- The Washington Times - Monday, October 23, 2000

In a few weeks, we will find out whether the Palestine-Israel cease-fire takes hold for a while longer. In a few years, maybe a decade, we will find out whether Israel will survive as an independent Jewish state.
The answer to the first question will depend on the tactics of the leaders of the established Arab governments, the swiftly burgeoning Arab terrorist movements, and Arab intellectuals and clerics. Every stone, every Molotov cocktail thrown at Israelis, every Jewish shrine shrine torn apart with Palestinian hands, every textbook, or sermon or broadcast calling Israel a foulness in God's nostrils, are links in a never-ending prayer for the death of Israel.
The latest outburst is one more scream of fury at the existence of Israel. Yasser Arafat and his intelligence people decide how long each display lasts, and when the next is to begin.
The answer to the second question will depend on whether American presidents particularly the next one understand that the terrorists and dictators have even more hatred for the U.S. than for Israel. One day the people of their countries may grasp that it is not Israel or America but their own governments that keep them in poverty and without hope or freedom.
Israelis and their foreign friends do not like to look straight at the reality that until those governments are overthrown and the terrorist movements are rejected by the people, the Arab-Muslim passion against Israel will not be sated by land or anything except the death or colonization of Israel.
That truth can be seen by all, except leftover remnants of the peace-now movements. The latest Palestinian violence came after Israeli Labor governments, at the risk of Israel's security, gave Palestinians the state, land, money, army, hate-Jews media, and world attention that Palestinians never expected to get until a much later stage in the strategy of Arab nations to eliminate Israel or submerge it with an Arab majority.
When they discovered Israel was weaker in resolve and grander in largess than they had dreamed, Mr. Arafat and his police army ratcheted up the pressure on Israel.
Each important concession was taken as sign of Israeli weakness and usually was. The helter-skelter Israeli pullout from Lebanon left the triumphant Hezbollah terrorists able to open a second front against Israel, complete with cross-border raids to capture Israeli prisoners. At Joseph's Tomb, when Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak ordered Israeli soldiers out to be replaced by Palestinian police, Arab civilians and Arafat policemen dressed as civilians tore it apart.
When Israeli officials were distributing textbooks with a kind view of Palestinian behavior, leading Muslim clerics broadcast from their mosques almost insane tirades calling all Jews liars, criminals, murderers by birth and the curse of God who must be killed. These rants were almost insane like those of Nazi Germany's Joseph Goebbels.
And when Mr. Barak whispered into Palestinian and American ears that one Jerusalem could be two capitals, Mr. Arafat knew the Israeli leader could go no further right away not without foreign pressure. He ordered days of Palestinian rampaging that resulted in an anti-Israel U.N. resolution. President Clinton did not have the fidelity to veto the resolution; Arabs would be angered.
For those Israelis and U.S. officials who thought the Palestinians could be bought by give-ups, Mr. Clinton has been a hero. But those who said Washington was building up Palestinian expectations that the Israeli public could not accept, were proven right when Palestinians went into violent rebellion because they were offered only partial sovereignty in Jerusalem.
Americans assume the United States and the U.N. will push Israel into more negotiations, with the U.S. again the good old "evenhanded" mediator. Evenhanded? With despotisms that hate both Israel and the U.S. and vilify them as foreign invaders in their world? The terrorist bombing of the USS Cole was an act of war against the U.S. and Israel.
The naive belief on the part of Mr. Clinton and his entourage that some negotiations are always better than no negotiations has been a bonanza for Mr. Arafat, a disaster for Israel. Talks should be resumed only after the Palestinians and other Arabs have proven they have carried out every single promise Mr. Arafat has already made to end terrorism and hate propaganda.
The present U.S.-Israeli strategy is to deliver land and a Palestine state then wait for it live up to its promises, a strategy that must amuse Israel's enemies.
With time, and the understanding by Israel and the next American administration that Israel already has given away more than it should have, resumed Mideast negotiations might help reach some kind of peace or an extended truce. Otherwise more negotiations would understandably convince the Arab-Muslim world that its goal of ending Israeli existence in freedom is one step closer.

A.M. Rosenthal, the former executive editor of the New York Times, is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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