from England]. Following him were France, Germany, Austria, Holland, Czechoslovakia, Spain and Italy. The European nations felt that they had suffered a tragedy by providing refuge for the Jews. Later the Jews obtained the Balfour Declaration, and Europe saw it as an ideal solution to get rid of them.” Not to be outdone, the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency published a month later an article written by Sawsan Najib Abd Al-Halim that describes Jews as “the root of conflict in the world,” and “outcasts in every corner of the earth.” The Ma’an article goes on to claim that “because of the hostility and evil rising in their hearts towards others and for their plots and schemes against the nations,” the Jews “have been defeated through the ages and feel inferior to the nations and societies in which they live.” As part of the Abbas/PA/Fatah propaganda machine, the Ma’an article concludes with Fatah’s slogan: “revolution until victory.”
Plainly, whether Sweden, the British Parliament or the EU’s Foreign Policy Chief are in a hurry to recognize a “State of Palestine” run by Hamas or Abbas’s PA, they are rushing to recognize a state that will rival Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Sudan, etc. for the top spot in the Middle East as evil, racist, corrupt, dictatorships that exploit and brutalize their own citizens and minorities. This begs the question, why the rush to create another horrible country in the world? How have the Palestinians demonstrated that they are more deserving of a state than the Tibetans? Or the Baloch? Or the Kurds?
Can it be that the only reason that so many in Europe and the USA are clamoring to give the Palestinians a state is precisely because they have consistently killed and terrorized Jews and non-Jews all over the world in the name of their cause? And that the poor Tibetans, Baloch, and Kurds (among many others) are just not at the top of anyone’s list for statehood because they don’t hijack enough airplanes or strap suicide vests on and blow themselves up on schools buses and in pizza parlors? Or is it simple Anti-Semitism? Since creating a 23rd Arab State would come at the expense of the safety and security of the one Jewish State, none of those rushing to recognize Palestine actually care that the likelihood that this “Palestine” will become another “Hamas-stan” (or worse) is as likely as the Sun will rise in the east and set in the west.
Whatever the reason(s) for those clamoring to create another despotic, corrupt and racist regime, they are all betraying what the privilege of living in freedom and democracy should have made clear to them. Promoting tyranny is never the right answer, and giving in to the fear caused by terrorism will only lead to more terrorism. As Thomas Jefferson said “[p]ostpone to the great object of Liberty every smaller motive and passion” and “[s]ome preparation seems necessary to qualify the body of a nation for self-government.” Here, setting aside the question of whether the Palestinians may someday be as deserving of an independent state as are the Tibetans, Kurds or Baloch, it is clear that the current “State of Palestine” will be far from a bastion of liberty and that it has only prepared itself over the last 30 plus years to be a bastion of hate and oppression. So if those clamoring for the creation of a Palestinian State really want it to further the cause of Liberty and be a force for good in the world (and not just another horrible, racist, misogynist, kleptocratic Middle East dictatorship) then instead of asking nothing of the Palestinians to demonstrate their right to statehood – other than the ability to “ask” for it very aggressively (to put it lightly) – the free nations of the world should insist that the Palestinians demonstrate convincingly that they actually deserve a State before one is “recognized” and that it will clearly be a bastion of Liberty. When that happens, all of the people living between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea will be living in free, open societies that preach tolerance and not hate, and peace will not only be attainable, it will be a reality.