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 8, 2002
Issue number 369

Commentary...

The Jewish People Will Prevail By  Michael Freund

This past weekend, Palestinian terrorists murdered 22 Israelis over a 24-hour period. The devastating toll in human lives, which included several young children killed in Jerusalem by a suicide bomber, as well as 10 soldiers and civilians who were shot to death by a Palestinian sniper near Ofra, has left the nation shaken and in despair.

To lose so many people, so quickly and so brutally, is a grave blow, one which only adds to our sense of vulnerability and gloom.

As if to further deepen our anguish, Palestinian terrorists struck again on Tuesday, killing three people in the heart of Tel Aviv, blowing up a bus in Afula, and murdering a motorist near Efrat. And according to the security services, there is still more to come.

Holed up in Ramallah, Yasser Arafat no doubt follows the news with delight. His minions of death have sowed destruction and terror, wreaking havoc on the lives of innocent Jews and their families and making a mockery of Ariel Sharon's campaign promises of peace and security.

And while Arafat is busy plotting the next round of atrocities, Israel's leadership continues to argue among itself, unable to present a united front even as the bullets whiz overhead and the bombs detonate all around.

At times such as these, a nation looks to its leaders, grasping to understand not only why this is happening, but perhaps more importantly, how to stop it. We do not expect them to have all the answers, but we certainly expect them to offer us some kind of encouragement, a few words of wisdom that will reassure us regarding the future.

Sadly, it seems our politicians are incapable of fulfilling even this most rudimentary of tasks.

Take Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, the mastermind of Oslo. At the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, Peres stood his ground, insisting that Israel continue talking with the leadership of the Palestinian Authority despite the mounting death toll from terror. "We must give hope to the 3.5 million Palestinians," Peres reportedly said.

To which I cannot help but respond: And what about giving some hope to the 5 million Israeli Jews, Mr. Peres? Isn't it time we start worrying a little more about ourselves and a little less about our neighbors' hopes and aspirations?

Even more troubling is the response of prominent politicians such as Meretz MK Yossi Sarid, who almost instinctively invoke the "blame it on the Jews" theory whenever a Palestinian terror attack occurs.

Here is what Sarid said after the weekend attacks in Jerusalem and Ofra: "So long as the occupation continues, the terror will continueÉ There is no nation in the world that, through capitulation, will accept upon itself foreign rule. The Palestinians are no different in this regard."

Not a word of condemnation for the murder of Jewish children, nor even an expression of criticism. Indeed, it almost sounds as if Sarid were trying to justify Palestinian terror.

Remarks such as these only serve to strengthen the resolve of Arafat and his gang, who see how easy it is to provoke discord among Israel's leadership. Since one of Arafat's aims is to break Israel's will and bring the country to its knees, he no doubt views such declarations as signs that he is nearing his goal.

But what Arafat and his henchmen fail to realize is that while they may succeed in killing a lot of people and confusing some of our politicians, they will never succeed in shattering our national determination or resolve. The Jewish people is indestructible. We have survived history's greatest tyrants and fiends, and we will survive Arafat too.

We did not return home from the graveyards of the exile to go down in defeat in our own land. In the struggle with the Palestinians, the Jews have the home-field advantage, and let no one think that we will go down in defeat.

Events may depress us, and our leadership may fail to inspire us, but our spirit can never be broken. We have not lost faith in the justness of our cause, and no human force can prevent us from fulfilling our national destiny.

Time and again, throughout history, the Jews have had their backs against the wall, their very existence imperiled by a merciless foe. Now we again find ourselves in just such a situation. It may take months, or even years, for the crisis to end, but of one thing we can all be certain: Ultimately, the Jewish people will prevail. (Jerusalem Post Mar 6)

The writer served as deputy director of communications and policy planning in the Prime Minister's Office from 1996 to 1999.

Ariel Bombs: The Israeli prime minister's fatal hesitation.   By Tom Rose

To understand why Ariel Sharon's first year as Israel's prime minister may not be followed by a second, one need look no further back than February 21. After months of virtual silence, Sharon addressed his people in a nationally televised address following the worst week of violence in the 16 months since Yasser Arafat launched his terrorist war against Israeli civilians.

What did the legendary warrior turned prime minister plan to do to fight the terrorism that was engulfing the country? Sharon had been elected in February 2001 by one of the most lopsided margins in Israeli history, crushing Ehud Barak after the disastrous policy of appeasing Arab and Palestinian demands had exploded in Barak's face in September 2000. The outcome of the election had very little to do with Sharon himself and everything to do with the actions of others, especially Barak, Arafat, and Bill Clinton.

