A collection of the week's news from Israel
A service of the Bet El Twinning Committee of Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto
A collection of the week's news from Israel
December 21, 2001
Issue number 358
From the Arab Media...
Interview With Head of the PLO's Political Department
“Israel is on the way to collapse”
PLO's Political Department Head, Farouq Al-Qaddumi, participated in a conference of foreign ministers of Islamic states held in Qatar and gave an interview to the London Arabic-language daily Al-Hayat on December 12. Following are excerpts of the interview:
"Sharon is the last bullet in the Israeli rifle. If Sharon is defeated, the rapid countdown [to the end] of Israel will begin, because that country was established through historical coercion and will find its end as the USSR and Yugoslavia did."
Qaddumi accused Israel of trying to cause a Palestinian civil war, and added, "The Palestinian resistance is continuing, but we must assure, first, the success of the resistance; second, [we must] prevent damage to Palestinian security. Also, we should try to reduce the number of Palestinian casualties."
"Resistance is not a conventional war. It is a war based on the element of surprise, in time and place [sic]. In this war, one incites the public for 20 hours, and fights for perhaps two hours."
Asked whether he was calling on Hamas and the Islamic Jihad to stop their operations, Qaddumi replied: "Four factions have suspended their resistance operations for a while. As I said, guerilla war is like commerce. As Mao Zedong said, we trade when trade is profitable and stop when it's not."
Qaddumi was asked about the September 11 attacks on the U.S. He said: "We condemned this terrorism, but these events will be a lesson to the U.S. This was the first time that Arabic names entered every American household. These incidents made America reexamine its foreign policy in order to seek the causes of terrorism."(Al-Hayat (London), December 12) (MEMRI Dec 17)
The House with the Red Geraniums By Naomi Ragen
After eight long years of internal upheavals, including a assassination that tore the heart out of the country; after thousands and thousands of terrorist attacks that left hundreds of Israeli citizens dead, and thousands more injured, the Israeli government has issued a statement saying:”Yasir Arafat is no longer relevant.”
If the week that statement was made had not been so blood-soaked, it might almost have been laughable.
The assumption in which the entire Oslo Process began and operated, and continues to confuse the minds of a small, but significant minority, of Israelis, has been declared to be false.
The truth is: Arafat was never relevant, was never a partner to any process whose goal was peace and coexistence.. Not now. Not then. Not ever.
And thus, the question that begs to be asked is this: What shall be done with those leaders who led the nation into this nightmarish swamp of murderous quicksand that swallowed so many of our young people, pulled down our tourist industry and our once-booming economy; that covered our national face with the filthy mud of propaganda lies, sapping our national confidence, our strength, our sense of national self-worth?
“Oslo Criminals to Judgement,” has long been a slogan of the far right, a bumper sticker phrase found in Nadia Matar country. But now that the failure of the Oslo Process has been acknowledged among all but the terminally delusional and those evangelical mystics of the hard-core left, (many of whom work for Haaretz newspaper and continue to feed the foreign press) as well as Israel’s Foreign Ministry., I think the average citizen has the right to ask: What, in heaven’s name, was this whole thing all about?
I remember that memorable broadcast from the White House lawn. The forced handshake between Rabin and Yassir Arafat, embraced in the insistent arms of the movie-star handsome American president, who we were convinced loved us. And perhaps he did. After all, he loved his wife too. That didn’t stop him from betraying her again, and again and again.
I remember that nauseous feeling in the pit of my stomach, the feeling that this was terribly wrong. That it was something I didn’t want to watch, a sickening betrayal. My children, especially my army-bound son, was angry at my lack of enthusiasm. “You’d rather send me into unnecessary battles?” he accused.
