The following article was penned several weeks before Israel's strike on Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin. In light of the strike, the article seems prophetic. -- The Editors.
It has become vogue in many circles to represent Middle East savagery as part of some sort of "War of Civilization." It is not. In fact, Middle East is simply a war by barbarism against all civilization. It is also considered chic to represent Middle East conflict as a "cycle of violence", and as something fundamentally symmetrical between Arab terrorists and Israeli soldiers. It is not. The shallow appeal to a supposed "cycle of violence" is nothing more than a manifestation of the laziness of those unwilling to invest the energy needed to understand the conflict, or by those motivated by things worse than laziness when it comes to Jews. And it has become even more fashionable to claim that Israel is causing the Palestinians to "suffer" by erecting its security fence. One does not know whether to laugh at such assertions or cry.
At the beginning of the Oslo "peace process", the PLO officially renounced terror and swore to resolve all conflict with Israel through peaceful negotiation. In exchange, the entire world followed the leadership of the Israeli Left and legitimized the PLO, rescuing it from its pariah status and its exile in Tunisia, while Israel allowed the PLO to manage and govern the bulk of the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. By the mid-1990s, some 95 percent of West Bank and Gaza Palestinians were "liberated" from Israeli "occupation" and were ruled by the oppressive Palestinian Authority. The removal of Israeli occupation was the direct cause of the outbreak of the worst round of Palestinian barbarism in history.
It has been repeated so endlessly and so mindlessly that Palestinian terror is a supposed consequence of Israeli "occupation" of the West Bank and Gaza that the most glaring and obvious fact of all is being ignored by the entire world. Palestinian terrorism these past eleven years was not caused by Israeli occupation but by its REMOVAL!
As a result of Israel's offering to allow the PLO control over the West Bank and Gaza, and Israel's willingness to acquiesce in Palestinian statehood in the medium run, the PLO and its affiliates have murdered 1300 Israelis, most of them civilians and many of them children, since foreswearing the use of violence. Proportionate to population, this is like 22 September 11ths for the United States. The world has grown so accustomed to the daily news reports of Palestinian barbarism that most have lost their shock value.
Nevertheless, several points need to be re-emphasized.
First of all, the notion that the terror is coming from "renegade" organizations outside the PLO and which the PLO cannot control is little more than an insult to the world's collective intelligence. In recent months the bulk of the violence (including many of the suicide bombers) has come from the "Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades", from the Fat'h, and from the Tanzim. All of these are under the direct personal command and control of Yassir Arafat. Anyone who believes that Arafat is "really trying" to rein in the terror must also believe that Hitler was a passive innocent stooge and that Saddam never really controlled his Baath party. In any case, the "Hamas" and "Islamic Jihad" terrorists do not really differ much from the PLO terrorists. Like the Viet Cong, the terrorists switch identities throughout the day, and "joint" PLO-Hamas atrocities have been perpetrated. When the "Black September" organization was set up and controlled directly by the PLO in the 1970s, similar disingenuous claims about the PLO's supposed lack of involvement in the plane hijackings were heard.
Second, the barbarous depravity of Palestinian violence gets worse by the day. Palestinians have long used ambulances of the "Red Crescent", (the PLO's version of the Red Cross, directed by Arafat's own brother) to transport weapons and explosives and terrorists. The PLO then has the audacity to whine before the CNN crews and the world media that Israel is behaving in an "inhumane" manner when it stops ambulances at checkpoints and refuses to allow them to cross into Israel without inspection or delay. (The very idea that Palestinians can legitimately be denied automatic entitlement to free Israeli medical treatment is something the CNN and the NY Times have never quite brought themselves to contemplate. This is curious since, in the United States, non-citizens and even citizens have no such automatic entitlement to free medical care.)
In recent months, Palestinians have employed mothers of small children as suicide bombing murderers. Palestinians teenagers were recently apprehended on their way to carry out a bombing and mass murder. Parents of Palestinian suicide bombers routinely proclaim their pride in the atrocities carried out by their offspring, and Israel has been too cowardly to execute or even expel these family members as deterrent to future murderers. Arafat himself and the rest of the PLO openly celebrate the bombers, suicide murderers, and other terrorists. Palestinian children as young as toddlers are marched about in pride with explosives belts attached to their waists. PLO-run TV and radio each day broadcast blood-curdling Nazi-like propaganda that demonizes Jews and openly exhort Palestinians to murder Jewish civilians. While pregnant Palestinian mothers have yet to attach explosives to their bellies for the purpose of murdering Jews, and while Palestinian mothers have yet to hide bombs in the strollers of their infants, there can be little doubt that such things are now but a matter of time.
