Jewish World Review April 15, 2002 /4 Iyar, 5762
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is no longer an argument over land. It is nothing less than a front line in the West's battle with terrorism. The peace process begun with such hope in Oslo is a Humpty Dumpty that cannot be put together again for this simple reason: The terrorists that took over the Palestinian Authority-terrorists in Arafat's Fatah-are now plainly indistinguishable from the fanatics in Hamas whose goal has always been the eradication of the State of Israel as a Jewish state.
Indeed, in an interview with the New York Times, the Hamas leaders, who live prosperously in Gaza, gloated over the deaths of innocents from suicide bombings and expressed their open unity with Fatah.
Ordinary Palestinians in Ramallah and Bethlehem and other townships are enduring hardship and danger because their dreams of peace and rehabilitation have been betrayed by the duplicitous leadership of Yasser Arafat and the extremists he has encouraged.
The difference in the attitudes toward peace of the Israelis and the Palestinian leadership is dramatically exemplified by the frustrations of the American representative, Gen. Anthony Zinni, to get both sides to stop the killing. The Israelis agreed to Zinni's cease-fire plan. The Palestinians refused, except on terms that make it clear that the cease-fire would serve only to regroup and relaunch their terrorist attacks. But worse still, when Zinni arrived in the Middle East, the Israelis had hard intelligence that two suicide bombers were going to explode themselves in a major shopping center.
Rather than take pre-emptive action that might have contributed to an atmosphere of confrontation-and that might have torpedoed Zinni's mission-the Israelis gave their intelligence to the Palestinian security forces under Jibril Rajoub. Instead of suppressing the terrorists, the PA passed this highly sensitive information to the terrorists to help them avoid capture by the Israelis. Fortunately, the Israelis still managed to stop these terrorists before they could do their evil work. But the Israelis were not so lucky with another terrorist: Using Israeli intelligence, the PA placed him in jail-not to detain him but to shelter him from the Israeli security services. He was released in enough time to blow up a cafe in Jerusalem.
Complicity. The only conclusion is that the basic operations of the PA have been turned over to those who advocate terrorism, such as the Tanzim and al-Aqsa martyr movements, and that these anarchists are directed, financed, and guided by Arafat himself. The Israelis have discovered written evidence of Arafat's direct involvement in arming the lethal al-Aqsa terrorist group, which has been responsible for so many suicide bombings in Israel.
The oversimplified criticism of the Israeli effort to root out the terrorists is that their infrastructure is inaccessibly inside the heads of thousands of young people who dream of being martyrs and will multiply under assault. The truth is that the terrorist infrastructure lies in a core group of several hundred terrorist leaders who teach their young how to assemble explosives and provide them with information on where the "enemy" can be found and how they can be killed. The PA has been unwilling to control or arrest this group but instead shelters them. Several hundred were found in Rajoub's compound and many in Arafat's compound.
All of this is of one piece. The PA never wanted just the West Bank and Gaza. Their maps show Palestine filling the entire territory covering all that is now Israel. Their emblems cover Israel with two rifles and a grenade. The Palestinian mantra is that the issue is really about Israeli occupation of lands that the Arabs lost in the 1967 war. This is just a blind. Why? Because under Oslo, the Israelis transferred administrative authority for 98 percent of the Palestinians to a Palestinian administration and even fitted them out with 40,000 armed police in the hopes that they would maintain their own security.
Further, at Camp David and Taba, Israel offered to turn over 97 percent of the disputed territories plus the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem to Palestinian sovereignty and a Palestinian state, only to have this offer to withdraw rejected. The Saudi plan, which would oblige Israel to go back to the 1967 borders, failed because it goes beyond United Nations Resolutions 242 and 338, the base of the Oslo agreement, which mandate that Israel should have secure and defensible borders. The 1967 borders are simply indefensible because they would leave Israel with a national depth as small as 8 miles between Haifa and Tel Aviv and would leave its only international airport highly vulnerable to mortar and other attacks.
To assess PA intentions, it is relevant to remember that the Palestine Liberation Organization was formed in 1964-when the West Bank and Gaza were under Arab sovereignty; when there were no settlements on the West Bank, no access to the old city of Jerusalem nor to the holy places critical to Jewish history and identity. It was not the presence of Jews in these places that prompted the terrorist harassment and vicious antisemitism of the Palestinians back in those earlier days. It was antipathy to the very existence of Israel.