This shut me up. In general, the evangelical fervor of the “peace now” activists with their iron clad and ready answers to all criticism, branding all those opposed to them war-mongers, delegitimized valid concerns over the swiftness in which the “new concept” of terrorists as peace partners had been made. You were either for Oslo, or for war. “Don’t you want peace?” people who questioned giving out guns to the newly formed “Palestinian Police Force” made up of former members of terrorist cells, were asked accusingly. “Yes, there are risks,” the “peace” people would admit in their rare rational moments, “but Israel is strong. If it doesn’t work out, we can always move back into the West Bank and Gaza.”
Yes, they said. It was all reversible. Like those coats which were all the same, even if you wore them inside out.
The appeal was irresistible, and the Oslo proponents knew it. They dangled “Oslo peace” in front of a war-weary nation like a bottle of snake oil that could miraculously cure all problems, especially the insoluble ones, like the simple fact that the PLO refused to remove the destruction of Israel from their written charter.
But that didn’t bother Mr. Peres. Or Mr. Beilin. Or Yossi Sarid. It didn’t bother the members of Meretz, or members of the Labor Party like Chaim Ramon.
Some will say: No harm done. They tried. It didn’t work. You can’t punish a man for trying.
In her book, My Three Lives, survivor Gizel Berman writes of the train pulling into Auschwitz:: “Just beyond the platform was a charming white cottage with potted geraniums on the windowsill. Above it, a large sign proclaimed: Welcome to Auschwitz. Work Makes Free.”
What was the purpose of that cottage, that sign? Simply to confuse those about to disembark. To drain their will to protest, their natural instincts of self-preservation, by creating a comforting lie in which they desperately wanted to believe. In doing so, it drained their strength, making them weak and unready for the life and death struggle ahead. Making them easy prey.
Those that led us into the quagmire of Oslo, Mr. Peres, Mr. Beilin, and many, many others, did the same to the Jewish people in the land of Israel. It is a crime for which no court can punish them, and one for which they will never be forgiven. It is now time for all of them to leave the stage of public life to a richly-earned obscurity. They will no doubt spend the rest of their lives re-writing history to make themselves more attractive. But we, who have seen Arafat’s true face , won’t be reading what they have to say any time soon. (naomiragen.com Dec 20)
A Recipe for Failure Jerusalem Post Editorial
On Sunday, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat proclaimed his latest "cease-fire," about the ninth, depending on how one counts. On Monday, David Rubin was driving home with his three-year old son, when their car was raked by Palestinian gunfire. Rubin was hit in the leg and a bullet grazed his son's neck.
Another centimeter or another second and both father and son would have been dead. Despite reports of arrests here and there, security officials say Hamas is planning "chilling" attacks on a scale beyond the many atrocities it has committed to date. Neither the US nor Israel has seen anything from Arafat like the comprehensive military actions it would take to prevent the next mass murder.
In this context, the subtle dilution of the message from the US is worrisome, even deadly. While President George W. Bush has, since the suicide bombings in Jerusalem and Haifa on December 1-2, been unequivocal in his support for Israel's right to self-defense, cracks are already appearing in the statements of Secretary of State Colin Powell.
On the one hand, Powell has said all the right things about what Arafat should do: "Attack" the infrastructure of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, end incitement, and act rather than just talk. Powell's skepticism toward Arafat may run deeper than he admits in public, since he reportedly told European officials that "if Arafat wants to commit suicide, we won't stand in his way."
On the other hand, Powell continues to be much more reluctant to defend Israel than his boss. For example, he was asked this week why the US has not been criticizing Israeli responses to terror since December 1. This was a perfect invitation to echo the president, vice president, and secretary of defense, all of whom emphasize that Israel not only has the right but the responsibility to defend her citizens, just like the US. Instead, Powell responded, "We have, I believe, spoken on both sides of this issue.. We have also indicated that... actions taken by one side or the other have to be considered in light of we're still going to be here tomorrow and the day after. And I hope that reality is reflected into actions that both sides take."
What is all this blather about "both sides"? Why does Powell have such trouble saying the words "self-defense"? Is Israel defending itself from a terrorist onslaught or not? Is Arafat harboring terrorists or not? How would Powell like it if Israel's response to the American campaign against the Taliban was, "Both sides need to consider the day after tomorrow"?
