Thursday, January 20, 2011

Prague: Mossad-Hamas summit?

The Czech media have mentioned that according to PalPress of Palestine - which is controlled by Fatah - the boss of Hamas and his pals have visited the Czech capital to meet the local representative of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, who organized the hypothesized summit.

You can't be sure whether it's true or not. It could have been invented by Fatah, to discredit Hamas among the Palestinian Israel-haters (which is almost all of Palestinians). The Czech intelligence services (BIS) remain silent and they're really professional about it so you may be sure that the silence doesn't imply either answer.

If that's true, well, Prague is an ideal place for such summits. The Jewish culture is one of the three major cultures that have shaped the city. There have been 21 synagogues in Prague and 13 of them still exist. And everyone knows Franz Kafka. Czechs had to witness the atrocious German acts during the holocaust - some Czechs co-operated, others resisted, but it was surely not a Czech idea. It was not the only reason why after the war, Czechoslovakia would become a top ally of Israel during its war of existence in the late 1940s, sending huge amounts of weapons to the Middle East. Realizing our somewhat similar fates and sentiments, the unusually good relationships survived even during the communist regime. Czechia remains a top friend of Israel in the world.

On the other hand, we have had our positive relationships with the Arab world, too. In the 1980s, the Czechoslovak communists realized that Yasser Arafat and his terrorist group were our comrades. This hasn't quite destroyed our ties with Israel but for a couple of years, the Israeli Arabs were officially viewed as the better guys in the dispute. While we have no mosques in Prague, lots of Arabs have studied there (usually sports and similar subjects at the Charles University). Mohammed Atta, a mastermind of 9/11, visited Prague for negotiations that used to be thought to be important although some implications turned out to be non-existent.

There are no passionate anti-Arab sentiments in Czechia because the Arabs remain exotic foreigners and Czechs mostly know them because their friends have visited Dubai or Abu Dhabi or some other friends of theirs - or e.g. a Czech girl I know from Harvard - do business with the Arabs. We don't know them as an annoying, problem-making minority and I hope that we will never know them from this angle. For this and other reasons, I would guess that Prague is the place in the world in which the Muslims and the Israeli are meeting each other most peacefully.

If you're confused about the picture above, it is not a minaret but rather the Prague Žižkov TV Tower which was voted the second ugliest building in the world right after the Mechanic Theater in Baltimore. Congratulations to both.

Comrade Arafat visiting Czechoslovak president Gustáv Husák (glasses) and communist party boss Milouš Jakeš (the clown on the left, also known as the fencepost, a term he used for his party in a Summer 1989 talk near Pilsen) in the 1980s.

Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty (funded by the U.S. Congress) are located in Prague and offer an independent world view and news to the Arabs and Iranians (aside from Russians). The regimes in Muslim countries love this radio so much that a decade ago, Saddam Hussein had completed plans to detonate the headquarters of the radio from a nearby apartment. However, he had to deal with the U.S. army so the plans were scrapped and the weapons were donated by the suddenly saint Iraqi diplomats to the Czechs as a souvenir.

If you wanted to realize a sensible peace plan for the portions of Greater Israel with an Arab majority, it's pretty clear that the neverending summits of the Israeli leaders with Fatah are pretty much useless. You need to deal with the guys who really matter - and it's Hamas, whether you like it or not. Fatah may either be too friendly or too unfriendly towards Israel. If it is too unfriendly, you won't get peace. If it is too friendly, Fatah becomes irrelevant as a group of traitors and the Palestinians move to Hamas.

The latter sentence doesn't hold if you replace Fatah by Hamas in it. Hamas, representing the true face of the Arabs in Israel, has to be dealt with - either by effective negotiations or by weapons.

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