How "Moderate" Palestinians Succumb to Threats

Gatestone Institute 15 November 2012
By Khaled Abu Toameh

This radicalization — to a point where they are not ready to hear about any concessions to Israel — is the direct result of decades of anti-Israel incitement and indoctrination, spearheaded, ironically, by the "moderate" Palestinian Authority leadership that is publicly talking about making peace with Israel.

Today there is almost no room for moderates among the Palestinians.

Any Palestinian who dares to talk about compromise and peace with Israel, or even meet with Israelis, is immediately denounced as a "traitor" and "defeatist."

Take, for example, the most recent case of Munib al-Masri, a wealthy Palestinian businessman from Nablus, the largest city in the West Bank.

Known as the "Palestinian Rothschild," al-Masri has drawn strong condemnations from many Palestinians for hosting Israeli businessman Rami Levy at his home.

Even Palestinian journalists have joined the campaign against al-Masri. Some 70 journalists signed a petition calling on the Palestinian media to stop calling calling al-Masri's palace by its name "The House of Palestine."

Inspired by Andrea Palladio, the most influential individual in the history of Western architecture, The "House of Palestine" is the most expensive palace in the West Bank.

It was in this palace that al-Masri met with Levy and Palestinian, Arab, Islamic, UN and EU representatives to find ways to "break the stalemate" in the Middle East peace process.

The main purpose of the gathering was to "create an Arab-Islamic-Jewish alliance to impact decision-makers by launching an initiative to break the stalemate," according to a statement issued by al-Masri.

Palestinians representing various political groups have since condemned al-Masri for promoting "normalization" with Israel by inviting an Israeli businessman to the meeting in his palace.

The widespread condemnations forced al-Masri to issue a "clarification" in which he reassured Palestinians that he was "totally opposed to any economic relations with Israeli businessmen as long as Israel continued to occupy the 1967 territories."

The "clarification" is yet another sign of how moderate Palestinians succumb to threats and calls for boycott.

A few days later, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas underwent the same experience.

In an interview with Israel's Channel 2 TV station, Abbas stated that he did not want to return to his birthplace of Safed [in northern Israel], triggering an unprecedented wave of denunciations from many Palestinians who accused him of relinquishing the Palestinian refugees' "right of return" to their former villages inside Israel.

Like al-Masri, Abbas later reassured Palestinians that he remained "committed to the right of return" and that he would never compromise on the rights of the refugees.

Obviously, the Palestinians have been radicalized to a point where they are not ready to hear about any concessions to Israel or tolerate the presence of an Israeli businessman in a Palestinian city. This radicalization is the direct result of decades of anti-Israel incitement and indoctrination in the Palestinian territories -- a campaign that has been spearheaded, ironically, by the "moderate" Palestinian Authority leadership that is publicly talking about making peace with Israel.

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