For 15 years I have watched and prayed and written about unfolding developments, as Israel has moved towards what a growing number of world watchers anticipate will be an earthshaking date with destiny.
When it arrives, this date - in my estimation - will be on a par in historicity and significance with the 1947 UN vote to partition Palestine, with Israel's lightning victory in the Six Day War 20 years later, and with the hard won win during Yom Kippur of 1973.
Many things have happened since then - events that have been painful in the extreme for Israel, and that have riveted the interest and engaged the political energies of the international community virtually without respite.
But they have all been components of one, overarching development since 1967: the world-backed effort to prise away Israel's restored control over its ancient heartland, and to engineer in its place the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state.
Two major world bodies have two very different reasons for wanting to achieve this.
The world's democracies are working to oversee the birth of this state because, so they assert, peace in the Middle East, and thus stability for the world, hinges on the creation of an independent national homeland for the Palestinian Arabs.
For the Islamic/Arab world, the establishment of Palestine is an indispensable strategic step on the road to erasing Israel from the Middle East, once and for all.
Unswervingly, the Palestinian Arabs maintain that they will use the state the world is so anxious to give them as a platform from which to violently drive the Jews from what will be left of the land still under their rule.
"A legitimate Palestinian entity forms the most important weapon the Arabs have against Israel," states the official website of Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority.
While their end goals may differ dramatically, therefore, both the Western and Islamic worlds are working to achieve the same thing in the next phase, and as soon as possible: The creation of Palestine.
And, 10 years after Oslo - the peace agreement Israel signed that sent blood flowing through her streets, and immense pain and suffering visiting untold numbers of her homes - the push is on to birth this state this year.
If the US-led democratic nations have their way, Israel will allow, assist in, and recognize the establishment of Palestine sometime in the next 12 months; and this whether or not the Palestinian Arabs do anything to "merit it" at all.
For their part, these Arabs, backed by the entire Arab-Islamic world, will have done nothing to achieve their state, except spill blood for it, and remain unyielding in their demand to get it.
From their perspective, they have already achieved so much:
A group of terrorists bound together 40 years ago has succeeded - through bloody violence and a Goebbel's-inspired propaganda campaign - in convincing the world that a people with no national history comprise a nation; that this "nation" has a right to its own land; that "its" land is the historical heartland of the Jewish people; and that Israel has an obligation to withdraw from this land and permit another (enemy) Arab state to be erected there.
Jews I have met in recent months - even those I regard as right-thinking and intelligent - tell me that although Israel has bad leadership that is prepared to sell the country down the tubes, the majority of Israelis will never let this happen. These optimists cite the growth in Jewish settlements, and the waiting lists of tens of families eager to get into these endangered communities.
But while Jews may be lining up to move into those universally loathed towns and villages, Israel's "bad leadership" is moving ahead with its plans, an nothing is being done on the ground to stop the seemingly unstoppable slide towards the division of the Land of Israel for the establishment of Palestine.
Will it happen this year? According to the Road Map, Palestine was supposed to be born in 2003, with its borders and other outstanding issues finalized in 2005. Because of the Palestinian Authority's refusal to crush the terror groups in its midst, last year passed without the first step being reached.
Now, according to reports, President George W. Bush sees securing the de facto State of Palestine in 2004 as important to his race for re-election in November. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has apparently agreed to allow this state to be born - whether or not the PA does everything it is supposed to do under the Road Map - or does nothing.
Under reportedly intense US pressure, Sharon has agreed to begin uprooting Jewish families from their homes in Samaria, Judea and Gaza - the "occupied territories." A few hours before this was posted he, together with Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz, signed the order for four more "illegal outposts" to be torn down.
On the face of it, the end of this play is now obvious. What was unthinkable a few short years ago is about to take place before our eyes. Israel's position on the integrity of its homeland and its security needs have been almost entirely eroded away.
Will Palestine truly be born? Don't be too sure in your reply.
It was the biblical prophets who foretold the Jews' return to their homeland after millennia of wandering among the nations. Those prophesied events came to pass between the late 1800s and 1948 and, as Jews continue to make aliya every day, they are coming to pass before our eyes.
And then, it was the God of Israel Who promised through these same prophets, that, once He had brought the Jews home and "settled" them in their land, they would never again be uprooted. The following few verses hold some of these promises:
For the LORD will have mercy on Jacob, and will still choose Israel, and settle them in their own land. (Isaiah 14:1)
"And the LORD will take possession of Judah as His inheritance in the Holy Land, and will again choose Jerusalem…" (Zechariah 2:12)
"'For I will set My eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land; I will build them and not pull them down, and I will plant them and not pluck them up…" (Jeremiah 24:6-7)
"I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; they shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them; they shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them. I will plant them in their land, and no longer shall they be pulled up from the land I have given them," says the LORD your God. (Amos 9:14-15)
The Western world wants a Palestinian state to placate the Arabs. The Arab world wants a Palestinian state to destroy the Jews. Bush is prepared to play midwife to this state in order to garner a feather in his cap and doubly secure his second White House win.
