The End of a Myth
There isn't a day that passes without an Israeli being murdered by Yasser Arafat's armed forces. The members of Fatah, Hamas and of the Islamic Jihad intentionally and deliberately kill innocent, defenseless Israeli citizens by blowing themselves up or by emptying their gun barrels into buses, restaurants, party halls and pedestrian malls.
Arafat's aim is to create a feeling of panic and hopelessness in Israeli society so that Israelis pressure their elected officials to give in to the demands of the PLO – demands to which they refused to accede during negotiations. Such is the terrorist's tactic, to impose on the strongest a suffering so unbearable that it will eventually give in.
A widespread idea claims that the horror of this tactic is entirely relative, arguing that terrorism is the weapon of the weak. Since an occupied people or an oppressed social class do not possess a regular army or have sufficient financial means, they should be entitled to use the murder of innocents in order to advance their cause. And if, on top of this, their cause is a just one, then this tactic is not only permissible, but it is even worthy of praise.
Since Sept. 11, 2002, this idea has lost the two arguments on which it was based. Bin Laden has proved that the Islamic terrorist organizations are strong and that they have duped the west as to their true intentions. First, they are powerful, because they are backed by states that make available to them their territory, the weapons, the financial resources and the means of communications that they require to function effectively. And their power will be comparable to that of a country like France the day these terrorist organizations possess nuclear weapons, or when countries that support them – such as Iran, Iraq, Libya and North Korea – become full-fledged nuclear powers. Second, since Sept. 11, a majority of Americans have understood that Islamic terrorism isn't at war against the presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia, but against the very existence of Western Civilization.
Israel learned this lesson not in September 2001 but in September 2000.
After Camp David, the Israelis understood that Arafat had duped them. Arafat had convinced Western as well as Israeli public opinion that his aim was the establishment of a Palestinian state on the West Bank and in Gaza with East Jerusalem as its capital. This is exactly what Ehud Barak accepted at Camp David. Arafat's response was war. After setting this war into motion; Arafat no longer felt it necessary to hide his true intentions – the "liberation" of Palestine from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River. This war revealed as well the breadth and depth of the Palestinian military infrastructure, constructed in gross violation of the Oslo Accords since the arrival of Arafat in Gaza in 1994. More recently, the "Karine A" affair uncovered the extent of Iranian military support for the Palestinian Authority.
Like bin Laden, then, Arafat duped the West concerning his true intentions and like bin Laden, Arafat enjoys the military, strategic and financial support of states which identify with his cause. Unlike bin Laden, however, Arafat did not lose credibility in the eyes of the majority of Western public opinion, which continues to think that he is the weak one and that his cause is just. This feeling was expressed publicly by the French ambassador to Israel, Jacques Huntzinger, after Sept. 11. Huntzinger tried to derail the equation Arafat = bin Laden by declaring loud and strong that contrary to the combat of al-Qaida, the combat of Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad was legitimate. According to the French ambassador, bin Laden is an insane and powerful man fighting for an illegitimate cause, while Arafat is a weak leader of a people fighting for its independence. This is where the ambassador, along with a large part of French and Western public opinion, is sorely mistaken.
The PLO: The very essence of terrorism
The Palestinian Liberation Organization was created in 1964 by Egyptian leader Abd-el Nasser. Nasser's aim was to replace the "Zionist Entity" with an Egyptian protectorate, which would permit Cairo to impose its hegemony on the Middle East. Syrian President Hafez el-Assad was always opposed to the creation of such a Palestinian state, and it is he who told Arafat, "There is no such thing as a Palestinian people and there is no such Palestinian entity. You belong wholly to the Syrian people and Palestine is part and parcel of Syria." Arafat was born in Cairo, where he later adopted the "Step by Step Plan" of the PLO, which calls for the establishment of an armed Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza as a necessary step in the subsequent destruction of Israel. Article 8 of the "Step by Step Plan" stipulates, "Once it is established, the Palestinian National Authority will strive to achieve a union of the confrontation countries, with the aim of completing the liberation of all Palestinian territory."
The "Step by Step Plan" was adopted by the PLO in 1974 following the Yom Kippur War, which proved that even a total war declared by surprise in the best conditions was incapable of destroying Israel. Thus, the PLO decided to adopt the method of the "Trojan Horse," in order to destroy Israel from within.
