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A Phyrric Peace By: Joseph Puder
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, August 04, 2008

In an interview with Israeli Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin 15 years ago, just a few months before the Oslo Process began, Prime Minister Rabin told this reporter that the only way to guarantee a peace agreement with an Arab state or the Palestinians is through a “strong Israel Defense Forces (IDF) that serves as a deterrent.” Rabin, thoughtful and contemplative added an anecdote from the past.  “When I arrived in Washington as Israel ’s ambassador after the Six Days War, I met with Secretary of State Dean Rusk.  This venerable American statesman taught me a simple truth - that all agreements are breakable unless the intended violator knows the price will be too steep.”


It seems that neither Prime Minister Rabin nor the subsequent Israeli governments adhered to Dean Rusk’s sound advice.  The Oslo Accords signed in September 1993 at the White House lawn and roundly celebrated in Israel and the U.S. was a pyrrhic victory.  Yasser Arafat effectively used the wishful thinking of then Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, and the more cautious PM Rabin and, he exploited Clinton ’s desire to enter the history books as the Middle East peacemaker.  Arafat, reenacting the story of the Trojan horse, immediately set out to destroy Israel from within the territories Israel relinquished to him in Gaza and the West Bank. 


It did not take long for Arafat to display his contempt for the weakening resolve of the Israelis.  Working with Hamas and assigning them the role of “bad cop,” while his Fatah gangs were the “good cop,” there began a spate of suicide bombing once Arafat, the “rais,” was established in Gaza and Ramallah.  Arafat never intended to be Israel’s “policeman” and was not about to handle Hamas, as Peres and Rabin wished, “without regard to B’etzelem,” the powerful Israeli human rights organization, which fights vigilantly for Palestinian causes.  Arafat was committed as ever to the armed struggle as the only way to liberate all of “Palestine” (namely Israel as well), and diplomacy was simply a subterfuge to gain Western support and Israeli concessions.


Rabin believed that the IDF was strong enough to deter the continued armed struggle or terrorism should it arise, and therefore concluded that Israel could make risky concessions to the Palestinians, which would undermine the “radicals” and strengthen the “moderate” Palestinians.  Except - there were no moderates among the “moderates,” only clever tacticians who understood Israel ’s thirst for “dialogue” and “negotiations” with the Palestinians.  Their talk satisfied the leftist Israeli media barons, who then transmitted hope false hope to the Israeli citizenry.  This was the essence of Arafat’s “diplomacy” that went along with his main thrust: the armed struggle.  When in 2001, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon finally applied force against Arafat’s terror uprising, it was too little and too late against the full extent of the terrorist infrastructure, along with a machinery of hateful incitement Arafat installed in the Palestinian territories. 


One of those “moderate” tacticians was Mahmoud Abbas, or Abu Mazen, currently the president of the Palestinian Authority, leader of Fatah, and Arafat’s successor.  Abbas has perfected Arafat’s “diplomacy” and now hints that he will “take care” of Hamas and fight terrorism, which he once declared, “does not always help the Palestinian cause.”  But all the same, he has never rejected Arafat’s grand vision of a Palestinian Muslim state replacing Israel, nor has he been asked to by the Israeli mainstream press.


Abbas is cognizant of the fact that a genuine compromise that would bring about a true peace deal would cost him his life.  Arafat intimated as much upon his rejection of the “end of conflict” statement at the Camp David II summit in July 2000 with President Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak.  The climate in today’s Palestinian society is such that any compromise with a Jewish-Israeli government short of the reestablishment of Arab-Muslim control over all of Palestine, with the Jews relegated to dhimmi (tolerated resident) status, would be rejected.


The Road Map for Peace in the Middle East presented by President George W. Bush in 2002 called for a two-state solution predicated on the Palestinians ending their terrorist attacks on Israel and recognizing Israel’s right to exist as a sovereign and Jewish State.  Abbas’ Fatah, in addition to Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the other leftist-Palestinian terrorist groups who, like Hamas do not recognize Israel ’s right to exist, continue to engage in terrorism against Israelis.  Abbas, for his part reasoned that he “recognized Israel’s reality” but did not necessarily recognize “its right to exist.”


The only by-product of the American sponsored negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians are photo ops, and mountains of paper but not peace.  For Ariel Sharon, talks with Abbas and the Palestinians provided him with good press from the same Israeli left-leaning media that exposed the various corrupt schemes he and his sons were implicated in and indicted for (his son received a jail sentence).  And, as for the current Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, the photo-ops with Abu Mazen generously displayed by the Israeli media, served as detraction from his numerous corruption charges and upcoming indictment.  As for Abbas and the Palestinian Authority, life is good.  Invitations by world leaders arrive regularly, including numerous ones from the White House, as well as a great deal of U.S. taxpayer’s money, guns, and training to go along with it.    


The peace that the George W. Bush and Clinton administrations sought and successive Israeli governments yearned for is elusive.  There is no compelling reason for Abbas, let alone Hamas, to seek a real peace with an infidel they despise.  Neither Hamas nor Fatah are accountable to the Palestinian people. Abbas has enjoyed his undeserved title of leader of the Palestinian people, and the largesse that comes with it, while Hamas has steadily increased its power and influence in the Palestinian territories and among Israeli-Arabs.  Both the U.S. and the Israeli governments are engaged in manufacturing pipe dreams while the people of Israel and the Palestinian people suffer. 


If peace should one day end the Arab-Israeli conflict, it will not be as a result of Annapolis, Madrid, Oslo, or Washington summits, but rather because the Palestinian people finally decided to reject the fanaticism of their imams, overcome their fears, and demand a better future for their children, decent housing and adequate food from their corrupt leaders.  Peace can also come when the combatants are exhausted or when one is totally defeated, and even, at times, without a formal agreement, as with the peaceful border between Syria and Israel.  The Syrian regime recognizes the price it would have to pay in a confrontation with Israel.   Moshe Yaalon, Israel ’s former Chief-of-Staff put it rather succinctly, “The Palestinians must be made to recognize that they have been defeated.”


Prime Minister Rabin’s peace process produced a lot of “process,” and no peace.  The weakness and lack of resolve that both the Sharon and Olmert governments displayed invited continued terrorism and war.  Unilateral Israeli concessions generated Palestinian contempt, and created the perception that Israel is weak. Dean Rusk’s advice to Itzhak Rabin should guide Israel ’s next prime minister. Only an Israel that exacts a steep price from its enemies when confronted by a terrorist war will promote deterrence and insure a real peace.                        

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