There are many appalling features of the newly emerging "Swiss Agreement" - that it was "negotiated" by Israelis whom the Israeli electorate has shunted to the political wilderness and who represent no one but a delusional fringe; that their interlocutors are loyal, noncritical members of a genocidal entity that is busy subjecting Israelis to horrible massacres; that the agreement assures us that the Palestinian state will be "demilitarized," after the PA has almost laughingly ignored all the Oslo stipulations about limitations on weaponry and forces; that it does not really cancel the Palestinian "right of return" but leaves it as one "option" among several; or that it blithely proclaims the demolition of entire Israeli towns like Ariel and the ceding of the strategically indispensable Jordan Valley. But at least as bad as any of these - to my mind, worse - is the Swiss Agreement's declared relinquishment of the Temple Mount to Muslim control. The fact that this offer was already made three years ago by an authorized, elected prime minister of Israel, Ehud Barak, makes it no less appalling; it merely shows that Barak - notwithstanding his current harsh criticism of the Swiss Agreement - managed to establish the precedent that the Mount is up for sale.
The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism - period. It is the place where Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac was annulled by God; where the First Temple stood, the Second Temple stood, and the Third Temple is supposed to stand in the messianic era. At present there are different rabbinical opinions on the propriety of Jews walking, or praying, on the Mount; some say they can't do so until the coming of the Messiah, some say they can do so now with certain precautions. But there is no dispute as to the site's sacredness or, for less religious or nonreligious Jews, its uniqueness and centrality in Jewish heritage and history.
By any measure of sanity or normalcy, no people or religion treats it most sacred shrine (or any of its sacred shrines, for that matter) as a bargaining chip in political negotiations. No Christian or Christian entity would offer to transfer permanent control of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher to another religion and relinquish Christians' right to pray in it; no Saudi or Muslim would hand over the Holy Mosque in Mecca for a high-enough price. True, Muslims too have a claim to the Temple Mount, their own third-holiest site - and from the moment Israel captured it in the Six Day War, Israel has shown its willingness to share it with Islam and honor Muslims' right to pray there. It is quite a different matter to turn it over to Islam lock, stock, and barrel.
Sometimes we need to stand back from ordinary, overt causality and look more deeply into the connections between things. It was in the summer of 2000 that Barak made his offer of the Mount to Arafat. A couple of months later, the young, beleaguered state of Israel entered the worst period in its history. The Yom Kippur War may have been a worse catastrophe; it lasted about three weeks and took the lives of about 2700 soldiers on the battlefield. But the Al-Aqsa Intifada (named, aptly, after the mosque that stands on the Temple Mount) has so far lasted three years and turned Israeli civilian life into the locus of slaughter while severely harming the economy, tourism, and immigration.
Is there a connection between Barak's offer and the catastrophe that followed? Of course there is - and I do not mean anything mystical. It's not necessary to speculate whether it was the offer of the Mount specifically that made Arafat feel Israel was ripe for the assault; indeed, the Al-Aqsa Intifada was already being planned during and before the Camp David summit. No: the offer of the Mount signified, crystallized, and epitomized the fact that an important part of the Israeli body politic had caved in. It broadcast the message: "Nothing - not our religion, our history, our identity - matters to us except peace." When you convey that message, you do not get peace; you get war. A people that does not insist on its identity will get swept away by the world; without identity there is no existence.
It is encouraging that the main bulk of Israeli society, including part of the Labor Party, has angrily denounced the Swiss Agreement - much as it denounced the "pilots' letter" by a group of air force pilots and ex-pilots who found themselves too moral to protect Israeli civilians from terrorist murder. These and others, such as the results of the last two elections, are welcome signs that Israel is emerging from the Oslo period of desperation, self-deception, and self-abasement. But it is worrisome that a significant part of Israel's political, intellectual, and even military elite - as represented by the Israelis who signed the Swiss Agreement - is still mired in that period and its mindset. Barak's offers created a political precedent that is hard to overcome. But the true sign that Israel has put the long Oslo debacle behind it, and is ready to reassert itself as a nation that respects itself and earns the respect of others, will be the total repudiation of the idea that the Temple Mount has any role to play whatsoever in political negotiations, or, indeed, anywhere at all except as a focal point of religion, history, and identity.
