"As helicopters hovered overhead and stores in the area closed, a young girl stood against a police vehicle, quietly reciting Psalms. "It's not a pedestrian mall, "a young man said passing by her, 'it's Auschwitz.' " (Aryeh Dean Cohen "An ugly deja vu" from an article in The Jerusalem Post, 9/5/97 in the wake of the Ben Yehuda Mall bombing)
In 1990 Professor of Government at Georgetown University William V. O'Brien published an excellent book entitled Law And Morality In Israel's War With The PLO. In the introduction to the book he wrote:
"As far as I am aware, the overview of the conflict from the PLO's...beginning of its war of national liberation against Israel in 1965 to the present has not been approximated in the literature on the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is important that the character and duration of this long war be understood. Much of the governmental, popular and media reaction to the Israeli action in this conflict has reflected a failure to recognize that the conflict is not a series of violent episodes, to be judged individually, but a continuous war that varies in intensity but never stops."
It appears that, in 1993, when Israel entered into the suicidal Oslo agreement with the PLO, she completely "forgot" that she is in the middle of this continuous war. There is no precedent in history when one of the warring parties, struggling for its "place among the nations," voluntarily stopped fighting while allowing the other party to continue the war. Yet this is exactly the kind of situation that the world is witnessing and that Israel is participating in today.
The war that the Arab world declared against Israel in 1948 has already continued for almost 50 years. The Arab countries and their leaders have tried different approaches in attempting to win this war. Although today Israel has "peace treaties" with Egypt and Jordan the threat of Israel's annihilation has not diminished. On the contrary it has increased since the piece of paper that granted to the Jewish state "peace" is nothing in comparison to all the weaponry and ammunition that the Arab countries have accumulated owing to these treaties. In 1996 alone, according to a Congressional report of the developing countries that purchased weapons(made public on 8/16/97), Egypt spent $2.4 billion and Saudi Arabia, $1.9 billion. These are respectively the second and the third highest numbers. It is worth mentioning that India which topped the list with $2.5 billion has a population 15 times larger than Egypt and 50 times larger than Saudi Arabia. There should not be doubt that when a direct military confrontation arises between Israel and the Arab countries, the majority of these weapons will be used against the Jewish state.
The 20 years of the "cold peace" with Egypt clearly showed that the leading country of the Arab world did not change its hostile attitude and behavior towards Israel. As before, Egypt considers Israel to be her main enemy. Egypt's recent military exercises of September 1996 which included crossing the Suez Canal, speak for themselves. Egypt signed the peace treaty with Israel because Egyptian President Anwar Sadat understood that three decades of hostilities only served to make Israel stronger and the Arabs weaker. This is why he decided to play the American card which would allow Egypt to rearm and to deliver the final blow to Israel in the future.
Neil Livingstone and David Halevy wrote in Inside the PLO that, three days prior to his historic visit to Jerusalem, Sadat traveled to Syria trying to explain his peace initiative to the Arab world. At the press conference at the Tishrin Palace in Damascus that followed Sadat's seven hours of talks with Syria's dictator, the Egyptian President "took great pains to reassure Assad that their differences were merely a matter of tactics rather than goals. 'We have often disagreed on tactics, explained Sadat, 'but not on strategy[with respect to Israel]. We will never disagree on strategy.'"
When it deals with Israel the Arab world never disagrees in strategy. Article 32 of Hamas' charter states, "Leaving the circle of conflict with Israel is a major act of treason and it will bring curse on its perpetrators. 'Who so on that day turns his back to them, unless maneuvering for battle or intent to join a company he truly has incurred wrath from Allah, and his habitation will be hell, a hapless journey's end.'....Sura 8(Al-Anfal--spoils of war) verse 16."
When it deals with Israel the Arab world mobilizes all of its religious fanaticism. In an interview published on April 10, 1997, in Spanish, in Barcelona LaVanguardia, Islamic Jihad leader Abdallah al-Shami said in Gaza:"It is written in the Koran that there will be a war with Israel. According to the prophet Mohammed there will be a war between all Arabs and Israel....This is not a human mission but is the divine will....The purpose of the Islamic Jihad is to bring this about as soon as possible. Our people must retake possession of the whole of Palestine and the Jews will have to go back to their native lands..."
These statements are similar to Yasser Arafat's incitements. Appealing to Palestinian security forces in Gaza on September 24, 1996, Israel's' "peace partner" said:
"They will fight for Allah, and they will kill and be killed, and this is a solemn oath...Our blood is cheap compared with the cause which has brought us together and which at moment separated us, but shortly we will meet again in heaven."