The charter of the PLO proclaims that "the liberation of Palestine is a national obligation" (Article 15), that "the partition of Palestine in 1947 and the establishment of the State of Israel is null and void" (Article 19) and that "the Arab Palestinian people expressing itself by the armed Palestinian revolution, rejects all solutions which envisage the replacement of the liberation of the totality of Palestine" (Article 21).
The Palestinian charter was never repealed or abrogated, even though Arafat agreed to do so by signing the Oslo Accords. According to these accords, the PLO had until May 7, 1996, to abrogate its charter. On October 7, 1995, Arafat declared during a conference at Harvard University: "I would be lying if I told you that we will abrogate the charter." According to Article 33 of the charter, the charter may neither be modified nor abrogated except by a two-third majority of the Palestinian National Council. Of the 33 articles of the charter, 30 deny Israel the very right to exist, directly or indirectly, and call for armed struggle against Israel. On April 24, 1996, the Palestinian National Council adopted the following text:
It has been decided as follows:
- To change the Palestinian National Charter by annulling all articles contrary to the letters exchanged between the PLO and the Israeli government on September 9, 1993.
- The Palestinian National Council will name a legal committee in charge of reformulating the Charter. The Charter will be presented at the first session of the Central Committee.
This resolution did not abrogate the charter but proclaimed the will of the Palestinian National Council to do so and to name a legal committee to that end. This is why the Israeli government added a clause to the Hebron Agreement of January 1997 in which the PLO would agree to "complete the process of revision of the Palestinian National Charter" and to do so "immediately."
Once again, the PLO did not respect its commitment. Arafat simply sent a letter to President Clinton on January 22, 1998, in which he wrote that the charter had been abrogated by decision of the Palestinian National Council on April 24, 1996. Since this decision in no way abrogated the charter, the Israeli government, in the Wye Accords of October 1998 demanded that the Palestinian Authority "invite the PLO to reaffirm its support" to the letter addressed by Arafat to Clinton in January 1998.
On Dec. 14, 1998, Arafat convened a meeting with certain members of the PLO, although not with the Palestinian National Council. He didn't ask them to abrogate the charter (which he couldn't have done to begin with, since only a two-third majority of the Palestinian national Council could abrogate the charter, and not a meeting of several members of the PLO) but he asked them to confirm their support for the letter addressed by Arafat to Clinton. The members present at the meeting didn't vote, but simply stood up in sign of approval. And so the Palestinian National charter, that denies the right of Israel to exist and calls for its destruction, has never been abrogated.
The PLO refers to the Mufti Hadj-Amin Al-Husseini as its spiritual father. The "mufti" was the most ardent adversary of any compromise with the Jews during the 1920s and 1930s. He was Hitler's host during World War II, encouraged the implementation of the Final Solution and pressured the Nazi regime in order for Rommel to eliminate all traces of Jewish presence in Palestine. In a speech given on April 24, 1985, in Bandung, Indonesia, Arafat declared himself to be "extremely proud" to continue along the path of the mufti and added that "the PLO continues to travel along the road opened by the mufti."
The mufti was a violent religious extremist who eliminated all his opponents. Thousands of Palestinians were assassinated by his forces and about 40,000 Arab families were forced to flee Palestine. After the elimination of the moderate Palestinians, the mufti proclaimed at a "round table" organized by the British government in 1939 that the members of the Husseini family represented "the only legitimate representatives of the Arab Palestinians." King Abdallah of Jordan, who in 1951 was set to sign a peace agreement with Israel, was assassinated by agents of the mufti.
After taking over the leadership of the PLO, Arafat adopted a strategy that continues to be his modus operandi to this day: to carry out terrorist attacks against Israel in order to provoke a military response against those Arab countries offering refuge to the PLO, and this, in order to provoke a generalized conflict between Israel and the Arab countries. On Dec. 26, 1983, Arafat declared, "The war of attrition against the Zionist enemy will never end. My intent is to create a regional war, because I am convinced that the only remedy for all the ills of the Arab nation is a real war against the Zionist enemy." During the years preceding the Six Day War (1967), the PLO adopted the tactics that it continues to use to this day: the murder of Israeli civilians and immediate withdrawal to Gaza (at that time under Egyptian control) and to the West Bank (at that time under Jordanian control).
