What the People Want

On November 16, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told the Middle East-North Africa economic conference in Qatar that the Middle East peace process was in danger, "not because the people of the region do not desire peace, but because leaders have failed to take the actions required to realise the possibilities of peace".

Albright's statement was inane, not just because it disregarded the fact that Netanyahu is the elected leader of a democracy but, more significantly, because it expressed yet again Western wishful thinking that the vast majority of the Muslim masses of the Middle East want peace, and would readily accept Israel in their midst but for the actions of their megalomaniac leaders.

Really, Madame Secretary? The Arab people overwhelmingly want peace?

Then why were the same people who danced on their roof tops in Judea-Samaria and Gaza when Iraqi Scuds fell on Tel Aviv before the Madrid Conference convened six years ago, out in the streets again last month calling on Saddam to rocket Tel Aviv?

Why, as reported in the quasi-official popular Egyptian weekly al-Ahram (6-12 November), do the majority of the Egyptian people still oppose the normalisation of relations with Israel, nearly 20 years after the two nations signed for peace?

Why is the trend among the Jordanian people towards the Islamisation of their state?

Why do Muslims in southern Lebanon support Hizb'Allah's firing on Israel from within their villages?

It sounds very good: "We know the ordinary people want to live in peace." But what about the ordinary Palestinian mother who, surrounded by a ululating, supportive crowd of other ordinary mothers, sings the praises of her "martyred" son who died blowing up Jewish children on Jerusalem's streets?

What about the hundreds of ordinary Arab men, women and children who laughed and clapped at the re-enactment of the murder of the terrified young kidnapped Israeli soldier, Nachshon Wachsman?

What about the thousands of ordinary Arab students who applauded the mock-ups of Israeli public buses blown apart by Arab bombs?

What about the tens of thousands of ordinary Arab citizens who marched through Arafat's cities singing the praises of Yihye "the engineer" Ayyash, the man responsible for building the bombs that robbed so many Israeli families of their loved ones?

The only way ordinary people can support these barbaric acts is if they believe them justified. The only way they can believe them justified is if they believe Israeli civilians deserve the destruction wreaked upon them. The only way they can believe innocent women and children deserve to be slaughtered is if they lack the most basic elements of human compassion.

You can say many things about such people. You cannot say--except to delude yourself--that they really desire peace. They might claim to do so, but their inbred beliefs militate against the most basic elements of peace.

It's simple logic. People reflect the culture in which they are reared. Educate people in the ways of hatred; immerse them in a religion that designates all other faiths as infidel; elevate death by suicide to the highest attainable goal, and you have people, thousands, millions of ordinary people who are not desirous of any sort of peace except the kind that they can impose by their will, and through the use of their religion-sanctified violence, upon those they regard as their inferior foes.

From the Qur'an, through school textbooks and readily-available publications like the "Protocols" and "Mein Kampf", to the daily diet of anti-Semitic newspaper articles and cartoons, expressed hatred of the Jew, and of everything Zionism stands for, fuels the fires of war.

Rather than desire peace, many of the ordinary people who surround Israel are praying for the day when Allah will destroy the Jews.

Albright, the US, and most of the Western world's refusal to recognise this fundamental reality dooms to failure all sincere efforts to bring about a "new Middle East".

Stan Goodenough

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