Driving the other night from Tel Aviv to my home in Carmel in the Hebron Hills, I pondered the absurdity of the Roadmap, and the recent meeting between George Bush, Ariel Sharon, and noted terrorist leader and Holocaust denier Mahmoud Abbas.
The biblical account of Lot came to mind. No, not the episode in which Lot’s wife turns into a pillar of salt, but the prelude to that episode.
Two angels, in the guise of men, came to the house of Lot - one angel to destroy Sodom, and one to save Lot and his family. The men of Sodom, being the men of Sodom, demanded that Lot hand over his guests to them for their lusts. What follows must be one of the strangest accounts ever. Lot grew up in the home of his righteous and kindly uncle, Abraham, from whom he learned the full meaning of hospitality. He would not hand over the angels to the men of Sodom.
And yet, his similarity to Abraham ends there, for in the next breath, he offers the men of Sodom his two unmarried daughters.
What is the logic here? To worry about your guests and at the same time offer your daughters to the savages. Can anyone understand such utter depravity? What could Lot have been thinking?
Yet, Israelis find themselves in a similar situation.
Israelis live with the fact that whenever the government lifts a closure on Palestinians, or announces any other humanitarian gesture, terrorist attacks follow like clockwork. They also live with the fact that Yasser Arafat always launches terror offensives when diplomatic visitors come to Israel, or Israeli representatives go abroad. So it was that terrorists murdered Israelis at the Dophinarium during the visit of Germany’s Joschka Fischer, and murdered Israelis at Sbarro’s during Anthony Zinni’s visit. And several weeks ago, Sharon cancelled his planned meeting with Bush following similar attacks.
Given these facts, one would expect that when meeting with foreign dignitaries, Sharon would enforce or tighten closures. And one would be wrong.
Sharon always announces humanitarian gestures before such meetings. In anticipation of the Roadmap conference, as a confidence building measure, Sharon increased the number of work permits for Palestinians to 25,000, and released prisoners, including a mass murderer. How noble and humane. Protect the poor, suffering Palestinian terrorists. So what if they savage our daughters and sons, our parents and grandparents?
All Israelis are familiar with the above formula. They only disagree about motive. Some will suggest that Sharon eases closures before a meeting because he really wants to build Palestinian confidence and make a true peace. Others will suggest the opposite - that Sharon deliberately eases closures before talks so that the ensuing terror attacks will ensure that the talks end in failure.
And there’s the rub: motive is irrelevant. Whatever the government’s motive, all Israelis recognize that when the government eases the closure, it is effectively offering Jewish blood to satisfy Palestinian blood lust. And this Lot-like depravity is not limited to Sharon alone. It applies to the whole Oslo process. In perverse, misplaced compassion for the Palestinians, Israel released known murderers from prison, gave them weapons, and then shrugged off the murder of Israelis, calling the murders “sacrifices for peace.” Through Oslo, Israel denied its heritage and its rights to its own land, including its holiest site. Perhaps people reading the accounts of Oslo a thousand years hence will wonder at the utter depravity of the process.
Yet, this is only half the story. The depravity in the biblical account continues. The angels bring Lot inside and strike the men of Sodom blind.
Now logic would dictate that if you planned to assault someone, but you were suddenly struck blind, you might just decide to forgo the assault and try to make your way home - but not the men of Sodom. They were so thoroughly perverse that, even as they were struck blind, they continued to grope for the door to find Lot’s guests. It is hard to imagine such intense lust and deep-rooted perversity.
But this was no ordinary blindness. The Hebrew term used for the blindness in this episode is “sanverim”, an unusual term that may well suggest delusion and hallucination. Which brings us to the Palestinian side of the equation.
Those who know history know that the supposedly indigenous Palestinians are, in fact, latecomers who were drawn to the land by the opportunities created by the early Jewish settlers. Their “ancient history”, which they write as they go, is a fabrication, as is their Palestinian identity. As recently as British Mandate days, the term “Palestinian” was used only to refer to the Jews of Israel - no self-respecting Arab would ever have called himself a Palestinian. Even Arafat, the leader of the Palestinians, is an Egyptian.