After having been expelled from Jordan by King Hussein in 1970, the PLO took up residence in Lebanon and carried out a series of terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians on the northern border of Israel. In 1974, the PLO murdered 18 civilians in Kyriat Shemona and 26 children in a school in Maalot. In 1978, the PLO hijacked an Israeli bus and killed 35 passengers. In 1979, a "combatant" of the PLO killed a young girl on a Nahariya beach in front of her father. At the same time, and until 1982, the PLO regularly bombarded the northern cities in Israel with Katyusha rockets.
The PLO also murdered Israeli civilians outside of Israel as well as non Israeli Jews. In 1972, at the Munich Olympic Games, the PLO murdered 11 Israeli athletes. In 1985, the PLO murdered Leon Klinghoffer, a handicapped American Jew on the cruise ship "Achille Lauro" and threw his body overboard.
The PLO specialized also in airplane hijackings. In 1968, the PLO hijacked an El Al flight departing for London and took another El Al flight hostage on the ground in Zurich. After El Al improved its security systems, the PLO went after other international airlines flying to or from Israel. In 1972, the PLO hijacked a plane from Sabena, the Belgian airline. In 1976, the PLO hijacked an Air France flight en route to Uganda.
The "PLO-State" in Lebanon became the hub of international terrorism, furnishing training camps, arms, communications networks, and financial resources to terrorist organizations the world over. The "PLO-State" became a terrorist training camp and a refuge for the Italian Red Brigades, the German Bader-Meinhoff, the Irish IRA, the Japanese Red Army, the French Action Directe, the Turkish Liberation Army, the Armenian Assala, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as well as terrorist groups in South America and German neo-Nazis.
Turning Point: Terrorism and Diplomacy
In 1988, the PLO decided to change its strategy. Israeli's argument – "How can we negotiate with an organization whose very raison d'être is our destruction?" was too powerful to be ignored by the West. Aware of this problem, the leaders of the PLO changed their rhetoric without changing their strategy. The PLO decided to officially declare that it recognized Israel and that it accepted Resolution 242 of the U.N. Security Council, in order to be recognized by the U.S. government as the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinians.
In Geneva, on December 13, 1988, under American pressure, Arafat declared that he "condemns terrorism, particularly state terrorism" and that he "salutes [those] who have fought for the liberation of their land, under colonial domination and who have been accused of terrorism." Arafat added in the same declaration: "I salute the saints who have been victims of terrorism and of terrorists, and among them my friend and stand-in ... Khalil Al-Wazir [Abu Jihad] and our saints who have been massacred in our villages and in our refugee camps on the West Bank, Gaza and in South Lebanon." Abu Jihad was responsible, among other things, for the murder of the 35 passengers on the bus at the northern border of Israel in 1978, the murder of the young girl in plain view of her father on the Nahariya beach in 1979, and of the murder of 3 Israeli athletes at the Barcelona Olympic Games in 1992. Arafat is a shrewd manipulator: He declared loud and strong that he condemns terrorism and then makes clear that what he understands as terrorism is the IDF's activities on the West Bank, in Gaza and in Lebanon. This mixture of cynicism, hypocrisy and bad faith is typical of Arafat.
In the very same speech, Arafat declared that he accepted Security Council Resolution 242 and that he recognized the right of all the parties to live in peace and in security. Immediately following this declaration, the U.S. government decided to undertake a dialogue with the PLO, and Arafat was received at the Elysée Palace by then President François Mitterrand.
Unfortunately, American and European politicians as well as journalists didn't bother to read and to listen to what the leaders of the PLO declared (in particular in Arab media) after Arafat's speech in Geneva.
On Dec. 19, 1988 (less than a week after the Geneva speech) Arafat declared in an Austrian TV interview that he had not abandoned "armed resistance" (in other words – terrorism). On Dec. 23, 1988, Salim Zanoun, the spokesman of the Palestinian National Council declared in the Kuwaiti newspaper, Al-Anba: "Armed resistance against the Zionist enemy and its allies must continue ... in order to make the enemy give up." On Jan. 13, 1990, Abu-Ayad, Arafat's right-hand man, declared in Al-Rayia, a Qatari newspaper: "the PLO has never agreed to abandon armed struggle." Concerning the "recognition" of Israel, Abu-Ayad declared on September 11, 1989, in the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Watan: "There has been no recognition of Israel by the PLO, neither in the decisions of the Palestinian National Council in Algiers nor in Arafat's speech in Geneva."
