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Democracy Is Key in Middle East By: David Harsanyi
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, March 22, 2002


THERE IS ONLY ONE ROAD TO A LASTING PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST: a democratic Arab world.  Of course, the prospect of such a colossal transformation any time soon is infinitesimal.  But until that time, the world will never know the true will of the Arab people as they are condemned to fight the heretical wars of their fanatic leaders.  It’s not the United States’ job to forcefully implement change in these countries, but it is our responsibility to avoid coddling theocracies and dictatorships that encourage hate, fundamentalism and squash free speech.

Many recent polls have proven that Arabs loathe the West.  That’s no surprise.  Their hatred is a direct result of a relentless flow of propaganda by the state-sponsored Arab media – including the most ‘liberal’ of the Arab states like Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt.  Over 70 percent of people in these countries don’t believe Arabs were behind 9-11.  That should be enough to demonstrate clearly that either these people aren’t living in reality or someone isn’t telling them the truth.

Syria’s minister of defense, Mustafa Tlass, has authored a book, describing how Jews in 1840s Syria murdered an Arab boy for a Passover ritual.  The government-controlled Saudi paper, Al-Jalahma, in a recent editorial wrote:  "For this holiday, the Jewish people must obtain human blood so that their clerics can prepare the holiday pastries.  In other words, the practice cannot be carried out as required if human blood is not spilled."  The Egyptian government-sponsored daily Al-Akhbar, in a story titled "Advice to General Zinni on his New Mission," reads:  "The heroic operation carried out by the military arm of the Hamas movement, the 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, in West Jerusalem is an important turning point in Palestinian resistance activities1."  This is just a very small sampling of what can be found on a daily basis in the Arab press.  Inundated with revolting messages from the official press, no one should be surprised at the results.

In the light of these cruel attitudes, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah, almost humorously, proposes that the Arab League offer Israel full normalization of relations and recognition of the Jewish state a month ago.  This, another in a long line of smokescreens by Arab states, comes as a concerted effort by terrorists groups to destroy Israel.  Under the proposed plan, Israel would have to surrender all disputed land it recouped in the 1967 war, a requirement that has been revisited constantly and remains unworkable.  The Saudis know full well that this plan would undercut Israel’s security and can never be accepted by its population.  Syria, to insure Israel would not even open negotiations, tagged on their demand for the Palestinian ‘right to return’ – a resolute deal breaker for even the most liberal Israeli.

Instead of authoring faux peace plans, the Saudis would be better served clearing up a few questions for the United States.  Like why their Palestinians, ‘brothers,’ were confined to teeming slums called ‘refugee camps’ from 1948-67 without any assistance from the Saudi government?  Why Palestinians were denied entrance and citizenship into Saudi Arabia during this time?  Why if they care so much for the Palestinian cause, are they presently used as slave labor in their country?  Why a majority of 9-11 terrorists were born and educated in Saudi Arabia?  Why the extremist Whabbi movement is still permitted to recruit terrorists in Saudi schools?  Why official Saudi newspapers continue to print anti-American and anti-Semitic propaganda?

Surprisingly, Israel was prepared to make peace with the Palestinians, or any Arab nations willing to sit down for meaningful talks, without the Saudis help.  In 2000, Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak offered Arafat an astonishing peace agreement that included Israeli withdrawal from 90% of the West Bank and 100% of Gaza; Palestinian sovereignty over the parts of East Jerusalem; and the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state.  It was met with flat-out rejection, a refusal to negotiate any further, followed by an escalation of terror.

What made Barak’s offer so astonishing is the how flimsy the Arab contention is that the West Bank is ‘occupied’ to begin with.  Jordan’s annexation of that territory – recognized by only England and Pakistan - resulted after an illegal attack on Israel in 1948.  Arabs have no more right to that land than Jews, no matter how many UN resolutions are passed.  Furthermore, the Arab suggestion that Israel occupation is the root of all aggression in the region is deliberately misleading.  The wars of 1948, 1956 and 1967 were all perpetuated by Arabic states before any ‘occupation.’  The PLO terrorist organization was formed in 1964, three years before Israel took back the West Bank.

Perhaps, we need to define our terms: When Arabs say occupation, they mean the occupation of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa by Jews, not the occupation of the Kurds in Iraq and Turkey, Christians in Lebanon and Sudan or their own people by fraudulent ‘royal families’ and dictatorships.

In 1948, the Arab world was given the choice of sharing the land with Jews in peace.  They chose war and have defined the bellicose course of modern Middle East history.  After massive defeats at the hands of Israel in 1956 and 1967, Arab leaders have never surrendered their call for the destruction of the ‘Zionist entity,’ they’ve just taken a more subtle approach towards that goal, using the Palestinians as pawns to achieve their goals.

Arafat, whose only successful career has been that of terrorist, had a chance to make history by building a modern democracy that existed side by side with Israel.  Instead, he used his resources – which included aid from America and Israel – to erect one of the most gruesome dictatorships in the region.  A place where lynching, murder and corruption thrive, and free speech is an alien notion.  He should be next on the hit list in the fight against terror by the US.  Publicly, at least, there are very few links between Saddam Hussein and recent terror strikes on America.  (Though it’s clear his dangerous quest for weapons of mass destruction makes him logical target and enemy of the United States.)  At the very least, Arafat controls Fatah and has done nothing to stop Hamas and Islamic Jihad.  Thus, he can be held personally responsible for the deaths of scores of American citizens killed both in Israel and abroad.  There is also considerable proof that Arafat himself had ordered the killing of American diplomats in 1973.2  These aren’t actions of an irrelevant man, but a treacherous one.

President Bush’s recent condemnation of Israel’s incursion into disputed territory is hypocritical and damaging.  Even if America needs the support of Arab nations in the region to attack Iraq, we should not sacrifice our strongest ally for the cause.  If the US has the moral authority to remove the Taliban from Afghanistan, Israel has more than enough justification to defend itself from terrorists that live among them.  Bush should avoid Clinton’s policy of forcing talks when there is nothing to negotiate.

In Israel, the words “peace process” inevitably mean car bombs, suicide bombers and war.  When there are free elections in the West Bank and Gaza, Israelis will be able to hear the truthful wishes of the Palestinians people and find a legitimate negotiating partner for peace.  Until then, there is little to build on.


David Harsanyi is an NYC-based writer. Visit his website (http://dharsanyi.blogspot.com/) or email him at david_harsanyi@yahoo.com.


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