The PLO is doing everything it can to escalate the violence and turn it into an existential threat to the Jews. The Jerusalem Post recently reported (February 24, 2004) that Israeli intelligence has turned up hard evidence that the PLO is seeking to construct chemical weapons of mass destruction. Palestinian terrorists have already experimented with lacing their terror bombs with poisons. The world media largely ignores the fact that the PLO operates a large military-industrial complex, many from out of North-Vietnamese-style underground tunnels. These have produced large numbers of ground-to-ground rockets. In 2003 alone the Palestinians fired 210 Kassam rockets from the Gaza Strip into Jewish civilians areas. When Israel enters the Gaza Strip to demolish the tunnels into Gaza from Egypt, through which weapons and explosives are smuggled in to murder Israelis, it is accused of "inhumane behavior," the ISM International Solidarity Movement designer-jean pro-terrorists try to block the Israeli bulldozers, while the State Department never speaks out a word against these Egyptian tunnels.
There are other indications that the PLO is seeking to escalate the war and to threaten Israeli viability in other ways. While the PLO once held the world's Gold Metal for plane hijackings, it has abstained from such things since the beginning of its Oslo legitimization by the world. Alan Dershowitz, among others, recently argued that the coddling of the PLO by Europe and much of the rest of the world when the hijackings began made such things a world plague. But all this is nothing compared to reports recently in Israel (Maariv, Feb 20, 2004) that Israeli intelligence has successfully foiled and stopped nine separate recent attempts by Palestinians to shoot down civilian airliners landing at Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion airport. Even Hannuka itself is a celebration of the Jews benefiting only from eight miracles; so how long can Israel count on being rescued by such things?
Part of the world's problem in understanding such things about the Middle East is that most people have no idea of how small Israel really is. Without the West Bank, Israel is at its waist about as wide as the length of the San Francisco Bay Bridge. All of the West Bank is smaller than the NY borough of Queens. (The Arab world insists that controlling territory from the Atlantic Ocean to the Persian Gulf is insufficient for its appetites, but if only Israel agrees to place its neck in a strategic hangman's noose by turning over the West Bank to the PLO, then peace will prevail.) If Israel were to turn the West Bank over to complete PLO control, many of the landing routes into Tel Aviv airport would pass unavoidably over the Palestinian territories, making them hostages held by the very same terrorists who have already made nine recent attempts to fire should-held missiles at landing jetliners.
As late as 1985, PLO-controlled terrorists hijacked the cruise ship Achille Lauro and tossed a wheelchair-confined American citizen into the sea, where he drowned. The State Department has long suffered from repressed memory syndrome when it has come to the dozens of American citizens murdered by the PLO (see the documentation here). Instead the State Department insists on maintaining the most studied of "even-handedness" between terrorists and their victims, between barbarians and those defending themselves from barbarism.
Since the PLO has made it clear that it will do everything in its powers to increase the carnage and promote mass murder and atrocities, Israel's government led by Ariel Sharon was under pressure to do something to stop it. While at first resisting the idea of a security wall or fence as a solution, it eventually caved in to public pressure.
Let us put this fence into perspective. The massive opposition to Israel's erecting any security fence is coming from the very same people who have never had much to say about the mass murders of Israeli children and other civilians by the terrorists. The simple fact of the matter is that those screaming against Israel building a security fence, including Israel's own Far Leftists, simply want the mass murders of Israelis to continue and escalate. They are quite simply in favor of the atrocities and endorse the terror. They would oppose anything Israel would do to fight the terror, and have always opposed all anti-terror measures. They want Israel to capitulate to the terror, not fight it. There are few problems in the world that they do not think can be resolved through Israel being placed in clear and present existential danger
The International Court of Justice is attempting to put Israel on trial, allegedly for "oppressing Palestinians" with its security fence, because Israel is trying to prevent the mass murders of its civilians by the terrorist savages. The judges at the same ICJ sit comfortably behind * a fence. Yes, they are protected by a security fence that keeps out the street urchins, the Euro-hooligans, and the radical protesting thugs. The same American liberal newspapers, which berate Israel for trying to protect its children through erecting a security fence, are published and written by journalists who often live in American gated communities or in buildings with security doormen. The same American Administration threatening to dock any expenses Israel allots to its security fence from the US aid package to Israel has never made similar threats towards Egypt for its operating the smuggling tunnels into Gaza. In short, it seems like the only folks not entitled to live behind a security fence are the Israelis.
