Published by the Freeman Center For Strategic Studies

"For Zion's sake I will not hold My peace, And for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest"

VOLUME 11       B"H FEBRUARY 2003       NUMBER 2


THE ISRAELI ELECTIONS 2003....Bernard J. Shapiro

PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST ..A Pragmatic "Road Map" from Truth to Peace....Salomon Benzimra, P.Eng.

IS THE LEFT ALWAYS WRONG? Reality Picks Winners and Losers....Nissan Ratzlav-Katz
WHO ARE WE DECEIVING?....Boris Shusteff



THE MACCABEAN ONLINE [ISSN 1087-9404] Edited by Bernard J. Shapiro
P. O. Box 35661, Houston, TX 77235-5661, Phone/Fax: 713-723-6016
E-Mail: ** URL:
Copyright 2003 Bernard J. Shapiro
Contributions are fully tax deductible (501(c)3)




The Freeman Center extends its heartfelt sympathy to the families of the Columbia astronauts. Coming from many nations and peoples the crew represented humanities reach for the stars. The astronauts were a symbol of humanity's curiosity, daring, ingenuity and love of learning. Ilan Ramon, the son of a Holocaust survivor, was also a symbol of the ultimate triumph of good over evil, of the continuity and resiliency of the Jewish people, and of the shared values and strong bonds of friendship between Israel and the US. He was the fighter pilot who fought bravely in the Yom Kippur War and was one of the pilots who attack the nuclear reactor in Iraq in 1981. A genuine hero of Israel and the Jewish people.

We mourn the loss of Rick Husband, Michael Anderson, David Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Clark, William McCool and Ilan Ramon and offer sincere condolences to their families.

Bernard J. Shapiro, Executive Director
Avi Davis, Senior Fellow
Freeman Center For Strategic Studies




By Bernard J. Shapiro

Pundits and commentators are already trying to determine the real meaning of the 2003 Israeli election. I have seen too many elections come and go to try to be profound at this point. Israeli elections may show the democratic choice of the Israeli electorate, but the people seldom get the government they voted for.

For example, in 1992 the Israeli people chose Yitzhak Rabin who had promised a strong stand against terrorism and to "never go down from the Golan" or to "divide Jerusalem." What the public got was Oslo, terrorism and total renunciation of the promises made to the Israeli electorate.

In each successive election in the last 10 years victors (first Netanyahu) promised to end Oslo. Then Ehud Barak promised to "end the conflict" and finally Sharon in 1999 promised "peace and security." In the recent election Sharon promised an end to terrorism and the foundation of a peaceful demilitarized "Palestinian state." All of the promises have proven to be futile and unfulfilled as will Sharon's most recent ones.

So today I will forgo prognostications about the future course of Israeli policy. Though the voters gave the national-religious-Zionist parties an overwhelming majority, this is not proof that they won't again be cheated out of that victory. Sharon is already talking about bringing the Labor party with its delusional leader, Shimon Peres, into a national unity government. In fact, Sharon seems to believe that national unity is so great the it supersedes all other matters, like protecting the Jewish people's patrimony, Eretz Yisrael.

Give me a month or two to interpret the election. It is too early to tell the nature, makeup and true direction of Israel's new government. Let us pray for Israeli leaders to have great wisdom during this critical time.




By Avi Davis

Someday, perhaps many decades from now, a teenager trekking through one of East Texas' national parks might find it. A charred, odd looking metal cup that, with the removal of its heavy coat of rust will reveal the remaining filigree of a Star of David. A farmer ploughing a wheat field, or building a barn near the Louisiana state line might stumble over the corroded remains of a metal vial, containing the scraps of Hebrew lettering. A school child, taking soil samples for a biology project could well discover pieces of the faded blue and white cloth that once passed as Israel's national flag. By that time, the fate of the seven men and women on the Columbia Space Shuttle will have faded from popular memory. By that time, the name of Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli to travel into space, might only register with either historians of early space travel or with Israelis who have named great-grandchildren or institutions after him. Few may be alive to recall the extraordinary lengths undertaken by this man to display pride in his country, joy in survival of his people and optimism for the future of mankind.

It is undeniable that as Ilan Ramon rocketed into space he understood that he traveled with more than one mission. Beyond his responsibilities as a crewman he also appreciated the significance of his flight for Israel and the Jewish people. As a Jew, he brought with him several symbols - a Torah scroll rescued from the ashes of the Holocaust; a Kiddush cup to serve for the Sabbath benediction and a mezuzah, the traditional container posted on the door lintels of Jewish homes. As the son and grandson of Holocaust survivors he brought with him a picture sketched by a 14 year old boy who dreamed of space travel but did not survive to see it happen. As an Israeli he orbited the planet with his country's national flag tucked into a bag and a handful of soil from his homeland. As he passed over Israel , he described to his country's prime minister how small but beautiful his homeland looked from space. And although a secular Jew, he celebrated the Jewish Sabbath from space, even reciting the 'Shma', the holiest benediction a Jew can recite, as the craft raced over Jerusalem.

No other Jewish astronaut had brought such public attention to his origins. None has ever gone to such lengths to demonstrate such national pride.

Yet it was as a member of humanity Ramon demonstrated his true greatness.

He was an exemplar in everything he did. First in his class in high school, first in his flight school class, first in his astronautical training class - he personified excellence. Humble, self effacing, a devoted father and husband he believed in human progress. Looking down upon earth he described its extraordinary beauty and wondered how it was possible that such beauty could be tarnished by so much conflict. Coming from the member a nation that has suffered so much unjustified persecution, that even to this day is the subject of such unexampled hatred, the question resounded as a longing for understanding, a plea for tolerance and respect for human dignity. Ramon's thoughts and actions and perhaps even his entire life have thereby provided a link between the Jewish people and the highest aspirations of mankind.

It should be needless to add that each member of the Columbia crew deserves to be remembered for the greatness of their individual sacrifices. They are proof that bravery, integrity and resourcefulness know neither racial distinction nor national boundary.

But the Jewish people cannot but feel that they have suffered a loss as devastating as anything endured over the past decade. As we remember this extraordinary man we might therefore recall the words of a Jewish king, written thousands of years ago:

"For a man knoweth not his time. As the fish that are taken in an evil net or birds in a snare even so are the sons of men ensnared in an evil time when it suddenly falls upon them . Therefore, whatsoever thy hand attaineth to do by thy strength - that do; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave."

Ilan Ramon would have understood. His last and greatest mission - the mission of hope - was completed under the shadow of death in his own land and in the face of grave risk in space. He may have perished but his strongest beliefs will not. For this we know: the evidence survives, awaiting future discovery, somewhere in the forested hills of East Texas.


Avi Davis is the senior fellow of the Freeman Center for Strategic Studies.




By Avi Davis

Tuesday's overwhelming victory by Ariel Sharon's Likud Party crossed several historical thresholds. It was the first time since 1981 that a prime minister who called for an early election actually won it. It is the first time in 20 years that a prime minister has been elected to a second consecutive term. It is the first time in 45 years that the victorious party doubled the representation of its nearest rival.

All of which might offer proof that the Israeli public appreciates that a battle for survival requires an experienced hand to guide the country's security interests. But the true meaning of the election results actually transcends politics. They are a powerful affirmation of Israel's Zionist heritage and a return to the very ideological roots of the country's founding.

For more than two decades Israeli society has been caught in a post ideological free fall, in which they very tenets of its Zionist heritage have come under assault. The post-Zionist culture, subscribed to by artists, academics, journalists and the political elite, has found expression in myriad social attitudes. During the 1990s the national school curriculum become the first battleground in this struggle and was almost immediately denuded of any Jewish content. In academia , historical revisionism among journalists and academics attributed Israel equal, if not greater blame for the Arab-Israeli conflict, leading many Israelis to dismiss their own triumphant past. In the judicial sphere an avowedly secular chief justice nudged the country toward the separation of religion and State. With the rush to sever the state from its own ideological and cultural roots, the word Zionism quickly became an anachronism, associated with a past to which young modern Israelis could barely relate.

Oddly enough, it was the Labor party, the bastion of pioneering Zionism, and the first home of the prototypical Zionist leader David Ben Gurion , that came to pilot this hurtling juggernaut. Although led by such men as Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak, who wore their Zionist credentials proudly, the party was intellectually powered by younger men for whom the earlier struggles of the State had little emotional resonance. Yossi Beilin, a secular academic, was the most prominent among them . The chief architect of the Oslo Accords repeatedly preached an Israeli future untethered to a tribal past. In this context, the Oslo peace process came to represent far more than an accommodation with the Palestinians. It also meant a wholesale redesign of Israeli society, a state to be guided not by either Zionist or Jewish ideals but by universalistic principles of peace and justice. That Labor itself and ultimately Israelis themselves were not prepared to swallow this Robespierran utopianism was proven last November when Labor dumped Beilin. Relegated to a lowly position on the Knesset party list, he indignantly resigned his party membership and joined Meretz on the far left.

Ariel Sharon came to power two years ago with an understanding of the damage wrought by years of this ideological erosion. He realized that without fortifying Israeli morale - without, in fact, instilling in the general population a reason for Israel's existence and the justice of its cause - the struggle with the Palestinians could not be won. He therefore wisely chose Limor Livnat , a vocal advocate of educational reform as his minister of education. She has done much to restore Zionist and Jewish education in the school curriculum. He renewed the dormant campaign for Jewish immigration and has made an active commitment to restoring Zionist values of self -reliance and selflessness.

Sharon's great popular success forced the Labor Party to make changes in its platform. But it all came too late. A party so publicly associated with failure, so riven with internal fissures and confused about its own ideological orientation posed little obstacle to Sharon's crushing sweep at the polls. Humiliated by its political reverse, it may take years of redefinition for the party to find its way back into the political mainstream.

The Likud victory therefore represents a watershed in Israeli history. By refocusing his nation on its purposes, by drawing on the ideological resources of his people, Ariel Sharon has proven himself not only a skillful politician but a leader of both character and vision. It is an example future Israeli opposition leaders may well wish to emulate.

Avi Davis is the senior fellow of the Freeman Center for Strategic Studies in Los Angeles.



Commentary, February 2003


by Daniel Pipes

The year 2002 will be remembered as a low point in the long conflict between Palestinians and Israelis, when diplomacy came to a standstill, emotions boiled over, blood ran in the streets, and the prospects of all-out war drew closer. Anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic furies seemingly put to rest suddenly revived with stunning vehemence. The existence of Israel appeared imperiled as it had not been for decades.

This picture is accurate as far as it goes, but it omits one other salient feature of the landscape in 2002. The year also witnessed a host of new plans, initiatives, and schemes for fixing the situation. None of these ideas came from the Palestinian side—hardly surprising, given that Yasir Arafat seems to see violence against Israelis as the solution to all his problems. Instead, they issued from various parties in Israel and the United States, with an echo or two from Europe and the Arab states.

These plans, of which the best known is the Bush administration's "road map," run the gamut from tough-seeming to appeasing. But they have two qualities in common. All of them give up on the Oslo-era assumption of Palestinian-Israeli comity as the basis for negotiation. But at the same time, all of them proceed from a fundamentally flawed understanding of the conflict and therefore, if actually implemented, would be likely to increase tensions. None of them can lead to a resolution of the conflict; that requires an entirely different approach.

Suggestions for resolving the conflict fall into three main categories. The first consists of proposals for Israel to retain a significant portion of the territories won in the 1967 war while effectuating a unilateral separation from the Palestinians living there. The toughest idea under this heading calls for an involuntary "transfer": expelling the Palestinians, if necessary against their will, from the West Bank and perhaps from Gaza as well. Once a fringe view, this proposal, thanks to protracted Palestinian violence, has begun to win support in Israel. A February 2002 poll showed 35 percent of respondents wanting to "transfer the residents of the territories to Arab states." A March 2002 poll, asking more specifically about "annexing the territories and carrying out transfer," found 31 percent in favor.

In a milder version of the same idea, some Israelis have called for encouraging a voluntary transfer. Under this plan, Palestinians who chose to leave Israeli-controlled areas could sell their land to the government of Israel, which in turn would help them get established in their new homes. An October 2001 poll reported 66 percent of Israelis supporting this scheme.

Some Israelis would like to redirect Palestinian aspirations toward Jordan, a country that already has a Palestinian majority. Benny Elon, head of the Moledet party, is today the most prominent exponent of this idea, which, under the name of "Jordan is Palestine," has in the past been associated with such figures as Vladimir Jabotinsky, Yitzhak Shamir, and Ariel Sharon. Another idea along these lines, espoused by the Labor-party politician Ephraim Sneh, involves a territorial swap: the Palestinian Authority would get some Arab-majority areas inside Israel's 1967 borders in return for giving up its claims to some Jewish-majority areas on the West Bank.

Perhaps the simplest proposal for separation is the one that does not require moving people. It is to build a physical wall between the two populations. "A Protective Fence: the Only Way" was a popular bumper sticker in Israel before the Sharon government began building such an electronic boundary along a 192-mile line approximately between Israel and the West Bank. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon favors a beefed-up version of this plan, with trenches and mine fields, arguing that in combination, walls and buffer zones "will contribute to the security of all Israeli citizens."

The second grouping of proposals concentrates on ways of working around the present impasse toward some sort of mutual accommodation. Here the key distinction is between those who emphasize a change in Palestinian leadership and those who emphasize mechanisms for improving the existing climate of mistrust. The former, focused on getting Yasir Arafat out, divide again between some (like Benjamin ben Eliezer of Labor) who favor a policy of waiting until a new Palestinian leadership emerges on its own and others (like Benjamin Netanyahu of Likud) who urge Israel actively to remove Arafat and replace him with a more pragmatic and flexible leadership that Netanyahu says is "waiting in the wings."

As for those who stress new mechanisms, they would offer benefits to the Palestinians on condition that the latter make certain changes in their internal arrangements. One such condition is good governance. Originally proposed by Natan Sharansky, Israel's deputy prime minister, this idea was picked up by George W. Bush, who devoted a major policy speech to the subject in June 2002. Proclaiming that it is "untenable for Palestinians to live in squalor and occupation," the President outlined a vision whereby, as a means toward acquiring a state that would live in peace alongside Israel, the Palestinians would develop "entirely new political and economic institutions based on democracy, market economics, and action against terrorism." He specifically mentioned transparent financial institutions, independent auditing, and an independent judiciary.

The "Road Map", first adopted in September, might be thought of as the State Department's belated answer to the President's June 2002 proposal. The product of consultations by the "Quartet" (the United States, Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations), it bears a name (the "concrete, three-phase implementation road map") that suggests its incremental quality. The first phase, proposed for early this year, would have the Palestinians hold "free, fair, and credible elections" and Israel withdraw to its positions of September 28, 2000 "as the security situation improves." The second phase, to kick in later in the year, will "focus on the option of creating a Palestinian state with provisional borders based upon a new constitution." The final phase (2004-05) will see Israeli-Palestinian negotiations "aimed at a permanent-status solution"; once these are achieved, Israel would pull back from territories it won in 1967 "to secure and recognized borders."

