Israel News

A collection of the week's news from Israel
A service of the Bet El Twinning Committee of Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto

March 1, 2002
Issue number 368

Events...

Sunday, March 3, 8:00 p.m.

Jonathan Rosenblum, writer and commentator for The Jerusalem Post, Hamodia and the Jewish Observer is speaking at BAYT on behalf of Tomche Shabbos of Toronto, the 3rd annual lecture in memory of Ruchama Zlotnick a"h.

Quote for the Week...

“Yes I am a Jew and my father is a Jew”  - Last words of Daniel Pearl before he was executed in Pakistan. (National Post Feb 23)

"You cannot negotiate with terrorists because the single response of terrorists for fulfilling their demands is blackmail - new demands, nothing more. This was our experience with the regime of Adolph Hitler. In 1936 he could have been defeated by two French divisions during the occupation of the Rhineland, and there was no courage by democratic countries because of the appeasement policy. I wonder whether there is no repetition of this danger of appeasement, the willingness for compromises which leads to cowardice only."   - Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman. Zeman was on a two-day visit to Israel. (Jerusalem Post 2/18)

Commentary...

The Saudi Non-Proposal      Jerusalem Post     Editorial  

The current conflict sometimes seems like the beating of waves on the beach, with each wave followed by a momentary quiet, followed by more waves. After a particularly bad wave of terrorism, a trough has come, consisting of another Israeli offer to curtail its military operations, in order to give the Palestinians yet another chance to quiet things down themselves.

On a more macro level, the local and international fascination with a Saudi peace balloon seems part of the general groping for a way out of the current impasse. Though the Saudis are often portrayed as incompetent at public relations, this view must be examined in light of what is so far a PR coup. With the help of journalist Tom Friedman and his newspaper, The New York Times, the Saudis have generated positive interest from American and Israeli foreign ministers in a proposal that has not yet been made, and exists only as reports of conversations. 

The beauty of this, as Friedman himself implied, is that the Saudis can get credit for a proposal without making it, then blame their lack of actual follow-through on Israeli or American actions. PR artistry aside, this non-proposal has already gotten enough attention that its purported substance must be addressed.

The idea, according to Friedman and Henry Siegman, another interlocutor writing in the Times, is that the Saudis will completely normalize relations with Israel in exchange for an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines. Before dwelling on the nuances of the idea, what is striking about it is how little it takes to pass as moderation and openness on the part of the Arab world. 

The Saudi proposal-in-waiting, as far as can be seen, is identical to Yasser Arafat's current demands. Accordingly, all the Saudis are contemplating is a statement that they will not be more catholic than the pope, so to speak, and will make peace with Israel when the Palestinians do.

But even Siegman admits that the Saudis have been ready to follow the Palestinian lead for some time. Two years ago, writes Siegman, Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah told him that if the Palestinians make a "just peace" with Israel that his country would have "no problem" opening full relations with Israel. If this is the case, then what is new in the Saudi proposal? 

To this Siegman and Friedman respond that the Saudis are willing to see adjustments to the 1967-lines, including in Jerusalem. The Saudis are signaling, it is claimed, that they are not going to second guess compromises that the Palestinians might be willing to make, and will more openly offer comprehensive peace with the Arab world once the Palestinian issue is resolved. 

If this is true, it is a step in the right direction, but how big a step and from where? Did anyone really expect the Saudis to continue a state of war with Israel even after the Palestinians signed a peace deal? Since when is ceasing to bolster Palestinian intransigence considered a great contribution to peace? 

Not standing in the way of peace is great as far it goes, but Israel and the international community should expect much more from the Arab world. Egypt and Jordan made peace with Israel after settling their territorial disputes. Saudi Arabia has no border or territorial dispute with Israel, so why remain so implacably opposed to Israel's existence? 

If Saudi Arabia is no longer opposed to Israel's existence, but is simply seeking a solution to the Palestinian problem, than Saudi Arabia should be at the forefront of distinguishing between the two issues. When Egypt's Anwar Sadat came to such a conclusion, he translated it into action by giving a tough speech to the Knesset, thereby demonstrating that he opposed Israeli policies, but not Israel's existence. 