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It was apparent this week that miraculous signs and wonders are still occurring all around the divinely chosen Children of Israel.
As they commemorated their ancient ancestor's desert dwellings in booths, the Israeli public was amazed to hear George Bush sternly rebuke the Palestinian Authority for its utter failure to even attempt to curb terrorist groups that have been slaughtering innocent men, women and children with evil abandon.
Of course, it took the appalling ambush of an American government convoy in the Gaza Strip, resulting in the senseless deaths of three American civilian security guards, to provoke the unprecedented presidential rebuke. Nevertheless, Israelis have grown accustomed to hearing U.S. leaders condemn most Israeli attempts to halt terrorist atrocities.
Such was the case after Israeli helicopter missiles were fired at a leading Hamas official last June. Before that, President Bush demanded that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon prematurely abandon his massive military response to the Passover massacre of 29 Jews, which followed other terrorist slaughters in March 2002. Therefore, his latest statement blew over Israel like a cool rush of fresh air, if not a miracle in the hot Mideast desert.
The second wonder was equally wonderful. Palestinian Authority security forces were actually able to locate and arrest a number of Arab terrorist suspects less than 24 hours after this week's Gaza attack took place! For some reason, they are never able to do the same when the victims are Israeli Jews, including whole families eating lunch or riding a bus, or even when the dead are visiting Jewish American tourists or students.
The PA's usual excuse for its lead-like inaction is that the terrorist attackers are already dead, as if suicide bombers act entirely on their own. But murder three Americans guarding a U.S. government convoy, and the gloves suddenly come off. Signs and wonders indeed!
God bless George Bush for finally acknowledging, if indirectly, that Israel should have gotten rid of black-widow-maker Yasser Arafat way before now. "Palestinian authorities should have acted long ago to fight terror in all its forms," he said after the terrible Gaza Strip ambush. In other words, Arafat's PA is a direct contributor to the horrendous river of blood flowing all over Israel, whether or not the PLO chief has actually ordered and funded some of the attacks, as Israeli leaders maintain. If that is not good enough grounds for Sharon to propel Arafat onto his long overdue personal desert journey, then nothing is.
And yet, the president still pretends most Palestinians are eager to make peace with Israel, despite substantial evidence to the contrary. It is merely the lack of "an empowered Palestinian prime minister" that is holding up the time when all swords are beaten into ploughshares, he said after denouncing the current PA leadership. He went on to insist that "the failure to undertake these reforms and to dismantle the terrorist organizations constitutes the greatest obstacle to achieving the Palestinian people's dream of statehood."
While opinion polls confirm that a majority of Palestinians do dream of the day when they will achieve statehood, the sad truth is that they mostly aspire to a country that replaces Israel on the regional map. While Arafat doesn't openly advocate this widely cherished goal – at least not since signing the preliminary Oslo peace accord on the White House lawn in 1993 – his actions (and inactions) certainly do.
Speaking of Oslo, Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark reacted to the Gaza Strip ambush by bashing the Republican administration for supposedly doing too little too late to make peace between Arabs and Israelis. He proclaimed that he would appoint "someone very high-level" and then "put him over there continuously to work the issue."
The truth is the world's reigning superpower has already been there and done that. Has Clark never heard of Bill Clinton and the Oslo peace process? The former American leader spent more time on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than any other issue, with senior government officials virtually living over here for months on end. The ultimate result was the violent Al Aksa war of attrition.
There is already someone in place who is fully equipped to work the problem. His name is Ariel Sharon. If he would only be allowed by his closest international ally to unleash his substantial military might against Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, the Lebanese Hezbollah militia, and, yes, even Yasser Arafat and terrorist enablers like neighboring Syria, the river of blood might actually be stemmed.
This would allow peace talks with a serious Palestinian partner to finally get underway some 10 years after Israel began wasting its time, and shedding its blood – under Clinton's constant prodding – on the insincere PLO chairman.
For sure, such an Israeli "operation" would be extremely bloody and painful. But cancer cannot usually be removed any other way. If the American government and public have not come by now to understand that Islamic terrorism is a malignant tumor that will only grow if not properly dealt with, then the future of this region, and of the entire world, is even bleaker than it currently appears to be.
IsraPundit for reposting)
There is a lot of worry popping up in the media just now -- "Can Israel Survive?" Don't worry about it. It relates to something that Palestinians, the Arabs, and perhaps most Americans don't realize -- the Jews are never going quietly again. Never. And if the world doesn't come to understand that millions of Arabs are going to die. It's as simple as that.
Throughout the history of the world, the most abused, kicked-around race of people have been the Jews. Not just the holocaust of World War II, but for thousands of years. They have truly been "The Chosen People" in a terrible and tragic sense.
The Bible story of Egypt's enslavement of the Jews is not just a story, it is history, if festooned with theological legend and heroic epics. In 70 A.D. the Romans, which had for a long time tolerated the Jews --even admired them as 'superior' to other vassals -- tired of their truculent demands for independence and decided on an early "Solution" to the Jewish problem. Jerusalem was sacked and reduced to near rubble, Jewish resistance was pursued and crushed by the implacable Roman War Machine -- (see "Masada"). And thus began The Diaspora, the dispersal of Jews throughout the rest of the world. Their homeland destroyed, their culture crushed, they looked desperately for the few niches in a hostile world where they could be safe.
That safety was fragile, and often subject to the whims of moody hosts. The words 'pogrom', 'ghetto', and 'anti-Semitism' come from this treatment of the first mono-theistic people.
Throughout Europe changing times meant sometimes tolerance, sometimes even warmth for the Jews, but eventually it meant hostility, then malevolence.
There is not a country in Europe or Western Asia that at one time or another has not decided to lash out against the children of Moses, sometimes by whim, sometimes by manipulation.
Winston Churchill calls Edward I one of England's very greatest kings. It was under his rule in the late 1200's that Wales and Cornwall were hammered into the British crown, and Scotland and Ireland were invaded and occupied. He was also the first European monarch to set up a really effective administrative bureaucracy, surveyed and censured his kingdom, established laws and political divisions.
But he also embraced the Jews. Actually Edward didn't embrace Jews so much as he embraced their money.
For the English Jews had acquired wealth -- understandable, because this people that could not own land or office, could not join most of the trades and professions, soon found out that money was a very good thing to accumulate. Much harder to take away than land or a store, was a hidden sock of gold and silver coins.
Ever resourceful, Edward found a way -- he borrowed money from the Jews to finance imperial ambitions in Europe, especially France. The loans were almost certainly not made gladly, but how do you refuse your King? Especially when he is 'Edward the Hammer'.
Then, rather than pay back the debt, Edward simply expelled the Jews. Edward was especially inventive -- he did this twice. After a time, he invited the Jews back to their English homeland, borrowed more money, then expelled them again.
Most people do not know that Spain was one of the early entrants into The Renaissance. People from all over the world came to Spain in the late medieval period. All were welcome -- Arabs, Jews, other Europeans. The University of Salamanca was one of the great centers of learning in the world -- scholars of all nations, all fields came to Salamanca to share their knowledge and their ideas.
But in 1492, Ferdinand and Isabella, having driven the last of Moors from the Spanish Shield, were persuaded by the righteous fundamentalists of the time to announce "The Act of Purification". A series of steps were taken in which all Jews and Arabs and other non-Christians were expelled from the country, or would face the tools and the torches of The Inquisition. From this "cleansing" come the Sephardim Jews --- as opposed to the Ashkenazim or Eastern Europe.
In Eastern Europe, the sporadic violence and brutality against Jews are common knowledge. 'Fiddler' without the music and the folksy humor. At times of fury, no accommodation by the Jew was good enough, no profile low enough, no village poor enough or distant enough.
From these come the near-steady flow of Jews to the United States. And despite the disdain of the Jews by most 'American' Americans they came to grab the American Dream with both hands, and contributed everything from new ideas of enterprise in retail and entertainment to becoming some of our finest physicians and lawyers. The modern United States, in spite of itself, IS The United States in part because of its Jewish blood.
Then the Nazi Holocaust -- the corralling, sorting, orderly eradication of millions of the people of Moses. Not something that other realms in other times didn't try to do, by the way, the Germans were just more organized and had better murder technology.
I stood in the center of Dachau for an entire day, about 15 years ago, trying to comprehend how this could have happened. I had gone there on a side trip from Munich, vaguely curious about this Dachau. I soon became engulfed in the enormity of what had occurred there nestled in this middle and working class neighborhood.
How could human beings do this to other human beings, hear their cries, their pleas, their terror, their pain, and continue without apparently even wincing?
I no longer wonder. At some times, some places, ANY sect of the human race is capable of horrors against their fellow man, whether a member of the Waffen SS, a Serbian sniper, a Turkish policeman in 1920's Armenia, a Mississippi Klansman.
Because even in the United States not all was a Rose Garden. For a long time Jews had quotas in our universities and graduate schools. Only so many Jews could be in a medical or law school at one time. Jews were disparaged widely. I remember as a kid Jewish jokes told without a wince -- "Why do Jews have such big noses?"
Well, now the Jews have a homeland again. A place that is theirs. And that's the point. It doesn't matter how many times the United States and European powers try to rein in Israel, if it comes down to survival of its nation, its people, they will fight like no lioness has ever fought to save her cubs. They will fight with a ferocity, a determination, and a skill, that will astound us.
And many will die, mostly their attackers, I believe. If there were a macabre historical betting parlor, my money would be on the Israelis to be standing at the end. As we killed the kamikazes and the Wehrmacht soldaten of World War II, so will the Israelis kill their suicidal attackers, until there are not enough to torment them.
The irony goes unnoticed -- while we are hammering away to punish those who brought the horrors of last September here, we restrain the Israelis from the same retaliation. Not the same thing, of course -- We are We; they are they.
While we mourn and seethe at September 11th, we don't notice that Israel has a September 11th sometimes every day.
We may not notice, but it doesn't make any difference.
And it doesn't make any difference whether you are pro-Israeli or you think Israel is the bully of the Middle East.
If it comes to where a new holocaust looms -- with or without the concurrence of the United States and Europe -- Israel will lash out without pause or restraint at those who would try to annihilate their country.
The Jews will not go quietly again.
Joe McCain is the brother of US Senator John McCain
Early last Saturday morning, 27-year-old Hanadi Jaradat waved goodbye to her parents and hurried off down the street. She had business to do -- something about a land transaction. An apprentice lawyer, she was only a few days away from finishing her internship and opening her own office. "She was happy," her father later said.
But Ms. Jaradat's true business lay elsewhere. She changed from her traditional Arab robe and scarf into blue jeans, and put her hair up into a ponytail. She slipped across a lightly guarded part of the security fence that now separates large parts of the West Bank from Israel, and made her way to a busy Arab-Israeli restaurant in Haifa called Maxim. It was full of families on the eve of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. Somehow, she dodged the security check that all restaurants in Israel have these days. Inside, she detonated her body-belt full of explosives. She blew up 19 people, including herself and three generations of two different Israeli families, and injured dozens more. Five of the dead were Israeli-Arab Christians, and three were Jewish children.
The Maxim was co-owned by an Arab family and a Jewish family, and was almost 40 years old. It served both Arab and Jewish customers, and was a symbol of peaceful co-existence. No one knows if that irony occurred to Hanadi Jaradat, who is now the newest role model for Palestinian girls -- the most-successful female suicide bomber ever.
"Everyone was happy and proud of her," said a neighbour in Jenin, the explosive refugee camp where she lived. "We are receiving congratulations from people," said her 15-year-old brother, Thaher. "Why should we cry? It is like her wedding today, the happiest day for her."
The usual explanation for what motivates people like Ms. Jaradat is despair and revenge. There was plenty of that. A few months ago, Israeli soldiers killed her older brother and a male cousin. The family says they have no idea why, but the Israelis say they were Islamic Jihad terrorists. It was Islamic Jihad that claimed credit for Ms. Jaradat's murder mission.