The American government regards the dates in the road map as guidelines, whereas the other three parties prefer to consider them hard and fast. Others find the whole road-map process too slow. Thus, the Israel Policy Forum, an American advocacy group, has developed a detailed four-step "on ramp" in anticipation of the road map's inception. No less impatiently, Prime Minister Tony Blair announced a series of meetings in London to include the Quartet, the Palestinians, and officials from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. (To make an agreement easier to reach, Blair conveniently left out the Israelis.)

The road map is vague about conditions to be imposed on the Palestinians - and specifically about what, if any, penalties they would pay for noncompliance. But there are some - and they make up the third grouping in the constellation of new ideas - who chafe at conditions altogether, preferring to proceed in the hope that an ample supply of carrots will lead to the desired result. Henry Hyde, chairman of the House International Relations Committee, has proposed a "Marshall Plan" for the Middle East that promises the Palestinians (and others) a comprehensive economic development program. The core of this idea, which has the support of Tom Lantos, the committee's ranking Democrat, is, in Hyde's words, that "people who had hope of a better life in economic terms would not resort to violence."

Martin Indyk, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, favors a more muscular and faster device. He calls for international troops to establish a "trusteeship" over the West Bank and Gaza and thereby lay the basis for "credible, representative, accountable, and transparent institutions." Thomas Friedman, the New York Times columnist, has proposed a scheme whereby "a joint American-Palestinian security force" would replace Israeli control over the territories, followed by American troops who would stay on "indefinitely."

Finally, there is the most popular idea of all: no transfer, no wall, no change in leadership, no conditions, no road map, and no foreign troops. Rather, Israel should immediately withdraw all its forces from the territories, dismantle all the Jewish towns and outposts there, and close down whatever remains of its machinery of control. The goal is to inspire a reciprocal mood of accommodation by the Palestinians or, failing that, a de-facto separation that would benefit both sides. "Leave the Settlements, Return to Ourselves" is how the left-wing Israeli organization Peace Now promotes this notion. Variants of the same idea have been put forward by such figures as Amram Mitzna (the recent Labor candidate for prime minister), by Saudi Crown Prince Abdallah, by virtually every European government, and by the overwhelming majority of leftists, academics, journalists, and diplomats around the world, not to speak of religious and business leaders.

Each of these plans has major deficiencies. The forceful removal of Palestinian Arabs from Israeli-controlled territories would indeed reduce Israeli casualties, but the political price, both abroad and within Israel, would be incalculable, rendering this option more fantastical than real. The voluntary departure of Palestinians is even more unrealistic. Jordan-is-Palestine is a non-starter for many reasons, of which the single most important is that neither Jordanians nor Palestinians show the slightest readiness to go along with it.* Since there is no inclination among Palestinians to accept Jordan as a substitute for Palestine, much less Amman for Jerusalem, the only conceivable outcome of such a policy, were it somehow implemented, would be to add Jordan as a base for the Palestinian conquest of Israel.

As for fences and buffer zones, they offer poor protection. Terrorists can go over a fence in gliders, around it in boats, or under it in tunnels; they can fire mortars or rockets over a wall, pass through checkpoints using false identification papers, and recruit Israeli Arabs or Western sympathizers on the wall's other side. Once a wall goes up, moreover, Israel would effectively surrender its influence over what happens beyond it, within the Palestinian Authority, including the latter's ability to import weapons and foreign troops. Nor, finally, would hunkering down behind a fence send the Palestinians the intended message, convincing them to give up on violence; on the contrary, it would likely reinforce an impression of Israel as a cowering and essentially passive society, thus spurring further violence. In sum: a fence may have utility as a tactical tool to save lives, but none as a basis for ending the conflict.

What about changes in Palestinian leadership? Every piece of evidence suggests, and every opinion poll confirms, that the assault on Israel of the past two and a half years has been wildly popular among Palestinians. Indeed, there is ample reason to believe that the "street" is more aggressively anti-Zionist than the leadership. Although Arafat promotes the ambition of destroying Israel, he is not the source of that ambition, and his removal would not eliminate it. More particularly, the ben Eliezer plan - waiting for a change of leadership - rests on the far-from-obvious supposition that the next leaders will be better than the existing ones, while the Netanyahu plan suffers from the kiss-of-death syndrome that applies to any Palestinian leadership selected by Israel.

Which brings us to the various proposals for conferring benefits on the Palestinians in hopes of moderating their hostility. The reasoning here is backward. Although good governance, for example, is certainly welcome in principle, it is less than desirable so long as the Palestinians continue to seek Israel's destruction. It brings to mind the notion of ending the cold war by encouraging "entirely new political and economic institutions" in the Soviet Union even as that system's core ideology remained fully intact. Why should anyone want to enhance an aggressor's competence and economic reach?

The same criticism, and more, applies to Congressman Hyde's update of the Marshall Plan. To the extent the original Marshall Plan worked, it filled a need for capital, which is hardly the Palestinian economy's main challenge;† the PA's terminally corrupt leadership would pocket much of the aid; and the Palestinian war against Israel has very little to do with poverty or any other economic issue. Fundamentally, though, the Hyde proposal suffers from the same conceptual mistake as good governance: it promises to reward the Palestinians even as they make war on Israel. Is it too banal to note that the original Marshall Plan was instituted three years after the crushing defeat of Nazi Germany in war?

Then there is the road map, which asks the Palestinians to undertake a temporary reduction in violence, in return for which they will gain a state; as such, the road map imposes even fewer demands on the Palestinians than the failed Oslo process that it has been designed to replace, and makes even less pretense of expecting the Palestinians to comply with its conditions. The "on ramp" and other such plans share precisely the same errors, some to an even greater extent. And the various proposals to use foreign soldiers and intermediaries in what is now a war zone are plainly unworkable; can anyone seriously imagine Americans, Canadians, and Europeans accepting fatalities just to keep Palestinians from attacking Israelis? It is preposterous, no matter how bravely they might talk in advance.

Finally, we have the immensely popular plan obliging a unilateral Israeli pullback from the West Bank and Gaza in return for precisely nothing, which is by far the worst option of all. If proof were needed, a precedent does exist: namely, the entire past decade, when, under Oslo, Israel took uncounted "steps for peace" and was rewarded by its Palestinian "partner" with a much more aggressive enmity. The outstanding instance, however, remains the unilateral Israeli pullback from Lebanon in May 2000, undertaken in the firm conviction that it would purchase quiet on Israel's northern border. Not only has that not happened, but, given Hizbullah's massive arsenal and overconfidence, the violence there is likely to get much more intense, possibly leading to all-out war. In the meantime, Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon played a major role in spurring the outbreak of Palestinian violence in September 2000. One can only shudder at the carnage that would follow upon Israel's headlong flight from the majority-Palestinian territories.

In truth, all these plans lead in the wrong direction, rendering resolution farther off than before. Real progress requires a different and more honest way of looking at the conflict as a whole. Let us begin by recalling certain basic points:

* Although a neutral term like "Arab-Israeli conflict" makes it sound as if both sides were equally to blame for this decades-long war, and must therefore be brought to compromise by splitting the differences between them, this is, as Norman Podhoretz has rightly insisted, "a deceptive label." A more accurate term is the "Arab war against Israel."

* Israeli control of the West Bank and Gaza cannot be the core of the problem. The Arab war against Israel predated Israel's taking those territories in 1967; in fact, it was under way even before Israel formally came into existence as a state.

* Rather, the root cause of the conflict remains today what it has always been: the Arab rejection of any sovereign Jewish presence between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

* The conflict continues into its sixth decade because Arabs expect they can defeat and then destroy the state of Israel.

* Israel cannot end this conflict unilaterally, by actions of its own. It can only take steps that will make it more rather than less likely that the Arabs will give up on those expectations.

At the heart of the problem, in other words, stands Arab rejection. However cunningly conceived, plans that attempt to outflank, leap over, or otherwise finesse this stubborn fact are doomed to failure. Instead of ignoring it, would-be peacemakers would do better to start by recognizing that the conflict will diminish only when the Arabs finally surrender their dream of obliterating the Jewish state, and then to concentrate on finding ways to get the Arabs to undergo what I call a "change of heart." How might that be achieved?

A glance at some of the conflicts of the 20th century provides a clue. Those that ended did so because one side wholly abandoned its war aims. Closure was achieved when, and because, there was no longer a fight. This is what happened in World War II and the cold war, and also in the wars between China and India, between North Vietnam and the United States, between Great Britain and Argentina, between Afghanistan and the Soviet Union, and most recently between the United States and Afghanistan. Conflict ended neither via negotiations nor by means of a wall but by one side accepting defeat.

Such a surrender can occur as a consequence of a military trouncing, or it can occur through an accumulation of economic and political pressure. However achieved, the result must be unequivocal. Should the losing side retain its war goals, then new rounds of fighting remain possible, and even likely. After World War I, for example, defeat left the Germans still looking for another chance to dominate Europe. In like fashion, the wars between North and South Korea, Pakistan and India, Iraq and Iran, and Iraq and Kuwait have not ended, for the losing side has interpreted every defeat as but partial and temporary.

This historical pattern has several implications. First and foremost, it means that Israel's enemies must be convinced that they have lost. Actually, not all its enemies, just the Palestinians. Although weak by any objective measure as compared with the Arab states, Palestinians are the ones for whom this war is being fought. Should they, having suffered a necessary defeat, give up on the attempt to destroy Israel, others will find it difficult to remain rejectionist.**

What will help bring about this Palestinian change of heart is Israeli deterrence: maintaining a powerful military and threatening credibly to use force when aggressed upon. This is not just a matter of tough tactics, which every Israeli government of the Left or Right pursues. It is a matter of a long-term strategic outlook. The trouble with deterrence from the Israeli point of view is that, rather than offering a chance to initiate, it is by nature a reactive approach: boring, unpleasant, expensive, seemingly passive, indirect, and thoroughly unsatisfying, quite out of step with the impatient spirit of the Israeli populace. But it works, as Israel's own experience in the period 1948-93 shows.

A bedrock condition of such a strategy - and one no less frustrating in the short term - is that Palestinian acceptance of Israel is a binary proposition: yes or no, without any in-between. This suggests, in turn, the futility of negotiations - at least until the Palestinians do accept the Jewish state. Such matters as borders, water, armaments, the status of Jerusalem, Jewish communities in the West Bank and Gaza, so-called Palestinian refugees - in brief, the central issues of the Oslo period - cannot productively be discussed as long as one party still aims to murder the other. In principle, something along the lines of the Oslo agreement could turn out to be workable - but only after the Palestinians definitively and unequivocally, and over an extended period of time, demonstrate that they have made their peace with the existence of the state of Israel as an irreversible fact.

If, moreover, we have learned anything over the past decade, it is that interim Israeli concessions are counterproductive and must be discouraged. As the Oslo experience proved, they inflame, rather than tamp down, Arab aggression. By offering repeated concessions even as the Palestinians failed to live up to a single one of their obligations, Israel signaled weakness. That is how, beginning in 1993, the effect of Oslo was to take a bad situation - there was some violence in the late 1980's and early 90's, but a mood of caution still prevailed on the Palestinian side - and make it far worse. Only when Palestinians are convinced there is no other way will an end to the conflict become conceivable, along with the mutual concessions that will seal it.

U.S. diplomacy has long proceeded on the theory that one must start with agreements between Israel and unelected Arab leaders; after such a leader has affixed his signature to a piece of paper, it is thought, feelings of amity will in due course develop among his subjects. That has not happened. Quite the contrary: whenever leaders like Anwar Sadat or King Hussein - and this even applies somewhat to Arafat - have signed agreements, their populations have become more, not less, hostile to Israel. It is as if the government is understood to be passing on the anti-Zionist burden to other institutions: the media, the educational system, religious leaders, the unions, trade associations. A piece of paper cannot of itself produce a change of heart, but can only symbolize it; treaties must follow, not precede, deep shifts for the better on the Arab side.

By the same token, it is a mistake to discuss "final-status" issues - i.e., how things will look when the conflict is over. There has been, indeed, much speculation about a future Palestinian state: its borders, the nature of its sovereignty, and so forth. All such talk encourages Palestinians to think they can win the benefits of a state without accepting Israel. This is not to say that policy planners in some sub-basement should not be thinking through the contours of a final-status agreement; but it is not for those in responsible positions of power to broach the topic.

Beyond these general considerations, there are specific steps that could be taken by the government of the United States. For one thing, the time has come for the President to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. By now, Congress makes an almost yearly habit of trying to force the move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, but the initiative invariably fails because the embassy issue is understood by the White House as purely a matter of symbolism, and the price to be paid in Arab and Muslim anger for a purely symbolic move is always regarded as too high. But the issue is not just symbolic. U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, especially if properly presented, would go far to indicate to the Palestinians that the existential issue is closed: Israel is there, it is permanent, and the sooner they come to terms with this fact, the better.

For another thing, much more pressure could and should be placed on the Palestinian side to put an end to violence. The U.S. government tends to see this violence as an aberration, a temporary anomaly in Palestinian behavior. Rather, violence stands at the very heart of the Palestinian attitude toward Israel, and stopping it therefore needs to be the priority of U.S. policy - including, in the first instance, by refusing to reward it financially or diplomatically. If the hope in Washington has been that, by gaining ever more of their goals, Palestinians would curb violence on their own, that approach has clearly failed; the time has come to focus directly on the violence itself.

Washington has also been largely indifferent to the massive campaign of lurid anti-Semitism and fanatical anti-Zionism conducted by the institutions of the Palestinian Authority, some of which are subsidized by American taxpayers. In particular, it has paid little heed to the hideous incitement of children to engage in "martyrdom" operations. This is an error that needs urgently to be reversed.

Finally, there are the so-called Palestinian refugees. Alone among all the masses of dislocated peoples in the years following World War II, Palestinians are frozen in the status of refugee - in some cases, unto the fourth generation. (The vast majority of those claiming refugee status were born after the events of 1948-49 that engendered the problem in the first place.) The reason for this anomaly is plain: the rejectionist impulse is sustained through the fantasy of a mass "return," and the ever-proliferating numbers of alleged refugees amount to an ever-sharpening dagger at Israel's throat. In this cruel charade, the U.S. government has been complicit for over a half-century, contributing a substantial percentage of the funds used to maintain the Palestinians' refugee status and to discourage their integration into the Arab states. The time has come to insist that they be assimilated.

There is no short-cut, and there is no alternative. The only way to make progress in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is by inducing the Palestinians to surrender their murderous intentions vis-a-vis Israel. Not only would the rewards of such a surrender be very great but, ironically, they would be yet greater for the Palestinians than for Israel.

Although Israel today suffers from blood in the streets and an economy in deep recession, and although it is the only Western country that is constantly forced to defend its very existence through military force, it remains, for all its problems, a functioning society, with a boisterous political life and a vibrant culture. In contrast, the Palestinians are in desperate straits. The areas nominally ruled by the Palestinian Authority are anarchic, with curfews, road blocks, and violence defining the immediate parameters, and dictatorship, corruption, and backwardness being among the larger consequences. In the words of one sympathetic observer, Palestinians have been "ravaged by widespread poverty, declining health status, eroding education, physical and environmental destruction, and the absence of hope."

The Palestinians, in other words, are suffering even more from the consequences of their own violence than is Israel. So long as they persist in their ugly dream of destruction, they will be haunted by failure and frustration. Conversely, only when they accept the permanence of Israel will they be released to fulfill their considerable potential by building a prosperous economy, an open political system, and an attractive culture.