Sharon's campaign--foreshadowing his premiership--was largely invisible. He said little and promised less. His few public appearances were tightly scripted to keep him far from the press. This defensive strategy was wise. Why risk a huge and growing lead by exposing a gaffe-prone candidate who just six months before had been considered unelectable and hugely unpopular?

But what worked in February 2001 was proving ruinous in February 2002. Leaders are expected to lead, especially in times of crisis, and Israel's crisis has been getting graver. The days leading up to Sharon's February 21 address were filled with despondency and gloom. Normally resilient Israelis, who pride themselves on needing nothing, least of all hand-holding, from a political class they hold in contempt, were eager to hear from their leader that their cause was not lost, that Israel was not a ship without a captain.

Rather than address the people directly from his office, Sharon opted to speak in the Israeli equivalent of the White House press room, addressing a roomful of journalists. He approached the podium looking tired, even slightly disoriented. It was but the prelude.

No, Sharon confessed, he didn't have a plan to stop Palestinian terrorism, and Israelis who criticized him for it were disloyal. Nothing could be done, he implied, because his hands were tied by forces much stronger than he. Stammering through his text, a prime minister once synonymous with bullish  Zionism delivered one of the most devastating lines in the history of Israeli politics: "Israel is not collapsing." His speech designed to outline his government's approach to a war against Israelis never used the word "victory."

That Sharon's speech had been a debacle was immediately reflected in the polls. The extraordinarily large television audience, which had come looking to be uplifted, was left reeling. In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, a senior Bush administration official wondered whether Israel's lack of resolve, personified in Sharon, weakened Israel as an American ally. Had Sharon been prime minister of Britain in 1940, one Israeli commentator remarked matter-of-factly in his post-address analysis, Britain would have fallen to the Nazis.

Before the night was out, Sharon's approval rating had dropped below 35 percent. Commentators were speculating how long the country could tolerate him at the helm.

In the days since February 21, Israelis have seen fresh evidence that it isn't their country that is rotting, just their leadership. While still not permitted to end the Arafat regime or to destroy the terrorist organizations at his command, the Israeli Defense Forces have continued to demonstrate tactical proficiency in the limited operations to capture or kill specific terrorist leaders on which they have been permitted to embark.

But if Sharon withholds the order to destroy Arafat's regime, this is not because he thinks it can't be done, or because he thinks it wrong. All evidence leads to the conclusion that Sharon, of all people, realizes the only path to peace is the destruction, by force if necessary, of terrorist organizations and infrastructure. He knows that movement toward any lasting settlement is impossible while the Palestinians are led by a dictator committed to Israel's destruction and bred on a culture that glorifies hatred and murder. Sharon's own deputy prime minister, Natan Sharansky, vigorously argues that Israel must demand a fundamental change in the way Palestinians govern themselves in order to have any hope of solving this conflict.

So why does Sharon hesitate? The reason, unfortunately, seems to be personal ambition. Sharon spent three decades in pursuit of the office he now occupies. Were he to forcefully wage war against the Palestinian Authority that sponsors and shelters the terrorists, his foreign minister, Shimon Peres, would defect, and the government would fall. New elections would almost certainly mean a new prime minister, since everyone expects that Bibi Netanyahu would defeat Sharon in the Likud party primary. The irony is that, if Sharon acted boldly and decisively, he might so change the political dynamic that Netanyahu might be unable to run. And if Sharon fails to act boldly, he is likely to fall anyway, perhaps because of defections from his right and from Sharansky.

But Sharon remains paralyzed. A phony Saudi peace "plan" therefore fills the vacuum he has created, allowing the world to forget who is responsible for the terror, and encouraging elements in the Bush administration to fall back into the grip of the "peace process," thus relegitimizing Arafat's Palestinian Authority. And Israel remains without real leadership.(Weekly Standard March 11)

The writer is publisher of the Jerusalem Post.

Saudi Peace ShamBy Charles Krauthammer

In 35 years of studying the Middle East, I have rarely seen anything to rival the Saudi "peace plan" for cynicism (of those pushing the plan) and gullibility (of those buying it). If it were not so tragic it would be comic. Israeli civilians are being blown up almost daily in restaurants, at bus stops, at prayer. Retaliatory attacks are launched by the hour. A new "peace plan" is then floated whose essence is this: When peace is achieved between the two parties killing each other on the ground, the Saudis will give it their blessing and make peace too.