Even if a Sadat-style visit is too much to expect from the Saudi royal family, there are many no less important steps that would demonstrate a degree of seriousness. The first would be to cut off relations with Hamas as dramatically as the Saudis cut off the PLO for supporting Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait. Just as Arafat writes about peace in the Times one day and stokes terrorism against Israel the next, the Saudis cannot have it both ways. 

US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said of Arafat not too long ago, "You cannot help us with al-Qaida and hug Hizbullah or Hamas, that is not acceptable." The same could be said of the Saudis, who want to remove the stain imposed by 15 of their citizens on September 11, and now must do more than whisper sweet nothings about peace to prove they have changed.    (Jerusalem Post Feb 25)

Only Buffer Zones Can Protect Israel     By Dore Gold

It is doubtful that another case can be found in recent history of a nation that has been willing to take greater risks for peace than has Israel. Eight years ago, Israel embarked on a diplomatic experiment by agreeing to grant authority to the Palestine Liberation Organization, an organization whose founding charter called for Israel's annihilation, and to its leader, Yasir Arafat, in the disputed territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It was hoped that the final political status of those lands, to which both Israel and the Palestinians had claims, could be resolved through direct negotiations.

In implementing the Oslo Agreements, Israel terminated its military government over 98 percent of the Palestinian population in those territories, transferring most of its powers to the nascent Palestinian Authority.

Israelis were fully aware that a great struggle was transpiring across the Arab world in the 1990's, from Algeria to Egypt, between the older forces of secular Arab nationalism and the rising forces of militant Islamic fundamentalism. It was hoped that the Palestinian administration would confront and subdue the terrorist challenges of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, enhance Israeli security in that process and agree to a historic compromise leading to peace.

These goals were not achieved. Instead of reining in Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Yasir Arafat allowed them to establish a vast infrastructure of international terrorism in the areas under his jurisdiction. Palestinian officials have admitted that in October 2000 Mr. Arafat intentionally launched the present intifada, which has been a daily campaign of pure terrorism against Israeli civilians.

Worse still, at least half of the attacks against Israelis, including those this week, come from organizations directly loyal to Yasir Arafat himself and on his payroll: the Tanzim militia of his Fatah component of the P.L.O. and his Force-17 presidential bodyguard. It is indisputable that the Palestinian Authority had sought to acquire new weaponry from Iran, from C-4 explosives to Katyusha rockets, found aboard the freighter, the Karine A. These would have increased the firepower, lethality and range of terrorist attacks.

Given its strategic decision to support violence, it is not surprising that the Palestinian leadership has utterly failed to comply with nine separate cease-fire initiatives, most of which were under American auspices. It is extremely doubtful that a 10th or 11th American effort to broker a cease-fire, at this time, would produce more effective results.

This is an extremely hard reality but it must be faced. First, Israel must win the war that has been imposed on it by Palestinian leaders, convincing them that no tangible political gain will be achieved by using violence. Israel should not seek to take back the administration of Palestinian cities, but it must dismantle the terrorist capabilities located in these areas. Israel does not seek to vanquish the Palestinians, but rather to defeat the terrorism that their leadership has adopted as a national policy. After Sept. 11, there is an international consensus that no political grievance or sense of deprivation can possibly justify the mass murder of civilians through suicide bombing attacks.

Second, Israel must learn certain diplomatic lessons from this period of violence and apply them to future negotiations. The real lesson of the failed summit at Camp David in 2000 is that in the very difficult issues of permanent status —— borders, Jerusalem, refugees and security —— the gaps between the most conciliatory Israeli positions advanced by the Barak government and those of the P.L.O. were totally unbridgeable. Those Israeli proposals have essentially been taken off the table by the majority of Israeli voters with the last Israeli elections in 2001.

The only realistic diplomatic option for the future is a long-term interim agreement that leaves Israel with vital security zones in the West Bank. In any case, Israel is entitled to defensible borders according to United Nations Security Council Resolution 242; it is not expected to return to the vulnerable lines of 1967, from which it was attacked more than 30 years ago. That is not just an Israeli position, but has been the policy of American secretaries of state from Henry Kissinger to Warren Christopher.