They, the Palestinian Arabs, kill women, elderly people and children-- the overwhelming majority of Israelis massacred less than month ago at the Mahane Yehuda market and just couple days ago at Ben Yehuda Mall belonged to these three groups. The Palestinian Arabs who commit these barbaric bombings are killed as well. Arafat's appeal is fulfilled word for word.The war that the PLO wages against Israel and Jewish interests is performed exclusively through the use of terror. As William V. O'Brien wrote:
"The purpose of this war of terror is to harass Israel and to provoke it to extreme reactions... PLO terror serves the strategic purpose of stripping Israel of international recognition and respect. ... The strategy of PLO and its allies has been to cast Israel as a pariah ... condemned by world opinion and isolated. ...
Terror attacks targets, not for their military value, but for the political/psychological purpose of terrorizing the target society, to disrupt ordinary life and reduce the population to a condition of perpetual fear and apprehension. No mundane act--shopping, waiting at a bus stop, driving to work, stopping at a bar--can be taken without the fear that a terrorist bomb or machine gun will kill and destroy at random. ...
The genius of terror is that it is so economical as a means of armed coercion. All it requires is a small number of terrorists to strike from time to time. For every terrorist attack there results, beyond the damage done, a ripple effect of fear, frustration and insecurity that erodes life in the target society."
The results that the Palestinian Arabs achieved in their war against Israel are phenomenal. On the political level Israel's international standing is heavily damaged. The Jewish state is isolated and constantly condemned by almost the whole world. While hundreds of anti-Israel resolutions have been passed by the UN General Assembly, and Israel's "occupation of the territories captured in 1967 June war" was condemned by the Security Council more than twenty times, the PLO has never(!) been condemned by the council for its terror attacks on Israel. Moreover, as J. Becker wrote in The PLO "no Arab State has ever been condemned by any organ of the United Nations for military attacks upon Israel."
On a territorial level Israel has not only handed over to the PLO big pieces of land destined by the San Remo mandate for "close settlement by Jews," but has put to a standstill the creation of new settlements in YESHA and now only nominally develops existing ones. The worst blow that the PLO has dealt on Israel is in the ideological sphere, as the Jewish state abandoned almost all of its Zionist positions and principles one by one. The defeat that Israel suffered is devastating. It is enough to mention three of the betrayed principles in order to understand the depth of the tragedy. The PLO --the unchanged terrorist organization committed to Israel's' destruction--is recognized by the Jewish state as a legitimate "peace partner." The creation of an independent state for the Palestinian Arabs in YESHA and Gaza is almost a reality. Jerusalem is on the negotiation table.
These all happened while the PLO refused to budge an inch from its absolute demands J. Becker wrote in The PLO that one of the PLO ideologists, Dr. Mahjub in a lecture delivered in 1978 stressed "two principles that above all should never be hidden.
The principle that the whole of Palestine is for the Arab Palestinian people, it is their right to come back to it, it being their property, i.e. in no way recognizing the Zionist entity called Israel; and the principle of the right of the Arab people to an armed struggle for the liberation of Palestine, i.e. in no way abandoning the armed fight as the only means for the liberation."
Because the Arabs want to win this war and dictate the conditions of the peace treaty in the "new Middle East," today, the same two principles are the cornerstones of PLO policies. They are emphasized constantly by the PLO's leaders. Just on July 22, 1997, in the newspaper Al-Hayat Al Jadeeda PA Youth and Sport Minister Talal Sadr stated, "All of Palestine is the homeland of the Palestinian people, beginning with Acre, Haifa and Jaffa." The same newspaper on August 10, 1997 quoted Kamel Hamid, the head of the Fatah in Bethlehem, who declared at a rally that "all means are legitimate to uproot the despicable occupation." In Gaza, on August 5, 1997, in his speech to the Fatah movement, Arafat himself explained what is implied by "all means." He said, " ... let us commit ourselves before Allah and the Palestinian people that we shall lead the coming battle as we have led previous battles. ... The Palestinian people is faithful to its oath, the one which we swore upon the first day when the initial shot was fired and the first of our martyrs fell."
What the oath is we already know. "They will fight for Allah, and they will kill and be killed, and this is a solemn oath."
Peace is not a process. Peace is a state of being. It is impossible to jump directly from a state of war into a state of peace without winning the war. The state of peace does not happen because one of the warring parties sees it in its dreams and simply stops fighting. It happens only when the enemy is defeated. It happens only when the enemy has no other choice but to accept its defeat and sign the peace treaty on the conditions dictated by the victories party.
True, peace also happens when both sides genuinely want it. The key words in this statement are "both" and "genuinely." The PLO's actions unequivocally show that these two words are absolutely not applicable here, leaving Israel only with one viable option--to fight this war using all available resources. Then, when the victory is achieved, the peace process will begin. 9/7/97
Boris Shusteff is a Russian immigrant and a proud member of the Freeman Center.