Monday, December 03, 2001
Terror visited Israel once again this weekend. A series of terror attacks left 26 Israelis dead and more than 100 wounded. In the next few days the death toll is likely to rise as many of the seriously injured succumb to their wounds. The Islamic militant group Hamas claimed responsibility for the attacks and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat did his, by now, predictable dance of condemning the attacks and rounding up the usual suspects and throwing them in jail. Of course, if the past proves to be a good predictor of what is to come, then in the coming weeks: the people Arafat just had arrested will be back out on the street; Israel will retaliate by blowing up some more Hamas leaders; more misguided young Arab men will tie explosives to themselves and kill innocent Israelis.
Jews and Arabs have been killing each other for thousands of years. Read the Bible. It's not going to stop anytime soon, especially when you have the kind of indoctrination into a cult of hatred as what occurs in Arab and Muslim schools throughout the Middle East. Maps in geography books in Palestinian schools don't have Israel anywhere in them. Instead are the Arabic words: "Occupied Palestine."
I think the violence will get worse before it gets better. The best chance for peace was at the end of the Clinton administration, when then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Arafat practically everything he wanted -- and Arafat turned his back and started a new intifada.
Arafat and his Palestinian Authority are corrupt, despotic rulers of the Palestinian people. They maintain power only because of U.S. funding and Israeli tolerance. The Palestinian Authority is not universally popular, Hamas and Hezbollah are supported by a great many Palestinians. Arafat is in a tight spot. If he makes peace with Israel, Hamas and Hezbollah will have him killed. If he cracks down on those two terror organizations, he will likely be killed in that battle too. Arafat will continue to walk this tightrope between the Palestinian terrorist organizations and Israel for the rest of his life -- which may not be very long.
The only bit of good news to come out of these attacks, and that's unfortunate considering how many had to die and be injured to achieve this, is that the U.S. government is not urging Israel to restrain its military. It was hypocritical in the extreme these past few months for us to prosecute a war on terrorists, but to tell Israel it must not. Our government should be supporting Israel in its own war on terror.