By Louis Rene Beres

Professor, Department of Political Science, Purdue University

In his timely work, The Firebugs, Swiss playwright Max Frisch tells the distressing story of Gottlieb Biedermann, a cautious businessman who contends with an epidemic of arson by implementing a deadly series of self-deceptions. Ultimately, Biedermann invites the arsonists into his home, lodges them, feeds them a sumptuous dinner, and even provides them with matches. Not surprisingly, the play ends, for Biedermann, on an incendiary note. It also ends, predictably, with a pathetic and revolting disclaimer from an academic "expert" who has counseled appeasement all along.

There is an enormously important lesson here for present-day Israel, especially after the latest Tel-Aviv Purim bombing. Faced with an epidemic of "arson" from militant Islamic terrorists, Jerusalem has responded exactly like the playwright's weak and foolish character. Asking the terrorists into Israel's very "home," because it believes that entreaty and capitulation are preferable to courage and struggle, the Government of Israel, too, is prepared even to help light the fuse. Pretending that Hamas and P.L.O. are truly distinct and discrete - a delusionary pretense that fits comfortably with the simple polarities favored by so many Israeli experts, professors and pundits - Prime Minister Netanyahu still looks to his "Palestinian partners" for Israel's security and survival. It should come as a surprise to no one, therefore, that "arson" has become a growing problem for Israel, one that may soon culminate in chemical, biological or even nuclear terrorism.

To a significant extent, the terrible harm that has been done by Netanyahu's immediate predecessors is done and cannot be undone. Indeed, by creating the conditions whereby each successive act of anti-Israel terrorism compelled a groveling Government to reaffirm its commitment to the so-called Peace Process, Messrs. Rabin and Peres created a lose-lose scenario. Should Netanyahu now continue with the policy of incremental surrenders, the enemies of Israel will proceed with their carefully constructed strategy of attrition and annihilation. If, however, Netanyahu should now stand firm, refusing further Arab demands for Israel's auto- destruction, Yasser Arafat - recently celebrated at the White House - will authorize increasingly murderous attacks on Jewish women and children.

What, then, should be done? It is time to be frank! For Israel, this Peace Process was destined to fail. Founded upon a series of false assumptions and incomprehensibly unreasonable expectations, it has always been an Arab Trojan Horse leading Israel toward certain disaster. Taken together with ongoing and still planned surrenders of vital territories to enemy states, further concessions to Hamas/P.L.O. will threaten Third Temple Commonwealth survival. For those who still believe that Hamas is an enemy of P.L.O., it is time to acknowledge the former's primary policy statement: "The P.L.O. is among the closest to Hamas, for it constitutes a father, a brother, a relative, a friend. Can a Muslinm turn away from his father, a brother, a relative or his friend? Our homeland is one, our calamity is one, our destiny is one and our enemy is common to both of us."

Jerusalem's "Palestinian partners" are already at the fuse. As long as their Trojan Horse remains within Israel's gates, the P.L.O. will make it impossible for Israel to do what is needed to survive. In this connection, Arafat fully intends to keep all of his genocidal promises to the Jewish State.

On January 30, 1996, speaking to forty Arab diplomats at the Grand Hotel in Stockholm, Arafat's topic was "The Impending Total Collapse of Israel." Said Arafat: "We Palestinians will take over everything, including all of Jerusalem../..../..All the rich Jews who will get compensation will travel to America../..../..We of the P.L.O. will now concentrate all our efforts on splitting Israel psychologically into two camps. Within five years we will have six to seven million Arabs living on the West Bank and in Jerusalem../..../..You understand that we plan to eliminate the State of Israel and to establish a purely Palestinian State../..../..I have no use for Jews; they are and remain Jews."

At the end of The Firebugs, in the closing moments of the play, as the sky reddens from fire, the all-too-familiar "professor," the expert, exclaims:

I can no longer be silent. Cognizant of the events now transpiring, whose evil nature must be readily apparent, the undersigned submits to the authorities the subsequent statement../..../..(Amid the shrieking of sirens, he reads an involved statement, of which no one understands a word. Dogs howl. Bells ring. There is the scream of departing sirens and the crackling of flames. The Professor hands Biedermann a paper.) I disassociate myself!

There is a very important lesson here for Israel. The Jewish State must cease immediately to arm the arsonists. The Jewish State must cease immediately to follow the armchair academic "strategists" who have devised and handed over the blueprints for arson. The citizens of Israel should recall immediately the Charter of Hamas: "I swear by that who holds in His Hands the Soul of Muhammad! I indeed wish to go to war for the sake of Allah! I will assault and kill, assault and kill, assault and kill."

The citizens of Israel should read immediately The Firebugs.


Louis Rene Beres (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) happens to be a professor, but is assuredly not an "expert." He was also born in Switzerland, in Zurich, hometown of the playwright Max Frisch.

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