The significance of Oslo was its recognition that there were two nationalities with legitimate historical bases for asserting a right to occupation. It was a reasonable expectation after the concessions at Oslo that the moderates on both sides would be able to take the final step of the compromises required on but a small amount of land. Yet even after Oslo, there never was an extended time without terror and violence fomented by Arab extremists who refused to accept Israel's existence as a Jewish state and thus blocked the possibility of a two-state solution. And the terror and violence were not just aimed at Israelis. The Arabs who wanted to accept compromise and division were intimidated by their own radical brethren. As Henry Kissinger wrote, "The number of Palestinian leaders [who want peace in the Western sense] is minuscule. The fundamental schism is between those who want to bring about the destruction of Israel by continuing the present struggle, and those who believe that an agreement now would be a better . . . showdown later on."
The idea that the Palestinians will eventually destroy Israel inhabits what Fouad Ajami called the "dream palace of the Arabs." Now the Arabs believe they have the momentum to destroy Israel because of the undoubted impact of the suicide bombings. This is why it is critical for Israel to break the Palestinian delusion that terrorism will make the Jewish state go away.
Israel has no choice but to root out the terrorists in their bases. It is impossible for Israeli security to catch up with every deluded young Palestinian fanatic willing to blow himself or herself up in a pizza parlor, a supermarket, at a bar mitzvah, a synagogue, or a school, or to spray machine gun fire at a wedding party. This is not happening in some distant place but right where the Israelis live their day-to-day lives. They are experiencing the equivalent of the 9/11 terrorist attacks virtually every single day-an existence that is intolerable for an open, democratic society. Israelis deserve the world's support and sympathy because their struggle is not just for their homeland, justified as it is, but also because they are fighting a new, horrific, and exploitative form of terrorism that menaces all civilized societies.
Pre-emption. The new terrorism calls for a new policy, one already well articulated by U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. "We have no choice. . . . It is physically impossible to defend at every time in every location against every conceivable technique of terrorism, '' the secretary of defense said recently. "Therefore, if your goal is to stop it, you cannot stop it just by defense. You can only stop it by taking the battle to the terrorists where they are and going after them."
This is a policy of pre-emption because deterrence no longer works. Deterrence is based on the assumption that people are unwilling to die. Deterrence will not work when people have been so conditioned by a culture of hatred and religious fanaticism that they will commit suicide in order to kill innocent civilians. The only way to deal with this new phenomenon of suicide bombers, and make it clear this will not work, is to go after them before they get us. But this strategy of pre-emption against suicide and terrorism will have to replace a strategy of deterrence for the United States and for Israel.
This war is also a media war. Many journalists are impervious to the carnage that defines daily life in Israel. And they are too often inclined to make a moral equivalent of the terror and the civilized response to it-as if there were no moral distinctions between the arsonist and the firefighter; between deliberately targeting innocent civilians and inadvertently killing innocents while pursuing terrorists; as if it weren't the purpose of the Palestinians to kill as many innocent civilians as possible; as if the Palestinians had not danced in the streets after the World Trade Center bombings, while Israel went into mourning; as if Israel hasn't proposed a real territorial withdrawal and compromise while Arafat's maps include all of Israel; as if Israel wasn't an open democracy and the PA wasn't a corrupt, authoritarian regime; as if Israel is not practicing restraint; as if it is possible to eliminate terrorism without going after the sanctuaries that are the root of the terrorist challenge; as if Israel, unlike America, is not permitted to engage in simple self-defense and thus gets the support of the press only when it is a passive victim.
There has been, and still is, in Israel a majority who want a peaceful settlement-over 60 percent in recent polls. They understand it would include a large withdrawal from the territories, including the dismantling of a large number of settlements. But not as a surrender; not by submission; not under pressure from terrorist bombings. Surrender would only embolden the terrorists and their perverse, destructive goals: What would be next? Forcing the Israelis to flee to the sea?
America shares these concerns because these terrorists are the enemies of humanity. Today they arouse the Arab street. Tomorrow they will cause this street to send new disciples practicing this ritual of human slaughter to the West, to Europe and the United States. Terrorism did not end with the World Trade Center and Pentagon bombings and the rout of al Qaeda in Afghanistan. It remains a fundamental threat to civil society in Israel and a fundamental threat to civil society in America and the West.
In 1981 the Israelis destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor and were
condemned by many around the world. In 1990, when the war with Iraq
broke out, we found out how farsighted this policy was. In the future,
Israel will be recognized for destroying a new but no less dangerous
reactor, the Palestinian ritual of death and terror by