Much as the Israelis have to gain from a victory over the Palestinians, the Palestinians have more to gain from defeat. From the point of view of American policy, helping them to achieve a change of heart is thus an unobjectionable goal, beneficial to both parties. And while ultimately it is up to the Palestinians to liberate themselves from the demons of their own irredentism, others, especially Israelis and Americans, can indeed help - by holding firm against the seductive appeal of road maps that lead exactly in the wrong direction.

* Adam Garfinkle and I discussed the shortcomings of this idea in "Is Jordan Palestine?" Commentary, October 1988.

† The late P.T. Bauer trenchantly deflated the notion that the Marshall Plan deserves its reputation as a magically successful program.

** A glimpse of this dynamic could be seen in 1993-94, when Palestinian acceptance of Israel seemed in the making; the governments of Syria and Iran, among others, found themselves unable either to prevent Arafat from going in this direction or to pick up his anti-Zionist mantle.




A Pragmatic "Road Map" from Truth to Peace

by Salomon Benzimra, P.Eng.

January, 2003

Before we embark on a new round of peace talks, it seems appropriate to learn from the events that have besieged the Middle East since the failure of the Oslo process at Camp David in July 2000.

The recently disclosed "Road Map" proposed by the Bush Administration and actively pursued by the "Quartet"[i] should avoid the pitfalls that have marred previous peace negotiations. The relentless terrorist activities triggered by the Palestinians since the end of 2000 have created a new paradigm for any future negotiations. It would be unconscionable to dismiss these realities for the sake of reaching a hasty and fragile agreement between the parties.

Above all, a lasting peace can only be founded on TRUTH. Historic truth. Geographic truth. Up until now, the several attempts aimed at a rapprochement between Israel and its Arab neighbors have been crafted by diplomats bent on "constructive ambiguities." Recent history shows that such attempts have a short life span. Even the much-trumpeted peace between Egypt and Israel proved to be not much more than a very cold peace, if not a smoldering cease-fire.

In the words of Benjamin Disraeli, "Justice is truth in action." We cannot expect a just and lasting solution to the Middle-East problem as long as truth yields to distorted facts, and firm action is avoided to appease the aggressor.

Details were changed: the "Peace Process" became a "Road Map"; the timetable was extended; the list of participants was expanded. But as long as the foundations remain unchanged, failure is once more inevitable. The guiding principles of a lasting peace in the region require a thorough re-evaluation. The following thoughts ought to be considered.

1. Terrorism should never be rewarded:

Arabs and other groups seeking political advantage should be clearly shown the negative effects that any recourse to violence against civilians will have on their own cause. Rewarding Palestinian terrorism, especially in diplomatic negotiations, would be a scandalous precedent. Conscious of their achievements through terror, the "Palestinians" will not hesitate to start another campaign of violence, with the quasi certitude of gaining further concessions through a new round of "peace negotiations". This western "Munich mentality" must end: it is politically disastrous and morally reprehensible.

2. The Oslo Accords were fatally flawed:

In a thoughtful analysis of the Oslo Accords, Professor Codevilla[ii] notes the following points:

1. Specific concessions were made by the Israelis, in exchange for Palestinian promises, which were rarely kept.

2. Sheer determination by Israel and the U.S. to pursue the negotiations, fearing that the sought agreement might prove to be otherwise impossible to reach.

3. No effort was made "to ascertain that the objectives of the two parties are compatible," in a blatant departure from the basis of any political negotiation.

Launching a peace process with little or no attention to the deep feelings of the "Palestinian street," or the hidden agenda of its leaders, was a major mistake. The euphoria of a much welcome peace in the region masked the serious cracks in the structure of the "Peace Process." The persistent blindness of Israeli and western leaders was finally shattered by the unprecedented violence known as "the second intifada". However, the shortcomings of such a "Peace Process" were blatant from the start:

1. Non-enforcement of agreements (exceeded limits on the strength of the Palestinian police force, incitement in the media and in school books, persisting terror attacks, Palestinian Charter unchanged[xx]).

2. Why should Israel be the suitor for peace, when it has been the victor of more than one military offensive launched against it?

3. Why should the resolution of the "Palestinian question" rest only on Israel's shoulders, while the surrounding Arab nations played a major role in creating and exacerbating the problem? (See Section 4).

4. No mention of the final end to Arab hostility.

Israel made a major mistake in letting a terrorist organization -- the PLO -- metamorphose itself into an internationally recognized legal facade -- the PA -- with whom negotiations were undertaken. The "Quartet" seems to be on the path of perpetuating and aggravating this mistake by calling for the creation of a "Palestinian State" with little or no thought given to the justification, final borders, and ultimate goals of such a state. It is still time to correct this dead-end and avoid its disastrous consequences. But a thorough reassessment of the Middle East conflict is necessary.

3. Lies and misconceptions should be challenged:

The power of the word is far more resilient than one may think. Slogans are quickly born and they soon take all the trappings of absolute truth. They later become difficult to question, no matter how misleading or erroneous they may be, because they end up being deeply rooted in people's psyche. However, left unchallenged, truth cannot emerge and a lasting peace will remain forever elusive.

The "Palestinian" discourse is made of countless misconceptions and untruths. Most unfortunately, the world at large seems to have espoused these ideas, no matter how far-fetched, in its blind support of what is perceived as "the underdog struggling against a brutal occupation." Nothing could be farther from the truth.

"Palestinian people":

The notion of a "Palestinian people" surfaced only in the late 1960s, after the Six Day War. Prior to 1967, the "West Bank" was annexed by Jordan and the Gaza strip administered by Egypt. During the 19 years following the creation of the State of Israel -- let alone during the previous British and Ottoman periods -- there has never been any mention of a "Palestinian people." No UN Resolution, up to and including Resolution 242 (1967), mentions the "Palestinian people."

It can be argued that for the past 35 years the "Palestinians" have had a different history than that of the surrounding Arabs. Is this enough to recognize them as a different people? After all, East Germans have also had a different history for 45 years, including a full-fledged government and international recognition, but no one would regard them now as nationally different from the other Germans living in the western part of the country. When the Berlin Wall fell and Germany was reunified, no one advocated the recognition of a separate East German people.

The prominent French historian Ernest Renan thought of a nation in terms of " . a soul, a spiritual principle. A common glory in the past, a common will for the future; to have done great things together -- to work to do them again -- these are the elements that compose a nation[iii]." There is no doubt that Arabs, as a whole, constitute a nation even though they have formed twenty-one different states. But can we see the "Palestinians" as a specific nation? On historical, linguistic, cultural, social, ethnic and religious grounds, what is it that differentiates them from their neighbors in Lebanon, Jordan, or Syria? Actually, in 1974, Syria's former President Hafez-el-Assad, although a PLO supporter in his fight against Israel, lifted all uncertainties in a remarkable definition: "Palestine is not only a part of our Arab homeland, but a basic part of southern Syria."

Arabs invented a fictitious people for the sole purpose of stoking the flames of hatred toward Israel. Back in 1977 -- several years after the proclamation of the Palestinian Charter[xx] -- Zuheir Muhsin, a high official in the PLO Executive Council made the following declaration in the Dutch newspaper Trouw: "There are no differences between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. We are all part of one nation. It is only for political reasons that we carefully underline our Palestinian identity, because it is in the interest of the Arabs to encourage a separate Palestinian identity. Yes, the existence of a separate Palestinian identity serves only tactical purposes. The founding of a Palestinian state is a new tool in the continuing battle against Israel."

Why is it, then, that the European Union, the United Nations, most of the world media and even the United States and the leftist parties in Israel have still their minds so hopelessly anchored in this artificial entity of a separate "Palestinian people" entitled to become a nation? Why is it that the world is prepared to accept yet another Arab state on top of the twenty-one already existing and covering a land mass 680 times the size of Israel whose own legitimacy is often put into question?

"Palestinians are the indigenous people of the land":

Census data from the Ottoman period and the British Mandate show that the Arab population in Palestine jumped from 141,000 in 1882 to over a million in 1938. This demographic explosion represents more than three times the corresponding population increases in neighboring Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt. As recently as 1930, the Hope-Simpson Report noted, "illicit immigration through Syria and across the northern frontier of Palestine is material." Even the Syrian governor Tawfik Bey el-Hurani recognized that in a few months in 1934 some 30,000 Syrians moved into Palestine. On the eve of World War II, Winston Churchill stressed: "far from being persecuted, the Arabs have crowded into the country and multiplied." The Bedouin population followed the same skyrocketing numbers: from 14,000 in 1949, they are now over 130,000 and enjoy their new sedentary lives as Israeli citizens.

And yet we hear the spinning tales of Yasser Arafat and his cronies who shamelessly claim that Palestinians' ancestry goes back to the ancient Canaanites and Jebusites! Arafat himself and other prominent "Palestinians," such as Professor Edward Said, kept spreading their fake "Palestinian" identity until both were forced to admit that they were born in Egypt and grew up there. Arafat is indeed one among hundreds of thousands of Arab "settlers of the West Bank."

The truth is that Jewish immigrants to what was then Palestine created the economic conditions that allowed these newly minted "Arab Palestinians" to flock, flourish and multiply. Even British officials, who relentlessly strived to curtail Jewish immigration to Mandated Palestine, recognized this fact.

"West Bank":

"West Bank" is an expression that erases the original identity of this historic region. The names "Judea" and "Samaria" are nowhere to be seen outside some quarters in Israel. Together with "Palestine," the "West Bank" has blotted out the collective memory of the place, built over millennia.

Even Nazi Germany, in its race toward the establishment of the Aryan Reich in Europe, never referred to "East Bank" and "West Bank" when conquering territories east of the Oder and west of the Rhine rivers: these territories remained what they always were, Poland and Alsace-Lorraine. The Nazis were fully conscious that they were occupying foreign lands with long histories. But the Palestinian logic can only be built on the eradication of Jewish history.

This portion of the land can only be called "West" in reference to Jordan. The whole world seems to have accepted this distortion, even though the Jordanian occupation of this land from 1948 to 1967 has been widely recognized as illegal4.

"A viable Palestinian state living peacefully side by side with Israel":

Recent events have shown that "Palestinians" are not likely to live peacefully side by side with Israel. Not in this generation. Probably not even in the next generation, considering the hateful curriculum to which their children have been exposed from the earliest grades in primary schools through university. In Nablus' Al-Najah University, students proudly display a mock replica of the Sbarro pizzeria carnage where 15 Israelis were blown to bits by an Islamic homicide bomber who, like all the other "shaheed," is glorified as a holy "martyr."

It is hard to contemplate a "viable state" made up of two disconnected territories, the Gaza Strip and the "West Bank." Making the new Palestinian state geographically viable would destroy Israel's own viability.

A "viable state" implies full sovereignty and at least a modicum of economic autonomy. Full sovereignty (air space, military forces, alliances with other nations, etc.) is definitely unacceptable to Israel for obvious reasons. As for its economic viability, it can only be ensured by a steady supply of employment provided by Israel, hence a large transient work force.

Finally, turning the "West Bank" as it is now into a Palestinian state would put Israel's security at risk, since most of the Israeli population lives within a small strip of land, as narrow as 9 miles in some places. Therefore, if UN resolution 242[xix] -- which calls for "secure and recognized boundaries" -- is to be respected, the actual size of the "Palestinian West Bank" is likely to be considerably reduced, thus making it even less viable.

"Land for peace":

Israel gave up the entire Sinai Peninsula (60,000 km2) for what it boiled down to be a de facto cease-fire with Egypt. Israel relinquished this territory willingly in the hope of a durable and mutually beneficial peace (which never materialized), since it did not have any claim to this land. But when it comes to Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, which are the heart and soul of the Land of Israel, the expression "land for peace" takes a whole new dimension.

"Occupied territories":

This persistent fallacy is at the very core of the conflict.

The territory known as the "West Bank" (Judea and Samaria) is not in the same category as the Sinai Peninsula, which was entirely returned to Egypt in 1979. Relinquishing places like Hebron, Bethlehem, Shechem (Nablus), etc. would make it difficult for Israel to justify its sovereignty over other "settlements" like Ashkelon, Eilath, Netanya, and even Tel-Aviv.

If the "territories" were really "occupied" (as Germany occupied existing countries such as Belgium and France in 1940), there would be no need to negotiate: only a full unconditional withdrawal would be required. The very existence of UN Resolution 242 -- which is still the basis of any peace agreement -- proves that these territories are not "occupied" but actually disputed.

How can the "Green Line" (armistice line drawn in 1949) define a permanent border for a new nation hitherto unheard of?

Has there ever been a "Palestinian State" before the "occupation"? What did Israel "occupy" in 1967, other than a territory[iv] from which military aggressions were launched, in violation of the 1949 armistice line?

Southern Lebanon was indeed occupied by Israel for eighteen years, in response to continuous attacks to its northern communities. Israel eventually withdrew unilaterally from the entire Lebanese territory in 2000 -- a withdrawal fully acknowledged by the United Nations -- but the hostility of the Arabs remained unabated (Hezbollah). This experience casts a doubt about the effectiveness of any further Israeli withdrawal and sheds some light on the real Arab objective, which is the total destruction of the Jewish state.

"Illegal settlements":

From a legal standpoint, there cannot be anything "illegal" about settlements established in a territory that is not "occupied." Most of these "settlements" have been built on government-owned land (going back to the Ottoman Empire) or on legally purchased land from Arab landlords. Israel never expropriated any private land for the purpose of establishing settlements. It should also be noted that the Israelis living in these "settlements" have not been transplanted there by force, as the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits (art. 49, paragraph 6). The building of settlements throughout Mandated Palestine -- i.e. in all the areas west of the Jordan River -- was in agreement with the Mandate of the League of Nations. This agreement has never been terminated[v]. It should also be recalled that the latest Oslo Accords contained no provision curtailing the building or expansion of "settlements."

The actual impact of these "settlements" has been ferociously exaggerated by the media, fuelled by Arab propaganda. Actually, the "settlements" in the "West Bank" represent less than 5% of the total area and 10% of the population. In the Gaza strip, the corresponding ratios are substantially lower.

There are 144 Jewish "settlements" in the "West Bank," all built since 1968. In the same 34-year period, some 260 new Arab "settlements" have also been built, which no one cares to mention. Why should the former be any more illegal than the latter? As for the 230,000 "Palestinians" living in east Jerusalem, most of them should also be called "settlers." The "Palestinians" continuously lambaste the "cruel apartheid Israeli rule" but these Jerusalem Arabs will never move to the more "enlightened" Arab countries and lose the employment, social and medical benefits granted by Israel.

The Palestinian Authority demands that all Jewish "settlements" be totally dismantled, thus making the whole area Judenrein, whereas the current Arab population living in Israel hovers around 20%.

"Palestinians" claim that these "settlements" are the obstacle to any permanent peace. Yet, for the nineteen years preceding the Six Day War, when there was not a single Jew living in the Gaza Strip and the "West Bank" (most Jews had been either massacred since the Arab revolts of the 1920s or expelled), Israel has nevertheless been regularly attacked by Arab gunmen from these territories.