At first the US, following the State Department's lead, did think too much about tomorrow in Afghanistan and refrained from bombing the Taliban's front lines and then urged the Northern Alliance not to take Kabul. The war was won in Afghanistan when the US changed its mind and realized it must first win the war before worrying too much about tomorrow.
Here, too, tomorrow begins when Arafat either falls or squashes terrorism - his own and that of his competitors-cum-allies. As in Afghanistan, that tomorrow does bear much thought and should not be ignored or dismissed.
But as in Afghanistan, putting the cart before the horse materially harms the effort to get to that tomorrow.
Many are skeptical, to say the least, of the chances of Arafat ever taking meaningful action against all terrorism, not just the suicide bombings that are inconvenient for him at the moment. It is fair to guess that Powell is among these skeptics. But if Powell believes that Arafat will not act against terrorism unless he is faced with losing power (and perhaps not even then), why does he not make the choice for Arafat as stark as possible?
Powell is not only refraining from saying that Arafat, like the Taliban, must choose between terror and power - he is defending Arafat against Israel's claim that he is "irrelevant." Powell and the Europeans have gone out of their way to emphasize that Arafat is the "legal and moral" leader of the Palestinian people.
The message of this chorus is that Arafat must fight terror, but even if he does not, nothing can shake the foundations of his legitimacy as the Palestinian leader. Nothing could be more contrary to the Bush Doctrine prohibiting the harboring of terrorists. Nothing could be a more sure-fire recipe for failure, and for more Israeli and Palestinian deaths. (Jerusalem Post Dec 20)
Right On By Seth Lipsky
Arafat was always a fraud. Only a few people had the courage to say so.
In the modest history of the war against Israel, this week will go down as the one when even the State Department and the media elites began to concede that betting on Yasser Arafat was a mistake. A few days before the latest premeditated attack designed to kill Jewish civilians, there was a story on the wires saying that President Bush had come to the view that Mr. Arafat had lost his credibility as a negotiating partner. The story said the view was shared not only by the Congressional leadership and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, but also by Secretary of State Colin Powell.
There is going to be a temptation during this period to point the finger at those who were wrong about Mr. Arafat--and their numbers are legion. And many were extraordinarily arrogant in their self-righteousness, condemning those who criticized the Oslo Accords as being "against peace." My own instinct right at the moment, though, is to refrain from pointing the finger at those who placed a bet on Mr. Arafat but rather to pause to snap a salute to those who were right about him all along. I've written out my own private list of those who've been right all along.
Yitzhak Shamir. The longest-serving Israeli prime minister was for years the man the left loved to hate. And not only the left. President Bush the elder was famously unfond of the doughtily one-time leader of Lehi who proved so obstinate during the run-up to the Madrid Summit. This summit, which occurred in 1991, was an effort to set up a peace process that--at Mr. Shamir's insistence--excluded the Palestine Liberation Organization and the murderous band of thugs who ran it. It was the Madrid Process that was abandoned when left-wing factions, without a democratic mandate, began meeting secretly with the PLO at Oslo. If the world had stood with Mr. Shamir, we'd be closer to peace today.
Moshe Arens. An MIT-educated former ambassador to America, Mr. Arens was a hard-line-member of parliament and later ambassador to America during the years when Menachem Begin was premier. He famously opposed even the Camp David peace accord struck between Mr. Begin and President Anwar Sadat of Egypt. In subsequent years, Mr. Arens warned repeatedly against the tendency of his fellow right-of-center politicians to behave in a way calculated to gain approval from the left. He has been merciless on the point. For the steadfastness of his resistance to Mr. Arafat's phony peace palaver, it's hard to think of a senior minister with his record. I have not had a lot of conversations with him over the years, but there hasn't been one that failed to leave me with the impression that he is a man of uncommon character.
