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Mideast on verge of another war

Posted: Tuesday, August 07, 2001

On a recent visit to Washington, Uzi Landau, Israel's minister for public security, predicted to me that another war would soon come to his country unless it "continues to show resolve and unity."

In fact, the war has never stopped since Israel's founding 53 years ago. Between June 2, when Yasser Arafat announced a ceasefire, and Aug. 1, there were 961 attacks against Israelis (not counting rock or firebomb throwing), according to an Israel Defense Forces spokesperson.

There are dividends from Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's decision not to play patsy any longer in the face of Palestinian provocations and to pre-emptively strike known murderers and others committed to Israel's destruction. More people are able to see the folly, not only of the land-for-peace formula, but of any formula based on the notion that only what Israel does or does not do affects peace prospects.

A press release announcing a rally of British Muslims outside the U.S. Embassy in London on Thursday, included this revealing sentence: "There is no doubt in the minds of any Muslim that there can never be any peace in Palestine until the state of Israel is eradicated." That is an honest statement by Israel's enemies that ought to be clear, even to the foggy minds in Foggy Bottom.

The familiar scenario in the Middle East goes like this: Israel's enemies, unable to eradicate the Jewish state after five tries from without and multiple tries from within, use the West to pressure Israel into swallowing the notion that peace is only a few acres of land away. Israel gives up land, but peace remains as distant as a carrot hanging on a stick in front of a donkey. When Israel refuses to give any more land without reciprocal and agreed-upon action by her sworn enemies, rock-throwing and suicide bombings ensue. More land is ceded but it's never enough, and when Israel again asks for reciprocity, it doesn't get it and refuses to give up additional land until it does. Then the cycle of violence resumes.

Even the former American ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk, grudgingly acknowledged what was clear to anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear when he said last month that the old Oslo accords were a "failure" because Arafat "never really gave up violence."

Not only that, the Palestinian Authority was training terrorist bomb-makers as far back as 1995 at the height of the Oslo process, according to Enis Mahmoud Namoura, a top PA terrorist who was serving as one of Arafat's personal bodyguards until his recent arrest by Israel. How credible were Arafat's pronouncements about peace when he was planning and making war all along?

For a change, Israeli public opinion favors Sharon's activist approach against terrorism. Even many leftists have had an awakening to the folly of making peace with those whose idea of peace is killing or expelling every Jew from the land.

If another war comes, Israel's challenge will be to confine it to Arafat and his legions of well-armed "police," who are not police at all but soldiers whose huge numbers violate Oslo. If any or all the Arab states join in (which is unlikely but always possible), it will be more difficult than in any of the previous five wars for Israel to prevail, but prevail she must. The first war Israel loses will be her last, while Israel's enemies always live to fight another day.

If Uzi Landau is right and war comes, the price exacted by Israel should be so high that Arafat (or whoever follows him) will want to make a real peace of accommodation and co-existence, not a false peace that allows him to try again.

His leadership should be so damaged that he can no longer lead. Israel should re-capture as much of the land it has ceded as possible and not give another inch until documents are signed and ironclad guarantees are in place that the Palestinians and the Arab nations have accepted Israel as their true half-brother and not their mortal enemy.

Frankly, I don't believe that day will come without divine intervention, and that's why Israel must remain strong and distrusting of all who believe it will.

Cal Thomas writes for Tribune Media Services.



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