"Jerusalem is the third holy site of Islam":

The holiness of Jerusalem has been hardly mentioned by the Arabs in the years preceding the Six Day War. No high-ranking Arab official ever prayed in Jerusalem during the Jordanian occupation between 1949 and 1967. There is not a single instance where Jerusalem is mentioned in the Koran, barring a highly debatable, indirect allusion in Sura Al-`Isra (17-1)[vi]. While the religious importance of Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Jerusalem to Christendom is undeniable, no Christian religious authority in modern times has ever laid a political claim to these cities, knowing full well that the Israeli authorities have established a total freedom of worship throughout the land, contrary to previous Arab practices.

It is clear that this newly flaunted Islamic holiness of Jerusalem was intended to internationalize the conflict and raise the stakes throughout the Muslim world. Concurrently, by presenting Jerusalem as a holy Muslim city, the Arabs intended to dispel the notion that Jerusalem ever had a sacred Jewish character. Hence, Arafat's tantrum complaining that Israel intends to "judaize Jerusalem," and his constant denial of the historic Jewish Temple. Curiously, this latter rewriting of history, repeated ad nauseum, never seemed to anger his Christian interlocutors, even though it flies in the face of the Gospels' narrative.

Finally, if any city where an ancient mosque is still standing becomes a de facto holy Muslim city and justifies a political claim, then Cordoba, Seville and others may be next in line!

"There is no military solution to the problem":

This has been a most nefarious mantra, counterproductive to the search for peace in the Middle East. At a time when repeated terrorist attacks were launched by Palestinian groups, even during the Oslo Peace Process, this fallacy has emboldened the most intransigent factions of the Arab population to pursue "negotiations by other means," in the belief that no large-scale military counteraction will ever be launched by Israel. Further concessions made by Israel in the wake of these repeated attacks gave the terrorists the glorious aura of "martyrs" for the "Palestinian cause," while fostering a new wave of violence. These appalling effects gained so much currency in the Arab street that the current fight against terrorism has been made difficult, with a rising number of casualties. The continuous admonitions from the West -- sometimes including the U.S. State Department -- that Israel should not use "disproportionate force" have exacerbated the conflict.

"Israel should put an end to the 'cycle of violence'":

All "Palestinian" spokespersons repeat this nonsense. Western diplomats and the world media parrot the same line with hardly a thought to its logic or lack thereof. A "cycle" is obviously a convenient device to blur any connection between cause and effect. The truth is that "Palestinian" terrorists launch criminal attacks on civilians and Israel responds -- often with incredible restraint -- to target the instigators of these attacks or the facilities they use.

Strangely enough, the U.S. response to September 11 (Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan) and the ongoing war on terrorism are never referred to as "cycles of violence" and rightly so. Even preemptive actions and arrests conducted by the U.S. do not raise the specter of the "cycle." But when it comes to Israel fighting terror, different standards seem to apply, which shows a visceral hatred born in Arab quarters and foolishly embraced by officials at the United Nations and the European Union.

4. The solution must be linked to the source of the problem:

Arab countries have been largely responsible for the creation of the Palestinian problem in 1947 by rejecting the UN Partition Resolution 181; by fomenting uninterrupted attacks on Jewish communities; by perpetuating the status of the "refugees"[vii]; and by launching three full-scale wars in 1948, 1967, and 1973.

Historians would be hard pressed to find a "land for peace" agreement similar to Camp David I, when Israel agreed in 1979 to return the whole Sinai Peninsula to Egypt. In 1948, Egypt was one of the countries which attacked Israel as soon as it was born. It failed. In 1956, Egypt closed the Suez Canal to Israeli navigation in flagrant violation of international law. Israel responded by capturing the Sinai Peninsula which it returned to Egypt a few months later under intense pressure from the U.S.. In 1967, Egypt unilaterally expelled the UN peacekeepers from Sinai, started mobilizing its army and openly threatened to attack Israel in a war "of total annihilation" with Jordan and Syria as its allies. In a preemptive strike, Israel captured the Sinai again in the Six Day War. In 1973, Egypt launched a surprise attack across the Suez Canal and was repulsed again by a strong Israeli counter-offensive. In spite of these multiple Egyptian aggressions spanning a quarter of a century, Israel eventually returned the whole Sinai Peninsula to Egypt -- including major infrastructure assets built by the Israelis -- with nothing in return but Egypt's formal recognition of Israel. There is no precedent in history where persistant military aggression, ending in defeat after defeat, led to a total restititution of territory without any penalty to the party initiating the aggression. In fact, Egypt was handsomely rewarded for its persistent aggressions, with the cancellation of its foreign debt and the assurance of massive American aid.

Arab countries, together with UNRWA[viii], should also be held responsible for perpetuating the refugee problem and opposing its resolution. There has never been an effort on their part to resettle these refugees and provide them with adequate living conditions. They willfully kept over a million Arabs in squalor to fuel their perennial animosity against the Jewish state[ix].

Whereas "Jewish refugees" from Arab and Muslim countries -- stretching from Morocco to Iran and beyond -- were entirely relocated, mainly in Israel, Arabs still refuse to address the problem of their "Palestinian refugees", a problem they have largely contributed to create. Moreover, in their most twisted logic, they claim that these "Palestinian refugees" must be relocated in Israel, a cornerstone of all the so-called "peace processes" which have been circulating recently. Needless to say, this demand is tantamount to the eradication of Israel.

Therefore, any sound peace agreement should call for a major Arab contribution -- in land and funds -- toward solving these problems, rather than leaving them solely on Israel's shoulders, as it has been the case for far too long.

5. Lessons to be drawn from the intifada:

The only positive aspect of the "Oslo Peace Process" and its subsequent failure is to have unmasked the true objectives pursued by the "Palestinians"[x]. Media savvy Arab propagandists insist over and over on the "occupation" as the "root cause" of the violence. In so doing, they exhibit the same discourse as the angry mobs at the Durban Conference[xi], who accused Israel of being a Nazi, racist, apartheid state bent on colonizing a foreign people. But if anyone is sincere about real peace, he must first confront the truth and reject all this fallacious propaganda.

Understand the real goals of the "Palestinians":

There is no doubt that "Palestinian" leaders follow a double agenda, which is frighteningly clear in their Arabic declarations. Their real objective is far removed from peace, the "two state solution" and the recognition of Israel, regardless of their official statements in English aimed at the gullible -- or biased -- western media. Even their most "moderate" leaders are unabashed about their dedication to the total destruction of Israel. The late Faysal Husseini -- who could hardly be branded an extremist -- declared "Even if we accept a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, our final objective remains the liberation of the whole historic Palestine from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea, even if the conflict lasts a thousand years or several generations." [xii] As for the means to achieve these goals, Yasser Arafat was straightforward: "Kill a settler every day. Shoot at settlers everywhere. Do not pay attention at what I say to the media, the television or in public appearances. Pay attention only to the written instructions that you receive from me." [xiii]

After two years of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, most "Palestinian" groups still support the same "final solution". As late as January 2003, Nayef Hawatmeh, leader of the DFLP, declared that the establishment of an independent "Palestinian state" within the 1967 territories will prepare the grounds for a future "liberation of all historic Palestine." [xiv]

In their official declarations to the western media, "Palestinians" often criticize the present Likud government of Ariel Sharon, whom they accuse of being the main obstacle to peace. But in leaflets locally distributed in several "Palestinian" towns and villages we read: "There is no difference between Labor and Likud. They are all murderers and thieves of land. No one can deny us the right to resist the occupation. . The martyrdom operations are being carried out in self-defense; . the blood of the martyrs will drown all the defeatists." (January 2003).

Lies, lies and more lies:

Another despicable characteristic of the "Palestinian" leadership is their shameless denial of the truth. In a joint article published recently in the New York Review of Books, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and historian Benny Morris wrote: "[Palestinians] are products of a culture in which to tell a lie ... creates no dissonance. They don't suffer from the problem of telling lies that exists in Judeo-Christian culture. Truth is seen as an irrelevant category. There is only that which serves your purpose and that which doesn't." This disposition has unfortunately been proven true time and again in recent events.

Palestinian Authority (PA) chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, among others, has mastered the technique of deception to a morbid art, with no qualms whatsoever about insulting the intelligence of his television viewers by using the crudest denials. When confronted with unpleasant truths, he accuses Israel of manufacturing lies. For Mr. Erekat, the story of the Karine-A weapons-loaded ship[xv] intercepted in the Red Sea was an Israeli concoction; the records of financial support from the PA to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, seized in Arafat's Ramallah compound during Operation Defensive Shield, were "lies that [the Israelis] use to cover their own crimes, the murder of our children." ; the Jenin operation was immediately characterized as "a terrible massacre with over 3,000 Palestinians murdered."

The PA Information Minister, Yasser Abed Rabbo, does not fare any better. In June 2002, when the Israeli Army showed a picture found in Hebron of a "Palestinian" toddler wearing a mock explosive belt, Abed Rabbo stopped short of claiming the picture was fraudulent and accused the Israelis of "using this photo to justify Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people and to go on with their occupation of Palestinian territories." Nevermind that the toddler's grandfather, Redwan Abu Turki, acknowledged both his grandchild and the authenticity of the photograph, hardly disguising his pride.

What trust can anyone put in declarations issued by "Palestinian" officials? Should these officials be bound by their moderate statements in English, or should we rather believe their often contradictory and violent speeches in Arabic? The latter have consistently proven closer to their real policies[xvi].

6. Draft a new "Declaration of Principles":

We should judge policies by their long-term results. The principles set forth in Oslo have produced more bloodshed than in times of war. It should be clear to everyone that any "peace process" established on that basis, must be discarded and a new foundation must be sought.

The Middle East can no longer afford any more "band aid" solutions. Thirty years of myth building by the Palestinians (see Section 3) have succeeded in turning historical truths upside down, with the tacit acquiescence of world politicians focused on their own dubious agendas. It is time to shatter these myths, since the current situation is largely the result of having allowed them to fester for too long, to the point where the world at large now takes them as unquestionable truths.

The recent terror wave triggered by the "Palestinians" rendered any agreement derived from the Oslo process null and void for three reasons: a) the "Palestinians" have not honored their fundamental obligations; b) concessions made by Israel to the "Palestinians" since 1992 have exacerbated the terror attacks against Israelis[xvii]; and c) the world should never reward terrorism.

Since the 1990s, the Palestinian education system has been geared to instill a total rejection of Israel, the denial of all Zionist aspirations and, in the most egregious instances, the hatred of Jews. This has been extensively documented. Even the recently revised curriculum rejects Israel, glorifies "martyrdom", and depicts Jews in a way that would seem appalling to any western observer[xviii].

The latest stream of homicide bombings can be directly traced to these teachings. These attacks are no longer the desperate action of some angry, gullible, uneducated youngster but the result of a willful decision taken by educated men and women. Palestinian university campuses promote this kind of barbarism and contribute to glorify the perpetrators as national heroes. Summer camps inculcate the same kind of violent ideologies from early childhood.

Barring the unlikely emergence of an Arab Adenauer, there is little hope in sight for a peaceful coexistence between the two populations in the next ten to fifteen years.

Therefore, any future negotiations should be based on a new set of principles that integrate the undeniable realities of the region.

1. There is no room between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River to carve two separate, viable, peaceful sovereign states. The inherent inconsistencies of UN Resolution 242 should be corrected [xix].

2. Jerusalem, as any reunified city, should not be divided again. It was, still is, and should remain the sole capital of Israel.

3. Since the late 1960s, Arab nations have skillfully shifted the Arab-Israeli conflict into a narrower and more convenient "Palestinian-Israeli" problem. This masterful diplomatic distortion of reality has exonerated them from their obvious responsibility for the present state of affairs (see Section 4). Future negotiations on the fate of the "Palestinians" should include all the Arab states in the region which directly or indirectly have contributed to the present political problem, including the fifty year old impasse of the "Palestinian refugees." Rather than expecting only Israel to solve the problem, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq should be the major players in solving the "Palestinian question." We should go back to basics and bring these Arab nations to negotiating the closure of the "Arab-Israeli" conflict.

4. Any negotiation about the fate of the "Palestinians" should be contemplated in conjunction with the absorption of some 700,000 "Jewish refugees" from Arab and Muslim countries who, since the early 1950s, have been settled in Israel and have enjoyed full Israeli citizenship ever since. On this population and property exchange, Israel has done its part. It is the Arab nations' duty to do theirs.

7. Conclusions:

The Oslo Peace Process was a period of endless frustrations and disillusionments. The intifada that followed has been a period of terror, bloodshed, and human tragedy. The only positive aspect of the past ten years is undoubtedly the realization of the sad realities of the Middle East. The stark truth, that dreamy diplomats failed to see, finally burst out.

This truth is, in simple terms, that Israel cannot make peace with a nation whose core objective is the total annihilation of the Jewish state[xx].

Arabs living in Judea and Samaria have benefited from Israel and have enjoyed a far higher standard of living than their brethren in neighboring countries. Since they launched their "second intifada," they have seen their lives destroyed. This is, sadly, the only truth in the "Palestinian" narrative. The reality is that the poor living conditions of the "Palestinians" today have been imposed on them by their own leaders, with the tacit or overt support of the Arab nations. These people surely deserve to live in peace in a land they can call their own.

Territorial problems of a much greater magnitude have been solved successfully in the wake of WWII for the betterment of millions of people's lives. Similarly, fairly conducted population transfers may prove to be the only feasible and lasting solution in the long search for peace in the Middle East. These undertakings require the full cooperation of the surrounding Arab states, which are directly responsible for this situation.

The notion of "population transfers" may not be politically correct nowadays. However, being right in the future sometimes implies to be out of fashion in the present.

In any case, the present framework established by the "Quartet" is, at best, a short-term solution and, most probably, the detonator of further violence. New thinking is necessary.



[i] Quartet: designates the combined diplomatic effort of the U.S., Russia, the EU, and the UN.

[ii] "A Pernicious Utopian Virus", by Angelo M. Codevilla (Professor of International Relations at Boston University), published in the Jerusalem Post on April 14, 1997

[iii] From "Qu'est-ce qu'une nation?", a lecture given by Ernest Renan at the Sorbonne in 1882.

[iv] Only Britain and Pakistan recognized the annexation of the "West Bank" by what was then Transjordan. Transjordan became then the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. In 1988, King Hussein of Jordan formally relinquished any title to these territories, at a time when they were still under Israeli military administration, following the Six Day War of 1967.

[v] See American Journal of International Law, vol. 84, July 1990, by Eugene V. Rostow, Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace.

[vi] Koran, Sura 17:1 "The Night Journey" (Al `Isra): "Glory be to Him who made His servant go by night from the Sacred Temple to the farther Temple whose surroundings we have blessed, that We might show Him some of Our signs." (Translation by N. L. Dawood, Penguin Books). The identification of the "farther Temple" is debated among Muslims, some viewing it as Jerusalem, others as Medina, some giving this verse a literal interpretation, others regarding it only as a vision. But Jerusalem (or Al-Quds) is not once mentioned in the whole Koran. By contrast, it is mentioned 669 in the Hebrew Bible and 154 times in the New Testament.