The western buffer zone recently proposed by Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon would place serious obstacles before suicide bombers who regularly attempt to infiltrate Israeli population centers. Immediately adjacent to the West Bank is the densely populated Israeli coastal plain, where 70 percent of Israelis live and 80 percent of Israel's industrial capacity is located. The buffer zone would also protect Israel's capital in Jerusalem. The western zone would allow adequate depth against Palestinian weaponry, from automatic rifle fire and mortars to Qassam-2 rockets.

In his last policy address to the Knesset in 1995, Israel's late prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, emphasized the critical importance of an eastern security zone as well, one that would utilize the steep eastern slopes of the West Bank mountain ridge that faces the Jordan River. A defense line making use of the topography of the Jordan Valley, also a strategic policy of the Sharon government, would be aimed at countering large Iraqi expeditionary armies that have engaged Israel on the ground in three Arab-Israeli wars. Israeli control of this zone would also protect Jordan from Palestinian irredentism, which almost overcame the kingdom in 1970. Thus, strong Israeli security zones can enhance regional stability.

There has been much talk in recent days about the interest of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah in seeking a broader Arab peace with Israel. That initiative has not been formally presented to Israel or to the Arab world. Most states float new ideas of this sort in discreet channels, like the Israeli-Egyptian contacts in Morocco that preceded Anwar Sadat's visit to Israel in 1977. Any serious change in Saudi hostility to Israel would be welcome, especially if it led, in the first instance, to a cessation of all forms of financial assistance to groups like Hamas.

If the reports of the crown prince's insistence on seeing Israel back on the 1967 lines, with Jerusalem divided, represent only an opening position to serious discussions, then his idea merits exploration. But Israel will not experiment with the lives of its citizens by agreeing to concessions that strip away tangible components of its national security, create vulnerabilities that its adversaries will exploit and ultimately undermine the stability of the entire Middle East.

Dore Gold was Israel's ambassador to the United Nations from 1997 to 1999 and has served as an adviser to the government of Ariel Sharon.

Betrayed!       By Berel Wein

One of the worst emotions a human being can experience is feeling betrayed. A friend, a relative, a colleague, a professional, are all people in whom trust and confidence(s) are invested. To have that trust violated leaves deep emotional and mental scars. Even time - the great healer of all wounds - is unable to completely eradicate the feeling of personal hurt that betrayal causes.

I sense that the prevalent mood today is not so much one of despair and depression as it is one of having been betrayed. Our trust has been badly repaid.

The Palestinian Authority and Yasser Arafat have certainly betrayed us. We believed them when they said they wanted to settle the conflict. We believed them when they said they would do their best to limit terror.

It may have been foolish, unrealistic, naive on our part to have believed them. After all, we had previous experience with the Palestinians and Arabs generally regarding their non-observance of armistice agreements and other international commitments.

But be that as it may, we believed them.

Personally, I can attest that I believed them. I spoke publicly in the United States against those who opposed Oslo and the peace process. After all, did not Arafat shake Yitzhak Rabin's hand in front of millions of viewers? I, like many others, never like to be wrong. But I have been wrong about many things in my life, and so I can adjust to being wrong in my belief in Oslo.

But I find it very difficult to adjust to the gnawing feeling of having been willfully betrayed. The entire political system here lends itself to a feeling of betrayal. Politicians the world over make promises at election time that no one should ever take too seriously. In the US, Herbert Hoover promised a chicken in every pot, Lyndon Johnson promised the Great Society, and Bill Clinton promised never-ending prosperity. Here, peace and security, tax reform and new jobs, are only some of the promises always put forth at election times.

I am certain all the politicians are well-meaning in their promises, but under our present wildly multi-party system, all their efforts lead not to a sense of confidence but rather to frustration bordering on a sense of betrayal. Everyone here knows there are too many political parties, the proportional representation system in the elections for the Knesset is a recipe for administrative chaos, and the system allows extremists on the Left and Right to exert power and influence far out of proportion to their true representation in the electorate.

