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

June 15, 2001
Issue number 331

Events...

Sunday June 17, 2-5:00pm

Aish Toronto’s Kids for Israel Carnival & Bazaar at Westmount C.I., Bathurst and New Westminister.

 

 

News...

Settlers: Tenet Plan Amounts to Our 'Abandonment'

As details of the cease-fire proposal accepted by Israel and the Palestinians surfaced, Israeli residents in Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip declared that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's agreement to the conditions meant the "abandonment of Jewish residents to Arafat's terrorists, and the continuation of the spilling of Jewish blood." The rejection of the cease-fire by Hamas, the Fatah Tanzim and Islamic Jihad did nothing to allay their fears, with those groups vowing to continue the intifada and resistance until the occupation ends. Jewish leaders and the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza warned that Jewish residents of the territories would take over every army post vacated by soldiers. "The posts were established in areas where terrorist attacks occurred and allowed the army to monitor the roads and highways and enhance security of the Jewish residents traveling on them," said Yehudit Tayar the Council's spokeswoman and foreign press aide. Pinhas Wallerstein, head of the Binyamin Regional Council, declared "every spot that serves the security needs of residents will be taken over by us if the army evacuates them," he said. Council leaders meanwhile expressed outrage over the conditions Israel accepted, noting that the IDF's hands have been tied. Council leaders called on Sharon to fullfill his mandate to protect all citizens of Israel and crush the terror. "If the army receives information of a terrorist planning to perpetrate an attack, instead of targeting him we are forbidden to act. Soldiers will stand trial for their actions if they are suspected of mistreating Palestinians. No one will collect the mass illegal weapons stockpiled by the Palestinian Authority, and in addition Israel has agreed to release Palestinian prisoners jailed since the violence broke out," said Tayar. "What do we get in return? More terror, more attacks, and more victims," she added. Wallerstein added that the current situation means that the Jewish residents of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip will continue to pay a heavy price. "I am disappointed that the prime minister appears to prefer government interests over the security and lives of its citizens," he said.. (Jerusalem Post Jun 14)

Prime Minister at Funeral of Murdered Baby

Five-month-old Chaim Yehuda Shoham, killed by a Palestinian-hurled rock, was buried in Shilo Monday night. One of the thousands who took part in the four-hour funeral, which began outside the Prime Minister's office, was Sharon himself, who said the following: "Dear Bat-Sheva and Benny and families, friends who have come here from all over the country. I am not here to make a speech. I have come to cry, to cry with you together. Yesterday, I stood by the bed of Chaim Yehuda and patted his hand. It was difficult for me to leave him; he is exactly the same age as my twin grandchildren. I saw you praying with devotion, and I also prayed in my heart together with you. "How can they murder a baby? How can they do this? Only the wild and unrestrained incitement of the Palestinian Authority, which stands behind and activates this terrorism, leads to these horrific acts. "The responsibility for the security of every child in Israel is upon my shoulders, and I feel its weight. I feel its weight, yet my shoulders have not become weak, because I know that we must not allow our spirit to fall. If we ask every day, 'How much longer?', we will lose. But if we remain firm and grit our teeth, and continue even when the tears choke our throats, we will win. And we will win. We have stood up to difficult situations, and we have overcome our enemies, and we will do this again in the future. "But my heart is pained at the fact that little Yehuda will not be with us when we arrive, in Eretz Yisrael, at the 'menuchah v'hanachalah [the rest and the inheritance].' And we will get there. May his memory be a blessing." (arutzsheva.org June 12)

