The Triumph of Illusion in the Middle East
The Palestine Liberation Organization was created in 1964. Like most revolutionary movements, it wrote a Charter to define its aims and fundamental policies, including:
Article 17: The partitioning of Palestine, which took place in 1947, and the establishment of Israel are illegal and null and void, regardless of the loss of time...
Article 18: The Balfour Declaration, the Palestine Mandate System, and all that has been based on them are considered null and void. The claims of historic and spiritual ties between Jews and Palestine are not in agreement with the facts of history or with the true basis of sound statehood. Judaism... is not a nationality (and) the Jews are not one people with an independent personality...
Article 19: Zionism is a colonialist movement in its inception, aggressive and expansionist in its goal, racist in its configurations, and fascist in its means and aims...
Article 24: This Organization does not exercise any territorial sovereignty over the West Bank in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, (or) on the Gaza Strip.
Contrary to belief in some quarters, the Charter has never been amended and in fact, fealty to "armed struggle" (i.e., terrorism) was reasserted as late as 2011. In pursuit of its goals, Palestinian terrorism has killed more than 5,000 Israelis since 1949. Airplane hijackings; sniper shootings (including an infant in her father's arms), bombings on buses, in cafes and in restaurants; little boys bludgeoned to death; children murdered in their homes in front of their parents. Raw anti-Semitism pours today from Voice of Palestine Radio. School children learn that Israel is only a temporary impediment to Palestinian aspirations and that killing and dying is the highest good.
This would seem to preclude peaceful coexistence with the State of Israel.
Yet, it has become conventional Western wisdom that the Palestinian leadership -- bifurcated as a result of a brutal civil war, without an electoral mandate, beholden in part to Iran -- wishes nothing more than a split, rump state in the West Bank (and Gaza), areas it previously rejected. And furthermore, in exchange for that, Palestinians will accept a) the Jews as a national people "with an independent personality," b) the legitimacy of the 1947 partition (or 1949 Armistice Line), and c) Zionism -- not as fascist, racist and aggressive -- but as the legitimate expression of Jewish national peoplehood.
This is the triumph of illusion, required because reality doesn't comport with the liberal, democratic Western standard in which every difference can be split. The reality is that Israeli fights every day against people dedicated it its destruction as a sovereign entity. Reality is ugly, so the West pretends we're only a minute or two, an Israeli concession or two, a settlement or two from Israeli-Palestinian "peace."
No, we weren't, nor will we be. But it is through similar illusions that American policy toward Egypt is best understood.
Pretending the Muslim Brotherhood was a political party, pretending it had renounced violence and become a social service agency, pretending it would govern at odds with its Charter and founding principles, pretending Morsi's virulent anti-Semitism and anti-Christianity would give way to multireligious comity, the United States deliberately bolstered the fortunes of a fascist, jihadist organization bent on the acquisition of state power to institute its radical Charter and punish its enemies.
In 2011, then-DNI James Clapper told Congress, "The term Muslim Brotherhood is an umbrella term for a variety of movements. In the case of Egypt, a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence." His correction was no better: "In Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood makes efforts to work through a political system that has been, under Mubarak's rule, one that is largely secular in its orientation."
The Brotherhood never "eschewed" violence -- when its leadership was being imprisoned and hung it made the reasonable tactical decision that announcing a determination to take power through violence would be foolhardy. Secular Egyptian governments in succession understood that they needed to stand on the neck of the Brotherhood because it was not going to give up and was not going to disappear. President Obama invited Brotherhood representatives to the now-discredited Cairo Speech in 2009, over the objection of President Mubarak. He treated it as if was one among many parties entitled to a seat at the table of governance in Egypt.
But the Brotherhood, like the PLO, was unwilling to accept only a seat -- it had designs on the table, the kitchen, and the living room.
The administration made the same mistake in Syria, tapping the Muslim Brotherhood-leaning Turkish Prime Minister and the Emir of Qatar to bolster the armed opposition to Bashar Assad while the U.S. hid. Far from promoting what little secular, democratic opposition was able to emerge, Turkey and Qatar resurrected the Brotherhood that had gone underground in Syria after the massacre in Hama by Hafez Assad in 1983.
The United States has the Palestinian model from which to work: when a violent, dictatorial organization tells you its goals and the means by which it plans to achieve them, believe them. When they say they're not democratic, that their ideology precludes a multiethnic and multireligious society, believe them. When violence is part of their mandate and they prove over and over that they are prepared to use it in pursuit of their clearly defined aims, believe them. They are not fit partners for the United States.
In Egypt, the fighting is not a civil war; it is the determination and requirement of the government to push the Muslim Brotherhood insurrection back into the dungeon from which the Obama Administration freed it. As such, it should be supported.