Arab strategy centers on confounding their enemies and their friends - with words which they do not consider contractually binding. We Americans would characterize this as simply lying to gain an objective. They have an objective to be gained and will use any means including words of agreements.
For example, Arafat is viewed by the terrorist movement, Hamas, and other Arab leaders as making only personal commitments to Israel, NOT binding on his successors nor the Palestinian people. When Arafat dies or retires, those temporary commitments die with him. For Muslims who follow the Koran it is a perfect solution to dealing with their enemies - nothing is binding.
We often hear Arafat and other Arab leaders quoting Mohammed on the Hudaibiya Treaty allowing the Jewish Koreish Tribe of Mecca to be free to practice their religion. Two years later when he was stronger militarily, Mohammed led an army back and slaughtered the Koreishi Jews and conquered Mecca. This is an important story which appears in the Koran and has been used as the symbol of the Islamic principle that agreements and treaties with non-Moslems may be violated at will. This applies to business, personal life and politics.
Arafat revealed his obeisance to this Islamic principle in Johannesburg, May 10,1994 when he said: "I'm not considering it [Oslo] more than the agreement which has been signed in 628 [CE] between our prophet Mohammed and the tribe of Koreish." Arafat often says that the Olso Agreement is the same as the Koraish Treaty. How long will it take for the Israelis to grasp Arafat's truthful and revealing statement that he would do to Israel what Mohammed did to the Koraish?
Western diplomats and Israelis who struggle so hard with the language of these agreements would be shocked to learn that when agreements are made, especially with Westerners, they're viewed as merely temporary commitments. They're limited to the life of the man who made them - or to his any whim to abrogate. Arafat kept none of the Oslo or Hebron Agreements but, still there's the perception that there's some line over which Arafat will not cross. Naive Israelis will and should be shocked when Arafat crosses that last 'red line' and gives another 'green light' for terror against Israelis to resume.
But, Arafat will also be discarded as a necessary sacrifice when the Palestinians and the Arab nations cancel his peace agreements with the Jews because they will say he betrayed Islam. Oslo became extinct before the ink was dry. It is only a matter of time until they publicly confirm its termination. As for President Clinton and the Arabist State Department, they've already discounted Arafat's compliance and have turned a blind eye to abrogated agreements which US Presidents co-signed as guarantors.
Even now there is a dreamlike avoidance by some Israelis pretending that Arafat would keep his word to cease terror but would not keep his Islamic pledge to kill the Jews. American Jewish leaders are too willing to ignore Arafat's words of war. At the beginning I said that words are not binding. I should have said that some words can be binding such as promising Allah in the name of Mohammed that a vow to kill the Jews and achieve an Islamic warrior's heaven are binding. Other words said specifically to the infidel (non-believer) are just so much air which is blown away by the desert wind.
To placate the West, Arab leaders and terrorists have allowed Arafat to speak words of peace to get whatever Israel was willing to give up but will, at some point, kill Arafat to trigger the rejection of everything Arafat agreed to. He will be denounced for giving up concessions to the Zionist enemy. All agreements signed by Arafat will be declared officially null and void by the new Palestinian Government.
Nothing tangible will remain of the agreements except the real territory Israel gave up to buy peace from terrorists . The United Nations will look the other way and vote a bill which will rationalize and justify the abrogation of all agreements with Israel. Words within agreements are simply not binding within the Arab world. Even the dovish Shimon Peres said that the Arabs broke every one of the 357 agreements they made with each other in this century. If you are a Muslim and defender of the faith, breaking commitments for the sake of Allah is an act of absolute faith. More than that it is a regional tactic which allows a Muslim to talk to peace in order to gain time and sufficient strength to attack his enemies. This saying says it all: "Kiss the hand of your enemy until you can cut it off."
Regrettably, the greatest of practitioners of reality avoidance are the Israeli and the American Jews. Even as every letter of every agreement is broken, too often accompanied by bloody casualties, there are Israelis who close their eyes and say: "It can't be happening." Perhaps it's a genetic flaw as we recall how Jews were pleaded with to flee Hitler's armies, only to respond..."It will be alright, nothing to worry about." Even as the round-ups began and the killing machine came into full view, the Jews too often refused to save themselves. And then it was too late.
When the secret Oslo Agreement was first exposed, the Left Wing crafters (the Labor and Meretz Parties) told the public that, if the transfer of Gaza and Jericho experiment failed, the Land for Peace formula would end. Instead, the Leftists fell into silence as the casualties mounted. Since the signing of Oslo September 1993 almost 300 innocent men, women and children have been brutally murdered and many thousands injured, some maimed for life. Their partner in Nobel Prizes, Arafat did nothing to stop terror - even giving the "green light" for suicide bombings. The Jewish Leftists said the dead Jews were merely "sacrifices for peace" and we must urgently give up more land, more holy sites, more water just in order to keep the process moving. Why?
Clearly, the Leftist apologists were so enamored of their day in the Washington sun on the White House lawn and receiving Noble Prizes in Stockholm that, even when all failed, they refused to acknowledge failure of the so-called "Peace Process".
Many American Jewish leaders were even more obtuse and virtually blind. As Arafat left a trail of broken commitments behind him, many self-styled Jewish leaders kept bleating for a peace that we would never have. Can wishes be so seductive that even as they vanish some pretend they still see a glow - like a mirage? For gullible Jews, the mere promise of peace obscures all else - even as they are led to the gallows. So, what is a Jew and a Jewish State to do? During World War II, Jews could not believe that the Germans and those countries they captured where Jews had lived and helped them prosper for centuries would possibly kill them off.
Now we see many of these same nations, in the United Nations, making common cause with an implacable Arab enemy whose only priority for the glory of Islam is to kill off the Jews Hitler missed. Even more regrettable, we see a super-power as a dedicated Democracy under a corrupt Administration, join hands with terrorists and terrorist nations to destroy the only outpost of Democracy in the Middle East. Clinton and his State Department has done everything possible to savage Israel while pretending friendship. The least Jews can do is to work to throw Clinton and Gore out of office.
Remember, for Arabs and Muslims, words of agreement are not binding and, regrettably, that might also be true of Clinton's dealings with Israel.
Let us recall the cold peace made by the Egyptian President Sadat. After spending days at Camp David with Menachem Begin pouring over every detail the agreement, Sadat got back the entire Sinai. When it came time for Egypt to honor her commitments for normalization, they reneged on almost everything. Even today we hear President Mubarak telling the world that the cold peace would now become ice. 10 years after Camp David was signed Mubarak declared it null and void. This statement was ignored then and ever since. Islam mandates that you may make a peace agreement with your enemy until you are strong enough to take back by force what you gave up for that agreement or in ten years - whichever comes first.
Once again, words are not binding on Arabs, whether they are Egyptians, Iranians or Palestinians.
Remember: They say what they mean and they mean what they say.
Emanuel A. Winston is a Middle East analyst & commentator and a research associate of the Freeman Center For Strategic Studies.