Palestinian Terrorists Kill Greek Monk

Jer Pzipokatsatakis, 35, a member of the Greek Catholic community who lived in a Wadi Kelt monastery, was murdered by Palestinian terrorists Tuesday night in a drive-by shooting on the well-traveled Jerusalem- Maaleh Adumim highway. Emergency medical service personnel pronounced the victim dead on the scene, only about 100 meters from an IDF checkpoint. The murderers are believed to have fled to the Area B areas [Palestinian civil control] of Abu Dis or Azariya. The targeted vehicle's yellow Israeli license plates led the killers to believe they were firing on a Jewish driver. Bentzy Lazerovitch, a long-time local resident familiar with the monasteries in the area, told Arutz-7 Wednesday that the murdered monk lived in the St. George Monastery, "which is about 1,500 years old - with some long recesses in between... Most of the monks there are from Greece, but a few of them are actually Israeli citizens, as was the man who was killed last night.... The attack occurred not as close to Maaleh Adumim as is being reported; it was closer to Jerusalem and Mt. Scopus than to Maaleh Adumim, only about five kilometers from the French Hill junction. It is unbelievable that the soldiers, only dozens of meters away, did not catch them. This is a major highway traveled by anyone who goes from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea or to the Jordan Valley and the north..." What does the Arab murder of a monk mean from a political point of view? "For one thing, it's not true that the monks are pro-Arab; in private conversation they are actually very supportive of Israel, but they cannot express this view very loudly... Maybe now the world will realize that the terrorists don't care who they hit; they simply take aim, and it doesn't matter if the target is a five-month old baby, or a Christian monk who has nothing whatsoever to do with the dispute. Maybe finally the world will wake up and begin to fight the war against this global Islamic threat - a war in which Israel finds itself in the forefront…" (arutzsheva.org June 13)

Columnist Volunteers as Suicide Bomber: 'I Am Signing Myself up as the First Martyr from Egypt'

The news that 3 out of 4 Palestinians polled support suicide bombings – the recent one killed 19 young Israelis and injured scores of others – is accompanied by increased public calls for "martyrdom" of young Arabs. In fact, in the May 28 edition of the Egyptian opposition weekly Al-Usbu', columnist Amru Nasif not only calls for martyrdom operations to defeat Israel, but even volunteers to join the ranks of martyrs himself. Here, as translated by The Middle East Media Research Institute, are excerpts of Nasif's article: "... with every blow struck by the Al-Aqsa Intifada, my conviction grows stronger that I, and all those who are of the same mind, have been right all along and am still right in my belief that the despised racist Jewish entity will be annihilated. Contrary to others, however, I am not ashamed to speak about driving them into the sea, to hell, or to the trash heap they deserve. I maintain, and Allah is my witness, that the annihilation and defeat of the Israelis, after which they will not have resurrection, does not require all these things. All that it requires is to concentrate on acts of martyrdom, or what is known as 'the strategy of the balance of fear.' Let us do some mathematical calculations: 250 Palestinians have signed up for martyrdom operations, and it is not impossible to raise this number to 1,000 throughout the Arab world, i.e., one fedayi (martyr) out of every 250,000 Arabs. The average harvest of each act of martyrdom is 10 dead and 50 wounded. Thus, 1000 acts of martyrdom would leave the Zionists with at least 10,000 dead and 50,000 wounded. This is double the number of Israeli casualties in all their wars with the Arabs since 1948. They cannot bear this. There is also the added advantage, not noted by many, of negative Jewish emigration, which, as a consequence of the 1,000 martyrdom operations will come to at least 1,000,000 Jews, followed by the return of every Jew to the place from whence he came. ...I am signing myself up as the first martyr from Egypt and declare that I am ready to commit an act of martyrdom at any moment. I will place myself under the command of Mr. Hassan Nasrallah, 'Hamas,' the Islamic Jihad, or any other jihad movement. Never in my life have I asked Allah for money, honor or power. All that I have asked, all that I ask, all that I will ask, is that Allah allow me to become a shaheed and grant me the honor of reaping as great a harvest as possible of Israeli lives. ..." (WorldNetDaily.com June 6)

Report Clears Israelis of Robinson Car Attack

An investigation kept secret for six months has cleared the Israelis of responsibility for a shot fired at the convoy of Mary Robinson, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Palestinians were quick to blame the Israeli army or settlers when the round struck an escort car as Mrs Robinson visited Hebron on Nov 12. Mrs Robinson has said she did not know which side fired the shot, though she has hinted the Israelis were the more likely culprits. But a ballistics report and reconstruction by Danish police show the tracer was fired from a Kalashnikov assault rifle of a type used by Palestinian forces, and from the Arab-run part of the city. The six-nation civilian observer force in the city ordered an immediate investigation but would only confirm the findings had been passed to the two parties. (The Telegraph June 11)

