The purposeful murder and maiming of scores of Israeli citizens in yesterday's Palestinian terrorist attack on a bus in Jerusalem was not an effort by extremists to destroy the "peace process." Rather, it is the latest manifestation of a determined effort - one broadly supported by most Palestinians -- to bring about the destruction of the state of Israel.
As such it is no more a part of a bona fide "cycle of violence" than U.S. steps aimed at intercepting and defeating operatives of al Qaeda, the Taliban and Saddam Hussein's Ba'athist cadre are morally equivalent to the latters' attacks on this country, its citizens and interests.
George W. Bush's recognition of the true nature of the source and purpose of "homicide bombings" like this evening's prompted him on June 24, 2002 to describe a "vision" for Mideast peace that had reflected that reality. It was based on several cardinal principles. These included, notably:
1) the Palestinians must select and empower through democratic means a "new leadership"… untainted by terror";Remarkably, the President has lately thrown his personal prestige and energies behind a "road map" that reflects none of these principles.
First, pursuant to the road map, Yasser Arafat's right-hand man for the past forty-years, Mahmoud Abbas, is being treated as though he were genuinely a "new leader" with no association with terrorism.Such departures from Mr. Bush's principled position of last June carry grave risks. Notably, they signal that terrorism pays -- a point that will be underscored if, pursuant to the road map, Israel is compelled in the aftermath of today's attack in Jerusalem to continue to uproot and withdraw from settlements on the West Bank.
Moral equivalence will replace the moral authority conferred upon a fellow democracy that is fighting, ultimately, for its life and that of its people. We should never forget that our own counter-terrorist operations rely on this same moral authority.
And the United States will wind up weakening a valuable and powerful regional ally in time of war, a moment when such friends are more needed than ever. As the latest bus-bombing underscores, this road map will make Israelis into "road kill," whose self-defense capabilities will become ever more inadequate to contending with the threat posed by terrorists and other allies of the new Palestinian state and whose security will, in due course, increasingly be an unwanted and unsustainable U.S. responsibility.
The carnage in Jerusalem yesterday -- and more sure to come if Israel were actually to make the concessions called for in the road map -- demand that President Bush return to first principles. In the past, he was rightly critical of mistakes of the Clinton-era "peace processors." His 24 June speech offered an approach that would avoid many of those pitfalls.
Of course, the prospect of abandoning the road map so early on may be embarrassing. The attendant political costs of doing so, however, will pale into insignificance compared to those associated with continuing to invest the President's limited capital and prestige in a peace process doomed to fail, given that it is rooted in faulty assumptions and moral equivalence.
It is time to accord our free, democratic Israeli ally the same latitude for countering terrorist threats to its people and society that we insist upon for ourselves. Mr. Bush did precisely that last June, as he clearly and thoughtfully conditioned his support for a Palestinian state. A failure to do so now will bring no just and durable peace to the region. To the contrary, a weakened Israel, perceived to have lost the support of its American security partners and confronting the world's newest terrorist state, is an invitation to the Middle East's next - and potentially most devastating - war to date.
Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. is the President of the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C. He formerly held senior positions in the Reagan Defense Department
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Professor of International Law - Department of Political Science - Purdue University
As should be plainly evident from today's barbaric attack upon pasengers on a Jerusalem bus, there is no "cycle of violence" in the Middle East, only frenzied Arab murders of Jewish civilians followed by essential Israeli measures of self-defense. Hamas argues that it was "retaliating" for Israel's prior day's attempt at assassination of a lead terrorist, as if to say that a constituted democratic state and an outlawed terrorist gang are of equivalent legal stature. Yet, such an argument exhibits the perverse logic of an arch criminal who sees no difference between law violation and law enforcement.
Hamas has no right to "retaliate;" it is a flagrantly criminal organization that recognizes no boundaries whatsoever in its persistent targeting of innocents. This should be especially evident to President Bush, whose recent criticism of Israeli self-defense stands in ironic contrast to America's vastly more massive use of force in Iraq. So far Operation Iraqi Freedom has generated almost 3500 Iraqi civiilan casualties as collateral damage to targeted-killing of Saddam Hussein. And Israel is rather more vulnerable than the United States; the entire country could fit comfortably into Lake Michigan.
Civilized societies acknowledge no equivalence between the inexcusable violence of murderers and the indispensable violence of lawful authorities. But what is Israel to do? Now there is even an explicit Arab threat to escalate to biological terrorism. Recently the Lebanon-based Palestinian weekly, Al-Manar, published an article titled: "Will We Reach the Option of Biological Deterrence?" Here, according to a translation by the highly reputable Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Palestinian terrorists plan to deploy such "death-carrying devices near Israeli water resources; the Israeli beaches....the markets and the residential centers." The plain objective, for the Arabs, is "...to create a balance of horror in the equation of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict."
