Israel and the Jewish people have no enemy more vile than the PLO and its dominant faction, Fatah.
The PLO was founded in 1964 by the Arab league as a “Palestinian” organization whose goal was the “liberation of Palestine through armed struggle.” In 1969 it was taken over by Yasser Arafat’s Fatah group, which has controlled it ever since. In 1993-4, the Oslo agreements between Israel and the PLO created the Palestinian Authority (PA), which rules the areas in which 95% or more of the Arabs of Judea and Samaria live. The PA is run by the PLO (despite the victory by Hamas in the last PA election, held in 2006) and its Chairman is Mahmoud Abbas, who is also the head of the PLO and of Fatah.
Probably more Israeli Jews have been murdered by the PLO and its factions than any other terrorist group, including Hamas and Hezbollah. The PLO has gone out of its way to kill Jewish civilians and especially children, as it did in the Moshav Avivim school bus massacre (very interesting link), the Ma’alot massacre, and the Bus of Blood incident (also called the Coastal Road massacre). Here is a list of PLO “operations” until 2004. There have been plenty more since.
In the early 1990s the PLO was isolated in its exile in Tunis and other places, with few recent terrorist atrocities to its “credit” (the ugly Achille Lauro hijacking in 1985 was an exception). But in 1993, the so-called “architects of Oslo” – Yossi Beilin, Yair Hirschfeld, Ron Pundak, Uri Savir, and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres – negotiated an agreement with the PLO which recognized it as the legitimate representative of the “Palestinian people,” and brought PLO terrorists back to Israel to form the PA. Here is how historian Efraim Karsh described the result:
For Israel, it has been the starkest strategic blunder in its history, establishing an ineradicable terror entity on its doorstep, deepening its internal cleavages, destabilizing its political system, and weakening its international standing. For the West Bank [sic] and Gaza Palestinians, it has brought subjugation to the corrupt and repressive PLO and Hamas regimes, which reversed the hesitant advent of civil society in these territories, shattered their socioeconomic wellbeing, and made the prospects of peace and reconciliation with Israel ever more remote.
In their naiveté and delusive wishful thinking, the “architects” believed Arafat’s assurances that he had renounced terrorism and would change the PLO Covenant to delete those articles calling for the violent destruction of the Jewish state. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin had his doubts, but could not oppose the fait accompli from the start without being seen as “against peace,” and he soon came under massive pressure from US President Clinton to make a deal.
Arafat immediately began his double game of talking peace in English to the international community and inciting violence in Arabic to his people. Karsh notes,
The next eleven years until Arafat’s death on November 11, 2004, offered a recapitulation, over and over again, of the same story. In addressing Israeli or Western audiences, the PLO chairman (and his erstwhile henchmen) would laud the “peace” signed with “my partner Yitzhak Rabin.” To his Palestinian constituents, he depicted the accords as transient arrangements required by the needs of the moment. He made constant allusion to the “phased strategy” and the Treaty of Hudaibiya—signed by Muhammad with the people of Mecca in 628, only to be disavowed a couple of years later when the situation shifted in the prophet’s favor—and insisted on the “right of return,” the standard Palestinian/Arab euphemism for Israel’s destruction through demographic subversion.
The supposedly renounced terrorism continued, with Arafat secretly providing funds to terror operatives and even cooperating with Hamas (the one thing they seem to be able to agree upon is the value of killing Jews). After the failure of the Camp David and Taba talks in 2000-1, Arafat sparked the vicious Second Intifada in which the PLO and Hamas together murdered more than 1000 Israeli Jews, mostly civilians, and in which more than 3000 Palestinian Arabs lost their lives.
Most importantly, as soon as he took power Arafat opened what I call the Death Factory, the systematic indoctrination with anti-Israel and anti-Jewish propaganda of Palestinian Arabs in schools and mosques, and via official PA and Fatah newspapers, radio, TV, and websites. More than mere propaganda, the Death Factory teaches Arabs, especially young people, that the greatest achievement in the life of a Palestinian is to kill as many Jews as possible, even – especially – if the killer becomes a martyr in the process. The greatest Palestinian heroes are such martyrs, like Dalal Mughrabi, a young woman who took part in the Bus of Blood massacre. Countless schools, squares, sports facilities, and so on are named after Mughrabi and other exemplars of Palestinism. Hamas, following Arafat’s lead, opened its own Death Factory, featuring children’s TV programs and kindergartens where the children are taught to hate and encouraged to kill as soon as they are able.
Arafat’s successor, the Holocaust-denying, Jew-hating Mahmoud Abbas, has been careful not to be caught directly ordering terrorism. But he continued and expanded the Death Factory, and often lauds captured or martyred terrorists as heroes. In addition to Palestinian nationalism and appeals to Arab honor, traditional antisemitic themes both from the Islamic and European traditions are included. Although the PLO under both Arafat and Abbas has promised numerous times to stop such incitement, it has never done so.
Today, social media have become a force multiplier, amplifying and disseminating the message. In fact, as a result of the autonomous nature of social media, it is doubtful that the Death Factory could be shut down completely even if the PA and Hamas would stop incitement in its own media and schools.
If this were not enough, the PA scandalously pays salaries to the families of terrorists imprisoned by Israel for security offenses, or killed while attempting acts of terrorism. The monthly payments are proportional to the length of the sentence, so the family of a mass murderer who has received multiple life sentences will be paid the most. The PA also will pay to build a new house for the family of a terrorist whose home is demolished. Despite great international pressure – after all, practically all of the PA’s money comes from international donors – Abbas has said that he will never end the program, which in 2016 paid $318 million to the families of “martyrs” and prisoners.
The combination of lifetime indoctrination and incitement with financial incentives has led to a situation in which almost every Arab from the PA, and even some Arab citizens of Israel, have become potential murderers, and in which it is becoming increasingly dangerous to walk the streets or to wait at a bus stop. Arab children as young as 13 have perpetrated terror attacks. Although there has been anti-Jewish terrorism in Israel from the period before the founding of the state, the prevalence of “sudden jihad syndrome” by Arabs unaffiliated with terror groups is unprecedented.
There is no easy solution that doesn’t involve using a time machine to go back to 1993 and intercept the Oslo folly, but there are some things that should be obvious by now:
First and foremost, we must realize that the PLO is an enemy of the state of Israel and the Jewish people. Jews are being murdered regularly by Palestinian Arab terrorists because they are encouraged and paid by the PLO to do so. In effect the PLO has “taken out a contract ” on the Jewish people. Paying a hit man to kill someone is considered murder in civilized countries, and his refusal to stop doing this makes Mahmoud Abbas a murderer. He should be arrested and imprisoned.
We can’t completely shut down the Death Factory because it will continue via social media. But surely we can stop incitement on PA media. TV and radio stations that incite murder or transmit anti-Jewish material can be put off the air. Newspapers can be closed down. Websites can be blocked. We don’t need to ask permission; just do it.
Insofar as the PLO is our enemy, we are not obligated to cooperate with it in any way. In fact, we are at war with the PLO, and cooperation with the enemy in time of war is treason. We should not transfer funds to the PA – which is the PLO under another name – or grant work permits to its citizens. We should encourage our allies to stop funding the PA as well.
We have gotten used to cooperating with the PA because we believe it keeps a lid on terrorism, but what that means is that we are allowing ourselves to be extorted by blackmail and threats. And regardless of our subservience, terrorism continues and grows over time, since we never defeat our enemy.
We don’t have a time machine that would enable someone to snatch the pen out of Rabin’s hand, but recognizing the seriousness of the mistake we made is the first step to fixing it.