Jewish World Review April 1, 2002/ 19 Nisan, 5762

Wesley Pruden

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Fear but no peace in a handful of dust | Evelyn Waugh said it best: There's nothing like the fear a man can see in a handful of dust.

Or in a handful of rubble. Yasser Arafat, the Nobel Peace Prize winner who has pursued the eradication of Jews for five decades, made the noises of a frightened man yesterday, vowing that he is "ready" to "work for an immediate cease-fire." He sees retribution coming.

Hamas, his very own gang of terrorists and cutthroats, promised to continue to indulge their taste for the flesh and blood of Jewish women and children despite the adoption by the Arab League of a resolution making vague promises of peace. "The summit resolutions are below the aspirations and the sacrifices of the Palestinian people," said the Hamas representative at the Arab League meeting in Beirut. "The resolutions ignored a lot of the Palestinian people's demands."

Another Hamas mouthpiece, this one in Gaza City, said the Arab League support and praise of the Saudi "peace" initiative, so called, doesn't change anything for the terrorists. They heard the words, but more important, they know the music, and they thought they saw the wink. "As long as there is occupation, there will be resistance." By "occupation," Hamas and the rest of the Palestinian radicals (is there any other category of Palestinian?) mean the destruction of Israel, because in their view, all of Israel is rightly Palestinian.

The Arabs are riding high in Beirut this morning because the Palestinian campaign of terror, massacre and outrage is working just the way the Palestinians planned it. Yasser Arafat himself, with no taste for personal sacrifice no matter how many virgins the ghoulish imams promise him, is in the way of the little boy who throws rocks at passing cars, secure in the knowledge that he can always run to hide behind his indulgent daddy when the cops show up. George W. Bush has taken it on himself to play daddy, scolding little Yasser, but restraining the Israeli cops from doing anything about the flying rocks (and a lot worse). No wonder the Arabs feel pretty good.

The Saudis, who conned the New York Times into taking their "peace" initiative seriously and flacking for it shamelessly, can't believe their good fortune. The "peace" initiative was never intended to accomplish even "peace," but was meant to divert attention from the hard facts of Islamist terrorism against the West, the dawning recognition, even among the terminally naive, that Saudi Arabia is the source of most of the sectarian killing that now afflicts the world.

The Arab League ever so grandly adopted the Beirut declaration, offering Israel "normal relations" (carefully not defined) in return for (carefully specified) Israeli withdrawal from land occupied at the conclusion of the 1967 war the Arabs forced on the Jews, creation of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital and a return of the Palestinian refugees to the land that is now Israel. The Arabs know that Israel could never accept a deal like this, and to add just a dollop more venom to the suicide pill, adopted a resolution declaring that the Palestinians could not be "nationalized in the countries where they now live." Indeed not; the Palestinians, so beloved by their Arab brothers, must be retained not as brother Muslims, but as a weapon, a battering ram of wretched humanity, aimed at Israel.

Everybody was saying nice things about the Beirut resolution, but who meant a word of it? Nobody wants to be fingered for throwing a shoe in the punch, poison or not. Israel first called the poisonous Saudi initiative "a non-starter," but later in the day revised that to saying it was "very important and an interesting initiative." Of course. A rattlesnake is an interesting reptile.

The Europeans, who are utterly hopeless, and the Americans, who suddenly seem to aspire to hopeless, have thrown up their hands at persuading the Palestinians to act with minimum regard for decency and humanity, and in their desperation lean on Israel. Can anyone imagine the most deranged Jew or Christian wrapping himself in chain and nails and exploding himself in the midst of a Muslim religious observance and not bringing down on himself the wrath of his co-religionists? But as long as the Bush administration is content to flex muscles and breathe fire at terrorists in Afghanistan while joining the wimps and milklegs of Europe, to lean on Israeli for concessions while regarding the Palestinians as incapable of rational behavior, the carnage will go on, and on and on. If you're Yasser Arafat or one of his strategists, why shouldn't it? It's a bloody strategy, but it's working.

The Palestinian strategy will continue to work until the Western governments, and this means mostly the United States, back away and allow Israel to teach the terrorists, and those who harbor terrorists, that acts have consequences, and mortal acts have mortal consequences.

JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

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