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Jewish World Review Feb. 10, 2000 / 4 Adar I, 5760

Cal Thomas

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The war process continues against Israel --
THE LEAD EDITORIAL in the Feb. 9 New York Times restates the flawed thinking of many when it comes to peacemaking between Israel and her hostile neighbors. Responding to the latest attacks by the terrorist organization Hezbollah, which in just the last two weeks have killed six Israeli soldiers and critically wounded 12 others, the editorial says, "it is important that during the hard bargaining both sides continue to demonstrate their shared commitment to peacemaking.''

The only "shared commitment'' is that of Israel's enemies: the destruction of Israel by many and any means. It doesn't matter how many times Israel's enemies violate agreements. It isn't Israel's job to question why. It is Israel's job to do and die.

Not that it matters to anyone in the Clinton administration, in European capitals or Arab dictatorships, but these latest Hezbollah attacks are a flagrant violation of the 1996 Grapes of Wrath Understandings which prohibited the launching of attacks from within civilian villages in Lebanon. As usual, when Israel responds to these attacks with air strikes and civilians are injured (which is what Hezbollah wants so that Israel will be bombarded with negative public opinion), the outcries are directed against Israel. How come the terrorists and their protectors in Damascus get a free pass?

Even under the increasingly accommodating Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who is being further weakened by his own Clinton-like campaign-finance scandal, Israel has warned that any escalation of terrorism from Lebanon would derail peace agreements. Despite this, neither the Lebanese nor Syrian government has done anything to restrain the flow of arms from Iran to Hezbollah through Syria. Syrian-occupied Lebanon and whatever constitutes a Lebanese "government'' aren't going to restrain the terrorists because terror continues to be an instrument of Israel's enemies. Watch for the usual apologists to step forward and blame Israel for failing to live up to promises and endangering the "peace process.'' The cycle and the scenario are all too familiar.

Those who want a real education on the intentions of Israel's enemies should read Daniel Pipes' excellent article in the February issue of Commentary. In it, Pipes, the director of the Middle East Forum, writes: "The point cannot be made often or strongly enough that, in their great majority, Arabic speakers do continue to repudiate the idea of peace with Israel .... In one of the most recent in-depth surveys of Arab opinion, conducted by the political scientist Hilal Khashan of the American University of Beirut, 1,600 respondents, divided equally among Jordanians, Lebanese, Palestinians and Syrians, stated by a ratio of 69 to 28 percent that they personally did not want peace with Israel. By 79 to 18 percent, they rejected the idea of doing business with Israelis even after a total peace. By 80 to 19 percent, they rejected learning about Israel. By 87 to 13 percent, they supported attacks by Islamic groups against Israel.''

These are not seeds from which peace grows. This is proof that peace is impossible with people who hold such a worldview.

Pipes faults the U.S. State Department for coddling Muslim extremists and glossing over their objectives. But he says that Israelis are their own worst enemies. They have war fatigue and appear ready to give up in exchange for phony promises. According to a recent Tel Aviv University survey, notes Pipes, "two-thirds of Israelis now agree with the following dubious assertions: that most Palestinians want peace; that signing agreements will end the Arab-Israeli conflict; and that if forced to choose between negotiations and increased military strength, Israel should opt for the former.''

These are illusions, and a suicidal ones at that. The weaker in resolve Israel shows itself to be, the stronger and more emboldened her enemies will become to finish the job and reach the objective that has been their goal since 1948 -- the obliteration of Israel from the map. As Pipes concludes: "Again and again, the record of world history shows, victory goes not to the side with greater firepower, but to the side with greater determination.'' As of now, Israel's legion of enemies appears to be more determined.

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