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Jewish World Review August 27, 2001 / 8 Elul 5761

Don Feder

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Negotiations are the Waterloo of the West -- YASSER ARAFAT, the Don Corleone of suicide bombers, is willing to take time out from terrorism to negotiate with his victims.

On Friday, Arafat declared himself "ready at all times" for another round of talks but blamed Israel for blocking negotiations. The principal item on the table would be implementation of a CIA-brokered cease-fire that was supposed to take effect on June 13. Only 29 Israelis have been murdered, and 233 injured, in the interim.

Negotiations are the bane of the West. Nothing will shake our faith in the delusion that we can settle our differences with totalitarians, tyrants and thugs at the conference table.

The lessons of Munich were never learned. With hindsight, it's easy to scoff at Western naivete. Did the British and French really think Hitler would be satisfied with part of Czechoslovakia? Hadn't they read "Mein Kampf" or listened to his speeches?

Neville Chamberlain's miscalculation resulted in World War II and tens of millions dead. Yet the conflict wasn't even over before we were settling the shape of post-war Europe with Stalin. The fate of Poland was sealed at Yalta.

We spent 40 years engaged in diplomacy with Kremlin killers. The 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which Bush is demanding Moscow renegotiate, stands in the way of America developing an anti-missile defense.

In 1973, the Paris Accords ended the Vietnam War. Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho got the Nobel Peace Prize. The South Vietnamese got swallowed up by the communist North. The Cambodians got the killing fields, and the West got the boat people.

The illusion persists that peace can be purchased with territorial transfers and other suicidal concessions. The West pushes Israel to resume the peace process -- by which the Jewish state is transferred to its enemies a piece at a time.

Taiwan is pressured to conduct talks with China. At least Beijing admits there's only one thing it's willing to discuss -- the timing and framework for a surrender by the island democracy.

Senate Democrats demand that President George Bush resume diplomacy with North Korea's Kim Jong Il.

Kim runs a nationwide penitentiary that makes China look mellow. If the West weren't feeding a third of North Korea's population, the country would resemble Ethiopia on Yom Kippur.

Kim has stationed 80 percent of his 1.1 million troops within 80 kilometers of the demilitarized zone. Washington calls him the "number one proliferator of missiles in the world."

But if we bribe Dear Leader by lessening sanctions and building nuclear power plants for him, he'll stop destabilizing the Third World, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace types insist.

Optimists in the West are willfully blind to the way totalitarians, tyrants and thugs negotiate. Democracies deal in good faith. Out of a desire to avoid conflict, they offer real concessions.

The other side sees the bargaining table as an arena. It will take as much as it can get. What it offers in return is illusory. Ceded territory becomes a base for future attacks. Cease-fires are an opportunity to regroup.

Since the 1993 Oslo Accords -- for which Arafat and Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres shared another Nobel Peace Prize -- Israel has given the Palestinians all of Gaza, 40 percent of the West Bank (including Hebron, Judaism's second holiest city), a foothold in Jerusalem and even assistance in building their army.

What has it gotten in return?

In September 1993, Arafat wrote to then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, "The PLO renounces terrorism and other acts of violence." He solemnly pledged to end incitement, uproot Islamic extremists and extradite those responsible for attacks on Israelis. His record of breaking each and every one of these commitments is written in the blood of innocents.

The moment Arafat determined that he would not ultimately get everything he wanted -- all of the territories, the dismantling of Jewish settlements, Jerusalem and a Palestinian right-of-return -- the war that never really ended was resumed.

Von Clausewitz said war is the continuation of politics by other means. For totalitarians, tyrants and thugs, diplomacy is war by other means. Negotiations have paved the way for the horrors of the past six decades. Nations have been buried with a scrap of paper.

JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest books are Who is afraid of the Religious Right? ($15.95) and A Jewish conservative looks at pagan America ($9.95). To receive an autographed copy, send a check or money order to: Don Feder, The Boston Herald, 1 Herald Sq., Boston, Mass. 02106. Doing so will help fund JWR, if so noted. He is also available as a guest speaker. To comment on this column please click here.

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© 2001, Creators Syndicate