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Oslo syndrome symptoms

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Last week, the president of the United States effusively praised Mahmoud Abbas, Yasser Arafat's right-hand man for some 40 years. In the White House Rose Garden, Mr. Bush described Mr. Abbas as a "man of courage," explaining he takes "great faith in not only [Mr. Abbas'] personal character, but the fact that he campaigned on a platform of peace -- he said, 'Vote for me, I am for peace.' And the Palestinians voted overwhelmingly to support him."

In light of what is actually happening in the proto-state Abbas (a k a Abu Mazen) was elected last January to govern, such characterizations seem at best wishful thinking, at worst willful and dangerous self-delusion. As a new Web ad (www.CenterforSecurityPolicy.org) makes clear, if the Palestinian people truly want peace, there is very little evidence they are moving in that direction under Abu Mazen.

To the contary, Mr. Abbas is not dismantling terrorist organizations. Instead, groups like Hamas with the avowed mission of destroying Israel are ascendant. They are winning local elections and taking full advantage of the "hudna" (temporary suspension of hostilities) to rebuild their offensive capabilities against Israel.

Hamas and other terrorists are being integrated into Palestinian security forces, receiving valuable training and even arms from U.S. and European personnel. Burgeoning quantities of ever-more-powerful weapons are smuggled into Gaza from Egypt.

Meanwhile, Palestinians are encouraged by official imams whose sermons are broadcast on Abbas-controlled media to kill Jews and destroy America. For example, less than two weeks before Mr. Bush welcomed Abu Mazen to the White House, Sheik Ibrahim Mudeiris claimed on Palestinian Authority TV that history showed the legitimacy of torturing, exiling and murdering Jews and Muslim conquest of the U.S. inevitable.

If the evidence is so clear the Palestinian state Abu Mazen is a-building will be but a new state-sponsor of terror, how could President Bush -- who in June 2002 rejected that prospect and devoted his presidency to eliminating such sponsors -- possibly turn a blind eye to the facts on the ground? How could he insist Israel make still further territorial and political concessions, including over Jerusalem, let alone hand over directly to the PA $50 million in U.S. taxpayers' funds?

Call it "the Oslo Syndrome." This is the title of an important new book (Smith and Kraus Global, 2005) by Dr. Kenneth Levin, a psychiatrist and historian who is a clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School. As the subtitle -- "Delusions of a People Under Siege" -- makes clear, Dr. Levin is concerned with a pathology that has prompted Israel's Jews to embrace the false promise of peace ostensibly on offer first from Mr. Arafat, now from his former right-hand man. A similar malady seems to afflict official Washington, as well.

Dr. Levin describes the roots of this pathology: "[It] lies in psychological responses common among chronically besieged populations, whether minorities subjected to defamation, discrimination and assault or small nations under persistent attack by their neighbors. People living under such stressful conditions often choose to accept at face value the indictments of their accusers in the hope of thereby escaping their predicament."

"The Oslo Syndrome" chronicles delusions of successive groups within the Jewish world, with a particular focus on the most prominent and contemporary of the phenomena -- that of politicians and organizations associated with "the Peace Movement." Dr. Levin explains:"The Peace Movement's stance in fact was as divorced from reality as had been German Jews' blaming of Polish Jews for anti-Semitism, or secular European Jews' blaming of the religious, or socialist Jews' blaming of the Jewish bourgeoisie. But proponents of the Movement, cowed by the persistence of the siege and desperate to see its end, chose to delude themselves. They grasped at any seemingly positive statement coming from an Arab political figure and ignored all the countervailing evidence."

For example, the self-deluded chose to ignore unwelcome statements by Faisal al-Husseini, an Arafat and Abbas crony who was for years the Palestine Liberation Organization's proxy representative in Jerusalem. Mr. Al-Husseini declared in 2001 that the Oslo "peace" accords of 1992 between Israel and Arafat were but a "Trojan Horse," designed to advance the Palestinians' abiding goal of liberating their "country," whose boundaries would be "from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea." In other words: No Israel.

Mr. Al-Husseini's ambitions were of a piece with those long espoused by his relative, Haj Amin al-Husseini, the notorious grand mufti of Jerusalem, whose complicity with Adolf Hitler helped advance the Fuehrer's "Final Solution" for the Jews and deny the latter refuge in their historic homeland. Incredibly, even the Holocaust Museum in Washington -- a magnificent institution designed to serve as a conscience for all time -- is in denial and contributing to the Oslo Syndrome: It refuses to include in its permanent exhibition anything about the mufti's role in past Arab anti-Semitism, or to address manifestations of this systemic racism now so evident in the Muslim world.

Dr. Levin notes in an article published at www.JewishPress.com: "The ongoing Arab siege does cast a shadow over the lives of Israelis. At the same time, they have created a free, vibrant, extraordinarily successful society. It remains to be seen whether they are prepared to go on nurturing what they have built as they await changes in the Arab world that will open it to genuine peace, or they will instead, in their eagerness for 'normalcy' and an end to the siege, once more delude themselves into pursuing fantasies of peace that will threaten everything they have created." Or, he might have added, whether the U.S. government will, in its own act of self-delusion, encourage or compel Israel to do the latter?

Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy and a columnist for The Washington Times.

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