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What They are Saying, Jan. 31, 2008
From a Man Touting 'Peace,' Where's the Incentive? The Compromise?
Publisher Mortimer Zuckerman writes in U.S. News & World Report (www.usnews.com) on Jan. 17 about the latest twist in the search for Middle East peace:
"The vast majority of Israelis and Palestinians finally agree on something: Neither side has any confidence that the current talks will bring about a resolution of the conflict. The gaps between the two sides are so huge that even an optimist like President Bush is seeking not an overall agreement on a two-state solution, but only an outline of a possible structure.
"But beyond all that, there is a fundamental reason to have little hope: All past negotiations have gone nowhere primarily because of the manifest Palestinian refusal to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state. The record is of almost a century of rejection, beginning with the 1917 Balfour Declaration of the right to a Jewish homeland in Palestine and continuing today. Even when Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005, the Palestinians did not get on with building their own society. They began rocket and mortar attacks on adjacent Jewish communities, to date killing 18 innocent civilians and wounding some 600.
"More killings and maimings are in prospect with more powerful, more accurate rockets. What incentive has Israel to withdraw from the West Bank when it could become a launching pad for rocket attacks on Jerusalem, Tel Aviv or the Ben-Gurion airport -- a situation that would render Israel virtually uninhabitable? Israel has no margin of security. It is so small that on most globes you can't find the name 'Israel' on the land of Israel; the name has to be written in the sea.
"Israelis would have more confidence in the Palestinian Authority if it stopped preaching the elimination of Israel. Anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli sentiment pervade the Palestinian world, with a history of over a century of Arabs killing Jews through massacres and pogroms, well before there was a Jewish state. The highest aspiration of many Palestinian children, as taught to them by their educational, spiritual and political leaders, is to murder Jews (and other infidels) and to die as a martyr. Will Palestinian moderates ever prevail?
"The day after the Annapolis 'peace' meeting, the official P.A. TV broadcast a map in which a Palestinian flag covered not only the West Bank and Gaza, but all of Israel, from the Jordan River to the sea, along with a drawing of a rifle. Just last month it began rebroadcasting an inflammatory fictitious video that begins with a scene of a woman shot dead in the back by Israeli troops. She then ascends to an Islamic paradise to join the '72 virgins' who await any suicide bomber. Next, a young man swears to avenge the woman. He is killed in an attack on the Israelis, and then seen joining the group of young women for his eternal reward.
"This is the incitement that regularly appears in the Palestinian media -- media that are under the personal authority of 'peacemaker' Mahmoud Abbas. This is the same Abbas who started the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1964 with Yasser Arafat after writing a dissertation in which he denied the existence of the Holocaust.
"What was the PLO trying to liberate? Not the West Bank and Gaza, which came under Israeli control only after 1967. It wanted to 'liberate' the Israel that ran to the Mediterranean. So where is the Abbas who will speak -- in Arabic -- of the legitimate sovereign right of the Jewish state to exist? Where is the Abbas who will prepare the ground for compromise?"
Arabs Want All the Advantages of a Jewish State, Without Any Jews
Veteran journalist Richard Z. Chesnoff writes on www.JewishWorldReview.com Jan. 21 about the greatest threat to Israel:
"As President Bush returns from the Mideast, he and all those who hope for a strong and secure Israel should wake up to an unpleasant reality: The biggest danger to Israel's future may not come from Hamas rockets or even Iranian nuclear yearnings. It could be from Israel's own, increasingly restive, Arab minority.
"More than 20 percent of the Jewish state's 7.2 million citizens are Israeli Arabs -- Muslims, Christians and Druze, descendants of the approximately 180,000 Palestinian Arabs who chose not to become refugees during Israel's 1948 War of Independence, but stayed and cast their lot in with the Jewish state.
"Over the past 60 years, Israeli Arabs have grown and prospered like the state itself. Indeed, their population growth rate outstrips that of Jews.
"It is probably no coincidence that a nationalist and Islamic militancy is spreading among many of them that now ominously demands not only cultural, but even political separation from the Jewish state.
"No, the lives of Israeli Arabs have not always been easy. Their loyalties suspect in the early days of the state, they were once subject to security restrictions. Nor have their economic fortunes always been equal. Aside from election time -- when Israeli politicians scrounged for their votes -- Israeli Arab public works have rarely been as strongly supported as those of Israeli Jews.
"Still, to appreciate how well Israeli Arabs live now, one need only look at how their once-dusty towns sprinkling the Galilee and the Ara Valley are now sprawling communities of brand-new villas and two-car families. Israeli Arabs have superb medical care, and their children have a wealth of educational opportunities. They vote, have Arab members of parliament, Arab judges and now even an Arab member of Israel's Cabinet.
"For some, however, that's not enough. Israeli Arabs can often be heard repeating the Arab world's renewed anti-Zionist mantra -- that Israel has no right to be a 'Jewish state,' despite the fact that countless Arab and other nations consider themselves to be Islamic states.
"Indeed, during the war against Hezbollah in 2006, some openly demonstrated against their country -- and for the terrorist group.
"Just this month, an Israeli Arab anti-Zionist group called for a boycott of American Jewish groups that contribute to the social and economic betterment of Israeli Arab communities. Their twisted reasoning: These American groups favor a 'Jewish state of Israel.' One group of Israeli Arab activists publicly denounced the boycott call as self-defeating, but most kept silent.
"New York recently hosted an event dubbed 'The Other Israel Film Festival,' which showcased productions by and about Israeli Arabs. Some, like 'The Syrian Bride,' were excellent cinema. But almost all of the films I saw revealed a split personality. Their mentaliyut (as they put it in the Hebrew that sprinkles their Arabic) was Israeli (modern, liberal, open-minded), their sympathies Arab. 'We are caught between two worlds,' one Palestinian director told me.
"That may be so, but it does not give them a right to deny Israel's very raison d'être -- its unique status as the world's only Jewish state.
"Indeed, there are few greater examples of political chutzpah than the worldwide Arab claim that while at least a dozen sprawling states declare themselves officially Islamic, and even some European nations are formally 'Christian,' the Jews -- a nation and culture as well as a faith -- have no right to a state, no matter how small it is."