Ariel Sharon. The notion that he deserves a salute for his realism with respect to Yasser Arafat will no doubt elicit a snort of annoyance from the some of hard line factions. Mr. Sharon was, as foreign minister of Israel, a participant in the negotiations that President Clinton hosted at the Wye Plantation, where Mr. Arafat was present. And when Mr. Sharon was called in as premier, he made it a point of principle to enter a national unity government, which means a partnership with Shimon Peres, who, with Yitzhak Rabin, shares a Nobel Peace Prize with the Palestinian Arab terrorist chief. Mr. Sharon has permitted Mr. Peres to meet with Mr. Arafat. Mr. Sharon has sent his son to talk with Mr. Arafat. But in the conversations I have had over the years with Mr. Sharon--and these have numbered several dozen--he has never failed to make it clear that he regards Mr. Arafat as a simple murderer, who has targeted civilians, including women and children, over a long period of time.
Morton Klein. Far less well known than the others--and an American--Mr. Klein is Philadelphian who took over a dying Zionist Organization of America and turned it into the most credible advocate on the American Jewish scene today. From the get-go he took the position that the true test of the Oslo peace process would be whether Mr. Arafat would live up to the agreements he signed, and he was unflinchingly honest when Mr. Arafat failed the test, as he did from the start. He is not the only leader in American Jewry to take a hard line. Another heroic, although smaller organization, is the Americans for a Safe Israel, lead by Herbert Zweibon, and Emunah, lead by Rosalie Reich. Their honesty and realism brought forth years of calumny against them, often by leaders prepared to trek to Arab precincts for photo opportunities with Mr. Arafat. I believe that when the history of the American Jewish struggle in these years is written, Mr. Klein will emerge as an outsized figure.
Kaare Kristiansen. Given the trail of blood that has ensued from the appeasement at Oslo, it is hard to remember at times that there was a member of the Nobel Peace Prize committee who grasped at the time that the inclusion of Yasser Arafat among the recipients of the peace prize was inappropriate. A former president of the Norwegian parliament, he stepped down from the five-man committee that awarded the peace prize even before the prize was announced. He later told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the committee's statutes required an absolute consensus. He noted that by awarding the prize to Arafat the committee was placing him in the same category as such figures as Gen. George Marshall, Mother Theresa and Elie Wiesel. "To me," he said, "it seems impossible to do that."
I offer these names not as any definitive list. They just come to mind at the end of a week when Arafat stands exposed as a fraud before the world. A lot of well-meaning people placed a bet on him, including Americans and Israelis and those of other countries. It's no small thing when an American administration and a national unity government like that of Israel turns its back on a figure in international life. And it's no small thing that there were those who were wise enough to see where this was going all along--and brave enough to say so. (Wall Street Journal Dec 14)
Mr. Lipsky is a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal.
Get the Word out By Shmuel Katz
When Menachem Begin paid his first visit to president Jimmy Carter as prime minister, Carter spent much of the time pressing Begin to "freeze the settlements."
Begin's reply was simple: "You, Mr. President, have in the United States a number of places with names like Bethlehem, Shiloh, and Hebron, and you haven't the right to tell prospective residents in those places that they are forbidden to live there. Just like you, I have no such right in my country. Every Jew is entitled to settle wherever he pleases." Nevertheless the Carter administration launched a veritable propaganda campaign to spread the "ruling" that Jewish settlement in the West Bank - that is, Judea and Samaria - and in the Gaza Strip were illegal (in addition to being an "obstacle to peace"). Most of the media willingly fell into line. Following opposition and protest from various quarters, the Carter administration recognized that if one talks of illegality one must provide chapter and verse. Thus the State Department came up with the Fourth Geneva Convention as proof.
But the Fourth Geneva Convention proves nothing of the sort. It proves the opposite. The Fourth Geneva Convention does not apply to Israel and its presence in Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza district. The convention defines itself strictly in its second clause: "The present convention shall apply to cases of partial or total occupation of the territory of a High Contracting Party."
Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, which Israel occupied in 1967, were not territories of a High Contracting Party. Judea and Samaria did not belong to Trans-Jordan nor did Gaza belong to Egypt. In the war of Pan-Arab aggression in 1948, Trans-Jordan had invaded Judea and Samaria, occupied them and, in blatant illegality, annexed them. It then celebrated the annexation by changing its name to Jordan. Egypt had similarly annexed the Gaza district. The annexations of course gave Trans-Jordan and Egypt no rights of sovereignty. Israel's presence in the West Bank and Gaza is perfectly legal.
Indeed, the last sovereign of both areas was the Ottoman Turkish Empire. Defeated in World War I, it had relinquished sovereignty over vast areas including Palestine; Palestine was handed over to the British to govern as a trustee - a mandatory for the purpose of bringing about the "reconstitution of the Jewish National Home." When Britain retired from the Mandate, Jewish historical rights which the Mandate had recognized were not cancelled; and no new sovereign ever took over in Judea and Samaria or in Gaza.
The legal adviser of the State Department, called upon to defend the Carter claim that Jewish settlement in the West Bank and Gaza was illegal, got over the difficulty by simply ignoring Article 2 of the convention. In his opinion he didn't even mention it. He loftily declared that "the principles of the convention appear applicable whether or not Jordan and Egypt possessed legitimate sovereign rights in respect of the territories." No less.
Further on in his statement, he markedly avoided mentioning that in 1967 it was once again the aggressors of 1948 who attacked Israel (then confined to the narrow armistice lines of 1949). He did mention the Six Day War of 1967, but how? He wrote: "During the June 1967 war, Israeli forces occupied Gaza, the Sinai peninsula, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights." That was all. Not a word about who started the war or about its flaunted gruesome purpose: the destruction of Israel.
The continuing smear on Israel on the part of the government was brought to an end by the successor administration of Ronald Reagan, who personally had strongly and repeatedly denounced it. His administration issued a declaration that Israeli settlements were not illegal (though they were regarded as "an obstacle to peace").
A prominent member of the administration, law professor Eugene Rostow - himself a former assistant secretary of state - subsequently wrote: "Israel has a stronger claim to the West Bank than any other nation or would-be nationÉ [and] the same legal right to settle the West Bank, the Gaza strip and east Jerusalem as it has to settle Haifa or west Jerusalem."
But the damage was done; and never did Israel launch a counter-campaign to lay bare the monstrous falsity of Arab historical claims, their grave annihilatory intent towards Israel, the skewed misleading interpretation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the effort to acquit the Arabs of their aggression. Never a serious reply to Arab fabrications point by point so as to combat the widespread ignorance among even our own people. Never an educational campaign to demonstrate the unique roots of our people in Eretz Yisrael.
The policies of government after government encouraged the Arabs to believe that we were weakening in the belief of the justice of our cause, and on the other hand played down the repeated declarations of Arab leaders, from Abdel Nasser to Yasser Arafat, that their objective was the demolition of Israel. Our leaders talked of compromise. The Arabs saw compromise as a station on the road to complete Israeli surrender - something which, but for the hardening of Arafat's heart, almost occurred last year.
But the change that has taken place in the international political climate since the US tragedy of September 11, which has helped people abroad to understand the unique nature of our place in the world, gives us a chance to meet squarely the bitter struggle ahead of us.
Moreover, a great majority of the people in Israel has been shocked into recognizing the Arabs' lethal purpose. The government however must realize that it is essential that the physical, the military struggle, be accompanied by a sane national policy of information - to tell our people, and the rest of the world, at every step of the way, the whys and the wherefores of our existence, our actions and our beliefs. (Jerusalem Post Dec 17)
Who Needs Arafat? By Caroline B. Glick
The world could hardly be worse without the PLO chairman
Last week, in the wake of yet another massacre of Israeli civilians by Palestinian terrorists, the Israeli security cabinet announced it was severing relations with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat. Although it has been obvious for some time that Mr. Arafat is an obstacle, not a means, to peace in the Middle East, most policy makers have been loath to voice this simple truth. The main concern is that while Mr. Arafat is clearly a source of instability, his replacement could be even worse. Many argue that the Palestinian Islamic terrorist group Hamas, which overtly rejects Israel's right to exist, is the most likely successor to Mr. Arafat's leadership.