Media Were Wrong: P.A. Did Not Stop Terror Attacks

"There is no documented evidence indicating that the PA has done anything to stop terrorist attacks" in the last several days." So said Deputy Defense Minister Dalia Rabin-Pelossof Tuesday morning, responding to widespread Israeli media reports that Palestinian security forces had prevented three major terrorist attacks in the prior few days. Ha'aretz, for instance, reported Tuesday, "A senior officer in military intelligence told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense committee yesterday that the Palestinian Authority (PA) had prevented a number of serious terrorist attacks against Israeli targets..." Rabin-Pelossof explained that there had been "some confusion over the officer's testimony." She said that what the officer actually said was that the PA had detained some suspects in the Dolphinarium bombing and that the PA has thwarted some terrorist attacks in the past. Further corroboration of Rabin's statement was provided by PA senior Nabil Sha'ath, who denied Monday that the PA had given Israel information enabling it to thwart two potential suicide bombings. Sha'ath also reiterated that the PA refuses to arrest terrorists (arutzsheva.org June 12)

Beit El Students Pay Condolence Calls to Russian Families

A delegation from the Bnei Binyamin Yeshiva High School in Beit El paid a moving series of condolence visits to four families of Dolphinarium slaughter victims last week. The students and teachers first visited the Nelimov family in an old apartment in a run-down southern Tel Aviv neighborhood; only a mother and her 14-year-old son remain, following the terrorist-deaths of Yelena, 18, and Yulia, 16, last Friday night. The students also visited the Normanov family - mourning for their soldier-son Dani, 21 - which still lives in Russia; they are sitting shiva (the ritual mourning period) in a Defense Ministry-supplied hotel room in Tel Aviv. The mourning mother greatly inspired their visitors by informing them that as a result of the events of the past few days, including the care and concern showed them by many Israelis, she has decided to immigrate to Israel. The visitors then went to comfort the grieving families of Roman Dezanshvili, 21, and Eliya Gutman, 19, both from Bat Yam. "The feelings of national unity, kindness in times of trouble, and inspiration engendered by the visits provided a sense of upliftment that will not be forgotten by both the teachers and the students for a long while," said veteran teacher Tzvi Perla of Beit El, who coordinated the trip. (arutzsheva.org June 18)

 

 

Quote for the Week...

"An article on Wednesday about continuing violence in the Middle East and the shooting death of a settler, Sarah Blaustein, misstated her destination when she moved from the United States last August. It was the settlement of Efrat, which is in the West Bank, not in Israel." - New York Times correction June 5.

 

 

From the PA Media...

Friday Sermon on PA TV: Calling for Suicide Bombings

Every Friday, the PA television broadcasts a live sermon from one of the Gaza mosques. On June 8, 2001, a week after the Tel-Aviv suicide bombing and a few days following Arafat's declaration regarding the cease-fire, a sermon by Sheik Ibrahim Madhi was broadcast from the Sheik 'Ijlin Mosque. In his sermon, Sheik Madhi preached for 'martyrdom operations' and for the destruction of Israel, the United States, and Britain. Following are excerpts from the sermon:

"...I tell you, Oh beloved, that ever since Kamal Ataturk [founder of modern Turkey], this Jew who disguised himself as a Muslim - and there may still be in the Arab nation Jews who disguise themselves as Muslims... ever since he announced the end of the Islamic Caliphate in Istanbul - as some contemporary religious sages assert - the era preceding the end [of days] has began - the era of the military rule, the era of revolutionary rule. Allah willing, we are at the end of this era and Allah willing, the Caliphate will return, in accordance with the prophecy, and I pray that we will be among its soldiers..."

"Allah is almighty. Had He wanted - He would have beaten them. But He tests you in suffering. We must prepare the ground for the army of Allah that is coming according to the [divine] predetermination. We must prepare a footholdfor them. Allah willing, this unjust state will be erased - Israel will be erased; this unjust state, the United States, will be erased; this unjust state, Britain, will be erased - they who caused this people's Nakbah [the 1948 'catastrophe']..."

