Thursday, August 30, 2001

In an interview published Nov. 10, 1974 in The Washington Post, Yasser Arafat told Oriana Fallaci, the Italian journalist:

“The goal of our struggle is the end of Israel, and there can be no compromises or mediators … We don’t want peace we want victory. Peace for us means Israel’s destruction and nothing else.”

I know this is an old, old quote and it used to be said that Mr. Arafat says such things to keep his constituents happy. But is it unfair to ask whether the PLO chairman has changed his mind in the last 27 years? Could he today repudiate his quote? And if he did, would anybody believe him? In fact, could any Arab leader today say that he opposes Mr. Arafat’s words?

There is an air of utter unreality about the 11-month war please let’s stop calling it an “Intifada.” It is far more than an uprising between Israel and the Palestinians and the ongoing attempt to end it. By now and certainly in the six months since Ariel Sharon became Israeli prime minister it should be clear that we are seeing the culmination of a long-term PLO-Arab strategy:

• To delegitimize Israel’s right of existence;

• To turn Israel into a South Africa, the once international polecat;

• To destroy its right to membership in the United Nations and therefore to abrogate its right under the U.N. Charter to self-defense.

• And most important, to weaken the United States internationally and undermine its superpower credibility.

Eight years after the Oslo accords the handshakes, the smiles, the self-congratulation, the dithyrambs about the peace process, lions lying down with lambs and the giveaway offer last year to the PLO by then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak of all of the “territories” plus allowing 150,000 Palestinian “refugees” to “return” to Israel including parts of pre-1967 Israel and the Old City with the Western Wall and there is still war. Even though the Palestinian economy has collapsed and unemployment is now more than 70 percent or worse and Palestinians by the thousands are leaving the occupied territories, the war goes on. And it will continue because the PLO and its allies think they have Israel on the run.

Isn’t it time to drop the cant phrase, “partner for peace” and to give up the hunt for Arab “moderates”? Isn’t it time to say aloud that as far as the PLO and its allies are concerned there will be no peace in the Middle East because there are no peacemakers and there will be no Arab peace-makers while there is an Israel? The message of Arab nationalism means there will not and perhaps cannot be normalization of relations with Israel, a vibrant example of politico-cultural modernization.

But something new and intense has been added to the half-century Israeli-Arab conflict anti-Americanism. A decade ago the United States led a world coalition, including Arab states, into war against a malefactor, Iraq. In today’s Middle East it is Iraq who leads and America is the malefactor. Part of the Arab no-peace strategy is also to impair the United States as a superpower. A crushed Israel is a humbled America because it will show that you can’t depend on America, at least in the Middle East.

Islam’s diplomatic war against the United States has had two big victories in just four months. The first was last May when the United States was voted off the United Nations Human Rights Commission while countries like Sudan and Pakistan were elected. And the second was the State Department’s inability to prevent the misnamed World Conference Against Racism meeting in Durban from becoming a slugfest against Israel, the only country singled out for condemnation by name as racist. And China’s racist imperialism in Tibet? F’get it.

All Intifadas have ended sometime. The Intifada in December 1987 ended with negotiations and creation of a Palestine Authority. If this were an Intifada it would have ended with the Barak giveaway I described above. But this time, Mr. Arafat and his allies scent that their new strategy has put them on the road to total victory. Even the so-called “moderate” Arab lands are silent and fearful. But not the Friday preachers in the mosques. Here’s an excerpt from the Friday (Aug. 17 ) sermon broadcast live on Palestinian TV from the Sheik ‘Ijlin mosque in Gaza. The preacher is Sheik Isma’il Aal Ghadwan:

“Allah said to him: ‘ … Do not consider those who have died for the sake of Allah as dead, but as alive, and as being provided for by their Lord. The willingness for sacrifice and for death we see amongst those who were cast by Allah into a war with the Jews, should not come at all as a surprise … When the enemies of Allah, the Jews, may Allah curse them, mutilate , and chop off organs these organs will serve as evidence for our sons and brothers for whom Paradise in the high heavens is a place of refuge.’ ”

Where, oh where, will Israel find a “partner for peace”?

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