As for Arafat, he was very clear during a visit to Libya in a communiqué to the Agence France Presse on Jan. 7, 1990: "Since the State of Israel is a scar from world War II, it will disappear just as the other remaining scars of that war, such as the Berlin Wall." In fact, the PLO only intensified its terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens after 1988. In May 1990, for example, the PLO tried to land explosives on a Tel Aviv beach, a fact that convinced the American government that it had been "duped."
This farce continued with Arafat's use of the word caduc (null and void) during his May 2, 1989, visit to Paris. The fact that Arafat had declared the charter of Palestinian National Council caduc has no legal consequence, since only a two-third majority of the Palestinian National Council can amend or abrogate the charter. And, in fact, Abu-Ayad declared in the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Siassa on Jan. 1, 1989, "Neither Arafat nor myself, nor any leader is in a position to abrogate the charter, because the charter belongs to the Palestinian National Council."
The leaders of the PLO declared, as well, that the "recognition" of Israel in the Western media was a purely tactical move meant to implement the "Step by Step Plan" adopted by the PLO in 1974. Rafik Natshe, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, declared in the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Watan on Jan. 8, 1989: "Our political program is the implementation of the Step by Step Plan." Shortly before, in Algiers, on Nov. 28, 1988, Abu-Ayad clearly stated that the aim of the Palestinian National Council was to give new life to the plan and to accelerate its application.
Abu-Ayad added that "According to the Step by Step Plan, we will establish a Palestinian state in the Palestinian territories that the enemy will evacuate. This state will be one step in our combat for the liberation of all of Palestine." And he added, "We have sworn to liberate the Palestine of pre-1967 borders. We will free Palestine step by step." On May 7, 1990, Arafat himself declared to the members of the Palestinian National Council that "the combat of the Palestinian people will continue until the total liberation of Palestinian land ... we must support the Palestinian people's combat until the complete liberation of Palestine from the river to the sea."
In what way, then, is the PLO more "moderate" than the Hamas or Islamic Jihad? As Rafik Natche explains, "[Hamas says] all of Palestine belongs to us and we want to liberate it from the sea to the river in one fell swoop. But the Fatah, which is the armed wing of the PLO, thinks that it is more efficient to proceed according to the Step by Step Plan. The two organizations are in agreement on the final goal. Our disaccord is only on the method to adopt in order to achieve this goal" (Al-Kabs, Dec. 26, 1989).
In spite of these declarations, part of Israeli and Western public opinion believed that the PLO had changed after the collapse of the Soviet Union and after the Gulf War. Having lost the diplomatic and military support of the Soviet Union and Iraq, as well as the financial support of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries, and having disqualified itself in the eyes of the United States for having supported Iraq during the Gulf War, the PLO found itself isolated and weakened. Some Israeli leaders estimated that in such conditions, Arafat would be more reasonable and abandon his dream of destroying Israel, and that he would accept the solution of two States for two peoples.
This is why the Rabin government, hoping that Arafat had become a trustworthy partner, signed the Oslo Accords with him. Many Israelis also thought that the economic development of the Palestinian State in-the-making would create a middle class more interested in its well being than in the myths of the right of return and the liberation of the whole of Palestine.
The Kept Promise
The Israeli government was right to think that a weakened and isolated Arafat would be ready to sign an agreement with Israel. But this same government was mistaken in thinking that Arafat had changed his strategy.
On May 23, 1994, eight months after Israel and the PLO had signed the Declaration of Principles with Israel, Arafat declared in a Johannesburg mosque that the agreement signed between the PLO and Israel was identical to the one signed in the year 629 between the prophet Mohammed and the Qureish tribe of Mecca ("the Peace of Hudabiya"), in other words, a temporary agreement signed from a position of weakness with a strong enemy, with the only aim of improving the chances of beating him in the future. Arafat repeated this comparison in May and November 1998.