"Oh beloved, we must be certain that victory will come. Shame and remorse on whoever refrained from raids [against the enemy] or refrained from preaching to himself [to raid]; shame and remorse on whoever refrained from raising his children on Jihad; shame and remorse on whoever hated his Muslim brother while loving one of the infidels; shame and remorse on whoever hid behind excuses that have no basis with Allah..."

"Blessings to whoever waged Jihad for the sake of Allah; blessings to whoever raided for the sake of Allah; blessings to whoever put a belt of explosives on his body or on his sons' and plunged into the midst of the Jews, crying "Allahu Akbar, praise to Allah, There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His messenger."'

"Just as the building collapsed over the Jews in their sinful dancing floor [referring to the collapse of a wedding hall in Jerusalem] - I pray to Allah that this oppressive Knesset will collapse over the heads of the Jews."

"Allah, forgive us our sins,Allah, show us a black day for the Jews, like the day of 'Aad and Thamud (1) Allah, turn them into pillage for usAllah, we strive for martyrdom for your sake...Allah, we strive for your mercy and your paradise..."(2) Endnotes: (1) Two pre-Islamic Arab tribes that refused to convert to Islam, and were punished by annihilation. (2) "Palestine Television" [PA], June 8, 2001. (MEMRI June 12)

 

 

Commentary...

There Is Another Way By Yigal Carmon

The day after the disco bombing in Tel Aviv, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat and the PLO were in dire straits: after refusing prime minister Ehud Barak's offers at Camp David and Taba, and after leading the Palestinians into a battle - from stones to guerrilla warfare, where rifles, machine guns, explosive devices, mortars and suicide bombers attack inside Israel - Western leaders began to realize that Arafat can't make the historic switch to statesmanship. He would rather remain the eternal revolutionary with all the ramifications on Middle Eastern instability. The bombing, facilitated by Arafat's reckless approach to Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists, made things clear even to the Israeli Left.

This was the right moment for the Israeli government to wage a political and diplomatic (not military) all-out war against Arafat and the PLO, informing the Western world that Arafat has ceased to be Israel's partner for any future peace deal, since, by both his goals (the right of return), and his means (inhumane terror) - he disqualified himself. This statement could have been reinforced by applying the existing Israeli law, under which the PLO is a "terrorist organization." Subsequently, Israel could have prevented high-ranking PLO officials from entering its territory, lest they be tried and/or deported. Israel could have cancelled all the powers it transferred to those same officials along with the sweeping privileges it granted them. Additionally, it could also distribute the "White Paper" exposing Arafat's noncompliance since Oslo, prepared by Barak's government. At the same time, Israel should have announced that, out of humanitarian considerations, it will exert every effort to help the Palestinians - in cooperation with international organizations - in their economic, not political, needs.

On the international scene, Israel could have demanded that the European Union reassess its relationship with the PLO (particularly Germany, whose foreign minister happened to witness the bombing and according to reports, threatened Arafat that the EU would sever its relations with the PLO). As far as US President George W. Bush is concerned - whose personal approach to Arafat seems to be one of basic rejection - Prime Minister Ariel Sharon

could have attempted to reach a strategic understanding with him on isolating the PLO in the United Nations and its organizations, if at the same time Israel committed itself to continue the policy of military restraint (a policy that Israel has endorsed anyway).

These overall steps would have also eased domestic pressures calling for retaliation and might have served as the forging of a new Israeli strategy agreed upon by the parties in the National Unity Government - be it unilateral separation from part of the territories, or encouraging an alternative to the PLO, if and when it emerges. Even if these actions failed to achieve all their goals, and Arafat finds a way back to the political scene - he will have to pay the high price of true moderation in order to be re-accepted. It appears the PLO can only be deterred by threatening its political legitimacy and not by military retaliation.