What is Israel to do? The Palestinian Prime-Minister says that he will not use force against Hamas, and Hamas recognizes only a "One State Solution." For them, all of Israel - not only West Bank and Gaza - are "Occupied Palestine." They state openly, and categorically, that they will not cease violence against "The Jews" until "all of Palestine is liberated." Now, shall Israeli Prime Minister Sharon declare Hamas leadership immune to Israeli self-defense strikes? Is there a national leader anywhere on earth who would conceivably make such a declaration?
All of the Palestinian leadership - Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Palestinian Authority, it makes no difference - share an expressed delight in the murder of Jewish noncombatants. This is because for all of these leaders, the issue is not territory, but religion. The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is only superficially about land. More profoundly, it is about GOD, and about Arab unwillingness to allow a Jewish State, ANY Jewish State, in an Islamic region. Under no circumstances are the Palestinians willing to allow Jewish sovereignty over Muslims. Even if the Jews "occupy" a land that is less than half the size of San Bernardino County in California, it is a "cancer" on the World of Islam that must be cut out.
Consider how deliriously the present Palestinian leadership articulates its idea of "liberation." Announced joyously, as if killing Jews were always much more than a necessary evil, this idea is genuinely savored. It is savored in almost every communal context; in family gatherings, in the schools and of course in the mosques. Whatever brings death to "The Jews" is judged to be good, true and beautiful. Violence against Israel need not be specifically purposeful or instrumental. Rather, it is always "delightful" (in the literal meaning of that word) in its own right.
What is Israel to do? Israel must understand all this, and take care not to assume standard military reasoning among its Palestinian enemies or its enemies elsewhere in the Islamic world. Israel, which generally assumes enemy rationality in its counterterrorism and war-planning scenarios, can no longer overlook the fact that this assumption is often incorrect. In the Islamic Middle East, violence within and between states is often self- propelled, generated for its own sake, for what a Fatah Manifesto calls its "healing powers among the people." For many of Israel's enemies, Clausewitz is being replaced with De Sade. For these enemies, violence against Jews is deliciously naked, tantalizing only for the sheer pain its can bring to unbelievers. The aggressivity of this violence is disinterested in strategic gains or losses. Notwithstanding the assertions of all Palestinian leaderships, it is often politically unmotivated. Sometimes it wills only its own will. Lately it is pure frenzy; a "perfect" irrationality.
There exists among Israel's Palestinian enemies a voluptuousness of violence. It is in Israel's immediate existential interest never to lose sight of this primal inversion of normal world politics. Israel's enemies, at least on occasion, are ready to disregard ordinary calculations of cost- effectiveness and military balance. Instead, they are now routinely animated by the most hideously aberrant human needs and expectations.
For the Palestinian leadership elites, representing all factions and parties, agony is infintely more important than logic; not their own agony, to be sure, but the agony they can inflict upon "The Jews." Living happily only under the sovereignty of a rancorous hatred, they increasingly prefer the lascivious enthusiasms of cruelty to the gentle possibilities for peace. As soon as violence against "The Jews" beckons, these leaders join merrily together, dreaming contentedly of inferno, slaughter and "paradise."
Curiously, much of the Palestinian leadership tells the truth about its tactics and hopes. Not only Hamas, but also Yassir Arafat and his other brothers-in-arms have sometimes harbored their exterminating sentiments openly. The killing and maiming of Jewish innocents has become their most conspicuous life force, even their raison d'etre. One wonders, reciprocally, why so many people still stubbornly refuse to listen. Even in Israel.
What is Israel to do? There is no cycle of violence in the region, only a continuous and gratuitous murder of Jews on their own land. With a palpable greed for violence, with a feverish greed still unrecognized in Washington, the Palestinian leadership impatiently awaits Israel's dying moments. Nothing less will ever satisy them. Absolutely nothing.
LOUIS RENE BERES He was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971) and publishes widely on Israeli security matters. Prof. Beres is the acacemic advisor to the Freeman Center For Strategic Studies.
"By God, we will not leave one Jew in Palestine."- Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi, from his hospital bed
"Israel is targeting Palestinian civilians, so Israeli civilians should be targeted. From now on all Israeli people are targets."- Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, after the Israeli attempt to kill Rantissi
Sheikh Yassin says that now Hamas will attack Israeli civilians. Rantisi says now they will drive every Jew from Israel. Now they are really angry.
Imagine for a moment that Osama bin Laden's redoubt was being bombed by the United States, and the world responded by lecturing the Americans about torpedoing the possibility for negotiations and feeding a "cycle of violence." Imagine further that bin Laden responded to the bombings with threats to "retaliate" against Americans everywhere.
Yet no one believes in negotiations with al-Qaida. And there would be little point in al-Qaida contending that it was "retaliating" after it had murdered 3,000 Americans.