As long as this presently accepted, Bolshevik-imitating, old-boy system of choosing Knesset members by party and not by individual merit persists, we are going to continue to feel uncomfortable, frustrated, and many times betrayed by our political leaders. The system guarantees that feeling.

The general tone of the local media is also a symbol of betrayal - betrayal of national values, attitudes and Jewish norms. Television regularly broadcasts programs that can only be considered pornographic. Sexual promiscuity, which these programs portray and subtly encourage, is after all the ultimate form of personal betrayal. I do not encourage censorship of any type, but there should be a sense of public responsibility and the advancement of a better society in the offices of those that decide on television programming.

The lack of civility, the constant invasion of people's privacy, the many stories and scoops ultimately proven to be fabrications or at best misleading, are all part of our daily diet.

Journalism should be free and unfettered. It should also be responsible and civil. If it is not, then I think it betrays its public trust.

It should not encourage anti-social behavior or give voice to all the kooks and extremists who make demonstrations (usually of 30 kids who apparently have little else to do), and it should not continue to unfairly demonize entire sections of our population.

No one likes to feel betrayed, especially by those who claim the right to enjoy our trust. It is not too late to regain that trust.  (Jerusalem Post Feb 22)

Wanted: The Firm Hand of Leadership      By Isi Leibler

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's "address to the nation" did little to lift the depressed mood of most Israelis. But short of a radical change of policy, such an outcome was predictable. Sharon has not been blessed with a Churchillian charisma capable of inspiring a nation with words. 

Israelis are entitled to be depressed; the past 17 months have unquestionably been dreadful. However, despite the daily terrorist outrages, in purely strategic terms we are infinitely more secure than we were during the last months of the chaotic Barak government. Then, Israel's demoralized leaders were making daily concessions without reciprocity to an enemy seeking an end to Jewish statehood, and there were grounds for fearing that Israel was indeed unraveling.

At least now it is clear that Israelis are not about to sell the family silver and hand over the keys of the country. Without minimizing each personal tragedy and realizing that any one of us or our loved ones could be victims of the next attack, for the time being we are still more likely to die in road accidents than by terror. 

The political scene has also undergone a dramatic transformation. President George W. Bush's uncompromising war against terror has resulted in a sea change in policy towards Israel. Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat cannot point to one achievement for his people since he reverted to terrorism. Many Palestinians are beginning to ask whether their self-inflicted pain and suffering has been in any way justified. 

So why do we hear so much doom and gloom? Is it because, until recently, we were hypnotized by the "irreversible peace process?" Is it because after three generations of war, we have become weary and our determination to stand firm eroded? Is it because many young Israelis lack the Zionist passion of their predecessors and some have become infected by the cancer of post-Zionism?

    No doubt many of these elements contribute to our present condition. But the main factor generating frustration and bitterness is, I believe, the vacuum created by the absence of leadership. It is as simple as that! This does not detract from the fact that Sharon has made a major contribution to stabilizing Israel this past year. He inherited a confused, shattered and totally divided country. His achievement in establishing a national-unity government has given us all breathing space, without which we may well have torn ourselves apart.

But now we must confront what is indeed evolving into an existential threat, and Sharon should do more than express pious hopes for unity. He must reassure Israelis that there is a strategy, and an end-game plan, even if he is unable to spell it out explicitly. 

    Paradoxically, today we share a remarkable consensus on the critical issues that face us. Unfortunately this is overshadowed by the frenzied sensationalist-seeking media which highlight the marginal extremists. This not only undermines morale, it also provides the international media with a feast of anti-Israeli material and deludes Palestinians into believing that if they maintain the killings, Israel will follow the Lebanese pattern and give up. 

This is precisely where Sharon, as a wartime prime minister, must seize the reins of national leadership.

To do this there are various steps he must take:

To implement this, he must first overcome his paranoia towards Binyamin Netanyahu - an inhibition that deters him from doing what is in the interests of the country. At such a crucial time personal political considerations should be inconsequential. 