But the Israeli government, regrettably, chose a different path: for two whole days after the bombing it simply kept silent. Then it engaged itself in a futile secret cabinet debate on an overall military retaliation, with little chance of being implemented to begin with, and with a great chance of unilaterally turning world opinion against us, if it were to be carried out at all. In fact, the Israeli government completely ignored the diplomatic option and focused on the military option alone, as if our encounter with the PLO is one of vengeance and bloodshed and not a political struggle in its very essence. Days were passing, and the Israeli government allowed - actually, encouraged - international leaders to mediate between itself and the PLO. In doing so Israel helped in resurrecting the PLO, allowing it to rise from the abyss of terrorism to the heights of international legitimacy. This for nothing but empty talk about "being ready" - just that - for a cease-fire (which, typically of Arafat, is only being partially implemented). With every passing day, Israel is sliding back to its pre-Barak status, unjustly blamed as the obstacle to peace.

Apparently, Israel's governments, like the PLO, "do not miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity." Tragically, such "opportunities" will recur. Will Israel's government learn the lesson? (Jerusalem Post June 13)

The writer heads The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

 

 

The Games Must Go On Jerusalem Post Editorial

After the 1997 Maccabiah bridge disaster, it would have been hard to imagine a scenario in which the Maccabi World Union could once again bring disgrace and shame upon Israel and the Jewish people. Maccabi's sloppy handling of the affair, which sent shock waves throughout the Jewish world, followed by the callous indifference shown toward the Australian Jewish athletes injured in the bridge collapse, seemed to set a new standard for irresponsibility.

Less than four years later, however, Maccabi now finds itself on the verge of making yet another colossal error of judgment, one that calls into question the organization's wisdom as well as its utility. At an emergency meeting this week, the Maccabi leadership convened to discuss the possibility of postponing the upcoming Maccabiah games, which are slated to be held from July 16 to 26. Citing the security situation in Israel, and fears that most of the Jewish athletes from abroad would withdraw their participation as a result, the Maccabi delegates were reportedly on the verge of postponing the games until next year.

According to media reports, pressure from the government convinced the delegates to hold off on making a decision for another week, during which time they will report back to their home communities and review the situation upon receiving their input. Explaining the group's concerns to reporters, Maccabi World Union president Jeanne Futeran of South Africa said, "If we were to hold the Maccabiah now, we would have perhaps a couple of hundred people marching into Teddy Stadium in what would be an embarrassing situation for the Maccabi World Union and for Israel." Better, argued Futeran, to hold off for a year in the hopes that the security situation would improve, such that a "bigger and better" games could be then be held.

While Maccabi's newfound concern for the safety of participating athletes is refreshing, particularly in light of their conduct in the bridge debacle, it is nevertheless sorely misplaced. Israel has succeeded in holding a range of large-scale events in recent months, from Independence Day celebrations to the Israel Festival, all of which have gone off without a hitch from a security point of view. Indeed, some 3,000 Jewish students from North America will be taking part this month in Israel programs under the auspices of Birthright.

There is simply no excuse for Maccabi to consider postponing the games, an act that would constitute a disgraceful capitulation to terrorism. After all, one of the key aims of terrorists, as the name of their "profession" implies, is to sow terror and disrupt daily life. Delaying the games would send a loud and reprehensible message to Jews all over the world that Israel is no longer safe. What the Maccabi leadership seems to have forgotten is that the Maccabiah is more than just a sporting event - it is a symbol of the bond between Israel and the Diaspora.

Rather than canceling the competition, Maccabi should demonstrate a little conviction and hold the games, come what may. While many athletes may choose not to participate, it is neither fair nor just to deny those who wish to come - and who have spent time and money training for this purpose - the opportunity to do so. Simply put, individual athletes (or individual members of any organized Jewish group) should be free to make their own decision, and it is not the place of a Zionist or Jewish organization to prevent them from doing so.

Maccabi officials say they fear an embarrassing turnout, but there would be nothing more embarrassing than cancellation of the event itself. Indeed, if just 1,000 of the anticipated 4,000 Diaspora athletes attend (a mere 25%) together with the 1,500 or so Israeli entrants, that still amounts to far more than the "couple of hundred people marching into Teddy Stadium" that Maccabi officials allegedly have nightmares about. Maccabi's pending decision has already come under fire.

Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said it would be a "serious mistake" to delay the Maccabiah, arguing that, "We cannot allow fear to force us to surrender to the threat of terror." Similar calls came from MK Zevulun Orlev of the National Religious Party, MK Ophir Pines-Paz of Labor, and Minister of Science, Culture, and Sport Matan Vilna'i. But despite such protestations, it is considered almost certain that Maccabi will nevertheless choose to cancel next month's games.

Should this indeed come to pass, it might very well be time for the government to step in and politely ask Maccabi to step aside. There is no reason why the convening of the Jewish world's version of the Olympics should be contingent on the whims of the Maccabi World Union and its dubious reading of the political situation in Israel.

Let the government declare that, henceforth, the Maccabiah will be replaced by the World Jewish Games, which will be held under the auspices of a consortium of Israeli and Diaspora Jewish groups. Such an arrangement would not only give other organizations a stake in the success of the games, but it would better ensure that they are held regularly and without fail. If Maccabi can not fulfill its appointed task, then there are sure to be others who will line up at the door for the opportunity to do so. Either way, the bottom line is quite simple: the games must go on. (Jerusalem Post June 13)

The End of Oslo: Yasser Arafat Is an Obstacle to Peace By Tom Rose

The long-running argument in Washington over Yasser Arafat's responsibility for the terror campaign against Israeli civilians should have been settled on June 2, the day after a Palestinian suicide bomber murdered 20 Israelis, mostly teenage girls, outside a Tel Aviv disco. That day, the Palestinian dictator publicly called for a cease-fire—for the first time ever—and by and large the violence ceased, laying bare before the world Arafat's heavy responsibility for creating it. By June 8, as this was being written, the Israeli army was reporting a "significant" reduction in Palestinian terror incidents, justifying the relaxation of some security restrictions imposed on the movement of Palestinians.

With Arafat thus exposed as a deliberate orchestrator of the region's conflict, there is no longer any denying the error at the heart of the Oslo process. In 1993, Israel and the United States consciously chose to resurrect Arafat, discredited by his Gulf War alliance with Saddam Hussein, and make him their interlocutor for peace. Ever since, Washington has operated as if there were only two alternatives in the Middle East, Arafat and war. But for Israelis, the Arafat option is war, and as such is untenable. Even Israelis on the left now see this. Defense minister Benjamin Ben Eliezer, a member of the pro-Oslo Labor party, made history of sorts when he said on June 6 of Arafat, "His time is past. For Israel it is time to seek new partners and a new path to peace."

Washington may be slower to recognize this. Indeed, it still clings to a ruinous approach, urging Israel to "exercise restraint" in response to the murderous attack on innocent teenagers, and dispatching yet another high-ranking official, this time CIA director George Tenet, to the region to "talk" to the parties. In so doing, the United States is extending Arafat's life and granting him another chance to plunge the Middle East into war.

For both Israel and its principal ally, it is time to withdraw the mantle of legitimacy from Arafat, to stop funding his police state, and to start thinking beyond Oslo.

Consider: For the past eight months, Arafat has used the tightly controlled media of the Palestinian Authority to unleash a flood of blood-curdling anti-Semitic incitement, urging Palestinians to support ever more brazen acts of terror against Israeli civilians. One spot that aired on Palestinian Authority TV for weeks featured the image of Muhammad al-Durra, the 12-year-old Palestinian boy whose televised death in a firefight between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian gunmen last October shocked the world. In the ad, al-Durra implores other Palestinian children to join him in paradise by becoming child martyrs. The spot was pulled only on June 2, the day after the disco bombing.

Another typical illustration of state-sponsored anti-Semitic incitement was Arafat's personally blaming Israel for the death of Faisal Husseini, a Palestinian Authority official. Husseini, 60, died of a heart attack on May 30 in his Kuwait City hotel room. He had long suffered from asthma and high blood pressure. This could hardly have surprised Palestinians, who have been served a steady diet of anti-Semitic vitriol ever since the United States and Israel gave Arafat his own media empire in 1994. As recently as May, the Palestinian Authority reported that the Israeli Air Force was air-dropping poisoned candy into Palestinian schoolyards and conspiring to destroy Jerusalem's Al-Aksa mosque, for which Arafat's latest war, the "Aksa Intifada," is named.