Given the Palestinian Authority's public complacency and private cooperation with Hamas in its attacks against Israel, a growing number of Israelis now greet the possibility of a Hamas takeover with the unblinking response of "so what?" As retired Israeli general and terrorism expert Meir Dagan explained to me some months ago: "In a way it would be better if the Hamas takes over. Then there would be no ambiguity. Today, Arafat conducts a terrorist war against us and still enjoys international legitimacy as a peace partner. If the Hamas takes over, our goal will be clear--to defeat them. No one will argue that we have to negotiate with these people."
Yet while the prospect of a Hamas-led regime may have the positive feature of clarity, it is also highly unlikely. Although Palestinian support for Hamas has risen over the past 15 months, this public backing is due mainly to increased hatred for Israel rather than a swelling of support for Hamas's political or ideological agenda. A source from Israeli military intelligence explains the seeming contradiction: "Hamas is now supported by 30% of Palestinians in contrast to 9% of Palestinians who declared support for Hamas before the outbreak of violence in September 2000. However, it is very unlikely that in the event of Arafat's removal, this support will be translated into political backing of a Hamas regime. Palestinians are far from interested in establishing an Islamic state."
If not Hamas, then who can replace the chairman? Mr. Arafat, who has personally symbolized Palestinian nationalist aspirations for over a generation, has no single replacement. When Mr. Arafat goes, he--like Stalin--will be replaced by a junta. Israeli experts concur that the most likely successor regime will be a quadripartite coalition comprised of two political leaders and two military commanders who together possess the necessary resources to assume the helm.
The two political leaders, Mahmud Abbas, Mr. Arafat's No. 2 in the PLO, and Ahmed Queria, the speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, have risen to international prominence in their roles as lead negotiators with Israel over the past eight years. Mr. Abbas (a.k.a Abu Mazzan) is viewed as a statesman by Palestinians and Westerners alike. Last summer Mr. Abbas ran into trouble with Mr. Arafat when the Palestinian media reported that during meetings in Washington with Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice he discussed prospects for a successor regime to Mr. Arafat. After a few months in Mr. Arafat's doghouse, senior Palestinians prevailed upon their chief to bring his deputy back into the leadership fold. While acceptable politically to the Palestinians, Mr. Abbas lacks Mr. Arafat's charisma, and commands no military forces of his own.
Mr. Queria, who goes by the nom de guerre Abu Ala, rose to international prominence as the chief Palestinian negotiator with Israel--a position he has held off and on since 1993. In this post, he cultivated good relations with the State Department and the European Union and built up the international bona fides to consolidate his position next to Mr. Abbas. More important for his future in a post-Arafat coalition is Mr. Queria's economic power. He has controlled and managed the PLO's finances for the past 20 years and has the economic muscle to ensure his place at the table.
The military commanders who will stand beside Messrs. Abbas and Queria are Jibril Rajoub and Mohamed Dahlan--the heads of the Palestinian preventive security forces in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. While Mr. Arafat has 13 separate security forces, the preventive security forces in both areas are the undisputed masters of their realms. Whereas all the other militias are comprised of officers and troops who came into the region with Mr. Arafat in 1994, the preventive security forces consist chiefly of locals. This distinction is crucial, for the main bone of contention between the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza and Mr. Arafat's PA has been the feeling among the majority of Palestinians that they replaced one foreign occupier--Israel--with another foreign occupier--Mr. Arafat's forces and cadres from abroad. Mr. Rajoub and Mr. Dahlan's men--the best trained and most disciplined forces in the PA--are the only ones considered to be "of the people."