Forgive me, but this is entirely beside the point. The point is not what the Arab states will do after peace dawns -- And what would they do? Keep the war going after the Palestinians make peace? -- but to find a way to stop the violence today.

Apart from the fact that the plan is an obvious Saudi ploy to blunt American anger at the shockingly deep Saudi role in Sept. 11 by posing as peacemakers, apart from the fact that it gives make-work to U.N., EU and other underemployed diplomats with not an idea in their heads how to stop the violence, the plan has a very specific objective: misdirection. The plan -- a repetition of maximal Arab demands from which they have not budged in two decades -- is a transparent attempt to take world attention away from the source of the violence.

Ever since the devastating suicide bombings of Dec. 1 and 2 in Jerusalem and Haifa that murdered 25 Israelis, world attention has been on Yasser Arafat. Shortly before Dec. 1, the Bush administration had bent to Arab demands and became seriously reinvolved in brokering peace, explicitly advocating a Palestinian state and sending a special envoy, Gen. Anthony Zinni, to lead the negotiations. Zinni arrived in Jerusalem and was greeted by an orgy of Palestinian violence.

A furious and embarrassed U.S. administration then insisted that Arafat re-arrest the terrorists he had deliberately released from jail at the beginning of the intifada and crack down on the terrorist infrastructure that he had made common cause with under the umbrella of the "National and Islamic Forces." Even the European Union, normally a wholly owned subsidiary of the Arab League, agreed.

It is three months later and Arafat has done nothing. On the contrary. The suicide bombings are coming with increasing frequency and with ever-increasing adulation in Arafat's media and propaganda. More ambushes, more bombings, more missiles, more bloodshed.

Everyone knows that if Arafat would call a stop, Israel would reciprocate. But for 17 months, he has refused. Why? Because he is winning. Israel is bleeding, demoralized, leaderless, economically devastated. Arafat knows that he may yet get what he wants -- unilateral withdrawal. For Arafat, such an Israeli capitulation, mirroring its capitulation in Lebanon, would be the sweetest of victories: land without peace.

He has a serious obstacle, however. American pressure. How to relieve it? Change the subject. Make the issue not the Palestinian campaign of terror but newfound Saudi peacefulness.

What is the key symbol of the U.S. pressure on Arafat? Its support of Israel's confinement of Arafat to his headquarters in Ramallah until he shuts down the terror. What then do you imagine is the newest key demand of the Saudi plan? You guessed it. On Monday, Palestinian Planning Minister Nabil Shaath, who had just met with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, revealed that the Saudis would refuse to present the plan to the Arab League meeting in Beirut on March 27-28 -- unless Arafat is allowed to attend.

The clouds part. The fog lifts. The peace plan turns out to be a device for springing Arafat from his confinement -- without having acceded to U.S. demands to shut down the terror. His resumption of globe-trotting would publicly demonstrate his successful defiance of the American effort to stop the violence. (President Hosni Mubarak's invitation yesterday to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for a summit in Egypt -- on condition that Arafat attend as well -- dovetails perfectly with the Saudi breakout strategy for Arafat.)

It would be a spectacular diplomatic victory -- a triumphal return to Beirut to a thunderous reception from his fellow Arabs -- and dramatic vindication of his policy of the past two years: rejecting Israel's Camp David 2000 peace offer, tearing up the Oslo accords, then waging terror and guerrilla war. Such success for his war policy is guaranteed to increase the violence.

The audacity of this maneuver is breathtaking. But why not? It is working. The New York Times bought the Saudi peace plan (last Sunday alone, lavishing two feature stories and nearly a dozen photographs over five pages). The Europeans bought it. The diplomatic-media complex bought it. All that stands in the way of pulling this off is for the Bush administration to buy it.

Thus far and to its credit, the administration has not. But the pressure to cave, already applied by the visiting Mubarak, is growing. It must be resisted. This phony plan will do nothing but relieve the pressure on Arafat to stop the war. (Washington Post Mar 6)

The Media and the Middle East Jerusalem Post Editorial 

The question of how the international media choose to cover events in the Middle East has long been an irksome issue for Israel and its supporters. Home to one of the largest contingents of foreign journalists in the world, Israel all too often finds itself under the media's magnifying glass, a frequent subject of unflattering, and even biased, coverage. While there are many reporters who work hard to provide balanced and objective views of the situation on the ground, others sadly seem to employ willful misrepresentations and even distortions, in the process betraying not only their craft, but their audiences as well.