[vii] Khaled Al-Azm, who was Syria's Prime Minister after the 1948 war, deplored the Arab tactics and the subsequent exploitation of the refugees, in his 1972 memoirs. He writes: "Since 1948 it is we who demanded the return of the refugees ... while it is we who made them leave.... We brought disaster upon ... Arab refugees, by inviting them and bringing pressure to bear upon them to leave.... We have rendered them dispossessed.... We have accustomed them to begging.... We have participated in lowering their moral and social level.... Then we exploited them in executing crimes of murder, arson, and throwing bombs upon ... men, women and children - all this in the service of political purposes.".

[viii] United Nations Relief and Works Agency, an organization specifically created to handle the Palestinian refugee problem, with a current annual budget of about US$ 280 million. The truth about Palestinian refugees was clearly stated in 1958 by Ralph Galloway, former director of UNRWA: "The Arab states do not want to solve the refugee problem. They want to keep it as an open sore, as an affront to the United Nations, and as a weapon against Israel. Arab leaders do not give a damn whether Arab refugees live or die."

[ix] "Palestinians burned an effigy of Canadian Foreign Minister John Manley on Thursday in a protest against Canada's offer to accept Palestinian refugees as part of a Middle East peace plan. Hooded gunmen fired into the air during the protest in Balata refugee camp near the West Bank town of Nablus and hundreds of demonstrators shouted slogans demanding the right of return to former homes. 'We refuse resettlement of refugees,' they shouted." (Reuters, January 17, 2001)

[x] Yitzhak Rabin is remembered as shaking hands with Yasser Arafat on the lawn of the White House. He was a true believer in peace with the Palestinians. Commenting on the Barak peace plan (Camp David II, where Israel agreed to relinquish most of the disputed territories, to allow the return of some "refugees" and to share sovereignty over Jerusalem), Leah Rabin declared that the concessions made by Barak would have made Yitzhak Rabin's stomach churn.

[xi] UN Conference on Racism, Discrimination and Xenophobia, held in Durban, South Africa, in September 2001.

[xii] Interview given by Mr. Faysal Husseini in Kuwait to the Egyptian newspaper Al-Arabi on June 24, 2001.

[xiii] Public address by Yasser Arafat at a popular gathering in Gaza, in July 2001.

[xiv] Open chat on the website "Islam-Online," on January 6, 2003 by Nayef Hawatmeh, leader of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP).

[xv] The 4,000 T. Karine-A ship was seized by Israeli commandos in the Red Sea on January 3, 2002. Its captain, a naval officer of the Palestinian Authority (PA), admitted having received orders from PA officials at the highest echelon.

[xvi] Yasser Arafat wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times, Feb. 3, 2002 titled "The Palestinian Vision of Peace": He stated: "I condemn the attacks carried out by terrorists groups against Israeli civilians. These groups do not represent the Palestinian people or their legitimate aspirations for freedom." Three days later, he addressed a rally in Ramallah (in Arabic) and he called for "a million martyrs marching on Jerusalem." Just a few hours after that speech, a Palestinian terrorist from Arafat's own Fatah movement, murdered three Israeli civilians, among whom an 11 year old girl. The next day, Arafat's "Voice of Palestine" broadcast jubilant praises for the "heroic martyr." So much for the "Palestinian Vision of Peace."

[xvii] See Statistics on Terror, published by Ari Shavit in the respected Israeli daily Haaretz, Dec. 11, 2002.

[xviii] See "Narrating Palestinian Nationalism - A Study of the New Palestinian Textbooks", by Goetz Nordbruch, Published in 2001 in the USA by The Middle East Media Research Institute, P.O. Box 27837, Washington, DC.

[xix] UN Security Council Resolution 242 (November 1967) calls for Israel to "withdraw from occupied territories" and at the same time stresses the ". termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force." (Emphasis added). Clearly, in light of recent events, these two objectives seem incompatible.

[xx] The Palestinian National Charter (July 1968), in spite of aborted attempts to amend it after the Oslo process, still contains several articles that clearly point to the elimination of Israel and the denial of Jews as a people. Some examples are listed below (English rendition as published in Basic Political Documents of the Armed Palestinian Resistance Movement; Leila S. Kadi (ed.), Palestine Research Centre, Beirut, December 1969, pp.137-141.):

Art.15: The liberation of Palestine, from an Arab viewpoint, is a national (qawmi) duty and it attempts to repel the Zionist and imperialist aggression against the Arab homeland, and aims at the elimination of Zionism in Palestine."

Art.19: "The partition of Palestine in 1947 and the establishment of the state of Israel are entirely illegal, regardless of the passage of time ."

Art.20: "The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine, and everything that has been based upon them, are deemed null and void. Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the true conception of what constitutes statehood. Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own; they are citizens of the states to which they belong.




Reality Picks Winners and Losers.

By Nissan Ratzlav-Katz

MODIIN, ISRAEL. Two events this month showed conclusively that the positions on peace and security espoused by the Left in Israel (and elsewhere) over the past ten years have been merely wishful thinking masquerading as pragmatism. By the same token, the view espoused by the Right that peace is attained and maintained through strength, not capitulation, was proven correct. This is important to keep in mind as Israelis go to the polls this week and (as all public-opinion surveys are showing they probably will) give a sweeping victory to the right-wing bloc in parliament.

Like liberals everywhere, those viewed as "deep thinkers" on the Israeli Left tend to believe that appeasement breeds moderation. "With the Palestinians," former foreign minister Shimon Peres boasted, "we negotiated on uncharted grounds. Never had they experienced self-rule. Today they possess a territorial address, an administrative authority. For the first time in their history, their children's education is solely Palestinian." Peres was addressing the 49th session of the United Nations General Assembly in 1994.

That education which Nobel-prize laureate Peres was so proud to have facilitated is now producing child terrorists. On Saturday, January 11, two young Arab boys aged 10 and 13 infiltrated the Jewish town of Netzarim in Gaza armed with knives. After attacking one boy, they entered a family home and were shot at, captured by security forces, and taken to an Israeli hospital. In fact, attacks using children are not new for the terrorists running the Palestinian Authority. Why should they be? PA children's television, school textbooks, newspapers, summer camps, and most horrifically some parents all push the same message: that to seek death by murdering Jews is the highest goal for any proud Arab.

The day after the Netzarim child terrorists were captured, three Qassam rockets, produced in PA factories, were fired from PA-controlled Gaza into the southern Israeli town of Sderot, within the 1967 "Green Line." The rockets, one of which landed near a kindergarten, injured two people. It was at least the sixth rocket attack on Sderot in the past 21 months.

Yet no one can pretend to be surprised. At the 1993 parliamentary session at which the Oslo Accords were ratified, then-opposition Likud Knesset member Moshe Katsav asked: "Tell me please, Mr. Foreign Minister [Peres] and Mr. Defense Minister [Rabin, who was also prime minister], how will you prevent a little van traveling within Arafat's areas from loading up with katyushas and shooting towards the coastal cities? How will you prevent [katyushas from being shot towards] Ashkelon, Netivot, Sderot, Ofakim, and Ashdod?" In March 1993, even before the Oslo agreements had been made public, then-tourism minister Rehavam ("Gandhi") Zeevi, of the right-wing Moledet party, reminded the Knesset: "Every time there is a wave of terrorism, all sorts of 'experts' say that we should unilaterally get out of Gaza. If we do so, the Gaza Strip will become a cancerous thorn of terrorism, 1,000 times more dangerous than it is now. What will we do when katyushas are fired from Beit Yachie on Ashkelon and from Beit Hanoun on Sderot?"

Last Monday, IDF troops went into Gaza's Beit Hanoun in search of the Qassam rocket launchers used to attack Sderot.

In 1995, Yitzhak Rabin commented on the Right's warnings: "We know all the scare-stories of the Likud. They promised [when the first Oslo agreement was signed] that there would be katyushas from Gaza. It's been a year already that Gaza is mostly under PA control, and there haven't been any katyushas, and there won't be any... The Likud is simply scared to death of peace, and for this reason is reacting in a truly childish manner."

And what was it Shimon Peres told the parliamentary plenum on October 11, 1993? Ah, yes: "We are approaching the stage at which it will become clear that terror has no future and is fated to die."

The truth is that, at the end of nearly ten years of the "peace process," more Israelis have been killed by terrorists than in any equivalent period before "peace processing" was made state policy. Let us hope that this week the Israeli electorate will, once and for all, thoroughly repudiate the liberals' failed policies and promote the conservative principle of "peace through strength."

Nissan Ratzlav-Katz is opinion editor at, and frequently writes for NRO. His commentaries have been published internationally and translated into several languages.



The Jerusalem Post, Jan. 24, 2003


By Caroline B. Glick

The faces of the audience in a packed school auditorium near Moshav She'ar Yishuv on Wednesday afternoon were the hollow faces of bereavement. There, hundreds of parents, brothers, sisters, and friends of the 73 soldiers who died in the collision of two IAF helicopters en route to southern Lebanon were joined by army brass, President Moshe Katsav, and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz in honoring the dead on the sixth anniversary of the tragedy.

The images of the victims' faces were projected onto a large screen as their names and ages were intoned by the mellifluous voice of an invisible announcer. One after another: round faces, angular faces, sweet faces, beautiful faces all full of youth and promise. All dead.

The days after the terrible accident on February 4, 1997 were days of national mourning. Malls, theaters, and restaurants closed down. Flags flew at half-mast. Stone-faced officers and politicians hurried from funeral to funeral.

For its part, Israel's Left was quick to capitalize on the national tragedy to legitimize its call for unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon. In so doing, these politicians and political activists intimated that the sacrifice of so many had been a vain and unnecessary one.

Just hours after the helicopter crash, then-opposition leader Shimon Peres set the course for the Left's exploitation of the tragedy that was to follow. Speaking on Israel Television, Peres said, "The time has come to put an end to this involvement in Lebanon. We will end up making the same concessions in the end anyway, but only after more blood has been spilled."

In the days and weeks after the crash, the media gave almost uninterrupted coverage to defeatist voices telling the public that there was no reason for the IDF to be in south Lebanon.

Statements by security officials such as then-head of IDF Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Moshe Ya'alon who explained that such remarks played into the hands of Hizbullah and obfuscated the fact that the soldiers were in Lebanon in order to protect Israel's towns and villages in the north were either given cursory attention or dismissed as opportunistic opining of officers trying to defuse legitimate criticism of the IDF.

So overwhelming was the media's coverage and backing of the campaign for defeatism, and so successful was the manipulation of national grief, that a poll taken a week and a half after the accident showed that 74 percent of Israelis favored a unilateral pullout from Lebanon.

Dr. Ya'acov Katz from Bar-Ilan University, who conducted the poll, explained that the results were the direct consequence of the helicopter crash. "From a psychological point of view it is a very dangerous sign. It means that any unrelated issue can have serious bearing on a matter of great importance. People tend to put things together where there is no connection," Katz said. EU-financed organizations lobbying for IDF withdrawal from Lebanon such as the Four Mothers group sprang up in the months after the crash.

These groups, together with EU-financed politicians such as Yossi Beilin, and with the unstinting backing of the media led by radical personalities such as Shelly Yahimovich, dictated the parameters of political debate in the country on the issue of Lebanon.

We were told to ignore repeated statements by Hizbullah to the effect that it wasn't the IDF presence in south Lebanon but rather the existence of Israel itself that they were fighting. We were told that Hizbullah would somehow magically disappear if the IDF were to just pick up and leave the security zone. We were told that there were but two policy options: to stay and continue incurring meaningless casualties, or to leave.

No attention was given to the notion that there might be another option to stay and fight, but to do so in a manner that built on the IDF's strengths. That is, abandoning the failed strategy of immobile defenses conceived by Ehud Barak during his tenure as chief of General Staff, and replacing it with small, mobile anti-guerrilla units that could strike Hizbullah forces where they were weakest in their permanent encampments and along their supply routes. This possibility was never seriously considered.

Three years later, the campaigners for capitulation got their way as then-prime minister Barak ordered the precipitous withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000. They got their way and we were left to deal with the results. As Ya'alon put it in an interview last August, now as Lt.-Gen. and IDF Chief of General Staff: "The potential threat from Lebanon today is much more serious than it was during the period that we were deployed in the security zone. Hizbullah, together with the Syrians and the Iranians, manifests a strategic threat for northern Israel comprised of various types of rockets with various ranges that threaten the population centers of northern Israel."

For their part, the Palestinians themselves have stated repeatedly since the withdrawal that the perception that Hizbullah forced Israel to surrender in Lebanon was the major inspiration for their terrorist war against Israel. According to Ya'alon, "The withdrawal from Lebanon is perceived in the region as a major victory of the Islamic revolution. For this we are paying a strategic price. It impacted the Palestinian situation and in the long run it has implications for the Syrians."

In other words, the decision to withdraw unilaterally from Lebanon was a mistake in every respect. Yet, rather than learning the lessons of Lebanon, Israel's Left, again with media support, has for the past two years been attempting to repeat its policy prescriptions with the Palestinians.

On the eve of a general election, now under the leadership of Labor chairman Amram Mitzna, this camp tells us that we have but two options for dealing with the Palestinians: We can fight on and continue incurring losses until we agree as, it is said, we inevitably must to a Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria, the Gaza Strip, and east Jerusalem; or we can retreat unilaterally, build a fence, and the problem will somehow disappear.

For the past two years and four months, the Left's response to every massacre a response embraced and advanced by the media is to pointedly demand that a fence be built around Judea and Samaria like the fence in Gaza.

In so responding, these voices push us into a false reality. In this reality, the Palestinians are only fighting us because we are there. Then too, the Palestinians are incapable of adaptation and improvement. If left to their own devices, if Israeli towns are dismantled and Israeli forces removed, the Palestinian strategic threat to Israel will wither away.

Yet as Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz has said recently, the Palestinians' motivation to continue their war for the destruction of Israel remains high. Moreover, he asserted this week that the Palestinians are constantly working to improve their capabilities and, like Hizbullah in Lebanon, the threat emanating from the Palestinian Authority is constantly evolving. Today, for instance, he explains that in addition to the local Palestinian forces fighting Israel, the involvement of external Arab and Islamic forces in the Palestinian terror war has grown.

In exchange for agreeing to sell Arafat arms, intercepted in January 2002 aboard the Karine A weapons ship, Iran has received a foothold in the PA. Fatah cells receive money and instruction from Iran. Hizbullah and al-Qaida also have Palestinian operatives in the areas that receive guidance and instruction from operatives in Lebanon. Terror groups based in Damascus fund and instruct cells in Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip. Iraq and Saudi Arabia provide funding and political cover for the war effort.

According to the false reality of the Left, Israel is said to have no ability to act either diplomatically or militarily to change the situation on the ground. We must either continue to cohabit the areas with terrorist forces or we must surrender the territories to terrorist forces. Little attention is given to a third option of throwing out the terrorists and destroying their political apparatus now constituted by Arafat's government.

Back in 1997, Israeli society was evenly divided between Left and Right. By 2001, support for the Left, as gauged by election results, was down to 38 percent. If today's polls are to be believed, the Left, as constituted by Labor, Meretz, and the Arab parties, enjoys the support of less than one third of Israeli society.

In four days, we go to the polls. Barring any major political upheaval, the members of the 16th Knesset will reflect this balance of forces between Left and Right.