Everyone - Washington, London, Paris, Berlin, Moscow, Beijing, Tehran, Damascus and Cairo - want Jews to be uprooted so that Palestine can be born.
Everyone, according to the Bible, except the Lord God of Israel.
An almighty clash is on its way: Will the combined might of all the world's nations be enough to impose a "solution" on Israel? Or will the eternal word of the LORD God of Israel stand against these efforts, and overcome them?
And as we move into 2004, the question I have is whether this issue will be decided this year.
Will it be this year when the efforts of the nations to thwart God's plan for Israel come up hard against the immutable Word of God?
Will it be this year when a Palestine will be established? Or will it be this year when all the efforts to create this state will come to naught?
Will it be this year that things in the Middle East really change?
Eitan Ronel, a retired lieutenant colonel, returned his rank insignia to the chief of staff this week, along with a letter full of bitterness. "Human life has lost its worth and values we were raised on, such as purity of arms, have become a bad joke," he wrote (Haaretz, January 4).
Ronel's protest over the IDF's conduct in the territories is not the first and won't be the last. The reserve pilots, the Sayeret Matkal commandos and the 12th graders got there before him. Before them, there were the four Shin Bet chiefs and the former head of the Mossad. On top of that, we've got B'Tselem and Gush Shalom, plus the Beilins and the Sarids and the Burgs, who are big on peace with the Palestinians and feel their pain. We have committees of inquiry investigating how and why Palestinian women and children were killed in this or that operation. We have a High Court to which every Palestinian can appeal. We have a media that will not allow the least injustice or wrong to slip by. We have columnists whose hearts ache along with the Palestinians.
What I would like to know is why there is no one on the other side crying out against the Palestinian Authority's policy of hatred and bloodshed. Where is their B'Tselem? Where are the Palestinian refuseniks who object to the murder of women and children?
How come, when civilians are accidentally killed in one of our military operations, everyone clamors right away for an investigation, while their suicide bombers have no qualms about boarding a bus packed with children or entering a crowded restaurant and blowing themselves up, fully aware of who they are taking with them? Not only are they not denounced, but their families are treated with respect and showered with perks and pensions.
While we quarrel bitterly over ways to solve the conflict, the Palestinian government has only one way, and it begins and ends with violence. The Palestinians imbibe hatred of Israel with their mothers' milk. From childhood, they are taught that the Jews must die.
In their textbooks, it doesn't say, of course, that the ones who stole their rights were the Arab countries, who invaded the land earmarked for them in the UN partition plan when they attacked in 1948. It doesn't say that they were liberated from Arab occupation only in 1967 - by Israel. Actually, it's been easier for them to push for an independent state under Israeli control than it would ever have been under Jordanian-Egyptian rule.
Whenever a truly historical moment arises - the Oslo Accords, the Clinton-Barak initiative - that's when they go on a spree of suicide bombings in the heart of Israeli population centers. The Palestinians have crossed all the red lines. They have turned Israeli peaceniks into radicals, rousing them into angry rebellion against what is happening around them. But while we respond, while we torture ourselves, while we keep asking ourselves every second if we haven't gone overboard and maybe it's time to stop, the Palestinians have never shown the slightest regret over any attack, no matter how massive, no matter how cruel.
Instead of the Palestinian Authority keeping Hamas in check, it is Hamas that sets the tone. Even in times of grief and pain, the two peoples are poles apart. When we bury our dead, we weep quietly at the graveside. For them, every funeral becomes a raucous demonstration of hatred and incitement against Israel.
Israeli society is plunged in gritty debate. The government is being criticized for not doing enough to end the conflict. Before the intifadas, there were signs that coexistence was possible. Tens of thousands of Israelis flocked to the territories - to have their teeth fixed, to have their cars repaired, to do their food shopping. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians worked in Israel proper.
Today, the only contact is via the barrel of a gun, the army checkpoint, the helicopter gunship, the Qassam rocket and the explosive belt. The IDF reprisal attacks in the territories may be brutal, but there are also people who feel sorry for the Palestinians' bitter lot.
Here one finds anger mixed with compassion; there, one finds anger mixed with loathing. Below the surface in Israel, hopes for peace continue to rumble. For them, hatred is total and blinding. Here they are with President Bush's road map staring them in the face, giving them a state of their own. And yet they won't do the one thing that will open the gate for them: dismantle terrorist infrastructure. Abu Mazen was ousted and Abu Ala will follow the orders of Arafat, who knows no other way but terror.
It is not a fence that will change things but tearing down the wall of hatred that the Palestinians have built between the two peoples.