This change in policy might well, at first, create hysteria amongst the noisy minority which still mindlessly continues promoting the Oslo Accords. They will no doubt shriek fascism and threaten to tear the country apart. But this would be their last hurrah since the vast majority of Israelis would support and endorse a firm hand of leadership. 

Sharon must inform all members of his government that if they are unwilling to abide by government policies, they must resign as is the normal procedure in democratic governments. Sharon should make it clear that despite a possible impact on his leadership, he would prefer to see the Knesset dissolved rather than allow the current anarchy to prevail. He would thus demonstrate that there are still leaders willing to promote the interests of the nation above their own political ambitions.   (Jerusalem Post Feb 25)

The writer is senior vice president of the World Jewish Congress.

Expand Settlements     By David M. Weinberg

Military strikes on the Palestinian Authority are insufficient, and buffer zones are a chimera. The current, intolerable wave of terrorism demands an additional Israeli response; a policy that will truly punish, perhaps deter, Yasser Arafat's evil regime. Time to expand and strengthen our settlement presence in Judea and Samaria! Expand settlements, you ask in incredulity, when they are under the sharpest attack ever? Expand settlements - and bring down upon ourselves global condemnation?

Absolutely! Building up the Land of Israel is the right response to Palestinian terrorism. A Zionist response. It's also sweet revenge. In Palestinian eyes, the expansion of settlements is truly punitive; it is the one Israeli policy they fear most.

Understand: I'm not saying that Israel needs another 10 tiny, indefensible outposts near Jenin, nor need we spot isolated caravans around Ramallah. But indeed we ought to selectively strengthen the Israeli foothold in areas of national consensus and strategic importance across Judea and Samaria.

Fight fire with fire. The terrorists want to chase us off this land; in response, let's lay stake to more land each time they fire a shot.

Consider the alternatives. The government is not about to nuke Gaza nor retake Nablus. Sharon and Peres are running out of abandoned PA police buildings to bomb. They might try razing Palestinian homes that give shelter to terrorists, but our magnificent High Court of Justice is now blocking just such a demolition order. Remember too: The last significant demolition operation carried out, in Rafah, brought us more trouble than it was worth.

"Inhumane" it was, said the Left.

More roadblocks and the digging of trenches? Well, each group of soldiers manning a roadblock now has become a target in itself. Both needy Palestinian day laborers and the depraved suicide bombers somehow manage to get across the "seam." I doubt that "buffer zones" are likely to help much.

Then, there's Ariel Sharon's la-la idea to build a fence or a wall around Jerusalem. Don't forget the moat with crocodiles in it. Seriously: If such a fence is to be built, better that we should pre-dig the tunnels underneath it. That way, the IDF will know exactly where to look for Palestinian infiltrators.

The wall could be useful for two additional reasons. Its height would provide Palestinian gunners with a known trajectory, so that appropriate shooting angles can be calculated in advance for each weapon type - Iranian mortars, home-made Kassam rockets, Hizbullah-supplied Katyusha rockets, etc. Jews may yet need the new edifice as an alternative Western Wall, particularly if Barak, Beilin, or Ben-Ami returns to power.

It certainly makes no sense to hand over more land to the PA, because appeasement is the worst policy and Arafat's terrorist gangs already have enough maneuvering room. Instead, with every terrorist outrage, we should take over more land, and build, build, build.

It is in our national interest to develop the French Hill-to-Ma'aleh Adumim continuum on Jerusalem's northeastern flank; to expand Givat Ze'ev southward to Ramot; to build Har Homa II; and to complete the eastern ring road - all of which will strengthen our hold on Israel's historic national capital.

It is in our national interest to promote settlement growth in the Jordan Valley, using economic incentives to attract new residents, and providing the financing to help kibbutzim in this strategic sector fill in the gaps between their farms.

It is in our national interest to "thicken" and promote rapid "natural growth" in the string of wonderful communities that line the Samarian ridge overlooking Gush Dan - from Alfei Menashe through Peduel, down to Nili and Kiryat Sefer.