But as the political and media manipulation of public debate on Lebanon in the aftermath of the helicopter crash over She'ar Yishuv six years ago shows, the public must not become complacent in the wake of the election results. We must not allow ourselves to be deceived by voices preaching defeatism. We must not be cowed into believing that bodies of Israeli victims of Palestinian aggression have paved the way for the inevitable establishment of a terrorist state in our midst. We must not surrender our right to support a policy of victory.

For their part, our political leaders, and first and foremost among them Ariel Sharon, must act in a manner that shows that they have heard the people's message at the voting booth above the noise of defeatist pontificators. When forming the next government and charting its policies, Sharon must acknowledge that two-thirds of the public is rejecting the Left's defeatist message and is counting on the next government to reject both of the Left's policy options surrender or attrition that will in the end lead to surrender.

The 73 soldiers who died in the helicopter collision six years ago did not die in vain. They died in the line of duty, protecting the country. The two thirds of Israelis that are set to reject the Left on Tuesday know this. The great task of the next government is to demonstrate that it, too, understands the meaning of our losses, by rejecting false realities and placing us on a policy course to victory.

(c) The Jerusalem Post



The Jerusalem Post, Jan. 22, 2003


By Michael Freund

Brace yourselves, because it looks as if Israel is about to squander yet another opportunity to rid itself of Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority.

The impending American invasion of Iraq, and the diplomatic maneuvering that is sure to accompany it, will grip the world's attention, directing the international spotlight elsewhere and taking some of the heat off the Jewish state, at least temporarily.

With Allied forces battling Saddam Hussein's terrorist regime in Baghdad, Israel will have greater freedom of movement than it has had in a good, long while to finally do away with Arafat's terrorist regime in Ramallah.

But don't count on it.

For, rather than setting the stage to take advantage of this opening, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon appears to be doing precisely the opposite, reportedly telling the US that Israel will do its utmost to avoid a flare-up with the Palestinians while the battle for Baghdad rages on.

On the surface, Sharon's stance may seem pragmatic, even reasonable. After all, it is in Israel's interest to see Saddam's regime toppled, and his demise will certainly alter the political landscape of the region for the better.

But by making it clear that he will adopt a hands-off policy toward Arafat and the PA during the next Gulf War, Sharon is effectively giving the Palestinians a free hand to do as they please, since they need not fear an overwhelming Israeli response.

Or, to put it more bluntly, Arafat now knows that he can go on killing Jews with virtual impunity.

Allowing this opportunity to pass by would be a tragic mistake. There have been several such occasions in the past when, with a bit of determination and resolve, Israel could have freed itself from the nightmare of Palestinian terror, but failed to do so. After the February-March 1996 wave of suicide bombings in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, for example, or last year's Pessah massacre in Netanya.

Come now, you might be thinking, the world would never let Israel get away with it, even if they are busy with Baghdad. After all, the front page of The New York Times is six columns wide, leaving plenty of room to rant and rave against the Jewish state should it decide to target the PA.

Anger, though, is something we can live with. Terrorism, on the other hand, is not.

THIS PAST year was the worst since the state was founded in terms of terror. In 2002, a total of 453 Israelis were killed and 2,344 wounded by Palestinian terrorists. That averages out to more than one Israeli killed and six wounded per day, every day, over a 12-month period.

All told, in the 28 months since the Palestinian terror campaign began, some 720 Israelis have been murdered and 5,052 wounded. Slowly but surely, the PA is trying to bleed Israel to death, aiming to sap its resilience so it can move in for the kill.

In light of this ongoing and merciless assault, Israel has every right to march back into Gaza, Ramallah and elsewhere and take apart the Palestinian entity. Leaving the PA in place because of pressure from abroad is tantamount to placing a higher value on international opinion than on Jewish lives. And that is simply unacceptable.

Moreover, the US is already making it clear that once the job is done in Baghdad, it will turn its attention back to forming a Palestinian state. In a January 17 interview with Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, US Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz said that in the postwar environment, "our stake in pushing for a Palestinian state will grow." The very idea of upgrading the current Palestinian entity into a full-fledged state is of course sheer madness, if only because such a step would merely enhance its ability to wreak havoc and mayhem on its neighbors.

To forestall such a possibility, then, Israel must seize the moment whenever it may arise over the next few weeks, and remove the PA from the equation. It must set the stage for a new postwar reality, one in which Arafat's terrorist regime, like Saddam's, will be little more than a dim, if somewhat painful, memory.

Twelve years ago, the first Gulf War began when the skies over Baghdad lit up with American airpower. In the coming weeks, that scenario is likely to repeat itself.

Israel, too, must now be prepared to demonstrate a similar level of resolve. For only once "the skies over Ramallah have been illuminated," will the people of Israel at last be set free from the ongoing scourge of Palestinian terror.

And so, when America finally does take aim at its Iraqi foe, here's hoping that Israel will do the same, and remove the terrorist threat posed by the PA once and for all.


The writer served as deputy director of communications & policy planning in the Prime Minister's Office from 1996 to 1999.

(c) The Jerusalem Post




by Boris Shusteff

In just ten days we will learn the results of the latest Israeli elections. The short election campaign has been marred with non-stop corruption scandals and only a few people noticed that no real political debates have taken place in the last three months. The gigantic red flag of "the Palestinian state," to which Nadav Shragai finally pointed on January 13 in an excellent article in Ha'aretz, remained unnoticed in the brouhaha of mutual incrimination that politicians poured on each other's head trying to convince frustrated Israelis to vote for this or that party. The real issue - the sword of Damocles of an Arab state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza (Yesha) - instead of being at the forefront of all discussions, was artfully swept under the carpet. As Shragai puts it

"Anyone who labels 'the Palestinian state' as the terminus in the permanent status agreement, and lines up with the United States and Europe on such a key issue, knows very well that the Palestinian state cannot remain mere lip service, or a means of dragging the conflict out endlessly - no matter how stringent the conditions set forth by Sharon for its establishment are."

It does not matter today whether Ariel Sharon's or George Bush's commitment to this surrogate state-to-be is greater. They have both agreed to send Israel on a suicidal journey toward the creation of another Arab state on primordial Jewish land, with Israel becoming America's hostage. Sharon confirmed this when he said in his speech on January 15 at the Weizmann Institute,

"We have arrived at an agreed-upon plan with the United States, and once we deviate from it, the United States will also deviate from it, despite the great efforts invested in a long and difficult negotiation process. My seven visits to Washington during the last eighteen months have not been easy, and they have certainly not been in vain."

It appears that Sharon's constant refrain that "the President's [Bush] peace plan is a reasonable, realistic and feasible one" has become so engraved in people's minds that they have lost the ability to think critically. They are apparently unable to notice that Sharon's approach can never lead to a decisive victory. To the contrary, by following along the road of self-destruction towards a "Palestinian state" in Yesha, Israel will continue counting dead and wounded citizens and will never know a day of respite. Nothing explains this better than the complete incompatibility of Sharon's strategy with the vision of the Arab world. On January 18 in the interview with Newsweek the Israeli prime minister said that he is "ready to recognize a fully demilitarized Palestinian state without final borders-having only police equipped with light weapons. Israel will control the external borders and will have the right to fly over the territory." Since he made similar statements many times it is clear that his declaration is not a pre-election ploy and he really considers a semi-independent, demilitarized, surrogate Arab state on 42% of Yesha, stripped of any military capabilities, with the "complete cessation of incitement and the nurturing of an education system that teaches the values of peace and coexistence." Sharon's program cannot be farther removed from the Arab position on this issue. It was presented almost simultaneously by Saeb Erekat and Amr Mousa, Arab League Secretary General (ALSG). Erekat was quoted on January 4 by Palestine Media Center. He stressed that,

"The shortest path to peace and security is the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, withdrawal from the territories Israel occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem, and solving the Palestinian refugees' issue according to UN resolution 194."

Two days earlier, the ALSG "reiterated the Arab League's full support for the Palestinian just struggle till the restoration of all their rights including the establishment of their independent state with Jerusalem as its capital." In a statement to the Egyptian daily "Al-Akhbar" Mousa affirmed that,

"The Arab peace initiative and the international legitimacy resolutions, which call for complete Israeli withdrawal from all occupied Arab territories till June 4th 1967 line, are the base for any movement aiming at realizing a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East. Arabs would not sign any final peace with Israel prior to the liberation of every inch of the occupied land."

Let us pause for a moment. Whom are we deceiving? How in the world can a sane person think that it is possible to reconcile two absolutely irreconcilable positions? This is not a kindergarten. And we are not trying to resolve an argument between two three-year-old children who cannot share a toy and whose problems can be resolved in a second by distracting one or the other child. We are talking about irreconcilable ideologies. The Arabs are not going to change their position. They have proven this by stubbornly sticking to it for over thirty six years. No brainstorming can produce even a SINGLE example of Arab flexibility since the day of their defeat in the Six Day War. But during all this time there was a party that has been constantly blinking. The Jews have conceded a lot of their previous red lines. They have behaved like a rabbit that slowly moves towards the boa-constrictor, hypnotized by it. The only thing that Sharon can achieve through his plan is a slowing of the rabbit's movement. However, he will never change the Arab position. In the best case scenario, Arab enmity and hatred will be tamed for several years, but will eventually again explode when Israelis are ready for another round of concessions. Does this mean that Mitzna's stand on unilateral withdrawal from the majority of Yesha lands or the Beilin/Sarid push for full and complete withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders have any merit? Certainly not. Mohammad Haikal explained the fruitlessness of these sorts of Israeli "peace moves" in an editorial in Al'Ahram as early as February 25, 1971, when he candidly wrote that,

"There are only two well-defined goals on the Arab scene: erasing the traces of the 1967 aggression by the Israel's withdrawal from all areas occupied by it in that year and erasing the aggression of 1948 by Israel's total and absolute annihilation. This is not really a well defined goal, but an oversimplified one; and the mistake of some of us is starting off with the last step before beginning the first."

It should be obvious to any student of elementary logic that by voluntarily embarking on the "first step," (following Mitzna/Beilin/Sarid) Israel will make it much easier for the Arabs to take the "last step." However, it is still possible to see a light at the end of the tunnel. In the tumult of the empty Israeli pre-election rhetoric almost no one noticed a uniquely sane pronouncement by Israeli President Moshe Katsav, who said on January 4 in a short radio interview: "I don't see a solution to the problem of terrorism coming from the left nor the right. We need a new strategy. The time has come to examine whether Israel is heading in the right direction." It does not matter if Katsav himself knows what this new direction might be, but by his statement he has inadvertently unveiled the important truth. The road that Israel has been following for fifty four years can bring it only to disaster. The only way to stop the approaching catastrophe of total capitulation and demise is through adopting a Jewish national strategy. This strategy is offered by the united Herut-Yamin Yisrael party. The first ideological principles of its platform state:

"Eretz Yisrael is the eternal, God-given patrimony of the Jewish People. The right of the Jews to settle in all of this land is absolute. Therefore, the Oslo Agreement is null and void and must be explicitly abrogated. Israel's essence as a Jewish State must be the State's paramount principle."

No other Israeli party has so proudly and explicitly announced its Jewish nature, and so clearly said "NO" to an Arab sate on the Jewish land. And now it is up to the Israeli Jews to prove that their Jewish spirit and pride is still alive. They should disregard all the whispers that sow the seeds of doubt in their hearts, by warning them not to waste their votes since Herut has only a marginal chance of making it into the Knesset. The truth is that Herut needs only 50,000 votes to pass the threshold and win two seats. And if it is impossible to find 50,000 Jews in Israel who believe in Israel's essence as a Jewish state, then perhaps the Jews do not deserve to have a state after all.



Boris Shusteff is an engineer. He is also a research associate with the Freeman Center for Strategic Studies.



National Interest, Winter 2002/03


by Daniel Pipes

"When it comes to the Saudi-American relationship, the White House should be called the 'White Tent.'" - Mohammed Al-Khilewi, a Saudi diplomat who defected to the United States. [1]

Consider two symbolic moments in the U.S.-Saudi relationship involving a visit by one leader to the other's country. In November 1990, President George H.W. Bush went to the Persian Gulf region with his wife and top congressional leaders at Thanksgiving time to visit the 400,000 troops gathered in Saudi Arabia, whom he sent there to protect that country from an Iraqi invasion. When the Saudi authorities learned that the President intended to say grace before a festive Thanksgiving dinner, they remonstrated; Saudi Arabia knows only one religion, they said, and that is Islam. Bush acceded, and he and his entourage instead celebrated the holiday on the U.S.S. Durham, an amphibious cargo ship sitting in international waters.

In April 2002, as Crown Prince Abdallah of Saudi Arabia, the country's effective ruler, was about to travel across Texas to visit President George W. Bush, an advance group talked to the airport manager in Waco (the airport serving the President's ranch in Crawford) "and told him they did not want any females on the ramp and also said there should not be any females talking to the airplane."[2] The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) at Waco complied with this request and passed it to three other FAA stations on the crown prince's route, which also complied. Then, when queried about this matter, both the FAA and the State Department joined the Saudi foreign minister in flat-out denying that there ever was a Saudi request for male-only controllers.

The import of these incidents is clear enough: Official Americans in Saudi Arabia bend to Saudi customs, and official Americans in the United States do so as well. And it's not just a matter of travel etiquette; one finds parallel American obsequiousness concerning such issues as energy, security, religion and personal status. The Saudis routinely set the terms of this bilateral relationship. For decades, U.S. government agencies have engaged in a consistent pattern of deference to Saudi wishes, making so many unwonted and unnecessary concessions that one gets the impression that a switch has taken place, with both sides forgetting which of them is the great power and which the minor one. I shall first document this claim, then offer an explanation for it, and conclude with a policy recommendation.

Small-Scale Obsequiousness

U.S. government acceptance of Saudi norms is particularly evident as concerns the treatment of women, children, practicing Christians and Jews.


The U.S. government accepts the unequal treatment of women in connection with Saudi Arabia that it would otherwise never countenance. Two current examples tell the story.

Starting in 1991, the U.S. military required its female personnel based in Saudi Arabia to wear black, head-to-foot abayas. (This makes Saudi Arabia the only country in the world where U.S. military personnel are expected to wear a religiously-mandated garment.) Further, the women had to ride in the back seat of vehicles and be accompanied by a man when off base.

In 1995, Lt. Col. Martha McSally, the highest-ranking female fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force, initiated an effort within the system to end this discriminatory treatment. As she put it, "I'm able to be in leadership positions and fly combat sorties into enemy territory, yet when I leave the base, I hand over the keys to my subordinate men, sit in the back, and put on a Muslim outfit that is very demeaning and humiliating."[3] Not succeeding within the system, McSally went public with a law suit in early 2002. Her complaint points to the violation of her free speech, the separation of church and state and gender discrimination. (Male military personnel not only have no parallel requirements imposed on them but are specifically forbidden from wearing Saudi clothing, and non-military women working for the U.S. government in Saudi Arabia are not expected to wear an abaya.[4])

After McSally filed her law suit, the Department of Defense responded by changing the requirement that women wear abayas off base; it then rescinded the policies on the other two issues (sitting in the back of a vehicle; having a male escort). Yet these were largely cosmetic changes, for women are still "strongly encouraged" to follow the old rules so as to take "host nation sensitivity" into account. The U.S. government continues to purchase and issue abayas. McSally has argued that the military's "strongly encouraged" abayas effectively continue the old regimen, as women who do not wear the Saudi garb fear harm to their careers; so she has continued with her suit. Finally, the House of Representatives in May 2002 voted unanimously to prohibit the Pentagon from "formally or informally" urging servicewomen to wear abayas and forbade the Pentagon from buying abayas for servicewomen. (The Senate has not yet acted on this measure.)