Unlike the rest of the world, they've been paying close attention to what their leaders and educators have been teaching. And they are ready to practice what they've been taught.
For instance, children interviewed on PA TV last week state without reservation that Israel has no right to exist, and that the goal for which they're willing to sacrifice their lives is Israel's destruction.
"They [the Jews] came to take Palestine, that is, Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Haifa, Acre, Ramle. All these cities belong to Palestine," one youth explains in a December 25 broadcast, echoing years of standard Palestinian Authority indoctrination.
And because he is convinced that Israel has no right to exist: "We hope, hope, hope and I emphasize these things, that the Arab countries and the foreign countries – all the countries of the world – will support the Palestinians and will expel the Israelis.
"We must expel all Israelis from Palestine. Because Israel – there is nothing called 'Israel' in the world. The Israelis [came] from Holland, America, Iran."
The children are seen promising they will keep fighting, generation after generation, until they liberate Palestine.
Furthermore, they say they don't fear death in the struggle because it is shahada – death for Allah. "Even if all the Palestinian children, Palestinian youth, Palestinian women, and Palestinian men die, we will not surrender!"
None of this is surprising to anyone who has been paying attention to what does on in the PA educational system. Israel is erased from PA maps, schoolbooks and historians deny Israel's right to exist, and educators at all levels teach that Israel is a foreign colonial implant.
Despite PA claims to the contrary, its textbooks continue to delegitimize Israel and dismiss it as a foreign occupier: "Palestine faced the British occupation after the First World War in 1917, and the Israeli occupation in 1948."
Children are taught that all of Israel is part of Palestine. For example, "Among the famous rocks of southern Palestine are the rocks of Beersheba and the Negev..."
About Palestine's water sources, children are taught: "The most important is the Sea of Galilee."
SUCH MESSAGES of delegitimization have been affirmed by Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei. He is on record as rejecting the idea of Israel as a Jewish state. "President Bush said that Israel is a Jewish state, which is a cause for our concern. This should not have been said," he told Al-Nahar and Al-Hayat Al-Jadida on June 15, 2003.
PA-affiliated historians appear on educational TV to reinforce this message. On December 28 Dr. Isam Sisalem reiterated what he has said on numerous broadcasts. Jews "have no history or connection to this land" and are nothing but a "cancer" planted by Britain to control the Middle East.
In the same educational broadcast last week, another historian resurrected The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the infamous anti-Semitic forgery, citing it as one of the foundations of the First Zionist Congress in 1897.
"The Zionist movement began at the Basel Congress to plan the exploitation of the powers' struggle, and the struggle of Europe over the Middle East," said Dr. Riad Al-Astal, a history lecturer at Al-Azhar University in Gaza.
Consequently, when we view children on PA TV who say they want to destroy Israel, to liberate Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Haifa, Acre, and Ramle, and to expel the Jews, we are seeing children who are accurately regurgitating the sentiments inculcated and reinforced throughout PA society.
Indeed, years of anti-Israel indoctrination have been alarmingly effective in teaching Palestinian youth that the Jews have no link to Israel, that Israel has no right to exist and that the overriding goal of the next generation – even at the cost of their lives – should be to eliminate Israel.
The essence of the conflict is Israel's very right to exist – not the question of borders or refugees. Peace negotiations that do not address the PA's system of indoctrination will be short-term paper agreements doomed to failure.
Palestinian children have already figured this out. Perhaps the rest of us need to stay after school.
Marcus is founder and director of Palestinian Media Watch. Crook is PMW's North American representative.
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It takes some nerve to scold people for defending their children from terrorists -- the more so when their method of defense is simply to erect a fence to keep the murderers from reaching their intended victims.
Yet critics have lashed out at the Israeli government’s decision to erect a security barrier to separate Israel proper from the West Bank communities that have harbored suicide terrorists for years. Not the least of these critics is the International Court of Justice in The Hague which has granted itself the jurisdiction to hold a hearing on Israel’s fence next month.
Using fences to keep out those intent on committing crimes is hardly an innovative idea. As the media watchdog group PRIMER (Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting) has illustrated in a series of pictures available at its website (www.tampabayprimer.org) such barriers can be found virtually all over the world.
For example, the U.S. has a fence along its southern border. That fence is primarily to keep out Mexicans seeking jobs rather than bombers seeking children. But if the former is justifiable, surely the latter is as well.
A well-fortified zone divides Korea. The purpose is to keep out North Koreans who, one supposes, consider Americans to be “military occupiers” of South Korea.
India is in the process of erecting barriers to separate its territory from that of Pakistan -- from which Jihadi terrorists have frequently infiltrated. The terrorists say India is “occupying” Kashmir. Heard any objections from the European Union?