This non-nation, with a fabricated history and no real claim to the land of Israel, was offered a state by Ehud Barak. Never was a more undeserving group so close to a state. But instead of accepting the offer, they decided to go to war against Israel. Can one imagine a more delusional act?
In launching the Oslo war, they’ve undermined their ostensible goal of acquiring an independent state, the Roadmap notwithstanding. (Clearly, their actual goal is Israel’s destruction.) In the process, they’ve impoverished themselves, destroying what little economy they had. They’ve turned their children into savages and turned savagery into a form of worship. And they so lust after Jewish blood that they gladly kill themselves for the chance to kill Jews. Can anything be more perverse?
George Bush and Arik Sharon should think long and hard about the parallels between Oslo and the biblical account of Lot and Sodom. The Roadmap is unlikely to lead to a Palestinian state, but it could have major consequences for both Bush and Sharon.
The land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people, and G-d promised to redeem the Jewish people on their land - the entire land. Unlike the fabricated Palestinian people, the Jewish people are eternal. They have long memories and they write everything down, including which leaders are friends and which are enemies. Mr. Bush is currently seen as a great friend of Israel and the Jewish people, but he can undo that in a flash. He would do well to consider on which side of the redemption he wants to be, and how he wants to be remembered in Jewish history.
Mr. Sharon would do well to consider the same, and to consider that the signing away of Israeli land and the tearing down of settlements have always been followed by the collapse of the responsible government.
Alan Perlman is a technical writer from Carmel in the Hevron hills region. His columns have appeared on IsraelInsider.com, as well as the web-sites of Yahoo! News, Aish HaTorah and radio personality Rush Limbaugh.
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Hatred of Israel is a crutch Arab states have to give up.BY RUTH WISSE - Wall Street Journal - June 16, 2003
The day after Israel's failed assassination attempt on Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi, a "deeply troubled" President Bush let it be known that he did not think such attacks helped Israeli security. He was concerned lest the strike undermine the momentum he is trying to create for a "two-state" solution to the Palestinian crisis, part of his larger effort to extend peace and democracy in the Middle East. In response, the Jerusalem Post declared itself deeply troubled, too--by the failure of the said operation to eliminate the man who directs terror operations in Gaza. The Post believed that the American president would have done better to recognize the threat Rantisi represents to American security.
The Jerusalem Post has a point. President Bush may understand more clearly than his predecessors the nature of the threat to Israel's security. The attacks of Sept. 11 brought home to him the similarities between the two democracies. Along with most Americans, the Bush administration now grasps how the freedoms of an open society leave it vulnerable to assault. If America is duty-bound to strike the bases of those who threaten its security, no matter how far they are from its shores, then Israel, too, which constitutes the fighting front line in the war against terror, must root out the terrorists within and along its borders.
Yet the White House still cannot bring itself to admit the true nature of the aggression against Israel. It still tends to treat the regional crisis as "a conflict of two people over one land" that can be resolved by the creation of a Palestinian state. According to this view, since Jews and Arabs both lay claim to the same territory of Israel-Palestine, some division of the territory between will bring about a peaceful resolution. This is the assumption behind the "road map" the president presented at the recent meetings in Egypt and Jordan, inviting the Palestinians to halt their terror and Israel to withdraw some of its settlements from the disputed lands.
Unfortunately, the Arab war against Israel is no more a territorial conflict than was al Qaeda's strike against America, and it can no more be resolved by the "road map" than anti-Americanism could be appeased by ceding part of the U.S. to an Islamist enclave. From the moment in 1947 when Jewish leaders accepted and Arab rulers rejected the U.N. partition plan of Palestine, the Arab-Israeli conflict bore no further likeness to more conventional territorial struggles. Arab rulers defied the U.N. charter by denying the legitimacy of a member state. Arab countries refused to acknowledge the existence of a single Jewish land. Arab rulers did not object to Israel because it rendered the Palestinians homeless. Rather, they ensured that the Palestinians should remain homeless so that they could organize their politics around opposition to Israel.
