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Jewish World Review / May 28,1998 / 3 Sivan, 5758

Cal Thomas

Cal Thomas The Speaker's insightful remarks

HOUSE SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH, touring Israel with a congressional delegation honoring the 50th anniversary of the modern Jewish state, accused the Palestinian Authority (PA) of systematically inciting violence among its followers and harming the peace process.

Interviewed on CNN from Jerusalem, Gingrich said, "No Palestinian official should talk about or threaten bloodshed, but yet it is a routine pattern in this region for the Palestinian Authority to, in effect, incite violence."

Several Palestinian leaders claimed Gingrich's remarks were inciteful and suggested that they might be a provocation toward violence, as if the PA ever needed to be provoked. Violence is its primary tool for applying pressure to Israel.

While some in the State Department and the American media expressed shock at Gingrich's comments, he is one of the few top American leaders in recent years to state the obvious and courageously stand up for the only democracy in the region. American officials ignore threats by Palestinians, apparently thinking them empty.

While Gingrich defended Israel, the PA's television station, PBC, carried an interview with Dr. Ahmed Tibi, a personal advisor to PA leader Yasser Arafat.

Tibi said, "We are here to state that we are the owners of this land," by which he meant all the land. "We are the rightful owners," he added. "This is our history, and we will never bend."

On the same broadcast, scenes were shown from a "Nabka Rally" in Ramallah, which included a chant from an unidentified leader and responses from a large crowd. The chant included these lines: "Palestine is Arab; Netanyahu Binyamin, Nazi, son of Satans; the entire land is Palestine." During the chant, cameras focused on the burning of a model Jewish community village and a flaming Israeli flag.

Other pictures showed a dais in Gaza occupied by Arafat and other PA leaders. Arafat himself joined in a chant: "All of Jerusalem is Arab; the entire land is Arab." There were appeals to "martyrs" and "holy war" but the picture you got was of an intransigent opponent to Israel's existence. If you take these and many similar statements at face value (and what convincing evidence is there that we should not?), it is clear that Israel's enemies have no intention of making peace, but only war, until all of the land is rid of the Jews and the Palestinians occupy it and Jerusalem, too.

What other conclusion can be reached? Either Arafat and his supporters are lying to their fellow Palestinians about their intentions, or they are lying to Israel and the United States and they are using the so-called "peace process" to pick Israel's pocket. Which is it?

The reason the State Department is upset by Gingrich's remarks is that it blows the cover it has devised to hide the true intentions of Israel's enemies. This is not about negotiations between equals trying to work out a means by which they might coexist on the same land with mutual respect and guarantees of safety and security. This is about one side's determination to eradicate an entire people from the region by whatever means necessary. It is about one side that makes its violent intentions plain. And it is about an American government that for the last two administrations has tried to force Israel into believing the unbelievable: that real peace is possible with people who want you dead and gone.

The United States claims to be Israel's "friend." You wouldn't know it from the blind eye the United States turns to every outrageous and war-like statement made by the PA and its supporters. Speaker Gingrich has shown how real friends behave. They say and do supportive things. Gingrich's visit to Israel should be a major boost to the nation's morale.

While Israel's enemies frequently make inciting remarks, Gingrich's comments were full of insight.

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©1998, Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Inc.