Unfortunately, examples of such chicanery abound. After Wafa Idris, a female Palestinian suicide bomber, blew herself up in downtown Jerusalem on January 27, murdering an 81-year old Israeli man and wounding over 150 others, New York Times reporter James Bennet wrote a profile of Idris which seemed designed to elicit sympathy for her. It describes Idris as someone who "raised doves and adored children" and who had "chestnut hair curling past her shoulders." Bennet's account portrays Idris, whose goal was to murder as many innocent Israelis as possible, as a victim of "hardship," and closes with a description of her mother bursting into tears. Rarely, it should be noted, have such moving accounts appeared about any of the nearly 300 Israelis killed by Palestinian terrorists in the past 17 months.

In addition to sins of commission, the media frequently commit sins of omission, when important contextual facts are left out, either through sloppiness or by design. An article posted on the CNN Web site on February 17, for example, reported that "Israeli police shot and killed a Palestinian in a gun battle Sunday near an army base in northern Israel, and another Palestinian died nearby when a car exploded, a police spokesman said." What the article failed to note was that the two Palestinians in question were in fact terrorists attempting to carry out a double-suicide bombing, which was fortunately thwarted by the police. This detail, when left out of the story by CNN, leaves the reader with an entirely different understanding of what occurred. Similar shenanigans can also be found in other prominent news outlets as well. On January 28, a Palestinian driving a stolen vehicle went on a rampage for several hours, intentionally running down a soldier and a policeman before being shot after a high-speed car chase. The headline in the Times of London the next day read, "Palestinian shot dead in Tel Aviv," giving the cursory reader the false impression that yet another innocent Palestinian had been killed by those nasty Israelis.

It is easy to dismiss such occurrences as inconsequential, for why should it matter what people abroad may think about how Israel handles the crisis with the Palestinians? Such an approach, however, is both short-sighted and self-defeating. Words and ideas are what move people to action, and in this respect the media enjoy immense power to shape attitudes and policy, often wielding considerable influence over decision-makers in Washington and elsewhere. For many years, Israel devoted far too little effort to polishing its image in the Western media, leaving the playing-field open to the Palestinians, who have succeeded in exploiting it to their advantage. The government must redouble its efforts in this regard, and work more aggressively to counter anti-Israel propaganda and media bias abroad.

An important conference being convened today at the College of Judea and Samaria in Ariel addresses just this issue. Titled "Media Accuracy and the Middle East," the conference is being held in honor of former Jerusalem Post editor and media critic David Bar-Illan, who was one of the pioneers in exposing and combating media bias toward Israel. The conference is a fitting tribute to Bar-Illan, whose regular "Eye on the Media" column took aim at media inconsistencies, inventions, and injustice, setting the record straight when others refused to do so. 

While his insistence on truth and accuracy in reporting was not always welcome by the subjects of his columns, Bar-Illan was unwavering in his commitment, never shying away from a good, old-fashioned exchange of views. Though Bar-Illan's pen has been silenced due to illness, the launching of this conference, which aims to become an annual event, will ensure that the cause which David Bar-Illan championed with such passion and skill - that of monitoring the media and keeping them honest - will endure.   (Jerusalem Post Mar 8)

Routine Madness:   By Andrea Simantov

On the night of the Beit Yisroel bombing, seven-year-old Tehilah walked into the room where we were watching television and said, quietly, "I'm scared."   Thirteen year old Netanel said to her, "Tehilah, it was a small bomb.  Just a lot of noise and excitement.  It couldn't happen near us.  Don't worry."  Regardless of the accuracy of this information, can one imagine a world in which thirteen year old boys have to provide psychological succor for younger siblings based on their own maturity and grasp of the situation?This violence and fear serve as fundamental nutrients for the Middle Eastern 'survival diet' and, keeping in lock-step with our neighbors' agenda, we outfit these same young boys with protective firearms just a few years later. 

And expect them to use them only under threat of death. 

And we bury these same boys. 

Every day. 

We live in a Jewish country where we've grown deaf to the screams of Jewish mothers . . . . . .