The same expansion arguments hold true for the Dolev-Talmon bloc, which sits on the critical Yarkon-Taninim aquifer; as well as settlements in the southern Hebron Hills, from Eshkolot to Carmel, which are but a few minutes away from Beersheba and Arad. We should move rapidly to build the planned Beit Shemesh-Jerusalem mountain highway, intended to swing by Betar and nearby Gush Etzion.

With every terrorist outrage, the government should speed-up construction, increase the building budget, expropriate more "Palestinian" land, and ever more grandly celebrate the start of each new neighborhood. With fanfare. International and Palestinian press invited.

A policy of proud settlement in response to terrorism - alongside continuing military action where possible - will allow our country to regain the initiative, to recover from a dangerous loss of self-confidence, and to exact a real price from the Palestinians for their recalcitrance and barbarity.

And if it scares a sobered Palestinian leadership back to the negotiating table, so be it.    (Jerusalem Post Feb 24)

The writer is director of public affairs at Bar-Ilan University's Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.

How Do We Cope? Less and Less Every Day   By Yossi Klein Halevi

JERUSALEM -- Until a few weeks ago, this was a city pretending to be normal. We managed our daily routines around sporadic terror attacks, the inevitable price we told ourselves for living in a city blessed and cursed with an excess of history.

But after the recent wave of suicide bombings and shootings, and almost daily attempts by terrorists to strike again, Jerusalemites have finally conceded that we are a city at war.

Daily life has itself become the threat: a crowded street corner, an outing at a pizza shop, a bat mitzvah celebration. It is a war without limits: This month, terrorists broke into a house in the Jordan Valley and killed a woman and her 11-year-old handicapped daughter as the child tried to crawl away. Until recently, my wife and I attempted to confine our two teenage children to areas we assumed were less likely to become targets. But in the last weeks our children have had so many close calls that we've stopped trying to outguess the terrorists. There is nowhere to run.

The other day my family, seeking respite, went to the botanical gardens overlooking the tent-shaped hills of the Judean desert.

Almost as soon as we arrived, we heard an ambulance siren. Instinctively, my wife and I began to silently count. By the third siren, we knew. Afterward we learned that a suicide bomber, stopped by a police roadblock on his way to Jerusalem, had blown himself up and killed a policeman, just up the road from where we were strolling.

How do you cope, ask friends from abroad. The answer is: less and less. Living under sustained terrorism creates an emotional circle from dread to fatalism to numbness, back to dread.

After 18 months of accelerating terrorist attacks, this is a nation in despair.

Until the Oslo peace process, Israelis were sustained by the hope that the Arab world would ultimately accept our existence. But now we increasingly ask ourselves whether the Middle East will ever tolerate the lone non-Arab state in its midst.

Having offered to end the occupation, only to be confronted with the worst wave of terrorism in our terror-saturated history, Israelis no longer believe in a negotiated peace. Even the left now calls for "separation"--unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank, an admission that a deal cannot be reached with Yasser Arafat's regime. Still, separation, however tempting, isn't a solution but a desperate impulse. Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon nearly two years ago encouraged the Palestinians to mimic the fundamentalist Hezbollah and launch the current intifada. Withdrawal under fire from the territories would only encourage the terrorists to pursue their war against the Jewish "occupation" of the rest of what they call Palestine and we call Israel.

The threats are gathering from every direction. If the United States attacks Iraq, warns Israeli military intelligence, Saddam Hussein will almost certainly retaliate against us. The Israeli army is quietly preparing for a nonconventional missile attack on our cities.

Hezbollah has begun shooting at Israeli planes flying within our airspace along the northern border. And Turkish police have arrested three Al Qaeda operatives, apparently on their way to a planned attack in Tel Aviv.

The army's chief chaplain, expecting massive casualties in the coming months, plans to train volunteers to assist rabbis in Jewish burial procedures, recalling the weeks before the 1967 Six-Day War, when the army, fearing an Arab invasion, dug trenches in public parks for possible use as mass graves.

If Arafat's terrorist war does evolve into a wider Arab assault, including attempts to wipe out Israeli cities, that escalation will have its own terrible logic. For the terrorist act is an expression of the genocidal impulse, a small pre-enactment of mass murder.