On Nov. 16, 1998, Arafat declared to the youth group of Fatah, "The Peace of Oslo is the Peace of Hudabiya." On Sept. 1, 1993, a few days before the signature of the Declaration of Principles, Arafat declared, "this is the program we agreed to in 1974. [The Declaration of Principles] constitutes the basis of the Palestinian State in agreement with the decision of the Palestinian National Council voted on in 1974." On Nov. 16, 1994, Arafat declared, "We will establish a Palestinian Authority in all territory liberated from the Zionist enemy," and he added: "In 1974 we decided to establish our regime on only part of our land, and we will apply this decision." On Sept. 19, 1995, Arafat declared in an interview with Jordanian newspaper Al-Datsur, "The Oslo Accords constitute one important step in the realization of the Plan of Stages, adopted in 1974." Arafat repeated in an April 18, 1998, interview on Egyptian TV and with the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ayam that the Oslo Accords are the putting into practice of the plan. Palestinian cabinet members Abdul Aziz Shaheen declared to the Palestinian newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida on January 4, 1998: "the Oslo Accords were the preface of the Palestinian Authority, which will be the preface to the Palestinian state, which will constitute in its turn, the preface to the liberation of all of Palestine."
Faisal Husseini, the Palestinian leader considered in Western circles as a moderate, gave the clearest and most honest explanation of the meaning of the Oslo Accords for the Palestinians. In an interview with the Egyptian newspaper Al-Arabi on June 24, 2001, he explained that the Oslo Accords constituted a "Trojan Horse" designed to fool Israel in order to "liberate Palestine from the Jordan River all the way to the Mediterranean Sea." This statement however, did not prevent the Palestinians from describing the Oslo process as a "peace process" when addressing themselves to the Western media.
As to Arafat's agreement to renounce violence and to combat Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the results were self-evident as of the signing of the Oslo Accords. During the first year following the signing of the Gaza-Jericho Agreements, on May 4, 1994, 67 Israelis were murdered by Hamas and by Fatah, triple the number of Israeli victims of terrorism as during the year that preceded Oslo. Arafat insisted that he needed more "police" to arrest the terrorists, although he had no problem eliminating his opponents in Judea, Samaria and Gaza from his bunker in Tunis. Between the first Oslo agreement in 1993 and March 2002 (just nine years), 637 Israelis were murdered by Fatah and Islamic Jihad, against 255 victims between 1978 and 1993 (a period of 15 years). The terrorist attacks perpetrated since the Oslo Accords were either ordered or authorized by Arafat himself. Amin Hindi, chief of the Palestinian Secret Services declared to the Jerusalem Times on Sept. 25, 1998, "We have no intention of controlling Hamas."
Not only does Arafat not combat Hamas, but he also collaborates with and glorifies the group. In June 1996, he dedicated a public park in Jericho to the memory of Yiyhe Ayyash, a Hamas leader responsible for the murder of several dozen Israelis. In January 1996, Arafat delivered the eulogy at Ayyash's funeral and called him a "martyr." On Sept. 12, 1996, Arafat declared to UPI: "There is no confrontation between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority." The head of Preventative Security Services on the West Bank, Jibril Rajoub, told Al-Jazeera TV on May 27, 1998, "Hamas is an integral part of our national Islamic liberation movement." Rajoub's counterpart in Gaza, Mohamed Dahlan, told Palestinian newspaper Al-Ayam on Oct. 26, 1998, that Hamas and Islamic Jihad "will not be made outlaws." Arafat himself declared on Dec. 10, 1994, that "The intifada will continue until Palestine is liberated by means of blood and fire" and confirmed on Aug. 4, 1999, that "we will continue our Jihad."
Under pretext of establishing a police force to maintain law and order, Arafat established a real army far surpassing the number of policemen authorized by the Oslo Accords and equipped them with arms that were strictly forbidden by the accords, such as ground to ground missiles, grenades and mines. The Oslo Accords permitted the deployment of 24,000 policemen in the West Bank and Gaza. However, in 1998, the Palestinian Authority budget attributed salaries to 40,000 policemen, 66 percent more than the number authorized by the Oslo Accords. The Palestinian "police" had become a veritable army producing its own arsenal in the autonomous Palestinian areas and illegally importing arms from Egypt, Iran and Iraq.
