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Jewish World Review / May 12, 1998 / 16 Iyar, 5758

Mona Charen

Mona Charen

The war process?

PITY THE POOR ISRAELIS. If only they'd been selling advanced weapons technology to our enemies, as China has, or been building stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, as Iraq has, they would have received more gentle treatment from the Clinton administration. Better yet, if they'd been clairvoyant enough to donate to the Democratic National Committee, they would not now be on the receiving end of ultimata from Washington.

As it is, they are in the unfortunate position of being a mere ally and thus subject to a "squeeze play" that would make even Suzy Hubbell blanche.

U.S. pressure, we are assured, is in the service of the "peace process" -- but unless the U.S. changes course, this ill-conceived pressure on Israel to take steps it regards as inimical to its security may instead lead to war and disaster.

Only the United States can prevent such a tragedy. We could, as Norman Podhoretz suggests in the May issue of Commentary, support democratizing movements within the Arab world. We could exert moral, financial and diplomatic pressure to move the Arab nations in the direction of respect for human rights, a free press and open markets. All of this might begin to break the ice of implacable resistance to Israel's existence that prevails in nearly every Arab nation today.

But it would not be enough. To avoid the very real danger of provoking another war in the Middle East, U.S. policy makers -- and some Israelis, too -- must disabuse themselves of the delusion that Israel represents the obstacle to peace.

If Israelis believed that the Palestinians and their other Arab neighbors truly desired to live in peace side-by-side with Israel, there would be no need for a "peace process." There would be peace in a millisecond.

The Oslo accords attempted to test the sincerity of the Palestinians. The accords envisioned a phased Israeli withdrawal from West Bank territory, which has begun -- along with a series of "confidence building" measures to be undertaken by the Palestinians. The PLO promised to cease its anti-Semitic and anti-Israel agitation and propaganda, to revise its covenant -- which calls for the elimination of Israel -- to punish terrorism, and to forswear violence.

Has any of this been accomplished? Have a look at any map of "Palestine" that hangs in PLO offices or is studied in West Bank textbooks. It depicts a country whose borders go from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. In other words, it obliterates Israel.

A pro-Israel group is running television ads that depict a 5-year-old Palestinian child addressing her class. She is singing of her desire to become a suicide bomber and kill Israelis "in battle dress, in battle dress." Bravo, says her teacher.

The PLO charter remains unchanged, despite window-dressing meetings to discuss changing it.

Since the Oslo accords were signed, there have been 900 terrorist acts against Israel by Fatah, Arafat's branch of the PLO, as well as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestinians and other organizations. Scores of civilians have been blown to bits. Yet, known terrorists are routinely released by the Palestinian Authority, and some are declared martyrs. There is a public park in Jericho named for Ayyash, the "engineer" who planned the terror killings of at least 60 Israeli civilians.

Further, though the Palestinians promised to refrain from inciting hatred against Israel, the Palestinian Authority is downright poisonous in its hate-mongering. The official PLO newspaper routinely publishes slanders and lies about Jews and Israel -- including the charge that Israel has injected Arab children with the AIDS virus. The PA also circulates the hoary anti-Jewish fraud "Protocols of the Elders of Zion," as well as materials denying the Holocaust.

But the Clinton administration offers no ultimata to Arafat. Perhaps Benjamin Netanyahu will continue to resist, but he may not have the strength. He is being railroaded into midwifing the creation of a new Iraq, only minutes from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. And how will Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright feel when the new Palestinian state, blessed by the first lady, concludes military alliances with Iran or Syria?


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©1998, Creators Syndicate, Inc.