With unremitting ferocity, Arab terrorists this weekend again attacked Israeli civilians through suicide bombing -- having already brutally killed or injured 200 people last week. Despite such carnage (this was the sixth bombing in nine days), despite Yasser Arafat's hollow promises to quell such violence (his arrest of some Hamas members is mere window-dressing), despite his record of flouting the terms of previous peace deals -- advocates of the "peace process" are undaunted. They continue to demand that Israel resolve this conflict by diplomatic negotiation rather than military force. Central to this process is a "land-for-peace" exchange, leading to a sovereign Palestinian state.
Such a "trade," however, will lead Israel not to peace but to self-destruction.
Although the land-for-peace doctrine seems to offer a mutually advantageous settlement, it is a vicious deception. Peace requires the cessation of Arab violence, particularly terrorism. To attain it, Israel is supposed to surrender territories crucial to its continued security -- territories that were won in the war instigated by Arab countries in 1967. To attain land, however, the Arabs are supposed to concede nothing; they need only withdraw their use of force. Like any aggressor, they are, in essence, holding the Israelis hostage. And like any victim, Israel, by paying the ransom, gains no value that it did not already have a right to.
Evading the fact that Israel is being asked to cave in to extortion, advocates of the "peace process" treat Arab and Israeli claims as morally equivalent. They ignore the fact that the Mideast is dominated by Arab monarchies, theocracies and dictatorships -- while Israel is a free country standing as the lone bastion of Western civilization in that region. It is only the citizens of Israel -- Arabs and Jews alike -- who enjoy the right to express their views, to form political parties, to elect their government.
Under Arafat's Palestinian Authority, Palestinians are subject to ruthless censorship, in contrast to Israel's freedom of speech; expropriation and summary executions in contrast to the objective rule of law; and dictatorial edicts in contrast to political and economic liberty. Any Arab who values individual rights over tribalist collectivism -- production and trade over statism and terrorism -- would readily choose to live under Israeli rule rather than in a Palestinian state.
The function of government is to protect the rights of its citizens. Only a free nation, like Israel, is entitled to invoke a moral right to exist. There can be no right to establish a state that consistently tramples upon rights. That is why this conflict is, fundamentally, a moral one. A concession by Israel of land for peace is a concession that it is an "oppressor" -- it is a surrender of its moral legitimacy. Once Israel surrenders that principle, and accedes to a Palestinian state, it invites its own destruction.
A sponsor of such terror groups as Islamic Jihad and Hamas, Arafat has continually refused to prosecute Arab terrorists living under his jurisdiction. A sovereign Palestinian state would thwart Israel's ability to apprehend such terrorists, and would enable them to strike more effectively. Even worse is the prospect that such a state could readily serve as a beachhead for a concerted "jihad" against Israel by its many Arab enemies.
Far from securing peace, compromises only weaken Israel and embolden its enemies. When Nazi Germany was appeased in 1938 by being allowed to claim Czechoslovakia as part of the Aryan people's "homeland" -- an earlier version of "land for peace" -- the result was to encourage Hitler to start a world war.
Israel must recognize that it cannot achieve peace by surrendering to those who are relentlessly hostile to the value of freedom. For the sake of its own survival, it must refuse any future compromises -- and begin to undo the damage of previous concessions (including Barak's naive offer of 95 percent of the captured territories). As a start, it should secure its own borders militarily, forbid the establishment of a Palestinian state, and oust Arafat from power. Rather than appeasing its attackers, Israel must retaliate with as much force as is necessary to subdue them.
These would be the first steps toward declaring a moral inequivalence between Israel and its Arab enemies.
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