As history has shown again and again, violent words are the prelude to violent actions. In the last eight months, Arafat's lieutenants and allies have recruited and deployed dozens of suicide bombers, planted hundreds of roadside bombs, and engaged in thousands of shooting attacks. These were all part of a carefully planned, publicly stated strategy—seldom reported outside the Arabic-language press— to kill enough Jews to provoke an Israeli response that would goad Arab states into fighting yet another war against the Jewish state. This war would either succeed in destroying Israel or would serve Palestinian interests by provoking the intervention of an international force that would give legitimacy, aid, and protection to the Palestinians. Thus would the Palestinians secure their goals without having to make the one concession Israel demanded at the negotiating table: a formal end to the conflict with Israel and a renunciation of all future claims against her.

That Arafat is fighting not to establish a Palestinian state but to destroy the Jewish state became apparent at Camp David last July. He was offered nearly everything he was said to be demanding: At the stroke of a pen, Arafat could have had over 95 percent of the West Bank, 100 percent of Gaza, the re-division of Jerusalem, the end of the "occupation," and the dismantling of dozens of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. But by insisting that all the descendants of the Palestinian refugees who fled as a result of the Arab invasion of Israel the day after its birth in 1948 be allowed to return, Arafat made clear that for him and his cause, nothing short of the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state will suffice.

If the last year has confirmed Arafat's utter lack of credibility as a partner for peace, where do we go from here? Washington's immediate task is to try to prevent a regional war, now closer than it has been in 30 years. Such a war would not only threaten American allies in the region, but could inflict devastating damage on the United States itself, already grappling with its worst energy crisis since the last Middle East war. Thanks to advances in the war-making capacity of likely participants and the willingness of some of Israel's enemies to use weapons of mass destruction, such a war could have catastrophic human consequences.

Even more ominous for Israel—and advantageous for Arafat and his radical Arab allies—is that Israel faces a rabidly hostile and heavily armed Palestinian population in its own backyard, both in areas that Arafat's Palestinian Authority controls and in Israel proper. Radical Arab states like Syria and Iraq see this vulnerability clearly: For the first time in the history of the conflict, Israel faces the prospect of fighting a multi-front war while also combating an armed fifth column in its midst that would, among other things, besiege the roads its largely civilian army depends upon to mobilize. Israel's vaunted defense force isn't worth much if its citizen soldiers can't get to their bases. With little margin for error, a delay of even hours could seriously impair Israel's ability to repel an armored invasion.

To meet this threat of war, Israel possesses unprecedented military, technological, and economic strength. Its army and air force are among the best in the world. With only six million people, no natural resources, and a country smaller than New Jersey, it has built the largest economy between Europe and India. It has more engineers per capita than any other nation. But of all Israel's strengths, its greatest asset is its relationship with the United States. By publicly reaffirming America's fundamental and unbreakable bond to the Jewish state, by warning would-be aggressors that Israel will never stand alone, Washington could greatly reduce the likelihood of war.

Against the backdrop of a burnished American alliance, Israel must reinforce its own posture of deterrence by resuming the tough policies that worked well just a few years back. Israelis with even the shortest memories can recall the mid 1990s, when their country experienced a rash of terrorism more deadly, if less widespread, than they are seeing now. Despite the early promise of the peace process, Tel Aviv was on fire. Buses were exploding, killing and maiming hundreds of civilians. It was then that the young and untested Benjamin Netanyahu won an upset victory over incumbent prime minister Shimon Peres in the election of 1993. Coming just months after the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, Netanyahu's unexpected success was bitterly resented by Israel's left-wing establishment, which helped the world cast the new leader as an "obstacle to peace."

Netanyahu insisted that the only way to stop terrorism was to expose and punish those responsible. Arafat would be held personally accountable for terrorist activity originating in territory he controlled. Publicly and privately, Netanyahu began to drive home the message that Arafat would get nothing without giving something. What the world and some in Israel labeled "right-wing obstructionism" the prime minister called "reciprocity." Yet despite the impolite things people said about him in Washington, Netanyahu was right. His strategy virtually stopped terrorism. That Israelis can name every terror attack that occurred during his tenure attests to how few there were: fewer than in any similar period before or since.

