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Jewish World Review Jan. 26, 1999 /9 Shevat 5759

Mona Charen

Mona Charen

The truth about
the Peace Process

(JWR) --- (http://www.jewishworldreview.com) EVEN FOR CNN, it was a breathtaking bit of editorializing. In a very short report from Jerusalem, correspondent Walter Rodgers managed to convey almost no facts and two sweeping, unsubstantiated opinions.

In his Jan. 12 report, Rodgers said, "As the Israeli election campaign heats up, it is becoming obvious the peace process with the Palestinians is out in the cold, perhaps until summer. The Israeli prime minister continues to campaign against Yasser Arafat, saying the Palestinians have to fulfill all their commitments before there can be a thaw."

Next, Rodgers quotes Palestinian Council member Hanan Ashwari as saying, "We cannot accept a peace process that is constantly being redefined unilaterally by one side."

There is no corresponding quotation from the Israeli side or any clue about the substance of the Palestinians' non-compliance. Rodgers refers to the "suspension" of the peace process by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and notes that this has "chilled" relations with other nations, including the United States. He then offers his view of this volatile part of the world: "The only movement in the peace process seems to come from Palestinian President Yasser Arafat."

If this awful century, now sluicing toward the gate, has taught us anything, it is that misinformation can be very dangerous. If the lie is large enough, it can lead to war and even to genocide. The lies circulated by our major news organizations about Israel -- lies that are reinforced by an administration bent on pressuring Israel to provide concessions -- have created an image of the "peace process" that is almost at variance with the facts.

As in the CNN report addressed above, the emphasis of reporting is always on Israel's unwillingness to part with more land. Reporting about Israel favors the psychological rather than the factual. We are instructed that "intransigence," "unfounded fears" and "right-wing hard-liners" are preventing the Israelis from fulfilling their part of the bargain with the Palestinians.

It is rare to the point of invisibility (except in the columns of Charles Krauthammer and Cal Thomas) to find any reporting about whether the Palestinians have fulfilled their part of the bargain first struck at Oslo.

Starting in 1993, the Palestinians undertook to do certain things in exchange for full sovereignty over parts of the West Bank and Gaza. The most significant of these promises were to expunge from their founding charter the vow to eliminate the state of Israel, to stop disseminating inflammatory propaganda about Israel and Jews, and to abandon violence and terror as tactics against Israel.

Since then, Israel has steadily handed over territory to the Palestinian Authority, with occasional pauses after particularly bloody terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians. The PA now controls large chunks of the West Bank and almost all of Gaza. It has a seaport and an airport. But when Israel fails to meet a deadline specified at Oslo -- and now Wye -- because the Palestinians have failed to live up to their commitments, a recurring minuet is danced. The United States pressures Israel to move faster on territorial concessions in exchange for more Palestinian promises to do what they first promised six years ago.

The Palestine Liberation Organization's charter has not been revised. As for terrorism, through a combination of bad faith and internal politics, the PA has utterly failed to control terrorists in its midst. Israel has suffered more terror since Oslo than in all of its previous (and bloody) history. In violation of the Oslo and Wye agreements, the Palestinian Authority is importing weapons, including Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, into its territory -- hardly the act of a people dedicated to peace.

Even the relatively easy matter of refraining from incitement and vicious propaganda has not been fulfilled by the Palestinians. Israelis are routinely compared to Hitler in Palestinian newspapers and on television. Palestinians who have lost their lives trying to blow up Israeli civilians are hailed as "martyrs."

Arafat has several times, most recently on Fatah Day, Jan. 1, reiterated his commitment to the armed struggle first adumbrated in 1965. The Oslo and Wye accords, he tells his own people in Arabic, are not the road to peace but the road to securing all of "Palestine," by which he means, and has always meant, all of the territory that goes by the name Israel.

(For translations of Palestinian press, e-mail MEMRI@erols.com.)


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©1998, Creators Syndicate, Inc.