by Onalee Hamilton

"Al Quds! Al Quds!" (Jerusalem! Jerusalem!) is the refrain of Yasser Arafat's speeches to the Palestinians. His word and motives were the subjects of a symposium which drew 700 people to the Shaarei Shomayim Synagogue, Toronto, on March 31, 1996 The 40 minute videotape of excerpts from Arafat's 1995 speeches to Palestinian audiences included selections from Palestinian television; subtitles translated his messages from Arabic to English. Following this screening two US experts on Middle Eastern affairs discussed PLO intentions in the peace process and political, strategic and military issues affecting Israel. Dr. Rael Jean Isaac is an analyst of Israeli politics. Frank Gaffney, Jr. is Director, Centre for Security Policy, Washington, DC. Israel, they agreed, is heading toward disaster. If the forces within Israel and outside it continue as they have since the election of Prime Minister Rabin in 1992, then the State of Israel will disappear in a very few years and the Wandering Jew will again roam the earth, homeless.

The videotape selections showed intense emotions as Yasser Arafat stirred his Palestinian audiences with fiery words vowing victory in their jihad (holy war) with Israel. Constantly he cried his support for the cause of Allah. Arafat declared that the PLO revolution began January 1, 1965. That was a few months after ratification of the Palestine National Covenant calling for "the liberation of Palestine" and by implication the destruction of the State of Israel. Regarding the Oslo Accords he shouted, "I have 1000 reservations!" Arafat encouraged a Hamas leader, Sheikh Almied Yassim, who is confined in an Israeli prison, promising, "Be patient!" On other occasions Arafat vowed, "Jerusalem will be liberated. With spirit and blood we will liberate Palestine!" "Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine, and those who think otherwise can go and drink Gaza seawater!" The Palestinian flag will fly over "the mosques and churches of Jerusalem!"

Dr. Rael Isaac warned that the PLO is a despotic organization allied with Hamas to destroy Israel. Yet the Labour Party and Prime Minister Peres are determined to get rid of "the burden"of administrating Judea, Samaria and Gaza by complete withdrawal. In his vision of the "New Middle East" Peres says that war is obsolete and idyllic peace is inevitable. Dr. Isaac maintains that this vision is a disastrous delusion with serious consequences for Israel. These are:

1. Already Israeli society is deeply divided regarding the "peace process". Those Israelis opposed to the process have been slandered and demonized by their own government.

2. Israel has forfeited its ability to protect its citizens:

a) by creating safe bases for terrorists in the "territories" and withdrawing its intelligence units,

b) by allowing the murder or injury of Palestinian Arabs who were accused of helping Israel,

c) by releasing hundreds of Arab prisoners who had killed or wounded Israelis.

3. Zionist values have been undermined by government policies, especially in education.There are proposals to change Israel's flag and discard "Hatikvah", its national anthem.

4. The honour and moral standing of the Jewish people are being eroded.

5. The welfare of Jews everywhere is in jeopardy because of the enmity of their neighbours and their own false hopes. "What is the future?" asked Dr. Isaac. Israel still can choose by turning from the path of assimilation and self delusion to the renewal of Zionist ideals.

Mr. Gaffney is deeply concerned about the direction of Israel's policies, comparing it to a leap from an unfinished bridge toward the distant shore of peace. Israel, he said, is driving at high velocity past the warning signs of Palestinian hostility. These include calls for Jihad, claims to all of Jerusalem, glorification of martyrs, references to the 1974 PLO plan to dismember Israel in phases. These PLO actions confirm PLO words:

1. It has made an accord with Hamas: attack Israel, not each other.

2. It is using funds donated by the US and Europe to buy land in East Jerusalem, to support Arab members of the Knesset, to assist Palestinian political groups, to increase Arafat's own financial assets.

3. The promised repeal of the Palestinian National Covenant is continually postponed.

4. Arafat praises the mothers of suicide bombers.

5. Criminals are being released from the jails of the Palestinian Authority.

Israel has contracted to Arafat the security of its citizens. The evidence proves that Arafat is not a reliable partner.

Turning to Syria, Mr. Gaffney pointed out that every terrorist group has its headquarters or a major office in Damascus. Syria is a major centre for export of heroin and the production of counterfeit US currency. It is a partner of Iran and continues to amass armaments. Mr. Gaffney observed that the Israeli people are very weary of bloodshed. The seven year intifada pressured them into the concessions of Oslo I. Now Israel is making itself vulnerable to destruction by giving up the high ground of the Golan, Judea and Samaria, major sources of water. Even in this missile age strategic depth of territory does matter. Operation Desert Storm proved this. Furthermore, Israel cannot depend on the US for protection against aggressive neighbours. In the past the US has failed to keep promises.

During the question period other facts were noted. Israel's Labour Party came to power with just 51% of the total vote: Jewish support was 33%; Israeli Arabs gave 18%. Prime Minister Peres has radically changed his views since 1990. No longer a "hawk", he envisions a new social order similar to the concepts of the recent book, VISION OF THE ANOINTED, by T. Sowell(Harper-Collins). Questioned regarding the many failures of Arafat to keep his promises in the Oslo accords, Peres replied, "If it doesn't bother me, why should it bother you?" Regarding territory claimed by the PLO, Minister Yossi Beilin stated, "We want to give it up."Israelis and their Arab neighbours are wrestling with their destinies. How can we Christians help them? We can pray in the spirit of Daniel 9. We can listen for our Lord's call and respond with the commitment spoken by our spiritual fathers from Abraham to Ananias: "Here I am!" We can warn, love and comfort in the Spirit of Jesus.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.

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