What makes Israel's war against Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Fatah different? There are two ostensible differences. First, the terrorists are identified with a cause that is supported by Israel and the United States: creating a Palestinian state. Second, a diplomatic process is in motion that, by some combination of force and negotiations, is supposed to substitute for simply crushing these organizations.
Neither of these proposed reasons for treating Palestinian terrorists differently holds water. As Rantisi and every other terrorist leader openly proclaims, their goal is not a Palestinian state beside Israel, but one replacing Israel. Rantisi is an Islamo-fascist of the same stripe as bin Laden, with similar totalitarian and genocidal goals.
If the goal is two democratic states living peacefully side by side, there is no logic in treating Hamas with kid gloves. Their struggle has no more legitimacy than al-Qaida's, and is in fact a branch of bin Laden's struggle to defeat the "Zionists and Crusaders."
But what about the peace process? How could Israel make Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas's job more difficult by attacking the very people with whom he's attempting to negotiate a cease-fire? Even President George W. Bush is "troubled" by Israel's action.
Actually, the trouble is that the negotiated alternative was not working, and had no chance of working. Abbas has repeatedly ruled out using force against Hamas. And the pace of attacks has only increased since the Aqaba summit, including the five Israeli soldiers killed at Erez and in Hebron, the couple stabbed to death in a forest in Jerusalem, continuing mortar attacks against Sderot, and the 16 murdered yesterday in Jerusalem by a suicide bomber.
The terrorist organizations had no reason to heed Abbas's toothless calls and every reason to continue their attacks. If Abbas is indeed trying to make peace with Israel, why should they help him? At the same time, if Abbas is unwilling to take it upon himself to curb Palestinian terrorism, who will?
For now, the only credible answer is the IDF. As for the notion, in wide circulation here and particularly overseas, that IDF retaliation only prompts further Palestinian terrorist attacks, we can only point to the dozens of attacks that occurred in the absence of Israeli "provocation," stretching back to the bus bombings of the 1990s. That there are still people so indefatigably credulous as to believe that every Palestinian atrocity must have been provoked by some prior Israeli misdeed amazes us.
We are similarly amazed by the notion that the Sharon government should have abstained from retaliation. Exactly how many victims, we would like to know, must a terror attack claim in order to justify Israeli retaliation? And just how much time should Sharon give Abbas's efforts at negotiation? A month? A year?
In truth, a policy of Israeli retaliation only serves Abbas's immediate purposes, not least because they absolve him of the responsibility and the domestic political fallout for taking on Hamas. It might be argued that this is a responsibility Abbas had best discharge himself. But that argument doesn't wash as long as Abbas doesn't confront Hamas head on.
The task now is not to cower from Hamas's threat of retaliation, as if retaliation is what these people do. The task is to strike at Rantisi and his cohorts again, truly to drive the organization underground, and to create the conditions in which Abbas, if he is sincere, can assume the responsibilities he made his own at Aqaba.
Until that point is reached, there can be no turning back.
Time and again Israeli leaders have succumbed to the temptation to go along with the false narratives of others to curry favor. And the results have been disastrous.
Let's take a look at the situation:
#1 Abu Mazen - Man Of Peace?Ariel Sharon went along with the false narrative that Abu Mazen is a man of peace whose only problem is a lack of strength.
+ Abu Mazen calls for using "all means" against settlers? - not in the story official Israel shares with the world.
#2 Mohammed Dahlan - Terror Fighter?Ariel Sharon went along with the bizarre narrative that Mohammed Dahlan is seriously committed to peace.
+ For years he didn't stop the top Hamas terrorist, Muhammad Deif. Instead they ate frequently together. + He didn't cease illegal weapons, under his leadership Preventative Security contracted out the production of various illegal weapons systems in the Gaza Strip. + He didn't thwart terror attacks, during his watch, Preventive Security instigated and coordinated terror attacks.But mums the word from the Prime Minister's Office.
#3 Egypt - Contributor To Peace?And Egypt? Those fantastic neighbors investing in the best American and other weapons systems billions of dollars of US aid can buy in preparation for the day it thrusts across the Sinai? What of the false narrative that the Egyptians are making a positive contribution?
It seems that every week the IDF reports discovering another "terror smuggling tunnel" crossing from Egypt to the Gaza Strip. These tunnels are the main source of supply of weapons and ammunition for Palestinian terrorist activities originating in the Gaza Strip.
And Egypt is doing nothing about it. No arrests have been reported - nor have there been any reports of Palestinians complaining about Egyptian action against the smugglers.
But the Israeli Government doesn't bring its frustration with Egypt out in the open.
So instead of President Bush possibly pressing Egypt to do its part and close down the "terror tunnels" Egypt wins praise for sending a representative to negotiate with Hamas.
