Across the globe, election campaigns seem to bring out both the best and the worst in those seeking or holding public office. Amid the torrent of words that are deployed to persuade the electorate, it is easy to find catchy slogans alongside bold promises, as well as sketchy assertions mixed in with occasional gaffes.
But every once in a while, a politician delivers a real howler, uttering something so patently absurd that it almost defies rational explanation.
Such was the case last week with MK Alon Shuster, who is none other than the deputy defense minister of the State of Israel. In an interview with Israel Army Radio on September 28, Shuster said, apparently with a straight face, that "the Palestinian Authority is an asset" and it is "necessary to strengthen it."
Hearing those remarks, I couldn't help but recall the scene in chapter five of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. When the young heroine insists that one cannot believe in impossible things, the Queen of Hearts solemnly replies, "I daresay you haven't had much practice... Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
So too, it would seem, does Israel's deputy defense minister.
After all, just five days before Shuster's interview, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas addressed the UN General Assembly in New York. Perhaps unaware that he is supposed to be an "asset" for Israel, Abbas devoted his time at the podium to excoriating the Jewish state in no uncertain terms.
He accused Israel of perpetrating "massacres" against Palestinians, carrying out "assaults" on Islamic religious shrines, and further claimed that Israel "does not believe in peace." Abbas likened the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 to the "looting" of Palestinian resources and demanded the implementation of the 1947 UN Partition Plan, as well as flooding Israel with millions of so-called Palestinian refugees.
And then, in yet another move that only a true "asset" of the Jewish people could make, Abbas declared that the Palestinians will formally ask the International Criminal Court to investigate the "crimes and massacres committed by Israel."
All of this seems somehow to have escaped Deputy Defense Minister Shuster's attention.
BUT LEST you think that it is only Israel's right wing that does not look kindly on the Palestinian Authority, you might consider the opinion of Nasser al-Kidwa, the PA's former minister for foreign affairs.
Al-Kidwa, who is arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat's nephew, grew disenchanted with the PA last year to the point that he fled to France for a year of self-imposed exile.
Now ensconced in Gaza, al-Kidwa told Agence France Presse last week that he would not feel safe returning to Judea and Samaria because Abbas's Palestinian Authority is "totalitarian."
Abbas, he said, "is ruling by decree, and decrees that are ridiculous." Al-Kidwa also lamented the fact that thanks to Abbas, the PA's "institutions were destroyed, sometimes I would say, by design."
Indeed, under Abbas's leadership, the PA has willfully continued its "Pay for Slay" program, which issues annual rewards to Palestinian terrorists and their families for attacking, wounding and murdering innocent Jews.
As Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) revealed in a report published in April, the PA disbursed NIS 841 million ($270 million) in 2021 to terrorists and their relatives. In per capita terms, as PMW noted, the PA spends 33.34 times more on paying terrorists than it does on health services, and 10.86 times more than for youth education.
As if that weren't enough, Abbas also has a habit of putting his mouth where his money is. On September 30, journalist Jacki Khoury tweeted audio and text from a phone call made by Abbas in which he expressed hope that Allah would curse Israeli soldiers "and help us to get rid of them."
Nonetheless, too many people both in Israel and abroad fail to see the PA for what it truly is.
Instead of coddling Abbas and his cronies and heaping compliments upon his autocratic and brutal regime, Israel should drop the kid gloves and treat it accordingly.
Far from being an asset, the PA is in fact an enemy, a hostile entity that does everything in its power to besmirch Israel, incite violence and terrorism, demonize Jews and disparage Jewish history while also trying to seize control over still more Jewish land in Judea and Samaria.
Simply put, it is long overdue for Israel and its leaders to stop ignoring reality and embracing wishful thinking about the PA, if only because the facts speak so loudly and compellingly for themselves.
But the chances of that happening are unfortunately slim. For as the Cheshire Cat contends in Alice in Wonderland, "Only a very few find the way, and most of them don't recognize it when they do. Delusions, too," he rightly points out, "die hard."
Sadly, what is true in Wonderland is no less valid in our own Electionland.