What did the recent “Asian Under 23 Fencing Championship” have to do with Israel? More than you might think.
At that event, held in Bangkok, some fencers from Kuwait refused to take part in a match with their Israeli counterparts. The Palestinian Authority was thrilled to hear the news. According to a Palestinian Media Watch translation, the official P.A. newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida reported that the chairman of the Palestinian Fencing Association, speaking on behalf of the P.A., publicly praised the Kuwaiti fencers for “their awe-inspiring and noble position” in “stepping down from competing against the Israeli fencers out of opposition to normalization in the field of sports.”
The international community seems to have become accustomed to the Palestinian Arab leadership taking these kinds of hostile steps against Israel. There was no coverage of the fencing incident in the news media, and no protests from the State Department or other governments.
So, since the media and the State Department won’t acknowledge what happened, it is worth reiterating that the P.A.’s action was a direct and blatant violation of the Oslo Accords.
The opening words of Oslo I (signed in 1993) require the Palestinian leadership to “put an end to decades of confrontation and conflict.” Later, in the Oslo II agreement (Chapter 4, Article XII, signed in 1995), the P.A. committed itself to fostering “understanding and tolerance” with Israel.
In other words, the P.A. is required to maintain friendly relations with the Jewish state. It’s not an option. It’s an obligation. And praising athletes for boycotting Israelis is a violation of that obligation. It’s the exact opposite of friendly relations.
But note the date that the fencing incident was reported: Oct. 11, 2022. That was three weeks before the recent Israeli election. So, nobody can blame the P.A.’s action on Benjamin Netanyahu or Itamar Ben-Gvir, or the Israeli election results in general. This burst of P.A. anti-normalization hostility took place when Israel was governed by Yair Lapid and his left-wing coalition partners.
This raises two interesting questions. First, why is the Jewish left, in Israel and the United States, silent about being slapped in the face this way? Second, why weren’t they bothered that the P.A. was trying to incite athletes against Israel’s left-of-center government?
Remember, for years, the Jewish left has been telling us that the Palestinian Arabs have become moderate and are finally ready to live in peace with Israel. Normalization of cultural relations, including athletic competitions, are the very essence of peaceful coexistence. If Labor and Meretz and J Street and Americans for Peace Now really want to have genuine peace with the Palestinian Arabs, they should be shouting from the rooftops in protest over the fencing incident.
Why have they remained silent? Because, sad to say, the Jewish left’s old dream of peace has been replaced by a new strategy of surrender. They know that normalization is a sham. They know that the P.A. constantly violates every article of the Oslo agreements. But they don’t care. They simply want Israel to surrender to the Arabs’ demand for every inch of Judea, Samaria and much of Jerusalem. Surrender has almost become a kind of religion for them.
It’s also worth asking: What does the fencing incident tell us about the P.A.’s intentions? The answer is that it demonstrates, once again, that any agreement signed by the Palestinian Arab leadership is not worth the paper it’s printed on.
The P.A. promises peace; then it wages war. The P.A. promises to combat terrorists; then it shelters and funds terrorists. The P.A. promises normalization; then it incites boycotts of Israel. It doesn’t matter if the Israeli government is left-of-center or right-of-center, because the P.A. remains true to its unwavering goal of eliminating Israel altogether. And even something as seemingly trivial as the fencing incident illustrates that cold, hard truth once again.
Stephen M. Flatow is an attorney and the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is the author of the book A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror.