I wonder why the thesis is rarely examined publicly that the Palestinians will never never never never never never never be allowed to make peace with Israel even if the Palestinians wanted to. Yasser Arafat, Hamas, Hezbollah and free-lance terrorists won't allow it to happen because they believe victory is at hand. The reason this thesis is not on anybody's public agenda is that were it considered a reality it would mean recognizing the futility of Oslo-Camp David-shuttle diplomacy.
To operate from such an approach would mean accepting that peace and stability in the area is inconceivable. I believe that Israel could close down all the settlements, home to 220,000 Jews, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and still the three-year Palestinian uprising would continue and intensify. Why? Because the PLO regards Israel as the Settlement, which has to be "relocated," as the PLO constitution has it, right into the Mediterranean Sea.
And the PLO's dedication to terrorism is fully supported by its neighbors. Their revolting propaganda, directed at their Arab citizenry and future generations of suicide bombers, underscores that belief. I have seen translations of schoolbooks used by Egyptian, Syrian and Palestinian students. The books are anti-Semitic, anti-Israeli tracts. I have just seen on Syrian TV a horrible movie showing Arab actors costumed as bearded, nightmarish rabbis wielding butcher knives as they slash the throat of a Syrian Christian boy lashed on a gurney in order to drench matzoh flour in Christian blood. In other words, upcoming generations are being trained as future guerrilla warriors against Israel. I have seen translations of Friday mosque sermons that could easily compete with the worst obscenities of Julius Streicher's Nazi newspaper, Der Steurmer.
The latest piece of evidence of the unwillingness of the Palestinians to consider a peaceful settlement with Israel is what happened a few days ago to Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher when he came to pray at Jerusalem's al-Aqsa Mosque. He was pelted with the shoes of his co-religionists and had to be dragged out by his bodyguards and hospitalized. His crime? At Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's direction Mr. Maher had met with senior Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, to see if the so-called peace process could be revivified. The attack was a warning to Mr. Maher: shoes today, bullets next time. It was a reminder of the 1981 assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat after he signed an accord with Israel in 1979. The PLO will not allow the intifada, which began in October 2000, to end. Oh yes, I forgot to mention: Mr. Arafat criticized the shoe-pelters.
Why should the Palestinians give up hope and make peace where anti-Semitism has seen its biggest growth since the Hitler era, not just among skinheads but also among "the best people?" I'm thinking of those who use Israel as their cover for anti-Semitism, as the French ambassador to Britain did a few weeks ago. Why should the Palestinians give up hope when Matahir Mohammed at an international conference talks about Jewish control of the world and there is applause? Or when the best-selling book in Egypt is the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion," a century-old forgery created in the tsarist era by the Russian gendarmerie?
The real problem for Israel is not that the Palestinians will not or cannot make peace with Israel but that a world of otherwise intelligent, literate people will not make peace with an entity called "the Jews."
Anti-Semitism is now globalized as it never has before in modern history and it has its effects. My granddaughter, Abbie, who has become a devout orthodox Jew (she's a grad student at Berkeley) plans a trip to Paris in the Spring. I have advised her not to wear her Star of David necklace -- in Paris 2004. Why take chances?
If there were no globalized Judeophobia an Israeli-Palestinian armistice could be achieved, but this epidemic is spreading just at a time when even the century-old conflict between India and Pakistan, yesterday considered unresolvable, seems to be drawing to a close.
Will there never be peace between Jews and the rest of the world? It cannot be the mere existence of Israel, which is responsible for the globalization of anti-semitism. After all, Auschwitz and the other death camp furnaces were operating at full blast when there was no Israel. Hitler wrote "Mein Kampf" when Zionism was an insignificant credo. The Iron Guard flourished in Romania and similar groups flourished in Hungary, Austria and especially Poland well before 1933, the year of Hitler's triumph.
It was a lot easier to catch Saddam Hussein than it will be to fashion an Israeli-PLO armistice. Saddam's trial, which will last over many years, will arrive at a final verdict but the war against Israel's existence will go on and on and on.
Arnold Beichman, a Hoover Institution research fellow, is a columnist for The Washington Times.
You saw the images on television this Christmas season – Israeli soldiers patrolling Bethlehem.
You heard the Jews blamed for the unrest in the city of David – the birthplace of Jesus.
This column is about what you didn't see or hear in those reports – something of an annual journalistic ritual.
The Christian population of the Palestinian Authority, once representing 20 percent of the region, is down to 2.4 percent. There are fewer than 50,000 Christian Arabs living within the Palestinian Authority.
In 1948, Bethlehem was 80 percent Christian. Today it is 80 percent Muslim.
Where do they go?
Are you ready for a shock?
Many of them prefer life in Israel to life under the rule of Yasser Arafat and his friends in Hamas and Islamic Jihad. In fact, life would be better just about anywhere else, and those who have the ability to leave have left.
This massive display of ethnic cleansing and population movement has been totally obscured by the Palestinian Authority and covered up by the international media. Worse yet, it has even been blamed on Israel.
But Christians fleeing the Holy Land know why they are leaving. All one needs to do is ask them. It began a long time ago. I know, because my grandparents fled for the safety, security and freedom of America. Christians in the Middle East know very well who their enemy is. They know why are they are oppressed. They know who is attacking them. They know who is occupying them.
And it's not Israel.
Here are the facts. Some 2 million Christians have fled the Middle East in the past 20 years. Some estimates are much higher than this. Since Arafat took over administration of the Palestinian territories from Israel, the Christian population has dropped from 15 percent to 2 percent.
They are being driven out. They are being murdered. They are being raped. They are being systematically persecuted. They are being harassed. They are being intimidated.
Such is life for Christians now in Bethlehem and other formerly Christian towns in the West Bank. Just imagine what it will be like when Palestine becomes a real state.
If these people were fleeing Israeli oppression, why did they leave after the Israelis left? It makes no sense. The only way Israel has fed the exodus of Christians from the Middle East is by withdrawing from territories in Judea, Samaria, Gaza, southern Lebanon and elsewhere. When Israel administered those areas, Christian Arabs lived in safety and security.
The truth is the Christian population in Israel has more than quadrupled since 1948. Why? Israel guarantees religious freedom – whereas the Palestinian Authority offers an official religion of Islam.
What has happened in the Palestinian Authority is that the protective hand of Israel has been lifted as it has – under international pressure – given Arafat and the Palestinian Authority more and more autonomy to run its own territory.
Question: What's worse than being bullied, harassed, intimidated and persecuted for your faith?It's time for the whole world to recognize the mini-holocaust taking place against Christians in the Middle East. It's time to punish those guilty of these atrocities – specifically those in charge of the Palestinian Authority. For God's sake, they must not be rewarded with a state of their own.
Joseph Farah's nationally syndicated column originates at WorldNetDaily, where he serves as editor and chief executive officer.
Arafat: An Islamist RevolutionaryIt is very difficult to understand Yasser Arafat, a man who has been on the world scene literally longer than anyone else. He has been a political activist for more than 55 years, the head of his own organization for 44 years, the leader of his people for 36 years, and the head of what amounts to a government for about 10 years. What does he have to show for this? In material terms he hasn't achieved a victory, he hasn't achieved a state, he hasn't bettered the material condition of his people - in fact, arguably, he has worsened it. This is a record of failure unparalleled in the world.
Arafat's successes are the almost single-handed creation of a movement and of an ideological point of view called Palestinian nationalism. He has kept the movement together, kept it independent of Arab states and other states - which is not easy - and has been the director of the most successful, long-term, political public relations campaign in history.
The political worldview of Yasser Arafat is much misunderstood. It is very easy to see Arafat as a nationalist, but he is not. A nationalist is someone who believes that his people are better off in having a nation-state, so obtaining this becomes their highest priority. They want a nation-state as the framework within which they can develop their culture, develop their economy, and be able to live in peace independently from other countries. If this was Arafat's worldview, he could have had a state in 1968, in 1979, at several points in the 1980s, and certainly in the year 2000, but he continues to reject this.
One of the main reasons Yasser Arafat has not behaved in this manner is that he is an old-fashioned Islamist, very much influenced by his early connections with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. He's the only Islamist in the PLO leadership, believing that victory is inevitable because God will bring him victory. He does not have to worry about the balance of forces or about defeat. He doesn't worry about how long the struggle will take or about its costs because he is sure he will win in the end, because his goal is God-given and just. He believes it would be a sin to compromise, and that he has no right to give up anything between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
Arafat is also a romantic revolutionary, the Middle Eastern counterpart of Che Guevara. Arafat glories in struggle, revolution, battling against the odds. He has no desire to become a statesman, to wear a suit and tie, which to a romantic revolutionary would be proof that he has betrayed his cause.
I have studied Yasser Arafat for more than 30 years, and the pattern of his life may be said to include four phases, in each of which he has made the same mistakes and ended up with a similar result. These phases include Jordan from 1967 to 1971, Lebanon in the 1970s and 1980s, Tunis from 1982 to 1993, and the West Bank and Gaza since 1994. In each phase he ended up destroying his own position because of the belief that violence always benefits his cause, the belief that he doesn't have to implement his agreements, and the use of extremist front groups to commit violence for which he can disclaim responsibility. It is important to understand that we are not dealing here with a "normal" political leader in many respects.
Arafat Will Not Make a Deal
The experience of the past decade has taught that no deal can be made with this man, for a variety of reasons. One reason is that he doesn't want to make a deal. He is currently pursuing an anti-state strategy: continuing the struggle, making Israel look bad, mobilizing international support, getting more and more concessions, and not offering to give anything in return. This is his strategy and it has been remarkably successful in some respects.
Despite the fact that one can't deal with Arafat, prime ministers meet him, reporters interview him, and he is given chance after chance. But the bottom line is: Arafat will not make a deal. The only kind of deal he would make would be one that left matters open so that he could pursue total victory, and Israel is not going to make such a deal. Therefore, either an alternative to Arafat is found or we will have to out-wait him, in order to achieve peace.
Reading Palestinian Public Opinion
According to Palestinian public opinion polls, a majority say things like: "We want everything. The struggle should continue. We should continue attacks on Israel even if we have a state and a peace agreement." At the same time, the polls show another opinion held often by many of the same people: "We want this to be over. We just want our kids to go to school. We don't want to face all this violence. We want some kind of an agreement."
The problem is that when the Palestinian leadership only reinforces the hard-line viewpoint, it makes peace impossible and prevents the development of moderate forces. During the period 1994-2000, Arafat made only one speech to his people that preached conciliation. During most of this period, Arafat's main emphasis was on continued confrontation and militancy. This has to be challenged if there is going to be a basis of support for peace.
The attempt to replace Arafat has failed, but the struggle to succeed him has now begun. What will happen if Arafat dies or becomes disabled? Arafat's successor would probably be chosen by the Fatah Central Committee, and will be male, Muslim, a member of Fatah, and a resident of the West Bank or Gaza Strip.
Abu Ala is a reasonably likely candidate for this position, particularly because he is not strong. Those looking to succeed Arafat want someone who is not too strong so that they can try to become the real leader. The problem is not just that Arafat has not designated a successor. It is that he has blocked the development of anybody who could be a successor.
Abu Mazen is another candidate. He is secretary-general of the PLO Executive Committee where he has been Fatah's representative for many years. But how his recent failed term as prime minister will affect this issue - perhaps destroying his chances - is not clear yet.
If Arafat hangs on long enough, the succession will skip to a younger generation, with two major candidates being Mohammed Dahlan and Marwan Barghouti. Dahlan was the protege of Abu Jihad, Arafat's favored person in the leadership. Dahlan almost became the adopted son of Arafat, then he broke with Arafat, and was slapped in the face by Arafat. Dahlan's position on the peace process is basically: "Let's end this thing, let's make a deal." He's a tough guy, with a good base of support, good connections with security services, and he comes from Gaza.
Marwan Barghouti (now in Israeli custody), on the other hand, in a sense is going in the other direction, with the expressed position: "I'm ready to make peace with Israel but we can only do so after we've militarily defeated Israel." So even though on paper his position looks more moderate, it's basically a position for armed struggle. Barghouti was the military architect of this intifada and Arafat was the political architect. Barghouti represents the line of continued struggle, and Dahlan represents taking another road.
Why Have the Palestinians Kept Arafat?
Why have the Palestinians kept Arafat for so long? One reason is the fear that without Arafat there would be anarchy. Fear of civil war is a key factor why, for example, Feisal Husseini refused to go for the leadership himself, and why Abu Ala absolutely refuses to do anything effective to stop terrorism.
Arafat may have created a situation in which no one can rule effectively after he's gone. That doesn't mean that there will be civil war, it means that there will be no real leadership. Even if a leader is chosen, he may not feel that he has enough power to make a deal.
Arafat is a master at dealing with people, both in the West and in domestic Palestinian terms. He knows how to bring people up and push them down. Palestinians know that their careers are dependent on his favor. One example is Jibril Rajoub, formerly the CIA's favorite Palestinian. U.S. taxpayer's money paid for the filing cabinets in his office. He once expressed relatively moderate views and was estranged from Arafat, but now Arafat has brought him back as the head of his national security council, and Rajoub is now giving interviews calling on Arabs to rise up and kill American soldiers in Iraq.
A Palestinian once told me, "Egyptian politics is like the pyramid. Mubarak is at the top and there's a very wide base. Syrian politics is like the Eiffel Tower, Assad is at the top and there are a few people on each level. Palestinian politics is the shape of Yasser Arafat. Yasser Arafat is Palestinian politics and that's all there is to it."
For Arafat, control of information is also very important. To this day, Palestinians have no idea what was offered at Camp David or in the Clinton Plan - that President Clinton and Prime Minister Barak offered an independent Palestinian state in all of Gaza, the equivalent of all of the West Bank, most of east Jerusalem, and sovereignty over the al-Aksa mosque.
For Arafat, money is political. He wants funds to subsidize the people who support him, to give money secretly to support his forces in Lebanon, and to finance secret activities in east Jerusalem. What happened to the $3.5 billion given to about 2 million Palestinians in the 1990s? Did it go to build anything productive? Were Palestinian living standards raised? Why didn't Arafat use any of the money to help his people? Because he's not interested in the Palestinian people, he's interested in the Palestinian cause.
One of the biggest changes in the last three years has been a total turnabout in the relationship between the PA or the Fatah leadership and Hamas. During the 1990s, Arafat sought to win over and co-opt Hamas, and to make it his junior partner - a loyal opposition. Today, however, Arafat and Fatah are in complete alliance with Hamas.
It is not a question of "Can Arafat stop these extremists who are staging terrorist attacks?" These attacks are coordinated; there are regular meetings between Arafat's people and Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Arafat basically tells them when he doesn't want them to attack, like when Colin Powell is visiting. This alliance is extremely important and extremely dangerous. Those people who are most worried about it are some in Fatah and the Palestinian left who don't want to see Hamas take over one day, and who think Arafat's strategy is a disaster. This has been an incentive for some of them to see a negotiated end of the conflict, or at least a real ceasefire.
Professor Barry Rubin is Director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center of the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya, Israel. He is the author of Yasir Arafat: A Political Biography (Oxford, 2003). This Jerusalem Issue Brief is based on the author's presentation at the Institute for Contemporary Affairs in Jerusalem on December 3, 2003.
If you want to understand the Middle East conflict, Iran has just provided all you need to know.
A massive earthquake kills between 20,000 and 40,000 Iranians, and the government of Iran announces that help is welcome from every country in the world . . . except Israel.
This little-reported news item is of great significance. It begs commentary.
Israel not only has the world's most experienced crews in quickly finding survivors in bombed out buildings, it is also a mere two-hour flight from Iran. In other words, no country in the world would come close to Israel in its ability to save Iranian lives quickly.
But none of this means anything to the rulers of Iran. The Islamic government of Iran has announced to the world that it is better for fellow countrymen and fellow Muslims -- men, women and children -- to die buried under rubble than to be saved by a Jew from Israel.
That is how deep the hatred of Israel and Jews is in much of the Muslim world.
Hundreds of millions of Muslims -- Arab and non-Arab, Sunni and Shi'a -- hate Israel more than they love life. Leaders of the Palestinian terror organization Hamas repeatedly state, "We love death more than the Jews love life." And now, Iran announces that it is better for a Muslim to asphyxiate under the earth than be rescued by a Jew from Israel.
Naive Westerners -- which includes most academics, intellectuals, members of the international news media, and nearly all others on the Left -- refuse to acknowledge the uniqueness of the Arab/Muslim hatred of Israel and Jews. Yet, there is no hatred in the world analogous to it. Not since the Nazi hatred of Jews has humanity witnessed such hate.
That is why finding survivors from earthquakes, creating a Palestinian state and life itself are all far less important in much of the Islamic and Arab worlds than killing Jews and destroying the little Jewish state.
That is why Arab newspapers run articles by Arab professors describing how Jews butcher non-Jewish children to use their blood for holiday meals.
That is why Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad could get a standing ovation from the heads of every Muslim country when he told them "the Jews rule the world by proxy."
That is why Palestinian parents celebrate the suicide terror of their sons -- the joy of killing Israeli families far outweighs the pain of the death of their child.
Western naifs like to believe platitudes such as "Deep down, all people are really the same," "All people want peace," and the great untruth of multiculturalism that no culture is morally superior to another. That is why they choose not to face the truth about the Nazi-like hatred that permeates the Arab/Muslim world and the consequent moral gulf that exists between it and Israel. It shatters too many of their illusions.
Surely the Iranian refusal of rescuers from the Jewish state ought to help all these people acknowledge the unique hatred that is at the root of the Arab-Israeli dispute and recognize that it is therefore a conflict unlike any other on earth.
So, too, the immediate and sincere Israeli offer of rescuers to Iran should make the moral gulf between Israel and its enemies as clear as day. Despite the fact that Iran is the greatest backer of anti-Israel (and anti-American) terror and despite the fact that Iran repeatedly declares that Israel must be annihilated (in other words, seeks a second Jewish Holocaust), Israel offered to send its people to save Iranian lives.
The two reactions -- Iran's preference for Iranian deaths to Israeli help and the Jewish state's instinctive offer to help save Iranian lives -- ought to be enough anyone needs to understand the source of the Middle East conflict. But they won't. Because those who are anti-Israel or "evenhanded" are not so because of the facts, but despite them.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran accepts all kinds of humanitarian aid from all countries and international organizations with the exception of the Zionist regime.”--Jahanbakhsh Khanjani, refusing help from Israel following the devastating earthquake in the Iranian town of Bam. Nevertheless, the Tel-Aviv based relief organization Latet hopes to send much-needed supplies to survivors. Iranian callers on the Voice of Israel’s popular Farsi-language program “expressed their deep gratitude toward Israelis who have supported sending aid to Iran,” said program director Menashe Amir. (Ha’aretz, Dec. 28, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 29)
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