Thus we go to sleep on just another terror-filled night only to awaken to brilliant sunshine which offers another day of hope and the potential that someone on the Arab side will 'buck the tide' and behave with clarity and speak with wisdom.  And because of the previous night's death toll the day has to be slightly altered so that your child's regular tutor can go to her cousin's funeral and may or may not be in condition to teach that afternoon.

The children go to school and I shout, 'be careful' but it is just white-noise added to the Jerusalem buzz of birds chirping and sirens blaring.  Laundry is hung, customers attended to and all the while the ambulances stand on high alert at  strategic intersections of the city, better able to reach some of the odder, potential bomb-sites.  Tehilah comes home and we dress for her dance recital.  And just like mothers everywhere I worry that she has enough snacks, that her sweater is warm enough and, suddenly, I remember to remind her that she must wear socks whenever she isn't on stage.  I'm a lucky mother.  There are women just like me who birthed and loved with equal fervor but no longer have a child to hug and remind to keep their feet covered.

It is the Middle East and yet we still exercise the genteel behaviors which tell us to brush our teeth, tip after a fine meal and bring flowers to the performer.  Life here doesn't often offer the opportunity to 'stand back' and assess, determine what is crazy and what is normal and what is survival and which rules keep us grounded and part of the human family.  Often I find myself chuckling and saying, in a faux British accent, "We must keep up appearances!"

Lovers still stroll, arms intertwined or hands possessively inserted into the back-pocket of a lover.  Usually oblivious to these sights I find myself looking and sighing - - somewhat envious - - at the blind optimism which is so often associated with romance.  Insulated from war's havoc, people plan weddings and order dresses and hammer out the intricacies of joining their finances.  But so many of the dead are the age of lovers.  What happens to a nation when fiancees are left holding parcels filled only with dreams?

My daily prayers have grown so hard-edged.  So challenging.  As if I could ward-off an evil decree by virtue of a tear or a shaking, air-borne fist.  Interspersed with the routine requests for the nation as a whole I pray for no surprises.  That the day, please God, close as quietly as it has opened.  No 'bad' phone calls.  No police knocking on the door.  No medics waiting with a tranquilizer-filled hypodermic needle.  It has happened to many.  It has happened to so, so many. 

There but for the grace of God go all of us.   (NaomiRagen.com Mar 4)

Threaten Arafat's PowerJerusalem Post  Editorial 

According to the Voice of Palestineâ the terrorist who detonated himself in a crowd of women and babies outside a synagogue in Jerusalem on Saturday night carried out "an operation of heroic martyrdom." Israel is not helpless in the face of this barbarism, but acting helplessly will surely cause terror to continue and to escalate.

It is ironic - and dangerous - that Israel under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has come to symbolize helplessness in the face of terrorism. If there were anything that Israel stood for in the mind of the world, it was a scrappy little country that would take no guff. Israel would go anywhere and do anything to fight terrorism and rescue Jews.

In the past, with the raid on Entebbe, the strike on Iraq's Osirak reactor, and the crushing of the PLO mini-state in Lebanon, Israel muscularly rejected the notion that international law protected terrorists and tyrants.

At those times, other Western nations, including the United States, clucked in disapproval. Now the tables have turned. It is the United States that has boldly rejected the right of dangerous regimes to plot their next atrocity with impunity, and has begun, in Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's phrase, to "lean forward" in defending itself.

While Israel does not have to reclaim the lead in the war on terrorism from the United States, we cannot afford to fall behind. The cardinal rule of the post-September 11 world order being established by US President George W. Bush is that the price of supporting terrorism is regime change. In the case of Yasser Arafat, Sharon and Bush hoped they could make a temporary exception, in order to go after an even bigger fish - Saddam Hussein. But maintaining a pre-September 11 enclave of tolerance for terrorism, even temporarily, does not contribute to this larger fight and in fact could threaten it.

At the moment, our media are rife with speculation that the IDF's operations in two Palestinian refugee camps "caused" a resumption of suicide attacks in Israel and firing on the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo. But the question is not what Palestinian escalation is arbitrarily tied to what Israeli action, but why the Palestinians feel such freedom to escalate in the first place.

