Know Thine Enemy

Whether this phrase be the word of G-d or just Sun Tzu, it is solid advice.

It is even better when your enemy actually tells you that he is your enemy and tells you that you must beware. So, you may be asking… How does this relate to Israel? Well, earlier this month when speaking to Hizbollah affiliated T.V. (Al – Mayadeen) in Lebanon, Jabril Rajoub, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee had this to say:

“We the Palestinians are the enemies of Israel….


…..”At present, we are satisfied by the popular resistance,” Rajoub added, but explained, “We the Palestinians are a source of concern for Israel. We are in this country, and this country is ours. They are our enemy and our battle is against them.”…


….”Until now we have not had nuclear weapons, but in the name of Allah if we had nuclear weapons, we’d be using them”.

And there we have it or do we?

Is this all there is to this commentary? Are the Palestinians really so die-hard that they are the mortal enemies of Israel and can’t live in peace with the Israelis? For a guy like Jibril who signed on to the Geneva Initiative, is this really his stance? I think it is important that we understand what is really going on here.

First of all, we need to determine what made Jibril say this, particularly now. Is it that he merely needed to tell the truth and it needed to burst out or is there more to it? I believe there is. Of course, I actually do believe that Jibril is talking about how he sincerely feels. You don’t make a comment with such far reaching implications like that if you don’t mean it.

That said, I can think of a number of reasons though why he made that comment, and here they are:

1. Domestic Political Considerations: Unity Government talk brokered by Qatar is in the air and as of today, Hamas and Fatah have agreed to form a unity government within three months (for the 873rd time </snark>). What does this mean? This means that now Fatah is competing with Hamas for who can be the voice of “the resistance” against the Israelis. Remember there are two recent polls out that show the Palestinian Polity supports “armed resistance” as either a first or second choice of tactics against the Israelis. In the latest Pew Poll (cited here)

“Palestinians are more likely to say armed struggle is the best way for their people to achieve statehood (45%) than they are to say negotiations or nonviolent resistance offer the best prospect for the creation of a Palestinian state (15% each). Another 22% volunteer that a combination of these three approaches would be most effective.”

This coupled with a high favorability rating for radicals like Islamic Jihad (58%) is forcing Fatah (who does enjoy a strong position in the polls) to move it’s position to one that is more radical. Hamas and Palestinian radicals are constantly hammering Fatah and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as collaborators or as “lap dogs” for the Israelis. I think this kind of rhetoric is geared to stem that in part.

2. Regional Considerations: I think another part of this is the unrest that once again is roiling throughout the region with the rise of Islamist parties. Look where Jibril gave this interview. On Hizbollah T.V.  Look at what is happening in Egypt and in Jordan within their parliaments particularly with the rise of Islamist Political movements, where these people who have Peace Treaties with Israel are demanding their governments abrogate their agreements. The P.A. (or P.L.O.) does not want to get caught outside of these movements that are threatening to either force regime change or force regime radicalization in the region.

Of course, don’t forget Syria. Either way Syria is heading for a more radical future. If Assad wins the revolution, he will have his Iranian masters and his Hizbollah allies to thank. If the Palestinians in Syria and Lebanon don’t radicalize with regards to Israel they will be facing a ton of problems in how they are perceived by Beirut and Damascus. IF Assad loses well then, there will be an al-Qaeda state which will then push to radicalize Jordan. What will happen to the Palestinians then if they are seen as being allies with Israel?

Related to this, remember who is hosting Palestinian reconciliation talks: Qatar. Who just decided to bankroll Hamas and Egypt? The Qataris. Oh yes, and who is financing the Syrian Rebellion. Yep, that would be Qatar. They are using their economic power to become a broker in the region. Jibril is seeing an opportunity for the broke Palestinian Authority to “get his foot in the door”. Keep in mind that right now there is strong unrest focused on the P.A. for not paying wages to civil servants.

So, one has to look at what Jibril is saying and understand against the regional backdrop of what is happening.

Does this excuse anything he said? Absolutely not. It is quite obvious that the Palestinian Polity (or at least those who lead the Polity) have zero interest in settling the conflict permanently with the Israelis in a peaceful manner. I think there are those in the P.A. / P.L.O. that would settle for a peaceful Two State Solution, but, only as an interim step towards a Palestinian State from the Mediterranean to the Jordan.

And, given that only 29.3% of the Palestinian polity supports a Democratic One State Solution where Jews and Arabs live together in peace, I think there is very little that currently speaks to a permanent peace solution from the Palestinian side.

Interestingly enough there are reports that Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke to the P.A. regarding the Olmert plan last year in a secret meeting. So there is that…

In the end is Jibril “grandstanding”. Maybe. Still, one would hope that someone in the Palestinian polity would stand up and say “What the…. NO!”. If there has been this reaction I haven’t seen it.

So yes, until there is a denunciation by the Palestinian leadership for this remark AND I can’t see that coming from a unified Fatah, Hamas, PIJ leadership… I think the phrase “Know thine enemy is quite appropriate.

About the Author
Jon Segall is creator of the blog The Progressive Zionist. Jon has lived in Israel and studied Israeli and American Policy in the region. Currently Jon, is re-learning Hebrew, and is an active practitioner of the Israel Self Defense Martial Art Krav Maga.