At any point during the past 55 years, Arab governments could have helped the Palestinian Arabs settle down to a decent life. They could have created the infrastructure of an autonomous Palestine on the West Bank of the Jordan and the Gaza territory that Egypt controlled until 1967, or encouraged the resettlement of Palestinians in Jordan, which constitutes the lion's share of the original mandate of Palestine. Rather than fund the Palestine Liberation Organization to foment terror against Israel they could have endowed Palestinian schools of architecture, engineering, medicine and law. What Israel did for its refugees from Arab lands, Arabs could have done much more sumptuously for the Palestinians displaced by the same conflict. Instead, Arab rulers cultivated generations of refugees in order to justify their ongoing campaign against the "usurper."
This is hardly the first time that the Jews have served as the pretext for a politics of opposition. To cite only the most notorious example (whose outcome President and Mrs. Bush witnessed during their recent tour of Auschwitz), Hitler used the supposedly illegitimate presence of the Jews as the excuse for tightening control over all the instruments of state. His promise to rid Germany of "the Jewish vermin" ushered in an assault on democratic culture that gained popular support by targeting an unpopular minority. Anti-Semitism camouflaged the Nazi will to power and the imposition of totalitarian controls: In the name of limiting the "influence" of the Jews, Hitler delimited the power of the courts, the media, and the educational system. As a young German named Sebastian Haffner noted at the time, "[the Nazis] provoke a general discussion not about their own existence, but about the right of their victims to exist." Suddenly, the Nazis had everyone debating the question of the Jews rather than questioning the legitimacy of the discriminatory laws against them.
In almost identical ways, the autocrats who govern Arab societies have used the "Zionist entity" to deflect attention from the worst aspects of their rule. The unwanted presence of the Jews became the rallying point for internal dissatisfaction with the mounting problems of Arab regimes. The drumbeat against Israel invited the world to debate the iniquities of the Jews rather than question the legitimacy of the attacks against them. This comparison is not intended to equate the Germans with the Arabs, except in the ways that both exploited anti-Semitism to achieve broader political goals. Both used the alleged threat of "the Jews" to excuse their own failures. Anti-Semitism in both situations linked otherwise warring groups of the Left and Right.
The problem with anti-Semitism in its older and newer varieties is that it seems to serve its patrons so well. Without question, Arab rulers successfully deflected attention from their offenses by their decades of war and propaganda against Israel. Even the liberal Western media that might have been expected to support a besieged fellow democracy have long since focused on alleged Israeli abuses instead of on the abuses of their Arab accusers.
But, just as happened in Europe, the Arab obsession with Israel grew increasingly destructive not only of its Jewish targets but also of the sponsoring regimes. Attacking Jews consumed energy that should have been directed at alleviating the misery of Arab subjects. Blaming the Jews postponed democratization, which begins with people taking responsibility for themselves.
Moreover, anti-Semitism metastasizes very quickly; its culture of hatred and its appeal to violence cannot be contained. Although Arab governments tried to direct the war against Israel according to their political needs, Islamist and nationalist groups espousing the same ideology sprang up independently, sometimes in defiance of government control. Anti-Semitism morphed into anti-Americanism--not because America supported Israel but because America represented the same challenges of an open, democratic, competitive society. The Jews' function as a bulwark of democracy was determined by the despots who tried to crush them. America did not so much fight on the side of the Jews as find itself forced to tackle the anti-Jews.
It goes without saying that President Bush must subordinate other considerations to America's security and interests. And Americans obviously would be better served if there were no conflict in the Middle East. Yet until Arab leaders give up the crutch of anti-Semitism they can make no real progress toward responsible self-government, and it is futile to pretend that obsession with Israel is compatible with Palestinian independence. Rantisi greeted the "road map" by organizing major attacks against Israel, which he calls "our land, not the land of the Jews." America can't hope to win its war against terror while ignoring some of its major perpetrators and propagandists.
Ms. Wisse, a professor of Yiddish and comparative literature at Harvard, is the author of "If I Am Not for Myself: The Liberal Betrayal of the Jews" (Free Press, 2001).
When Prime Minister Ariel Sharon left the impression at Aqaba that Israel had lost its resolve -- that when President Bush says "jump" Sharon asks only "how high" -- it wasn't lost on the Arabs.