Indeed, Netanyahu's "stop Arafat" policy worked so well that Israelis soon forgot why they had elected him. On his watch, the percentage of the public who cited security as their number one concern dropped to an all-time low, from 73 percent in 1996 to 39 percent in 1999. Today that number tops 80 percent. Alas, it was Netanyahu's success at isolating and punishing Arafat that provided Israelis the very security that lulled them into trading their well-worn realism for utopian dreams of a "New Middle East"—and in 1999 trading Netanyahu for Ehud Barak.

But even if Israel returns to Netanyahu-like firmness and combats terrorism effectively, it is vital that both Israelis and Americans understand that the best they can hope for in the near future is a cold peace. As for a permanent solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, the protracted violence spawned by Arafat's rejection of the settlement he claimed he wanted reminds us that there is only one: the Arab world's recognition that Israel is permanent, and its decision to live with Israel in peace.

The decades-old Arab campaign to isolate Israel diplomatically and politically is designed to deny Israel permanence—which is why the United States must diligently counter this campaign at every turn. Simultaneously, Washington should signal its intention to correct the error of Oslo by formally, finally, and completely disassociating itself from Yasser Arafat and his Palestinian Authority.

That the United States is openly vilified in the Palestinian media, that American and Israeli flags are now burned side by side at official Palestine Liberation Organization rallies, should in itself justify ending all financial assistance to Arafat's regime. With Arafat's responsibility for terrorism established, it is time that the Palestinian Authority be put on the State Department's list of terrorist sponsors and banned from the United States, and the PLO put back on that list. The message such moves would send to a jittery Arab world would be profound. By stripping Arafat of his legitimacy and subsidies, the United States would put the radical Arab regimes on notice, while reassuring the moderate ones.

In fact, allowing Arafat to continue using violence to achieve his political objectives threatens Egypt and Jordan—U.S. allies and the only Arab nations formally at peace with the Jewish state—more than it threatens Israel. If, through continued incitement of the Arab masses, Arafat is able to lure the leaders of these two nations into his war against Israel, not only will their armies be defeated and their countries devastated, but they will almost certainly be removed from power. And they know this. President Mubarak, who intersperses his regular repertoire of acerbic attacks on Israel with statements like "I will sacrifice not a single Egyptian life for Palestine," is all but begging the United States to stop Arafat.

The lesson of America's failed dalliance with Arafat is that dictators are inherently unreliable partners because they need external enemies to stay in power. They need enemies to help them justify their repression of their own people and consolidate their own control—as a seasoned democracy like the United States should have known all along.

One who was clear about this is Natan Sharansky, the human rights activist now deputy prime minister of Israel. He warned for years that the Oslo process was doomed to fail, based as it was on the belief that Arafat could be trusted to stop terrorism precisely because he was a former terrorist himself and a dictator unencumbered by the niceties of democracy. The idea was to get the fox to guard the henhouse. As the late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin used to say, "Arafat can crack down on Palestinian terror without having to worry about a free press, a supreme court, or any of those annoying human rights groups." But in the end, Arafat was not prepared to fight his own people in order to protect Israel, and the attempt to turn a corrupt, murderous dictator into an ally by indulging him with unimagined power has proved disastrous.

Who or what should replace Arafat? Answering this question is less urgent than recognizing that he must go. The United States regularly pursues "regime change" in instances where its interests are at stake, and today its interests are threatened nowhere so much as by Yasser Arafat. While the history and culture of the Arab and Islamic worlds suggest that democratization is not a realistic short-term option, it must be an explicit long-term goal. The mistake of the past decade was to think that peace could be built by bankrolling an individual rather than supporting the principles and institutions required to nurture a free and open society. The sooner that mistake is acknowledged, discarded, and corrected, the sooner stability can be restored, and maybe even someday peace established, in the Middle East. (Weekly Standard June 18)


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