Both Mr. Rajoub and Mr. Dahlan are charismatic local commanders who joined Mr. Arafat in Tunis after Israel deported them in 1988 for their leadership roles in the Palestinian uprising. Both have cultivated relations with the U.S., the EU and the Israeli military, and neither has assumed a direct role in the attacks against Israel over the past 15 months. Mr. Rajoub has prohibited his men from participating in terrorism and Mr. Dahlan has charged his deputy, Rashid Abu-Shabah, with taking command of the terrorist attacks his forces carry out in order to maintain a semblance of plausible deniability before the Israeli and U.S. governments.
These four men--and not Hamas--are the likely face of the Palestinian leadership in a post-Arafat era. Will they have more of an interest in ending the violence than Mr. Arafat?
The sense among the experts is that the four will be motivated to end the violence against Israel. One well-placed Israeli military source explains: "These four are going to need quiet from Israel and the United States to consolidate their power. To achieve this quiet they will have to put an end to the fighting."
Boaz Ganor, director of the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Israel, believes that even if the four are unable to end the violence, the situation under their leadership will be no worse than the current one under Mr. Arafat. In his view, "Even if Arafat is assassinated, the violence will not worsen. Today the Palestinians are hitting Israel with everything they have. Arafat's departure will not impact their capabilities so even if their motivation to attack Israel rises, their ability to do so will remain constant."
Although Mr. Arafat's removal will not be a panacea to the region's woes, and while the unabated Palestinian terrorist attacks of the past 15 months make it difficult to look to the future with optimism, a future without Mr. Arafat will scarcely be worse that the present with him. And, with the proper management, it could be far better. (Wall Street Journal Dec 17)
Ms. Glick, chief diplomatic commentator for Makor Rishon newspaper in Israel, served as assistant foreign policy adviser to Prime Minister Netanyahu in 1997-98 and was a member of the Israeli negotiating team with the Palestinians from 1994-96.
Ending the Peace Process War By Robert Tracinski
When Yasser Arafat unleashed his intifada against Israel last year, I named it the "Peace Process War." I wanted to capture the irony of mob violence and bombings as the culmination of seven years of an alleged "peace process." I did not realize, at the time, how complete the irony would become -- that the name "Peace Process War" would describe 14 months of killing whose course was directed, day by day, by the pattern of the "peace process" itself.
Consider the repeated cycle of the past year. First, Shimon Peres or an American envoy negotiates a new cease-fire, which Israel is pressured to accept for fear of abandoning the "peace process" and losing U.S. support. Within 24 hours, usually, the Associated Press posts an unintentionally comic headline like their June 14 zinger: "New Shooting Tests Mid-East Cease Fire." It is only in the never-never land of the "peace process" that new shooting doesn't break a cease-fire, but merely "tests" it.
The cease-fire is always breached by the Palestinians, by new shooting at Israeli settlements, or ambushes along Israeli roads, or suicide bombings in Israeli shopping malls. Yet the United States calls for both sides to "show restraint." Israel then engages in some minor operation to kill a terrorist leader or clear out a snipers' nest in Palestinian territory. Arafat does nothing to restrain his terrorists -- but complains bitterly that Israeli action is "undermining the peace process." Under pressure from the United States, Israel withdraws and is then talked into yet another cease-fire. The cycle of violence continues, perpetuated by the "peace process." In this perverse process, the United States keeps advocating "restraint" -- but the only side that is ever actually restrained is the victim of terrorism: Israel.
Israel is finally taking its first step toward ending this cycle of violence -- by fighting a real war. The crucial step was Ariel Sharon's declaration that Yasser Arafat is now "irrelevant." Arafat has been the sacred idol of the "peace process," the one person to whom Israel must always return and negotiate. This unquestioned acceptance of a career terrorist as the leader and representative of the Palestinians has sent the message, both to Arafat and to his people, that terrorism will be tolerated and rewarded.
The first step toward ending the suicidal Peace Process War is the elimination of Yasser Arafat -- his elimination as a participant in peace negotiations; his elimination as the dictator of the Palestinian Authority; his elimination, period.
