Hamas sent a greeting card to the quintet of leaders meeting in Washington, D.C., this week to initiate negotiations about a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. In a well-planned ambush, they killed four Israeli civilians near the city of Hebron, two men and two women (one nine months pregnant), creating seven orphans. The murderers escaped, and may perhaps have videotaped the atrocity.
In Gaza that evening, 3,000 celebrants clogged the streets, waving flags, setting bonfires, passing out candy, and carrying their children on their shoulders. If there is videotape, it will presumably permit the revelers to relive the pleasure, even as the video of Daniel Pearl's beheading has circulated on the Internet.
While the Palestinian Authority did condemn the attack, it did so in mincing terms. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad disapproved, he said, because "the operation went against Palestinian interests." It would be difficult for a leader of the "moderate" (that word is always attached) PA to condemn such attacks as, say, immoral or despicable, as the Palestinian Authority itself (formerly the PLO/Fatah) was conceived in violence and continues to honor its spirit.
In the course of the past few months, the PA has named a square and a children's summer camp in honor of a terrorist who murdered 37 Israeli civilians on a bus, and provided a hero's funeral to Amin al-Hindi, one of the planners of the kidnapping and murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. The official PA newspaper described al-Hindi as "one of the stars ... who sparkled at the sports stadium in Munich." Both Mahmoud Abbas and Fayyad attended the funeral.
These realities, reflecting as they do the unreadiness of the Palestinian people for peace with Israel, have been and will continue to be ignored by the Obama administration, the so-called international community, and most journalists. Instead, world leaders, very much including President Obama, speak of borders, confidence-building measures, and opportunities for peace, as if the problem were one of details. This thoroughly misconceives the nature of the dispute. An Israeli saying (now decades old) captured the essence: If the Palestinians were disarmed tomorrow, there would be no conflict. If the Israelis were disarmed tomorrow, there would be no Israel.