Columns

Peace never had a chance

Barbara Amiel October 30 2000
Columns

Peace never had a chance

Barbara Amiel October 30 2000

Peace never had a chance

Columns

Barbara Amiel

There is no chance whatsoever of “peace” in the Middle East. I've been writing this for more than 20 years and nothing ever changes. The Jews have given up land for peace, destroyed their settlements in the Sinai for it and dragged protesting Jews out of their homes for peace. Prime Minister Ehud Barak has yielded almost everything for peace, but as yet the Arab world cannot accept a Jewish state in the region. The best one can hope for is some sort of cold war “agreement” to span a few generations, during which time circumstances might change. Meanwhile, talk of peace only raised the expectations of ordinary people on both sides and bitterly disappointed them.

Our Western view of life involves making the best decisions to assist people here and now. Arab culture, on the other hand, appears to put the glory of the tribe and Allah before the individuals happiness or suffering. The decision of the Arab world after the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 to refuse to resettle and absorb Palestinians who fled Israel was, in retrospect, a masterstroke. By sentencing refugees to generations of life in appalling conditions in camps, it left a permanent thorn in the Middle East body politic. Western culture would not permit such suffering: the Germans, for example, took in the three million Sudeten Germans expelled from Czechoslovakia after the Second World War. Israel would never have left Jews in refugee camps to show the world how, inter alia, Iraq, the Soviet Union or Yemen mistreated them. The Arab world could easily have absorbed the initial 500,000 Palestinians who were either driven out of Israel or left of their own accord, but they preferred to keep them in a hopeless situation, their numbers swelling and their misery a potent source of hatred.

Today’s Arab world considers itself both wronged and stronger. They may not be stronger militarily, but they are stronger in numbers by a factor so large that it is not just a quantitative change but a qualitative one. They are stronger by being not just Arabs, but part of a newly vigorous Muslim world that includes large tracts of non-Arabs from Iran to Pakistan. They are stronger because with the end of the Soviet Union, Israel is of less strategic interest to the West.

The Western media echo the PLO’s canard that the current intifadeh was caused by Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharons Sept. 28 visit to the Temple Mount. Not true. The night before Sharons visit, trouble began with the ambush murder of a 19-year-old Israeli near the border. Sharons visit consisted of a morning walk through the Temple Mount gates. He did not go near the mosque. He was making a political statement: Jews have a right to go on the Temple Mount, the site of two ancient Jewish temples now largely destroyed except for the Wailing

Wall. There were protests at the time of Sharon’s walk, but serious riots did not begin until late next day. Why?

Essentially, the reason was that Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat had been checkmated at the July Camp David talks when, unlike Barak, he refused the American suggestion of shared sovereignty over Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. Consequently, Arafat suffered a setback in the battle for world public opinion and needed to turn attention away from his intransigence. The Palestinian leadership had continually assured the Arab world that negotiations would only be a “stage” in reaching its goals of an Israel forced back to its 1967 borders, with Jerusalem the capital of a new Palestinian state, along with establishing the right of return for all Arab “refugees” (a euphemism for the demographic annihilation of the Jewish state).

Violence has always been part of the Palestinian definition of “negotiations.” Two days before Sharon’s visit, an official Palestinian Authority newspaper said: “Had it not been for this blood, the world would never have been interested in us . . . our national duty is to continue the confrontation, continue the intifadeh, continue to sacrifice our martyrs.” Added Authority Justice Minister Freih Abu Midden: “Violence is around the corner and the Palestinians are willing to sacrifice even 5,000 casualties.”

Meanwhile, the Authority released dozens of Hamas and Islamic jihad terrorists to the streets. The diplomatic success of Barak at Camp David was to be neutralized with photos of Arab “civilians” being attacked by Israeli soldiers. Israeli army posts found themselves facing armed Arab mobs with children sometimes deliberately put in the front lines.

The Arabs demand the right to control the holy places. They were given that right for one day at the Temple Mount recently and used it to stone Jews at the Wailing Wall below. At the same time, Arabs burned to the ground the oldest remaining ruins of a Jewish synagogue, located in Jericho. And the tomb of Joseph at Nablus was destroyed when Israeli soldiers retreated from guarding it. In contrast, on the rare occasion when a Jewish mob has attacked Muslim religious sites, there were immediate arrests by the Israeli police.

The mosaic in that burned synagogue at Jericho had the inscription “Peace on Israel.” Western hypocrites may continue to chant that slogan on television and in the halls of the United Nations, unchecked by the realities of lynch mobs and the inhuman desecration of dead bodies. The consequences of their ignorance, cowardice and cynicism will be paid for by both Jewish blood and that of the Palestinians, the latter treated by their own people like animals for the past 50 years—and now, sadly, some behaving like them.