The conventional wisdom is that killing Arafat would unleash a wave of new terror attacks in retaliation. But letting Arafat live and prosper has already unleashed a wave of terror attacks -- in emulation. Or, it is asked, who will replace Arafat as leader of the Palestinian Authority and representative of the Palestinian cause? The answer is that any people who would accept a terrorist as their leader do not deserve to be represented or to have their wishes taken into account. They deserve to be occupied, suppressed, and then civilized, if that is possible.
We implicitly recognize all of this when we talk about Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. We do not fret that killing bin Laden will unleash Islamic fanatics; bin Laden is already the leader and symbol of the Islamic fanatics. We do not ask who Taliban or al-Qaeda supporters will rally behind next -- because we realize that any leader of these organizations is as bad as any other, that the Taliban and al-Qaeda must be wiped out of existence altogether.
And yet, in a glaring display of American hypocrisy, the main obstacle to the elimination of Arafat is the support of the United States. The United States is unjustly viewed as the supporter and sponsor of Israel. Our government deserves, instead, to be condemned as Arafat's chief sponsor and protector -- from 1983, when we pressured Israel to lift its siege of Beirut and allowed Arafat and the PLO to escape to Tunisia, to the past eight years, when we have insisted on his central position in the "peace process."
A friend asked me, the other day, when I would stop writing about the war. My answer: "When it starts" -- that is, when America finally gets serious about fighting terrorism. Ayn Rand once commented, during the Cold War, that you can't fight Communism in jungle villages while surrendering civilized countries. America will get serious about the war on terrorism when we realize that we cannot exterminate terrorists in the mountain villages of Afghanistan, while betraying the skyscrapers of Tel Aviv. (Ayn Rand Institute Dec 17)
Next Year in Jerusalem By National Review Editors
Relocate the U.S. embassy.
The Middle East at the moment is more than unusually rocky. Islamist extremism is a threat to several Arab regimes. On the run from Afghanistan, al-Qaeda terrorists can count on clandestine networks to help them regroup and start all over again. The Saudi royal family has never been so unpopular. Poverty and oppression everywhere are breeding discontent, perhaps revolution. Any day, some Palestinian suicide bomber may spark a wider conflagration involving Israel and its neighbors.
The good news is that the United States has fought and won a campaign that numerous critics judged certain to end in shipwreck. Victory, they held rather patronizingly, would inflame the "Arab street" with a generalized anti-American sentiment. Nothing of the kind has occurred. On the contrary, Arabs everywhere have taken note of American political resolve and military capacities. They know that the United States is doing what it has to do, and that power in the pursuit of national interest is only normal, not in the least shocking. Had the United States failed to react as it did to September 11, the Arabs would have lost all respect for it, and their anti-Americanism would have conveyed contempt for people too feeble to defend themselves.
The next immediate step should be to relocate the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the country's capital. In every presidential campaign, the candidates declare their willingness, even eagerness, to do this. The eventual president, however, discovers that somehow the moment is not opportune. This is supposed to be tactful to the Arabs, but more often than not they interpret it as a failure of political resolve.
As things stand now, Islamist extremists are attacking Israel in the expectation that one more suicide bomber will somehow blow the country apart, and there will be no more Jews in it. Like Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, they have parted company with reality. Yasser Arafat bleats that he can do nothing about the terrorists whom he is supposed to be governing. In this quandary, the Sharon government hesitates to adopt the obvious tactic of occupying Palestinian territory and cleaning out everyone who possesses a gun or a grenade.
To relocate the embassy is a simple but highly symbolic step, signifying that Israel's legitimacy and secure future are beyond question. This not only acts to reassure Israelis, but also serves notice on Islamist extremists that they are deluding and harming themselves in their attempt to eliminate Israel. After the Afghan success, even small symbolic acts of power may serve to enforce reality and stabilize the Middle East. (National Review Dec 19)