Jewish World Review July 31, 2002 / 22 Menachem-Av, 5761

Zev Chafets

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Israel's nutty neighbors | In the column-writing business, you have to read a lot of newspapers. It can be tedious work, but there are some bright spots. One is the Arab News, an online publication produced (as all publications in Saudi Arabia are produced) under strict government supervision.

The Arab News is a joy because it provides daily confirmation of my long-held view of Saudi Arabia as an intellectual Fresh Kills in a kaffiyeh. The daily offers up the opinions of Holocaust deniers, Ku Klux Klan ideologues, America haters and, in one unforgettable recent issue, a Saudi professor who revealed that Jews use gentile blood in their holiday pastries.

The other day, the Arab News reported that according to researchers at Bir Zeit University, 87% of Palestinian families in the West Bank have at least one member suffering from "psychological difficulties."

Bir Zeit University, located near the West Bank city of Ramallah, is a university in the same sense that Madison Square Garden is a garden. It is Berkeley without books, a school where the only real test is loyalty.

The Bir Zeit "study" is accordingly designed to whip up sympathy for the reoccupied people of the West Bank. The idea is that they are being driven crazy by Israeli brutality.

This fails to account for 60 years of sociopathic Palestinian behavior. But if the "researchers" misdiagnose the cause, they are right about the degree of madness. Palestinian society, with its suicide moms, exploding teenagers and babies swaddled in dynamite belts, is obviously off its rocker.

The Palestinian political class is especially detached from reality. Listen to its spokesmen - you can hear one on National Public Radio every 20 minutes or so - and you realize that they live in a bizzaro universe.

The Palestinian leadership could have had an independent state during the Clinton administration. They turned it down, which may or may not be sane. But their decision to fight instead is sheer lunacy. The Israelis are much stronger and more determined than the Palestinians, and, despite occasional losses, they are winning handily.

Not only that. Two years of watching the Palestinians act out have convinced Israelis that their neighbors are nuts. Yesterday's concessions are moot. Israeli policy now consists of putting the Palestinians into a straitjacket. Yet astonishingly, Palestinian leaders continue to believe they are on the road to victory.

The Palestinians are equally delusional about Washington. That became obvious again last week when President Bush renewed his call for the replacement of Yasser Arafat. "He's failed his people," the President said.

This set off a chorus of Palestinian wall pounding. How could Bush be so stupid? We will choose our own leadership! We will make our own reforms! What kind of democracy is it when the U.S. dictates the results? Who is Bush to decide who has failed us?

These would be rational complaints if the United States actually wanted to create a Palestinian state by means of democratic elections. But the Palestinian electorate is divided between admirers of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein (a poll published Friday shows that 80% would support Saddam in a U.S. war against Iraq) and enthusiasts of Iranian-style government (Hamas).

These are the two Middle Eastern regimes that Bush correctly regards as evil. He is on his way to a war against one or both. Why on earth would he want to enable a mob of unhinged voters to set up a Saddamite dictatorship or a mullah-cracy?

Sure, Bush says he's in favor of a Palestinian state - but only after three years of progress, and the clock starts running only when the Palestinians get back on their meds and start seeking help.

Right now, that looks like three years from never.

JWR contributor Zev Chafets is a columnist for The New York Daily News. Comment by clicking here.


© 2002, NY Daily News