Botswana is erecting an electric fence to keep out Zimbabweans attempting to escape Robert Mugabe’s oppression. Apparently, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan hasn’t a problem with that barrier – or with the Marxist, racist dictator Mugabe, for that matter.
Unlike the countries above, Israel is fighting a war. The enemy’s base is on the West Bank. Over the past three years since Yasser Arafat turned down the offer of an independent state in more than 95% of the West Bank and Gaza, 900 Israelis have been killed and 6,000 injured by terrorists whom Arafat has never seriously attempted to suppress. On the contrary, Arafat has encouraged and funded them.
Those who argue that the fence should not represent a final border have a point. The Israelis concede that point, agreeing that any borders between Israel and what may become an independent Palestinian state should be “determined by negotiations.”
The problem is that the Palestinians who now wield power refuse to negotiate a deal that would lead to a Palestinian state living peacefully next to a Jewish state. Some Arab leaders are candid enough to acknowledge this reality. Last week, Prince Hassan Bin Talal, uncle of Jordan's ruler King Abdullah, told the Italian newspaper La Stampa that Israeli Prime Ariel Sharon is a pragmatic leader who is having trouble finding a pragmatic partner on the Palestinian side. "Unfortunately, we can see the growing influence of Hamas and Hezbollah among the Palestinians," he told the newspaper. Indeed, Hamas and Hezbollah are not interested in borders with Israel. Their openly stated goal is to destroy Israel and to replace it with a radical Islamist state.
Such intransigence also is not new. It was pursuit of this same goal – Israel’s annihilation -- that led to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank in the first place. In 1967, Egypt (which then ruled Gaza), Syria (which then held the Golan Heights) and Jordan (which then administered the West Bank) explicitly announced that their intention was to wage a final war to drive Israelis into the sea.
But Israelis prevailed in that conflict. In so doing, they took possession of territories that had long been a staging ground for terrorism and from which the aggression against them had been launched. Israel did not annex most of this property, as many other countries have done in similar circumstances. Instead, they returned the Sinai to Egypt in exchange for a peace treaty and have said they are willing to trade most of the West Bank for a similar arrangement with Palestinians.
This history has been generally forgotten in media coverage of the fence. Reports have tended to focus instead on how the barrier is inconveniencing innocent Palestinians who live near it. That’s a real and troubling dilemma. But complaints about how and where the fence is being built will be taken more seriously if they come from critics even-handed enough to acknowledge that Israelis do have the right to protect their children from suicide terrorists.
What’s more, if the fence works as planned, Israel will be able to remove road blocks, check points, tanks and troops from the West Bank. Would that not be an enormous benefit for Palestinians?
As noted, security barriers are not a new innovation – not even in Israel. On my first visit to that country -- a fact-finding trip taken with former vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp and Senator Frank Lautenberg shortly after 9/11 -- I visited Gilo, a community in suburban Jerusalem that overlooks a valley in which the scenic Palestinian village of Bet Jallah spreads out. From Bet Jallah, snipers had repeatedly fired at Israeli children as they walked to school. A concrete wall was erected to stop the bullets.
On that wall, Israelis had painted a picture of Bet Jallah -- a poignant reminder of the neighbors who had become too dangerous even to gaze upon.
Clifford D. May, a former New York Times foreign correspondent, is the president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies a policy institute focusing on terrorism.
Anti-Israel Media Bias: A Stone's Throw AwayBy HonestReporting.com - January 8, 2004
Media outlets regularly charge the IDF with brute over-reaction to Palestinian stone-throwers, described as mere "protestors" who pose no serious danger.
The latest episode took place on Saturday, January 3, when three Palestinians were killed during a clash in Nablus. Among them was 15-year-old Amjad al-Masri, who had engaged soldiers from a rooftop. Reuters reported a discrepancy between Palestinian witnesses who claimed al-Masri was merely "throwing stones" from above, and the IDF spokesman, who said he was "dropping large bricks on soldiers."
Here's an actual scene of stone-throwing "protest" in Nablus, captured by an Associated Press photographer on Jan.2 :
Those are cement building blocks, and from a few stories up they are deadly weapons by anyone's standards. "Protestors" carry placards; they don't hurl cinder blocks. Western courts have convicted those who threw boulders onto roadways of first-degree murder.
The above photo certainly supports the IDF's version of al-Masri's death. Yet in a classic case of selective omission, two news agencies ran stories on the event that completely ignored the IDF's actual version (emphases added):
- Australian Broadcasting Corporation: "Israeli soldiers have shot dead three Palestinians, including a 15-year-old boy, who were throwing stones in protests around the West Bank city of Nablus early on Saturday local time, Palestinian medics and witnesses said."These news outlets adopt the Palestinian version as if it were established fact. Readers, unaware of the flagrant selective omission, are led to the false belief that trigger-happy Israeli troops open fire against non-threatening Palestinian "protestors."
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