The Executive Branch's weak policy vis-a-vis women's rights has an impact on private institutions, as well, which also discriminate against women. U.S. businessmen and diplomats in Riyadh say the biggest U.S. companies in Saudi Arabia-Exxon, Mobil, Chevron, Texaco and Boeing-do not employ any women. Several other U.S. companies, including Citibank, Saks Fifth Avenue, Philip Morris and Procter & Gamble, have women on their payroll, but they work in offices segregated from men, as is the [Saudi] custom. The Saudis do not disclose employment practices of the more than 100 U.S. companies operating in Saudi Arabia, but American businessmen say that to their knowledge, all the companies follow Saudi mores so they don't jeopardize their investments.

One Western diplomat complains that American businessmen use empty excuses, such as the demands of local laws, there being no place for the women to sit or go to the toilet, and concludes that, "It's just like it was in South Africa."[5]


The pattern of Saudi fathers abducting children from the United States to Saudi Arabia, and then keeping them there with the full agreement of the Saudi authorities, affects at least 92 children of U.S. mothers and Saudi fathers, perhaps many more. In each of these heartbreaking cases, the State Department has behaved with weakness bordering on sycophancy. To be specific, it has accepted the Saudi law that gives the father near-absolute control over the movement and activities of his children and wife (or wives). The department has made no real efforts to signal its displeasure to the Saudi authorities over these cases, much less made vigorous efforts to free the children held against their American families' wishes.

Here are three cases featured at a June 2002 hearing in the House of Representatives, organized by Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN):

Alia (b. 1979) and Aisha (b. 1982) al-Gheshayan, are two girls born in the United States and abducted to Saudi Arabia in 1986 by their father, Khalid al-Gheshayan, in defiance of a U.S. court order. Until this past August, they were not allowed to leave Saudi Arabia and their mother, Pat Roush, has had only a few minutes to visit them over the many years. Both children have now reached adulthood and both have been married off; but as females, they cannot leave the country without their male guardian's protection-first their father, now their husbands.[6] One U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia (Walter Cutler) tried to get the children released, only to be instructed by the State Department to "maintain impartiality" in this dispute, after which his efforts to assist came to an end.[7] A second ambassador (Hume Horan) brought the matter up with a ranking Saudi official but soon after found himself recalled due to Saudi complaints. A third ambassador (Roy Mabus) devised a plan to put pressure on the Gheshayan family to spring the children but, after his departure, the steps he took were all reversed.

Rasheed (b. 1976) and Amjad (b. 1983) Radwan are a boy and girl born in the United States who moved with their parents to Saudi Arabia in 1985. After their father, Nizar Radwan, divorced their mother, Monica Stowers, in 1986, he refused to permit the children to leave the country with her. Stowers left for four years, then returned to take back her children in 1990. In December of that year, she did get them and all three took refuge in the American Embassy, where Stowers desperately sought help to take her children out of the country. Instead, the consul general ordered the Marines to evict mother and children from the premises. Shortly after, the children were taken back to the father and their mother was jailed. Rasheed, being male, could leave Saudi Arabia, which he did in 1996; his sister remains confined there as she enters adulthood.

Yasmine Shalhoub (b. 1986), a girl born in the United States, was abducted by her father to Saudi Arabia in 1997. As her mother, Miriam Hernandez, developed plans to extricate Yasmine from her captivity, the American Embassy made it clear that it would provide no help against the father's wishes. Left on her own, Hernandez did find a way to smuggle Yasmine out in 1999, and she is now back in the United States-no thanks to her diplomatic representatives.

In all three of these cases-and in the many others like them-the U.S. government has singularly failed to stand up for the rights of its most vulnerable citizens.


In Saudi Arabia, the U.S. government submits to restrictions on Christian practices that it would find totally unacceptable anywhere else in the world-starting with the U.S. president's not celebrating Thanksgiving in the Kingdom, as mentioned above. The hundreds of thousands of American troops in Saudi Arabia in December 1990 were not permitted to hold formal Christmas services at their bases on Saudi soil; all that was allowed to them were "C-word morale services" held in places where they would be invisible to the outside world, such as tents and mess halls. The goal was for no Saudi to be made to suffer the knowledge that Christians were at prayer.[8]

At least the soldiers in 1990-91 could hold services, a privilege not normally accorded Americans in Saudi Arabia on official business. Timothy Hunter, a State Department employee based in Saudi Arabia during 1992-95 (a rare source of information from inside the U.S. establishment in Saudi Arabia, and one subjected to reprisals for his whistle-blowing activities), had the job of "monitoring and coordinating the 'Tuesday Lecture' at the Jeddah consulate general-really the Catholic catacomb."[9] (Services in Jeddah, he explains, took place on Tuesday, not Sunday, due to the paucity of clergy and their need to be in other locations on Sundays.) In an article in the Middle East Quarterly, Hunter details the methods he was told to use to discourage Catholic worshippers and the even worse options faced by Protestants:

When Catholic Americans sought permission to worship, I was to receive their telephone inquiries and deflect them by pretending not to know about the "Tuesday Lecture." Only if a person kept calling back and insisting that such a group existed was I to meet with him and get a sense of his trustworthiness. . . . In my time, we never actually admitted anyone. . . . My personal dealings were limited to Catholics. I later learned that others-Protestants, Mormons, and Jews-were denied any sanctuary on the consulate grounds. . . . Non-Catholic Americans were directed to the British Consulate, which both sponsored other religious services and admitted much larger numbers of Catholics. But the U.K. services were full, leaving most American worshippers only the option of holding services on Saudi territory, thereby exposing themselves to potentially violent attack from the Mutawa [the much-feared Saudi religious police].[10]


With Jews, the issue is not freedom of religious practice in Saudi Arabia; it is simply gaining entry to the Kingdom. In several instances over many years, agencies of the U.S. government have excluded Jewish Americans from positions in Saudi Arabia. Hunter explains that a protocol prohibiting Jews being assigned to the Kingdom was signed by the U.S. Embassy in Jeddah and the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as a result of which the State Department avoids sending Jewish employees to reside in Saudi Arabia.[11] Select senior diplomats of Jewish origin may briefly visit the country on official business but "no low or mid-level Jewish-American diplomat was permitted to be stationed/reside in Kingdom" during Hunter's three-year experience. He writes:

When (1993) I worked in the Washington, DC State Department administrative office of the "Near East and South Asia Bureau", it was the duty of the foreign service director of personnel to screen all Foreign Service officers applying for service in KSA [Kingdom of Saudi Arabia] and to "tick" Jewish officers' names using the letter "J" next to the names so that selection panels would not select Jewish diplomats for service in KSA.

I was instructed that there was a diplomatic protocol between the USA and KSA going back "many years" in which the two governments agreed that no Jewish-American U.S. diplomats would be allowed to be stationed in KSA. The KSA government had expressed its opposition to the stationing of U.S. diplomats who were Jewish because it believed all Jewish people, irrespective of nationality, can be considered Israeli spies. I was told that the U.S. government had not disputed the KSA government's assertion. I explained to the State Department's Office of the Inspector General that the existence of such a protocol was an indication of illegal activity since no treaty provision may be executed without the concurrence of the U.S. Senate.[12]

The consequences of the U.S. government's boycott of Jews has on occasion come to light. Congressional hearings in 1975 exposed the fact that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and its subcontractors excluded Jewish (and black) personnel from projects in Saudi Arabia.[13] The Treasury Department issued guidelines in 1976 to help U.S. businesses get around anti-boycott provisions just signed into law. More recently, to prepare its defense in a case brought against it by the Boeing Corporation, the U.S. government hired a Virginia-based contractor, CACI Inc.-Commercial, to send a team to microfilm documents in Saudi Arabia, a task that would take several months. At a November 1991 meeting called by the Air Force, Col. Michael J. Hoover, the chief trial attorney for the Air Force Materiel Command, informed representatives of the Justice Department and CACI Inc.-Commercial that Jews or people with Jewish surnames could not go to Saudi Arabia as part of the microfilming team. On this basis, David Andrew (the senior CACI Inc.-Commercial employee involved in the microfilming project) drafted and Jane Hadden Alperson (Office of Litigation Support, Civil Division, Justice Department, the case manager involved in the microfilming project) edited an "operations plan" in which the "Screening/Selection Process" included the following text:

No Jews or Jewish surnamed personnel will be sent as part of the Document Acquisition Team because of the cultural differences between Moslems and Jews in the Region. . . . No Israeli stamped passport, as per Saudi rules.

As the Justice Department and CACI Inc.-Commercial hired the team to go to Saudi Arabia, "At least one U.S. person was refused a place on the team based on religion or national origin."

After hearing a complaint from the Anti-Defamation League, the Office of Antiboycott Compliance at the Department of Commerce conducted a probe lasting (the unusually long period of) one and a half years. The office reached a settlement on February 27, 1997, in which CACI Inc.-Commercial and the key individuals in each institution (Hoover, Alperson, Andrew) agreed to settle the allegations against them. The individuals were assessed suspended fines and CACI-Commercial paid $15,000. Hoover also received a letter of reprimand. For their part, the Air Force and the Department of Justice "agreed to institute measures to prevent a similar event from happening again."[14] To all this, the New York Daily News acerbically commented, "The Air Force and Justice apologized and promised to abide by the law. That's comforting, since Justice is supposed to uphold the law."[15]

As in the case of women, where the government leads, private organizations follow. Excluding Jews may be in contravention of U.S. law, which states that "U.S. companies cannot rely on a country's customs or local preferences and stereotypes to justify discrimination against U.S. citizens", but it occurs nonetheless.[16] Until 1959, the Arabian American Oil Co. (ARAMCO) had an exemption from New York State's anti-discrimination laws and was permitted to ask prospective employees if they were Jews, on the grounds that Saudi Arabia refused to admit Jews into the country. When this arrangement was challenged in 1959, the New York State Supreme Court derisively condemned this practice. It told ARAMCO, "Go elsewhere to serve your Arab master-but not in New York State", and instructed the State Commission against Discrimination to enforce the ruling against ARAMCO.[17]

World Airways, which boasts of having "pilgrims from more Muslim countries to the Islamic Holy Land than any other airline in the world", was charged in 1975 with demanding a "letter from a church showing membership, or proof of baptism or marriage in a church" from staff traveling to Saudi Arabia.[18] About that same time, Vinnel Corporation excluded personnel with any "contact or interest" in countries not recognized by the Kingdom.[19]

In 1982, two cardiovascular anesthesiologists (Lawrence Abrams and Stewart Linde) brought charges of discrimination against their employer, the Baylor College of Medicine, for excluding them from an exchange program with the King Faisal Hospital in Saudi Arabia due to their being Jewish. The case went to court, and in 1986 the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit agreed with the doctors, finding that "the college intentionally excluded Jews from its beneficial and educational rotation program at Faisal Hospital." The court surmised that Baylor's actions were motivated, at least in part, "by its desire not to 'rock the boat' of its lucrative Saudi contributors."[20]


The Federal government appeases Riyadh when it "meticulously cooperate[s] with Saudi censorship" of mail going to Americans living in the Kingdom:

Mail to U.S. military and official government personnel enters the Kingdom on U.S. military craft, and American officials in Saudi Arabia follow Saudi wishes by seizing and disposing of Christmas trees and decorations and other symbols of the holiday. They seize and destroy Christmas cards sent to (the mostly non-official) Americans who receive their mail through a Saudi postal box, and even tear from the envelope U.S. stamps portraying religious scenes.

It hardly comes as a surprise, then, to hear from Ron Mayfield, Jr., who worked in Saudi Arabia for eight years with the Army Corps of Engineers, ARAMCO, and Raytheon Corp, that while he was working at Raytheon, the mail censors confiscated a photo of his grandmother on her 95[th] birthday, given that this picture contravenes the (episodic) Saudi prohibition of representations of women. More broadly, Mayfield recounts:

On my first tour of Saudi Arabia, working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Americans were ordered to remove all decals and photos of the American flag. . . . With my last employer, providing defensive missiles to the Saudis, officers came through on an inspection and ordered removal of all family photos picturing wives and female children. . . . Customs went through a friend's wallet, confiscating a photo of his wife in hot pants.[21] The Jeddah office of what used to be called the U.S. Information Service, an agency charged with presenting the official American point of view and refuting hostile accounts, was "almost completely staffed by non-U.S. citizens from the Middle East, many of them not friendly to American values and policies", according to Hunter. It "made no effort to counter the systematic, widespread falsehoods in the Saudi media about American society. In some instances, in fact, the USIS actually provided misinformation about U.S. society."[22] The public library at USIS did not stock books critical of the Kingdom or other volumes considered "too sensitive" for Saudi society (such as family health issues). The only books touching on Jews, he reports, were "a small Jewish cookbook" and a great number of anti-semitic tomes, including the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion.[23]

The U.S. government's weak policy can be seen in yet other areas: it does not fight for U.S. scholars or media to get access to the Kingdom; it does not challenge the Saudi refusal to allow American researchers to engage in archaeological excavations; and it provides scant assistance to those unfortunate Americans who get caught up in the Saudi legal system (for something as minor as a fender-bender).

In contrast-and this is a rich subject in its own right-the State Department and other agencies bend over backwards for the Kingdom, for example, going to great lengths to keep secret the specifics of its investments in the United States. And when Saudi nationals living in the United States get in trouble with the law (common charges include various forms of rowdiness, sexual harassment and keeping slaves), they are often granted diplomatic immunity to avoid prosecution, then whisked out of the country. For example, a former U.S. ambassador to Riyadh was dispatched by his Saudi bosses to Miami in April 1982 to keep a Saudi prince from being jailed for altercating with the police by winning him retroactive diplomatic immunity. Or after Princess Buniah al-Saud, a niece of King Fahd, faced charges of battery for having pushed her Indonesian maid down a flight of stairs in her Orlando, Florida house, the maid was conveniently denied a visa by the State Department to return to the United States to testify against the princess. More spectacular was the planeload of bin Ladens permitted to leave the United States immediately after September 11, 2001, before U.S. law enforcement officials could question them. It bears noting, too, that although these examples are limited to individuals and do not touch directly on high policy, they have more than symbolic importance because they set a tone with potentially large implications. In effect, the U.S. government is abetting a profound challenge to American ways by the Islamic mores of Saudi Arabia. McSally, the fighter pilot, explains that putting her in an abaya, requiring that she be escorted and placed in the back seat, has a real psychological effect on military life at U.S. bases in Saudi Arabia, implying that women are inferior and subservient to men.[24]

Large-Scale Obsequiousness

The same obsequiousness that exists on the level of the small-bore and the personal also holds on the grander scale of international politics. Some examples:

*Oil production and embargo: Saudi energy policies in 1973-74 helped cause the worst economic decline since the Great Depression; it was met with appeasement and conciliation, without so much as a whisper of bolder action.