#4 Saudi Incitement IgnoredAnd the Saudis? What is Jerusalem's contribution to the perception of the Saudis in American eyes? Saudi government television stations broadcast calls each Friday for death to the Jews - not one official complaint from Israel.
#5 The Palestinian State WaffleWorse of all, Ariel Sharon got caught up in the false narrative that a Palestinian state could be an element of a stable and viable arrangement. This when Sharon himself knows full well that a sovereign Palestinian state would bring anything but a stable and viable arrangement. As Treasury Minister Binyamin Netanyahu eloquently explained at the Likud Central Committee meeting this week, the limitations on a Palestinian entity that Ariel Sharon himself sees as critical red lines define a form of autonomous - not sovereign - state.
#6 The Lies Have Come To RoostSo here we are and all these false narratives are blowing up in our faces.
President Bush still embraces Abu Mazen, "the man who doesn't know how to lie" and the "young man" Dahlan with no expectations that the PA will actually use the 15,000 trained armed men they have stationed tonight in the Gaza Strip to fight terror any time soon.
And Secretary of State Powell? He begins to prepare yet another international photo-opportunity without actually demanding any real action.
No action against terror. No action to even close down the terror tunnels. Just more declarations - or worse, as Kofi Anon presses to move in international armed forces that would serve as a human shield to protect the terrorists as they launch raids against Israel. Foreign armed forces that in a nightmare scenario could even work in coordination with the terrorists to enable them to slaughter the Jews in communities beyond the Green Line.
The false narratives have cost us dearly. They have confused our friends and have been exploited by our enemies.
Its time to tell the truth for all to hear. Otherwise the lies may ultimately lead to destruction.
Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
THE president of the United States wants the Israelis and the Palestinians to make a deal. That's great. George W. Bush made the discussion possible by forcing two regime changes in the Middle East - in Iraq and, at least partly in the Palestinian Authority. There were handshakes and road maps. But wanting a deal isn't the same as getting a deal. And there can be no deal if Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade are still in existence. Period.
These terrorist groups won't allow it. They have shown their willingness over the past week to work together to ensure the failure of the political negotiations between Ariel Sharon and new Palestinian premier Abu Mazen.
The calculus is simple. The terrorists commit daring acts of murder. In response, the Israelis go after their leaders, who are inevitably surrounded by civilians when the Israelis strike. The terrorists vow revenge. The Palestinian Authority, which is being undercut by the terrorist attacks, calls for an end to them while simultaneously accusing Israel of bearing responsibility for them.
The U.S. government responded to Tuesday's bungled Israeli strike on a Hamas leader with genuine anger. The American response seemed irrational at first - it contradicted not only Bush's own view that terrorists should be hunted down, but also his statements about Israel's right to defend itself.
But it appears that something else was going on. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, for reasons known only to himself, told the president during last week's summit - without prompting - that he was going to end the Israeli policy of targeted assassinations. (Sharon yesterday reportedly denied he'd offered this to Bush, but that denial is suspect.)
Perhaps he had grown overconfident following months of relative peace and quiet on the terror front inside Israel. But after violence last weekend, Sharon did exactly what he had just told Bush he would not do. That's no way to handle this president, who can't abide international two-facedness.
But it seems that the criticisms of Israel were a one-day story. They were not repeated yesterday when the Israelis went after two Hamas thugs following the incredibly bloody bus bombing in Jerusalem on Wednesday.
There's been a lot of weepy talk that peace is hanging by a thread. How can peace be hanging by a thread when there is no peace?
There may not be peace, but there is still hope. There is a way to get the peace process on track.
The answer is simple, even if the execution will be fiendishly difficult: The terrorist groups that stand in the way of progress must be defunded and destroyed. Period.
Defunding is where Bush comes in. He said it on Wednesday: "I strongly urge all of you . . . to cut off money to organizations such as Hamas, to isolate those who hate so much that they're willing to kill to stop peace." That's a message for Saudi Arabia, mainly. And it needs to be more than a message. It needs to be a threat.
Destroying the terrorist organizations is where the Israelis come in. The so-called "road map" calls for the Palestinian Authority to make a powerful effort in this regard. But it can't do much, and everybody knows it. Only the Israelis can. Israel's efforts to destroy Hamas and Islamic Jihad represent the only hope Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) has.
A U.S.-Israeli diplomatic and military alliance is the only real hope for a Palestinian state.
"We will fight the terrorist organizations and their leaders to the death."- Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, June 10, after a homicide bomber killed 16 and wounded more than 100 in an attack on Jerusalem bus.
"If anyone came to my hometown in Phoenix, Ariz., and set off a bomb on a bus and killed 18 people and injured 100 of them, my citizens would expect us to respond. . . . Do you want to call that a cycle of violence?- Senator John McCain
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