In order to maintain the "morale of the troops" and to prepare them for combat, the Palestinian media as well as the Palestinian educational system indoctrinated the Palestinians with hatred toward Israel and the national duty to liberate Palestine "from the river to the sea." While, in the Oslo Accords, the PLO had agreed to establish an educational syllabus which would teach peace and tolerance, instead the Palestinian school books are filled with phrases such as: "We must fight the Jews and chase them from our country. There will be a Jihad and our country will be liberated." And "in your left hand, the Koran, and in your right hand, the Arab sword. Without blood, not a centimetre will be liberated. This is why we must cry: Allah is Great." As for television programs for children, the message is just as clear: "When I will be in Jerusalem, I will be a suicide bomber! ... I spilled my blood on each morsel of your earth. And we will march like Jihad fighters. Oh, my exalted martyr, you are my aspiration. Oh, my sister, sing of my life as a suicide warrior!"
The Year 1993
To say that Arafat deceived Israel (and kept his word to his people) is thus a euphemism. But it is impossible to understand this treason without knowing about the link between Arafat and bin Laden and without being aware of the simultaneity between the signing of the Oslo Accords and the emergence of al-Qaida as a powerful organized terrorist network.
Arafat and bin Laden have in common their conviction that terrorism (that is, the deliberate and intentional murder of innocents in order to create panic and despair and thus to put pressure on Western governments) is a legitimate tactic. In his book, "The Koranic Concept of War" (1979), S.K. Malik, a general of the Pakistani brigade, formulated a theory justifying terrorism: "Terrorism which strikes the heart of the enemy, is not only a means but an end in itself. Once terror is injected into the heart of the enemy, the game is done. ... Terrorism is not a means to impose a decision on the enemy; it is the decision that we want to impose on him."
Since all the leaders of the PLO were linked via the Muslim Brotherhood in their youth, the PLO was one of the first Palestinian organizations to become aware of the potential power of Islamic terrorism during the 1980s. It is during this period that Arafat began to use the Islamic vocabulary in his speeches. In a speech given in Khartoum on Oct. 15, 1985, Arafat declared, "The Arab Revolution is alive in the Arab conscience in spite of imperialist and Zionist conspiracies. ... Holy War and armed struggle will only intensify in time. ... I tell Reagan and his agents in our Arab world that the will of the Arab nation comes from the will of Allah. This is why the Arab nations will be victorious."
Arafat's military chief, Khalil Al-Wazir (better known as Abu Jihad), was one of the first to understand that Islamic terrorism was the "terrorism of the future." It is Abu Jihad who created the alliance between Fatah and the different branches of the Islamic Jihad in Israel, in Jordan and in Lebanon. The investigation in May 1986 of riots at the University of al Yarmuq in Jordan, revealed that Abu Jihad played a pivotal role in the organization of a secret alliance between the Jordanian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood and the local communist party, known under the name of The Marxist Cells. He was also instrumental in releasing funds for the Jordanian Islamists and in organizing terrorist training outside of Jordan.
In 1988, the PLO began to send its most promising youngsters to the mujahideen camps in Pakistan, where all the Islamist groups organized their training camps. The Palestinians joined organizations such as the Egyptian Takfir aq-al-Hijra (responsible for the murder of Sadat), as well as the Syrian and Lebanese Muslim Brotherhood. Upon the initiative of Abu Jihad, the Muslim Brothers of Jordan also encouraged their members to fight in Afghanistan.
The year of 1993 marked a victory for the Islamic forces supported by bin Laden in Africa: the eviction of the "Big Satan" (the United States) from Somalia. This victory reinforced the Islamists' confidence, and in particular the confidence of al-Qaida in the Islamist victory over the West.
Incidentally, it is in 1993 that Arafat signed the Oslo Accords and compared them to the Hudabyia Accords. One year later, in November 1994, the Islamic and Palestinian terrorist organizations met in Larnaca Cyprus, to discuss their strategy. Participating in this gathering were the Front for Islamic Action (Jordan), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Hamas, Hezbollah and the Party of Islamic Liberation (Jordan). The outcome of this meeting was the participants' agreement on the following strategy: to intensify attacks against American and Israeli civilians, so that they pressure their respective governments to change their politics.
In 1995, the Islamic and Palestinian terrorist organizations scored new victories. In April 1995, the Clinton administration decided to ignore Iranian arms shipments to the Muslim forces in Bosnia, in violation of U.N. decisions. Washington's lack of determination vis-à-vis Iranian military activism in Bosnia convinced Teheran that the Clinton administration would not react firmly to a terrorist attack directed against the United States. At the same time (Spring 1995), the Syrian and Iranian Secret Services established a Jihad Consulting Council for the Islamic Palestinian Movement as well as for the other Palestinian terrorist groups supported by Teheran and Damascus.