The caterwauling against Israel's security fence is coming from those claiming that Israel is building it on "Palestinian lands", and these are the very same people who often also regard Tel Aviv and Haifa as "Palestinian lands". The fact of the matter is that the West Bank and Gaza are hardly "Palestinian lands". Even if they were, why should not Israel build its fence on such "Palestinian" lands? The same people insisting these are Palestinian lands never quite seem to come to terms with the notion that this is Palestinian terrorism that Israel is fighting. Were it not for the terrorism, there would be no need for any fence. As my teenagers would say, Like Duh!
Even if anyone thinks the Palestinians might have had some legitimate claim to statehood, the Palestinians forfeited any right to sovereignty over these territories they might have had due to the past century of Palestinian atrocities and terror. True, Israeli governments in the 1990s nevertheless were naively and foolishly willing to allow the PLO to exercise control over these territories in exchange for peace. But Israel got war and mass murder of its civilians in exchange, not peace, so the foolhardy Oslo deal is now off and should never have been implemented.
The great irony is that the Security Fence is not really an effective solution to Palestinian barbarism and attacks on Israeli civilians at all. What exactly does Ariel Sharon think the PLO will do once it is behind the fence, take up quilting? The PLO is already routinely shooting mortars and rockets over the Gaza security fence into Jewish homes, with no serious Israeli retaliations. And the Security Wall is all to easy to dig under, climb over, blow holes in, and otherwise overcome, by Palestinian devoted to murdering Jews at random.
The only way to suppress the carnage is for Israel to re-occupy the West Bank and Gaza in full, implement open-ended military control there and a long-term program of Denazification (based in part on the Allied programs at the end of World War II), and to expel the terrorists and destroy their infrastructure. Everything else is wishful thinking and delusion. While the terror has partly subsided over the past few months, since the start of the construction of the fence, the real reason for this is the stepped-up campaign by Israel of assassinating Palestinians terrorist leaders, not erection of the fence itself.
While I have my strategic doubts about the fence, if Israel is going to build it at all, it should definitely NOT follow the lines of Israel's pre-1967 Green Line border. That would only reward the terrorists by signaling that Israel is acquiescing in acknowledging everything on the other side of the wall as somehow "Palestinian". If the past decade has taught us anything, it is that appeasement of terror simply breeds more terror.
Instead, Israel should erect security cages, not a security wall. Security cages would be rings of fences and walls around the large Palestinian cities. These would fence the Palestinians in, rather than fencing the Jews out. When the world bellyaches, Israel should simply respond: Look, people who behave like animals must be treated like animals and put behind cages until they learn to behave like humans. If the Palestinians ever abandon Islamofascism and nazi-like atrocities, then Israel may no longer need any fence. Meanwhile, like in the famous Gene Autry song, let the rest of the West Bank outside these cages be unfenced and free, open Israeli range. Let all of Israel be as safe as your typical American gated community.
Palestinian "suffering"? If the Palestinians are unhappy with Israeli fences and checkpoints and military incursions, let them stop the terror and desist from murdering Israelis. As long as they persist, any "suffering" by Palestinians, like the suffering of Germans and Japanese in World War II, is their own fault. The solution is certainly not for Israel to stop resisting the terror, to stop fighting back, or for Israel to desist from trying to protect its citizens. The Palestinians and their apologists do not like Israel's Wall? Tough.
The endless post-Oslo Middle East violence and terror was triggered because Israel indicated that it was on the run, exhausted, unwilling to fight, and ready to capitulate. It will end only when Israel returns to its determination to end the terror through military victory and force of arms. The same United States that has understood that there is ONLY a military option for dealing with terror in Iraq and Afghanistan must back up such a return by Israel to pre-Oslo sanity.
There are no non-military solutions to the problems of terrorism.