The Palestinians, who have always enjoyed the advantage of knowing what they actually want, have been wisely following a strategy to exploit the apparent Israeli weakness.
In fact, the Palestinians are now moving to create a situation that is even worse that the one described by the Roadmap. A considerable achievement when you consider that the Roadmap itself is a terrible document.
Here is what the Roadmap says in the first-stage "Security" section:
"Palestinians declare an unequivocal end to violence and terrorism and undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere. "That's "arrest, disrupt, and restrain" -- not "recruit". That's "Israelis" -- not "Israeli civilians". That's "anywhere" -- not just within the Green Line.
"Rebuilt and refocused Palestinian Authority security apparatus begins sustained, targeted, and effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure. This includes commencing confiscation of illegal weapons and consolidation of security authority, free of association with terror and corruption."Instead of this we have the proposal of a "hudna": A cease-fire so that the terrorists can recruit, train and arm in preparation for battle.
There is no "hudna" in the Roadmap.
What about "confiscation of illegal weapons" and "dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure"?
Abu Mazen, the man President Bush says "doesn't know how to lie", proposes to put all the terrorists -- with their weapons -- on the PA's security payroll.
The terrorists won't be disarmed -- they will have even more weapons, thanks to a generous American contribution of hundreds of millions of US taxpayers' dollars to Muhammad Dahlan for the security forces.
What happened to "security authority, free of association with terror"?
Instead of being "free of association with terror" Dahlan, the "young man" President Bush admires so much, is going to create a security force dominated by terrorists.
Senior Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Tanzim terrorists aren't going to come in as buck privates -- they will be officers. And the men they bring in, steeped in both ideological fervor and basking in the glory of past battles, will have no trouble turning the PA security forces into a wing of Hamas/Tanzim.
It is interesting to note that years ago when the issue was that the PA had too many men serving in the security forces in violation of the Oslo agreements, there were plans to transfer the extra men into construction and other civilian jobs. Now, instead of reducing the size of the PA forces to meet the Oslo limits the plan is to expand it by adding in terrorists.
What's wrong with a "temporary hudna"?
Don't we all deserve a break for a few weeks?
What if the Palestinians drop their demand that Israel releases the terrorists and that the "hudna" is said to apply to all attacks -- not just to attacks against "civilians" within the Green Line?
I frankly don't believe that the Palestinians can deliver the goods. I think we will find ourselves sucked into a situation in which Dahlan goes through the motions trying to stop terror attacks so that when Israelis are murdered the American observers can report back to the White House that the "young man" Mr. Bush likes so much is making a good faith effort.
And then we will be told that we shouldn't let the "terrorists control the situation", that we should "give Abu Mazen and Dahlan another chance" and that "the alternative is worse".
But even if the impossible does in fact happens and the shooting stops it will still be a "hudna": a cease-fire so that the terrorists can recruit, train and arm in preparation for battle.
And, indeed, under the "hudna" the terrorists will indeed recruit, train and arm in preparation for battle. And they will do this free of Israeli interference and by Abu Mazen's plan free of financial worries since they will be on the PA payroll.
And as time goes on and we watch the pressure will be on to let the madness continue.
So they have too many weapons. So they have more rockets, missiles, etc. So they represent an ever-growing threat. But has it really reach a critical point? Is it so bad that we have to stop it even that may mean a return to violence? Do we want to bear the blame for ending the "hudna"?
Once we accept this growing "cocked gun" the madness will only stop when the Palestinians believes that it serves their interests. That they are indeed prepared for battle.
Either way, a hudna is madness for Israel. We simply can't afford to trade our long-term interests for what at best may possibly be short-term benefits.
Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
When I was in grade school, spelling traumatized me. I couldn't get the knack -- all those exceptions. "I" before "e" except after "c," except for weigh and weird. The rules have so many exceptions, that even the exceptions have exceptions. I still get heart palpations just thinking about it. That's probably why I studied international politics in college -- it's so much easier than spelling.
On the world political stage, there is only one exception and it's the same for each rule. It's called, "Except when you're targeting Jews." Let me explain how it works.