Ironically, perhaps, the very realization that we face an enemy whose goal isn't to live beside us but instead of us helps us persevere through yet another day.    (Los Angeles Times Feb 21)

The writer is the Israel correspondent for the New Republic and a senior writer for the Jerusalem Report.

The Terrorist's Best Friend     By Robert Tracinski

The events of the past few weeks in Israel have offered a timeless lesson on the real cause of terrorism and the real meaning of the "peace process."

The pattern of these events is crystal clear: Yasser Arafat and his Palestinian Authority have escalated their war against Israel, while loudly demanding that Israel renounce "military solutions" and return to the "peace process." It is a brazen attempt to wage an all-out war while urging the victims to disarm themselves.

It is important to grasp the nature of the recent escalation in the Palestinian war effort. A little more than a week ago, an Israeli tank was destroyed when it was lured over a mine made from 80 pounds of powerful C4 explosives -- not exactly a homemade weapon cooked up by disaffected youngsters in a refugee camp. Early this week, a squad of Palestinian militants killed six off-duty soldiers asleep in their bunks at an Israeli checkpoint. This was not a suicide attack, but rather a carefully planned commando raid carried out by the al-Aqsa militia, a branch of Yasser Arafat's own Fatah political faction. Over the past few weeks, Palestinians have also begun pelting Israel with Qassam 2 rockets, which have a range of up to 5 miles and carry a destructive power equivalent to a 122 mm mortar.

All of this comes after the capture of the Karine A, a Palestinian ship caught smuggling $50 million of Iranian military weapons into Gaza. Taken together, all of these events make it clear that the Palestinian "uprising" is an all-out military campaign that is increasingly taking on the character of conventional warfare.

But while the Palestinians treat this like a war, they urge the Israelis to do the opposite. Palestinian official Jibril Rajoub rails: "Not security, not the military, not the siege, and no F-16 fighter planes will assure the Israelis security and stability; only a negotiated political settlement will bring peace and security." In other words, war is a practical plan for the Palestinians, but not for the Israelis.

The immediate goal is to gull Israel into a dishonest Saudi "peace plan" that would give Arafat his own independent state and force Israel to withdraw to its fragile pre-1967 borders, in exchange for an Arab promise to be nice -- the same kind of promise Arafat made in 1993. But these calls for a "political solution" also have a broader purpose: to keep Israel committed to the "peace process" -- the structure on which Arafat's war strategy is based.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the alleged hawk, has proven to be a prisoner of the "peace process," responding to Palestinian attacks with a series of pin-prick retaliatory strikes against mostly empty Palestinian police buildings and political offices. Asked why he won't do more -- why he won't dismantle the Palestinian Authority and cut off terrorism at its source -- Sharon declares that he "will not drag Israel into an all-out war."

This answer is revealing, because it is obvious that the Palestinians are already at war with Israel. What Sharon really means is that Israel won't wage war in return. And that is what Arafat is counting on.

Terrorism is a form of warfare waged by the weak. Arafat knows that his Palestinian Authority would not survive for 48 hours in direct conflict with an unrestrained Israeli army. So instead, he wages war through semi-official proxies, through the militias and terrorist networks that he tolerates and supports. But this strategy can only work if Israel agrees not to recognize that this is war. Terrorism can only work against a victim who refuses to fight back.

What kind of country refuses to answer war with war? A country paralyzed by pacifism. For decades, Israel has been bombarded by the dogmas of the "peace movement" -- both from the Israeli left and from the acolytes of pacifism in the diplomatic community, especially in Europe. The fundamental dogma of the "peace movement" is that those who initiate a war and those who fight to defend themselves are equally guilty, that they are both responsible for a "cycle of violence" that can only be halted through negotiation and appeasement.

Thus, Arafat's strategy: unleash a terrorist war; use the "peace process" to keep Israel from fighting back; then terrorize Israel into a "political solution" that gives him more concessions and more territory -- which Arafat will use to launch a new war to eliminate Israel altogether.

What makes this war strategy work? Only one thing: the "peace movement."

The peacenik is the terrorist's best friend.  (Capitalism Magazine Feb 25)


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