*Lack of cooperation in finding killers of Americans: American officials meekly accepted in 1995 that the Kingdom executed the (dubious) suspects accused of killing five Americans in Riyadh before U.S. law enforcement officials could interrogate them. A year later, the response was similarly mild about the lack of Saudi cooperation in investigating the murder of American troops at Khobar Towers. After 9/11, it was even worse; as one observer puts it, "The Saudis' cooperation with our efforts to track down the financing of Al-Qaeda appears to be somewhere between minimal and zero."[25]

*The spread of militant Islam: "Saudi money-official or not-is behind much of the Islamic-extremist rhetoric and action in the world today", notes Rep. Ben Gilman (R-NY), then chairman of the House International Relations Committee.[26] The assault on September 11, 2001 was basically Saudi in ideology, personnel, organization and funding-but the U.S. government did not signal a reassessment of policy toward Riyadh, much less raise the idea of suing the Saudis for punitive damages.

*Militant Islamic institutions in the United States. U.S. authorities have been lax about the funding of these organizations. Only in March 2002, for example, did Federal agents finally get around to raiding 16 innocuous-looking Saudi-funded institutions such as the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences of Leesburg, Virginia. This problem is widespread and unredressed, as a newspaper editorial from Canada suggests:

[M]any terrorists and terror recruits get their first taste of death-to-the-West Islamic extremism from a Wahhabi imam or centre director in Virginia or London or, presumably, Hamilton or Markham [towns in Canada], whose paycheque is drawn in the Saudi Kingdom. It may not be necessary to add Saudi Arabia to the Axis of Evil, or to invade it. But it will be necessary to engage the Saudi spread of extremism if the war on terrorism is to be won.[27]

*Arab-Israeli conflict: The Bush Administration has pretended that the Abdallah Plan for solving this conflict is a serious proposition, when it is not just patently ridiculous (demanding that Israel retreat to its 1967 borders) but also offensive (clearly envisioning the demographic overwhelming of Israel). Instead of playing unconvincing diplomatic games with Riyadh, the administration should emphasize that the hateful rhetoric and subsidies for suicide bombers must come to an immediate end.

*Human rights and democracy. The usual U.S. commitment to these goals seems to wither when Saudi Arabia is involved. The Kingdom's signed commitments to protect the rights of its subjects are virtually ignored, as are such questions as the rule of law, freedom of speech and assembly, the right to travel, women's rights and religious liberties.

*Absorbing insults and threats. A famous case, dating from the 1970s, when Henry Kissinger attended a state dinner in his honor hosted by King Faisal, set the tone. Kissinger recounts how the king informed him that

Jews and Communists were working now in parallel, now together, to undermine the civilized world as we knew it. Oblivious to my [Jewish] ancestry-or delicately putting me into a special category-Faisal insisted that an end be put once and for all to the dual conspiracy of Jews and Communists. The Middle East outpost of that plot was the State of Israel, put there by Bolshevism for the principal purpose of dividing America from the Arabs.

Kissinger did not confront Faisal but did his best to avoid the whole issue by responding with a question to the king about the palace artwork.[28]

More recently, Crown Prince Abdallah wrote to President Bush in August 2001 stating that

A time comes when peoples and nations part. We are at a crossroads. It is time for the United States and Saudi Arabia to look at their separate interests. Those governments that don't feel the pulse of the people and respond to it will suffer the fate of the Shah of Iran.[29]

This aggressive statement was met not with reproach but with appeasement. And in April 2002, a leading Saudi figure warned that to survive, the Kingdom would contemplate joining with America's worst enemies: if reason of state requires that "we move to the right of bin Laden, so be it; to the left of [Libya's ruler Muammar] Qaddafi, so be it; or fly to Baghdad and embrace Saddam like a brother, so be it."[30] The statement appeared prominently in the U.S. press but had no apparent repercussions on policy. More striking yet are the reports from the summit meeting that followed indicating that Abdallah warned Bush that if he won nothing substantive regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict, "our two countries will go their separate ways."[31]

A Matter of Give and Take

What lies behind this pattern of obsequiousness? Where is the normally robust pursuit of U.S. interests? It is one thing when private companies bend over backwards to please the Saudis (Starbucks in Saudi Arabia does not show the female figure that normally graces its logo), but why does the U.S. government defer to the Kingdom in so many and unique ways?

"Oil" is likely to be the most common explanation proferred, but it does not hold. First, the U.S. government has never cringed before any other major oil supplier as it does to Saudi Arabia. Second, U.S.-Saudi ties have been premised since 1945, when a dying Franklin D. Roosevelt met an aging King Ibn Saud, on an enduring bargain in which Riyadh provides oil and gas to the United States and the world and Washington provides security to Saudi Arabia. Because this deal has even more importance for Saudis than Americans-survival versus energy supplies-oil cannot explain why the U.S. side has consistently acted as a supplicant.

Another possible factor is the proclivity of many Americans to strive to tolerate other people's customs and religious beliefs, which in the Saudi case involves such matters as the total covering of women, public executions and the absence of any pretense of democratic rule. But the lack of reciprocity from the Saudi side, decade after decade, suggests that something else besides an open spirit is at work; no matter how liberal, no one can endure such a one-sided relationship for so long unless there is a payoff.

A hint of that payoff lies in the pre-emptive quality of some U.S. government measures. Note two cases: The requirement that female military personnel wear the abaya was imposed by Americans, not Saudis; the latter did not even raise the subject. Saudi law only requires Westerners to dress conservatively, not to wear Saudi garb. Likewise, the investigation of the Air Force-Justice-caci directive excluding Jews from Saudi Arabia found "no evidence that the restriction was specifically requested by, was required by, or was even known by the Government of Saudi Arabia."[32]

The same behavior exists among private institutions. Again, note two cases: in the 1959 ARAMCO case, it turned out that the oil company was not compelled by the Saudi government to exclude Jews, but did so anyway as a result of what the court termed "informal statements of State Department underlings."[33] Similarly, the judgment regarding the Baylor College of Medicine found that while college officials informed the two Jewish doctors of problems securing visas for Jews, "Baylor never attempted to substantiate that 'problem'", leading the court to doubt "the veracity of those assertions." The court also found no evidence supporting the college's contention that the aversion to Jewish doctors in Saudi Arabia "represented the actual position of the Saudi government." To the contrary, it concluded that Michael E. DeBakey, the school's renowned chancellor, failed to obtain "an authoritative statement of the position of the Saudis" until 1983, more than a year after the doctors had initially filed suit. It observed that there was "no evidence that Baylor even attempted to ascertain the official position of the Saudi government on this issue."[34]

In all four cases, an American in a position of authority over-eagerly imposed regulations he imagined the Saudis would be pleased with-but without checking with them, much less being required to take these particular steps. Why does such a pattern of behavior exist? What could prompt government or hospital staff to run out ahead of the Saudis themselves?

The Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, helpfully hinted at an answer in a statement boasting of his success cultivating powerful Americans. "If the reputation then builds that the Saudis take care of friends when they leave office", Bandar once observed, "you'd be surprised how much better friends you have who are just coming into office."[35] This effective admission of bribery goes far to explain why the usual laws, regulations and rights do not apply when Saudi Arabia is involved. Hume Horan, himself a former U.S. ambassador to the Kingdom, is the great and noble exception to this pattern. He says this of his former colleagues:

There have been some people who really do go on the Saudi payroll, and they work as advisers and consultants. Prince Bandar is very good about massaging and promoting relationships like that. Money works wonders, and if you've got an awful lot of it, and a royal title-well, it's amusing to see how some Americans liquefy in front of a foreign potentate, just because he's called a prince.

Over-the-top support of Saudi interests by former ambassador James E. Akins (who has criticized Arab governments for not being tougher with Washington and despaired that Arabs did not withdraw their money from U.S. banks) has caused him to be described as occasionally appearing "more pro-Arab than the Arab officials."[36]

Several surveys of the post-government careers of ex-U.S. ambassadors to Riyadh all raise eyebrows. Steven Emerson characterizes their behavior as "visceral, overt self-interested sycophancy."[37] National Review finds that the number of them "who now push a pro-Saudi line is startling" and concludes that "no other posting pays such rich dividends once one has left it, provided one is willing to become a public and private advocate of Saudi interests."[38] A National Post analysis looked at five former ambassadors and found that "they have carved out a fine living insulting their own countrymen while shilling for one of the most corrupt regimes on Earth." If you closed your eyes while listening to their apologies, "you would think the person talking held a Saudi passport."[39]

A Washington Post account gives some idea of the nature of the "rich dividends" reaped by former officials:

Americans who have worked with the Saudis in official capacities often remain connected to them when they leave public office, from former president George H.W. Bush, who has given speeches for cash in Saudi Arabia since leaving office, to many previous ambassadors and military officers stationed in the Kingdom. In some cases, these connections have been lucrative. Walter Cutler, who served two tours as the U.S. ambassador in Saudi Arabia, now runs Meridian International Center in Washington, an organization that promotes international understanding through education and exchanges. Saudi donors have been "very supportive" of the center, Cutler said. [Edward] Walker, the former assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, is president of the Middle East Institute in Washington, which promotes understanding with the Arab world. Its board chairman is former senator Wyche Fowler, ambassador to Riyadh in the second Clinton administration. Saudi contributions covered $200,000 of the institute's $1.5 million budget last year, Walker said.[40]

Nor is this a new problem. Many ex-Washington hands have been paid off by the Kingdom, including not only a bevy of former ambassadors but also such figures as Spiro T. Agnew, Jimmy Carter, Clark Clifford, John B. Connally and William E. Simon.[41]

The heart of the problem is an all-too-human one, then: Americans in positions of authority bend the rules and break with standard policy out of personal greed. In this light, Hunter's report on the three main U.S. government goals in Saudi Arabia begins to make sense: strengthen the Saudi regime, cater to the Saud royal family, and facilitate U.S. exports. All of these fit the rubric of enhancing one's own appeal to the Saudis. So, too, does Hunter's comment that "the U.S. mission is so preoccupied with extraneous duties-entertainment packages for high-level visitors, liquor sales, and handling baggage for VIP visitors" that it has scant time to devote to the proper concerns of an embassy. Likewise, his long list of high-profile ex-officials who visited Saudi Arabia during his sojourn (Jimmy Carter, George McGovern, Colin Powell, Mack McLarty, Richard Murphy) and "who were feted and presented with medals and gifts at closed ceremonies with the Saudi monarch" also fits the pattern.[42]

This culture of corruption in the Executive Branch renders it quite incapable of dealing with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the farsighted and disinterested manner that U.S. foreign policy requires. That leaves Congress with the responsibility to fix things. The massive pre-emptive bribing of American officials requires urgent attention. Steps need to be taken to ensure that the Saudi revolving-door syndrome documented here be made illegal. That might mean that for ten years or more after having extensive contacts with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, an official may not receive funds from that source. Only this way can U.S. citizens regain confidence in those of their officials who deal with one of the world's more important states.

[1] Quoted in "Statement by Patricia M. Roush before the Committee on Government Reform, U.S. House of Representatives", June 12, 2002, p. 3.

[2] An executive engagaed in running the Waco airport, quoted in the Dallas Morning News, April 27, 2002

[3] Fox News, March 1, 2002

[4] CNN, April 25, 2002.

[5] USA Today, May 13, 2002.

[6]. The State Department's unwillingness to stand up for U.S. citizens held in Saudi Arabia was highlighted in August 2002: at the precise moment when Rep. Burton was leading a congressional delegation to Riyadh to seek the release of abducted Americans, the Gheshayan sisters surfaced in London "on vacation" and met with an American consular official-not in the U.S. embassy, but in a luxury hotel overflowing with high-powered Saudis and their American employees. There they ostensibly renounced the United States and their mother, even as they praised Osama bin Laden. The State Department rejected accusations that the sisters were coerced or under duress during this meeting, or at any time during their stay in London. This was despite the questionable role of the translator, a strong possibility that Saudis were listening in on the conversation (and the likelihood that the sisters knew it), and the failure of U.S. diplomats to inform the two of their rights as American citizens to travel freely, without exit visas or prior permission from anyone

[7] Quoted in "Statement by Patricia M. Roush", p. 17

[8] The State Department remembers the Operation Desert Storm era quite differently-as a time of "U.S.-Saudi cooperation in the areas of cultural accommodation." Here is its idea of balance: "The United States military issued general orders prohibiting the consumption of alcohol and setting guidelines for off-duty behavior and attire. Saudi Arabia accommodated U.S. culture and its military procedures by allowing U.S. servicewomen to serve in their varied roles throughout the Kingdom-a major step for a highly patriarchal society." See "Background Note: Saudi Arabia" at

[9] On Hunter, see Martin Edwin Andersen, "Whistle-blowers keep the faith", Insight, February 11, 2002.

[10] Timothy N. Hunter, "Appeasing the Saudis", Middle East Quarterly, March 1996.

[11] Letters to the author, June 24 and 25, 2002

[12] Letter to the author, June 9, 2002

[13] Steven Emerson, The American House of Saud: The Secret Petrodollar Connection (New York: Franklin Watts, 1985), p. 70.

[14] Office of Antiboycott Compliance, Department of Commerce, "CACI/USAF/DOJ/Hoover/ Alperson/Andrew." For another case that was not litigated, see Journal of Commerce, March 7, 1997.

[15] New York Daily News, March 10, 1997.

[16] Jordan W. Cowman, "U.S. companies doing business abroad must follow U.S. and host country labor and employment laws", New Jersey Law Journal, August 4, 1997. Of course, such cases arise in other countries, too. "A subsidiary of the Manitoba Telephone System, MTS, became embroiled in a controversy in the 1980s when it became known one contract stipulation for upgrading the Saudi telephone system required the exclusion of Jewish MTS employees." The Gazette (Montreal), February 7, 2001.

[17] 19 Misc. 2d 205; 190 N.Y.S.2d 218; 1959 N.Y. Misc

[18] Emerson, The American House of Saud, p. 69.

[19] Ibid.

[20] 805 F.2d 528; 1986 U.S. App.

[21] Roanoke Times, February 17, 2002.

[22] Hunter, "Appeasing the Saudis."

[23] Letter to the author, June 24, 2002.

[24] Washington Post, January 1, 2002.

[25] Michael Barone, U.S. News & World Report, June 3, 2002.

[26] Associated Press, May 22, 2002

[27] Edmonton Journal, May 31, 2002.

[28] Henry Kissinger, Years of Upheaval (Boston: Little, Brown, 1982), p. 661.

[29] Wall Street Journal, October 29, 2001.

[30] New York Times, April 25, 2002.

[31] Confidential sources, April 2002.

[32] Office of Antiboycott Compliance, Department of Commerce

[33] 19 Misc. 2d 205; 190 N.Y.S.2d 218; 1959 N.Y. Misc.

[34] 805 F.2d 528; 1986 U.S. App.

[35] Washington Post, February 11, 2002.

[36] Emerson, The American House of Saud, p. 250.

[37] Emerson, The American House of Saud, p. 263.

[38] Rod Dreher, "Their Men in Riyadh", National Review, June 17, 2002.

[39] Matt Welch, "Shilling for the House of Saud", The National Post, August 24, 2002

[40] Washington Post, February 11, 2002.

[41] Emerson, The American House of Saud, chaps. 7, 13, 19.

[42] Hunter, "Appeasing the Saudis."

 HOME  Maccabean  comments