AIPAC is out with a memo documenting the reaction to the release of the Palestinian terrorists in exchange for kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. It should be read in full (it’s brief), but here is a bracing excerpt:
In a symbolic display of unity, PA President Mahmoud Abbas appeared with senior Hamas official Hassan Youssef during a ceremony in Ramallah to welcome the released prisoners who were convicted of carrying out and participating in terrorist attacks. An estimated 200,000 Palestinians attended the event.
Abbas praised the convicted terrorists and their contribution to the Palestinian cause. “You are freedom fighters and holy warriors for the sake of God and the homeland,” Abbas told the prisoners, Haaretz reported. He added: “Your cause was and is still in our heart and minds. We see some of you out, and the rest will follow soon if God wills.” . . . .
Now, Hamas is looking to kidnap more soldiers. Ha’aretz reported that leading Hamas commander Ahmed Jabari stated, “Those same operations will continue as long as there are Palestinian prisoners in jail in Israel.”
Abu Obaida, a spokesman for Izz al-Din al-Qassam, the armed wing of Hamas, said Shalit “will not be the last soldier kidnapped by Hamas as long as Israel keeps Palestinian prisoners detained.”
It would be a mistake, however, to assume the celebration of death is limited to a few Palestinian leaders. The memo explains:
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians rallied in Ramallah and Gaza to celebrate the release of Palestinians convicted of carrying out some of the worst terrorist attacks in Israel’s history.
Some of the released terrorists urged other Palestinians to continue violence against Israel. Wafa al-Biss, a failed suicide bomber freed by Israel, told dozens of children who came to visit her that she hoped “you will walk the same path we took and God willing, we will see some of you as martyrs,” Reuters reported. She added: “Arrests will not deter us from our strong battles and confrontation in the face of Zionist arrogance in the land of Palestine.”
Reuters reported that, after al-Biss spoke, the children cheered and waved Palestinian flags and chanted: “We will give souls and blood to redeem the prisoners. We will give souls and blood for you, Palestine.”
How does Israel make peace with this sort of political leadership, and , let’s be blunt, with a population in which so many tolerate and even encourage violence? The problem is not one of settlements or of boundaries. It’s a matter of will and culture. If the Palestinians lack the will to eradicate terrorism and root out a culture that praises death and celebrates violence, they are, by their own self-definition, unable to make peace with Israel.
The question comes back to a fundamental one, as Rachel Abrams writes: Can the Palestinians give up “the self-strangling mythology of their own victimhood and . . . shed their century-old yearning to set the blood of their Jewish neighbors flowing in the streets”? When they do we might have peace. Not before.