As of 1998, the Palestinian rhetoric became more and more "Islamicized." Sheik Yassin, leader of Hamas, whom Arafat called "my brother" on July 2, 1994, and received with full honors after his October 1997 liberation, declared in May 1998, "Who liberated Palestine from the Crusaders? The Arab Nation, and in particular Egypt and Syria when they united to form a front that Saladin used in his battle against the Crusaders. The Arab Islamic nation can play this role once again."
Ayatollah Juhamed Baquir al-Sadi, the master Iraqi Islamic thinker, resumed the Islamic world vision in the following terms: "The world as it is today has been fashioned by non-Muslims. ... We have two choices: either we bow to the current world order, which would mean letting Islam die. Or we destroy the current world order, to reconstruct the world as Islam wants it."
This world view is also the one taught in history textbooks used in Palestinian Authority high schools (11th grade in the Palestinian syllabus): "Western Civilization, in its two variations (capitalism and communism) has stripped man of his peace of mind, transforming material well being into the supreme goal. ... This is why a new civilization must replace it. ... Only a nation is capable of rising to this challenge, our Nation. … Not that the collapse of Western Civilization and the transfer of its center to Islam will take place in one or two decades … but Western Civilization will begin to collapse and become a pile of debris. We have awakened to the painful reality of oppressive Western imperialism, but we have routed it out from certain of our lands and we will chase it from the rest of our lands."
Since 1988, Arafat has succeeded in brilliantly manipulating Western public opinion by making it believe that he was fighting for the independence of an occupied people against a colonial oppressor. However, he never abandoned his primary objective: the destruction of the state of Israel.
In September 2000, Arafat's lie was plainly and clearly revealed – his unequivocal rejection of all that he claimed to fight for, the establishment of a Palestinian State in the West Bank and Gaza with East-Jerusalem as its capital. By launching his war of attrition against Israel he "re-conquered" international public opinion in a few days, "thanks" to the projection of images of a powerful army compelled to shoot back at kids cynically sent to the frontline by Arafat himself.
It is time for the West to stop falling into the trap of these cynical manipulations. Israelis accepted the sharing of their country with the Palestinians in 1947 and in 2000. They have neither the interest nor the desire to control 3 million Arabs, but as long as the only alternative offered by the PLO to this untenable status quo is the establishment of a state dedicated to the destruction of Israel, then the only one responsible for the continued "occupation" so decried by Arafat will be Arafat himself. Because the bin Ladens and Arafats are convinced that it is only through terrorism that they will achieve their goal, only a total military victory against their infrastructures will put an end to terrorism. The unconditional capitulation of bin Laden and Arafat, as well as that of the pro-terror regimes of States like Iran, Iraq and North Korea, requires a massive deployment of military force. This victory is possible, the same as it was against Nazi Germany and against Japan. After military victory, peace will emerge only once the tyrants and fanatics are replaced by democratic regimes. Dictators need war to maintain their rule, because people are willing to sacrifice their freedom and well-being during war time. The symbiosis between war and dictatorship creates a vicious cycle: the dictator hijacks his country's riches toward the purchase of arms and needs the continuation of this state of war to channel the growing frustration of his people toward an "external enemy." As long as the Palestinians, Iraqis or Iranians will be held hostage by autocratic leaders, war will continue to rip apart the Middle East. Arafat has rejected the peace offered at Camp David because he knew that the end of the war against Israel would in effect have threatened his regime.
Free societies want to live in peace and are ready to abandon certain national and historic symbols in the name of peace – just as Israeli society proved its desire to live in peace in the summer of 2000 at Camp David. But this desire for peace will continue to be sterile as long as the Palestinians are led by a dictator who cynically exploits and manipulates the Israeli desire for peace in order to improve his strategic position and to implement his vile plans. The democratization of Palestinian society is possible. But for this to take place, Western countries must export their principles instead of falling into the trap of "revolutionary leaders" who hold their population hostage and prevent any reasonable compromise between contradictory demands of people who would rather live together than die together.Dr. Emmanuel Navon is a political science lecturer at Bar-Ilan University and CEO of a political consultancy firm.
Editor's note: This article was originally published in the May 2002 issue of Outre-Terre: Revue française de Géopolitique. Translated from French by Nora Wizenberg.
© 2002 Emmanuel Navon