The dirty little secret of Israel's war on terrorism is that Israel is not systematically threatening what matters most to Yasser Arafat: the illegal army that maintains his control. Israel has hesitated because this army (called "police") has participated in terrorism only on a freelance basis and Israel still hopes that someday it will be used to disarm Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

It is understandable that Israel has been very reluctant to truly engage the Palestinian forces that have generally stayed out of attacks on Israelis. This quiet bargain, however, is no longer tenable. Israel must present Arafat and the more "moderate" commanders under him with a "use it or lose it" dilemma: Either they use their forces to end terrorism or they will come under attack. If the Palestinian side believes that the forces that are the backbone of the Palestinian Authority and Arafat personally are threatened, there will be a sudden Palestinian interest in a real cease-fire with Israel.

The many voices claiming that there is no military solution are dead wrong. The opposite is much closer to the truth. The non-military solution has another name: it is called surrender. Surrender - or as Yossi Sarid puts it, "only ending the occupation will end terrorism" - will not bring peace.

Fleeing the territories as Israel fled Lebanon will only bring an even more intractable war. The only way we can safely leave some of the disputed territories is by agreement - after defeating those who are attacking us. Defeating our attackers means proving that they have no military solution and that their only alternative is an arrangement compatible with Israel's security.

All of this was true before September 11, but it is even more so afterward. In the first few weeks after the attack on America, Israelis were appalled when it seemed that our conflict might be treated as an exception to the ban on regimes that harbor terrorism. Bush has since made it clear that there is no such exception, but Israel's actions say otherwise. Sharon must say to Bush that he did his best to refrain from threatening Arafat's power, but granting immunity to Arafat's regime has backfired. The longer Arafat is treated as an exception to the new world order, the harder it will be establish that order, and the greater the threat to both Israel and the United States.  (Jerusalem Post Mar 4)

I’ve Had EnoughBy Michael Coren

I’ve had enough. Of the distortions, the hatreds, the fashionable politics. about Israel and the Middle East. Had enough of the moral equivalents and the double standards. So it’s time to make my stand, and prepare for the dark cascade of threatening and abusive e-mails that will surely follow.

The Arab world is almost without exception composed of dictatorships where human rights are suppressed and democracy ignored.  Syria, Libya, Iraq and Saudi Arabia are ruled by family or military despots. Egypt persecutes its minorities, suffocates free speech and spreads international anti-semitism.

The Gulf states are medieval, Lebanon is controlled by brutal Syria while the liberal world says nothing and Iran, whilst not Arabic but part of the Islamic purview, murders opponents, treats women appallingly, and smuggles guns to terrorists so as to kill children.

The Palestinians? They have suffered dreadfully for years now, but have to stop obsessively blaming Israel and look for more complete solutions. The Jewish state was established because the land was, simply, Jewish land. Jews had never left, even though the majority were forcibly removed by the Romans. Jews remained through centuries of Moslem invasion, Ottoman rule, British occupation.

Zionism always existed. It became a more potent political force, however, in the late nineteenth-century because of the mass killing of Jews in Poland and Russia, the persecution in France, Italy and elsewhere. Nothing new of course. They killed them in England in the thirteenth-century, in Spain in the fifteenth. Killed them everywhere.

So waves of Jewish immigrants purchased land from local Arabs who didn’t even always refer to the region by name. Palestine was a Roman word for the area inhabited by the ancient Jewish people. More Jews arrived, often with the support of the Arabs with whom they lived in relative peace. There were even cases of mayors being Arab, deputy mayors Jewish, and visa-versa.

Then the world decides to kill Jews again. Six million this time. After the Second World the United Nations votes to establish Israel, something that would probably have happened earlier if it hadn’t been for the war. Contrary to flabby popular thought in some circles, the vote is supported by the Soviet Union and its Communist allies. The United States, on the other hand, opposes Israel only a few years later in the Suez Crisis.

The Jews are given a small territory. But even so the mighty Arab world invades and swears to make the Middle East Jew-free. A handful of Arab leaders call for coexistence. They are murdered. Israel loses some of what was given to it by the UN but the world does nothing. Yet the Israelis manage to survive, even with the overwhelming numbers and hardware enjoyed by the Arabs.

Decades of wars, terrorism, refusals to meet and discuss. Israel holds out its hand but it is slapped down. Each time the Arab world tries to remove the Jews they, I’m sorry, keep winning. Then come the demands for the conquered land to be returned.  Generally Israel complies, even though victors seldom do so.

And now the deliberate mass slaughter of women and children. Crazed fanatics, their heads and hearts distended with venom and ignorance, blow themselves up in pizza restaurants full of young mums and babies, disco clubs packed with teenagers, in the middle of families with babies and grandparents.