Take for example targeted assassinations, like the first lightning strike in the recent war against Saddam Hussein, which was followed up with more targeted strikes against Saddam, his sons, and others such as "Chemical Ali." These hits were hailed as masterstroke by the media. U.S. leaders said that they were instrumental in shortening the war.
On the other hand, when Israel pursues terrorist leaders with targeted strikes, they are criticized by the world community as excessive and provocative. That is because Exception #1 of World Politics states: Targeted killings of terrorists are okay, except when the terrorist is killing Jews.
Civilian casualties? This week, the Associated Press reported there were over 3,200 civilian deaths in the recent Iraq war. The United States government says as much as they have tried, civilian deaths are unavoidable because the Iraqi military is breaking the rules of Geneva Convention by deploying in civilian areas.
It was just a year ago that an Israeli Air Force jet dropped a bomb on a Gaza apartment building housing Salah Shehadeh, the commander of Hamas who had ordered scores of terrorist acts. In the bombing, 15 civilians perished. Israel was severely rebuked.
Obviously the IDF never read Exception #2 of World Politics: Civilian deaths are to be avoided, but cannot be criticized when the enemy is using civilians as human shields... except when you are targeting someone who is killing Jews.
There is another rule which relates to terrorism. Everyone knows that September 11 was terrorism, that the Bali nightclub was terror, that the airline shoe bomber was a terrorist. Terrorism is defined as "intentionally targeting civilians to advance a political cause." Simple, right?
But open up you local paper and see how perpetrators of the following attacks are described: bus bombing in Jerusalem, Seder massacre in Netanya, Bat Mitzvah shooting in Hadera, shopping mall bombing in Haifa. Instead of "terror," the media uses terms like "militant" and "activist."
Which brings us to Exception #3 of World Politics: Do not hesitate to call terrorists "terrorists" -- except when they're targeting Jews.
And then there's the whole issue of eliminating terror from our global landscape. After September 11, President Bush declared war on terrorists and "all who harbor them." The issue is black and white. There is no negotiating with terrorists. After the recent terror attacks in Saudi Arabia, Vice President Cheney declared, "The only way to deal with this threat ultimately is to destroy it. There's no treaty that can solve this problem. There's no peace agreement, no policy of containment or deterrence that works to deal with this threat. We have to go find the terrorists."
Throughout the 1990s, Yasser Arafat enjoyed full immunity, despite not arresting terrorists, stopping funding or confiscating weapons. Under his watchful eye (and often with his signature), Palestinian terror groups organized, trained, armed -- and killed hundreds. And now as the road map begins, Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas has declared that he will not forcibly disarm Hamas, preferring instead to work with them so that they agree to go along (temporarily) with the diplomatic route.
This week, faced with 53 separate terror alerts, Israel finally decided to take out Hamas co-founder and terror chief Abdel Aziz Rantisi. After the missile strike (which Rantisi narrowly escaped), world condemnation of the IDF was resounding; President Bush called Israel's action "troubling."
It highlighted Exception #4 of World Politics: Weed out and fight terrorism wherever you may find it... except if the terrorists are targeting Jews.
Without knowing these basic exceptions to the rules of world politics, how can anyone make sense of the Mideast situation? If only spelling were so easy...
Jeff Dunetz is a 20-year marketing veteran, and a freelance writer. He is married and the father of two kids who ask lots of questions about being Jewish that he can't answer. Jeff has been active in Jewish organizations since his USY days. Presently he is a Member of the Board of Trustees of the Dix Hills Jewish Center.
"We’re becoming a number now. Another statistic. But you need to remember that behind every one is a world. My Noam was the world and all that’s in it. She is not another number."- Galit Leibowitz, whose daughter Noam, 7, was killed on Tuesday when terrorists opened fire at the family’s car on the Trans-Israel Highway outside Kfar Saba.
'Planting fear among the enemy is the exalted and holy meaning of terror."This glorification of Palestinian terrorism by former minister Imad Faluji appeared in Al-Hayat al-Jadida, the official Palestinian Authority daily on June 9, just days after the Aqaba summit.
Faluji went on to explain that suicide bombings are justified;
"We are not terrorists, if the meaning is unjustified killing..." therefore, every murder of Israelis is legitimate: "We do not regret what we have done "
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