- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 18, 2000

Today's lesson about peace in the Middle East: Those engaged in the supposedly stalled negotiations between Israel and Palestine and the new Cairo summit can benefit by recalling one of the four paradoxes propounded by the great Greek philosopher Zeno.

His first paradox attacked the notion that space was infinitely divisible, and that motion was therefore continuous. A runner wants to run, say, 100 yards in a finite time. But to reach the 100-yard mark, the runner must first reach the 50-yard mark, and to reach that, the runner must first reach 25 yards. But to do that, he must first reach 12.5 yards. Since space is infinitely divisible, he repeats these "requirements" forever. Thus the runner must reach an infinite number of "midpoints" in a finite time. This is impossible, so the runner can never reach his goal. Thus anyone who wants to move from one point to another must meet these prerequisites, and therefore motion is impossible, and what we perceive as motion is merely an illusion.

"Merely an illusion …" That's what the Madrid-Oslo-Washington peace negotiations have been for a decade an illusion fostered as much by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization(PLO) as by the White House. And this illusion will continue regardless of scraps of paper like the 1995 interim agreement or the Wye River memorandum, regardless of grins and handshakes. I think it is time to realize once and for all that neither Yasser Arafat nor most of the Arab world wants peace with Israel. No peace treaty would be enforceable so long as Israel's legitimacy is debatable.

Countries lose wars but they continue to exist as countries; they remain part of the international system. Iraq, Egypt, Germany, Italy, Japan, Turkey have all lost wars but despite defeat their continued postwar existence was not questioned. Israel is the only country in the world which if it loses a war will lose its national identity, will lose the territory on which it rests, will lose its right to exist as a people residing on its own, undisputed territory. Its people will become victims of a new Diaspora. Israel has fought and won six wars with the Arabs yet there are still Arab countries. Israel merely has to lose one war and it's shalom bye-bye for Israel.

Compromise for the PLO is the strategy of one step backward in order to leap two steps forward, and in the meantime, to subject Israel to the death of a thousand cuts.

When Mr. Arafat's wife tells an audience which includes Hillary Clinton that Israel is trying to poison Palestinians, when Syrian textbooks teach that real peace with Israel would be treason and that Arab leaders who negotiate with Israel are spies and traitors, I am reminded of the 1981 assassination in broad daylight of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat after he signed an accord with Israel in 1979 and the several attempts on the life of his successor, Hosni Mubarak.

Israeli Professor Benny Morris in his recent history of the Zionist-Arab conflict sounded the right realistic note: "There is no certainty that Israeli goodwill or ill-will, flexibility or inflexibility, will decisively temper or resolve this century-old conflict." In other words, it doesn't matter whether the Israeli prime minister is Mr. Netanyahu or Mr. Barak Arab intransigence and the rule of the streets remains, even in the so-called moderate Arab states like Jordan or Morocco. So long as there are sophisticated terrorist syndicates like Hezbollah and Hamas, supported by Iran, Syria and other Muslim countries, to talk about peace in the Middle East is like trying to devise a system to beat a Vegas slot machine.

The Muslim world is winning the war against Israel and against what it regards as Israel's protector, the United States. The 17 dead American sailors and the gaping hole in the listing USS Cole is a symbol of America's failed diplomacy in the Middle East. Since 1983, at least 322 Americans, service personnel and civilians, have been killed in terrorist incidents and hundreds wounded in the Middle East and in Africa. There have been no convictions of those responsible. It highlights the success of the militant Islam program to show up as powerless the Greatest Superpower in The Universe. Bismarck once said: "We live in a wondrous time in which the strong is weak because of his moral scruples and the weak grows strong because of his audacity." And that was in the 19th century. Could Bismarck have imagined what it would be like in the 21st century?

When Mr. Arafat signed the Wye River Memorandum Agreement Oct. 23, 1998, pledging to prosecute terrorists, and when Israel then released Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists from prison, did the Israelis really believe that Mr. Arafat would prevent these experts in everything from bomb-making to recruiting suicide bombers from returning to terrorist business as usual? President Clinton should be aware of an old military maxim, namely, you can't win at the conference table what you haven't won on the battlefield. The war we lost in Vietnam was only the latest proof of the maxim's validity.

Broken agreements mark the history of Middle East "peace" negotiations and treaties. During the Nixon-Kissinger era of dtente, the United States and the USSR had pledged themselves to notify each other if and when they learned of pending military actions among the nations of the world. So what happened to that state of grace during the 1973 Yom Kippur war? We didn't ask, and Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev didn't tell. He sent Algeria (and a day later, all Arab countries) a call to arms in a message saying that "Syria and Egypt must not remain alone in their fight against a perfidious enemy." Brezhnev made it clear that he was prepared to send in Red Army airborne divisions to rescue the encircled Egyptian Third Army unless the Israelis withdrew. On Oct. 25, 1973, President Nixon ordered a grade 3 nuclear alert.

Until the Six Day War, the Israeli slogan was: "Am Israel khai," the Israeli people live. After the Six Day War, the slogan which rang across the land from the Syrian border to the Red Sea was: "Har Ha'bayit B'yadenu" Temple Mount is in our hands.

For how much longer?

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