I've heard this story before. I heard it from another family last January, who told me how their bright and beautiful 17-year-old daughter left home one day to detonate herself in a Jewish supermarket. I also learned then that young Palestinians are urged by a relentless stream of propaganda to choose violent death. This poison is manufactured not by Islamic Jihad or Hamas, but by the Palestinian Authority itself. It includes TV news shows and newspaper articles that glorify murderers (interviews with proud mothers of the dead are a standard feature), and sermons from extremist imams. It also includes a unique invention of Palestinian culture -- music videos celebrating suicide, starring attractive boys and girls in Western fashions and set to catchy music. These music videos have two themes. One is the wickedness and depravity of the Israelis. The other is the beauty of Shahada -- dying for Allah -- which is depicted as the supreme act of patriotism.
In these videos, Israelis are depicted as monsters -- cruel, sadistic people who murder mothers, children, and helpless old men in cold blood. One that ran on TV all summer (after the PA had agreed to engage in the "peace process") shows a mother who is targeted and murdered by soldiers. Her daughter mourns her death and sings sadly over her grave. In another, shot in a similarly gauzy, impressionistic style, soldiers shoot down Palestinian schoolchildren at a checkpoint in successive waves, until they're all dead. The last scene shows a graveyard, where the ghostly children rise again, presumably to ascend to the sweet afterlife. In another, a handsome young man sees his sweetheart shot dead. She ascends to Heaven, where she appears robed in white among the other maidens of Paradise. Then he becomes a martyr, too, and is reunited with her in Paradise, where they once again embrace.
Other music videos show children riding off on their bicycles to throw stones at enemy soldiers and falling happily to their death. "Don't cry for me," they write in notes left for their parents. In one, a mother mourns her fallen son and then hands a gun to the younger one (who looks to be about 12). You can see this infinitely depressing material for yourself at the Web site of Palestinian Media Watch, an independent Israeli organization which has done the world a service by documenting it.
These messages, which have been broadcast for years, are part of mainstream culture. And although most Palestinians are desperately poor, almost every family has a TV. The messages run on official Palestinian Authority TV. (Since the summer, the amount of airtime has been substantially reduced, but they're still shown every day.) They are produced with money supplied by the European Union and other nations that subsidize the PA.
What political goal are they designed to achieve? There isn't one. In fact, the only goal seems to be to get rid of the Jews. The message is that all of Israel, not just the territories, belongs to the Palestinians. Palestinian textbooks don't even show the state of Israel. The entire region is depicted as greater Palestine.
One music video that aired a couple of weeks ago did show a map of Israel. There was a heart over it, dripping blood. Then, arms with stones sprouted from the ground, and in the final shot, the Palestinian flag covered the whole map.
Many outsiders believe that these extreme beliefs are confined to a small minority of people. This is not true. Yasser Arafat periodically repeats his enthusiasm for child martyrs (but only in Arabic). Soccer teams and UN-sponsored summer camps are named after suicide bombers. Last May, the director of the Palestinian children's aid association gave a television interview in which she explained that part of education policy is to teach children to aspire to death for Allah. "The concept of Shahada for him [the child] means belonging to the homeland, from a religious point of view. Sacrifice for his homeland. Achieving Shahada in order to reach Paradise and to meet his God. This is the best."
It has worked. One of the most-chilling television moments I have ever seen features two 11-year-old girls being interviewed on a news set around a year ago. They are talking about wanting to die, in the same way that girls here talk about wanting to be teachers, or doctors, or brides. "Do you think it is beautiful?" asks the adult male host. "Shahada is very, very beautiful," answers one of the girls. "Everyone yearns for Shahada. What could be better than going to Paradise?"
"Every Palestinian child aged, say 12, says 'O Lord, I would like to become a Shahid,' " says the other girl.
The story of the Yom Kippur massacre was quickly overtaken by fresh news this week. Israel bombed an empty terrorist training camp in Syria in retaliation. Governments and newspapers around the world condemned Israel for it. People criticized George W. Bush for not being tough enough on Sharon. The latest Arafat government fell apart. Wise people opined once again that Israeli will never be able to achieve a political solution through military action.
This is true. It's also true that peace will never come until Palestinians renounce their death cult. So far, there's no sign of it.
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