No, Israel does not do the same. Of course innocent Palestinians die, and this is an obscenity. But never does Israel deliberately target children. Apart from the ethical filth involved, it would weaken their case. There is a vital difference between the tragic death of an Arab child caught in crossfire and the deliberate massacre of babies by Palestinian serial killers.

Arab children indoctrinated to hate Jews, forced to play games where they lynch an Israeli soldier, brainwashed into martyrdom. I’ve seen the evidence. Sermons in Mosques shouting for Jews, all Jews, to be ripped apart. Kids in the front of mobs when they should be at home, women suicide bombers blowing Jewish toddlers apart.

Yes of course Israel’s hands are not spotless and of course the refugee camps are appalling. But as I say, I’m tired of the intellectual trash-talk. Stop the terror, seek peace, accept Israel’s existence. And raise your children to work ploughs, not wield swords. Then justice, for all.

The writer is a synicated television talk show host in Toronto.

Land for Peace Is a Losing TradeBy Frank J. Gaffney Jr.

In the past week, Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, Crown Prince Abdullah, has received kudos in Washington, Arab capitals and diplomatic circles around the world for what is characterized as a "new peace initiative" to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Unfortunately, this characterization is so wildly inaccurate as to appear a deliberate fraud.

The so-called Abdullah plan--Arabs would normalize relations with Israel in exchange for the Jewish state surrendering the territory seized after 1967's Six-Day War--is not "new" in any meaningful sense.

The idea of Israel giving up the land it conquered in the course of successive wars waged against it in exchange for a genuine peace with the Arabs has been around at least since the last of those wars ended in 1973. Various U.N. resolutions, numerous shuttle diplomacy missions and the Oslo process have all been predicated on the land-for-peace proposition. Time after time, Israel has agreed to territorial concessions. The resulting dismal experience with each of these ventures has, however, made most Israelis reluctant to buy into such a shopworn idea yet again. Even if the Abdullah plan were a genuinely new concept, it would not be conducive to a lasting peace. Over the past 30 years, Israeli governments of the right and left have recognized that areas of the West Bank have been essential to persuading the Arabs that the "war option" is foreclosed. Should strategic Israeli positions on the high ground above the Jordan Valley, many of which are secured by settlements and military outposts, be surrendered, the Arabs' calculus surely would change.

And despite the interest expressed by President Bush this week, the Abdullah plan cannot accurately be called an "initiative" either. The Saudi king-in-waiting apparently has not decided to formally introduce his plan at an upcoming Arab League summit. There also have been differing reports of the plan's particulars.

The real impetus behind the Abdullah plan seems to be a cynical bid to divert increasingly critical American attention from the Saudi kingdom's double game. The Saudis have been portrayed as one of the United States' most reliable allies in the region. At the same time, the royal family has patronized Wahhabism, the virulently radical strain of Islam that has brought the world Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda terrorist cells, most of the Sept. 11 hijackers and a worldwide network of madrasas, or religious schools, busily indoctrinating young Muslims to hate and attack Western infidels. It also has become clear that Saudi Arabia is perfectly willing from time to time to increase oil prices at the expense of world economies and to impose restrictions on U.S. use of Saudi bases.

In the months since Sept. 11, a growing chorus on Capitol Hill, in the press and even in some quarters of the Bush administration, has shown that American patience with the Saudis is wearing thin. One suspects that Abdullah saw the need for a "charm offensive" in the form of a new peace initiative for the Middle East.

To be sure, Israel has no good options at the moment. The same applies to the U.S., as one of Israel's few friends and its principal ally. Among the worst of the available options, though, would be for either Israel or the U.S. to embrace a warmed-over--and thoroughly discredited--effort to strip the Jewish state of land it requires for its own defense.

There can be no guarantees that despotically governed Arab states--especially Saudi Arabia--would live up to their part of the bargain any more than they have in the past. Even if today's rulers promise to do so, their successors cannot be relied upon to follow suit.

There is much that Saudi Arabia can and should do, from opening up its bases to a needed U.S.-led effort to end Saddam Hussein's misrule, to shutting down its madrasas, to providing humanitarian relief and job opportunities to Palestinians whom their Arab brothers see fit to keep rotting in refugee centers.

As far as the Abdullah plan goes, though, the American and Israeli response should be the same: "Thanks, but no, thanks."   (LA Times Mar 27)

The writer, who held senior positions in the Reagan Defense Department, is president of the Center for Security Policy in Washington.


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