"It is crucial [for Israel] to distinguish between terrorists and ordinary Palestinians seeking to provide for their families," President Bush advised Israel in his April 4 Rose Garden address. "The Israeli government should be compassionate at checkpoints and border crossings, sparing innocent Palestinians daily humiliation."
Israel would be delighted to be able to distinguish between terrorists and innocents. Unfortunately, the President neglected to provide any advice on precisely how to make that distinction.
There is no such thing as a Palestinian above suspicion. Last January, Wafa Idris became the first Palestinian woman suicide bomber. Copycats were not long in coming. During Pesach, an 18-year-old Palestinian girl blew herself up in Jerusalem’s Kiryat Yovel neighborhood. Last week, Israeli security forces arrested a woman in Tulkarm (one day after the Israeli pullback from the city), who was planning to carry her deadly load into Israel disguised as a pregnant woman. Two days later, a 17-year Palestinian succeeded with the same ruse, smuggling a "baby" of ten kilograms of explosives into Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehudah market, where she killed 6 and injured 65 more, six of them critically. It is now believed that the ambush in Jenin in which 13 Israeli soldiers lost their lives was triggered by a suicide bomber in his early teens at most.
Just as there are no people above suspicion, so are there no vehicles that don’t need to be searched. Idris was ferried to Jerusalem in a Red Crescent ambulance. Recently an explosive belt was discovered underneath a six-year-old Palestinian ostensibly being taken to hospital by a Palestinian ambulance.
Security checkpoints are an inevitable consequence of Israel’s inability to tell which "innocent" Palestinian workman or woman is today’s suicide bomber. And those checkpoints will inevitably be slow-moving, humiliating affairs, especially when every vehicle must be thoroughly searched and explosive belts can be transported under every type of clothing.
THE dichotomy drawn by the President between innocent Palestinians and terrorists will not bear scrutiny. This is not a conventional war between two armies, but something entirely new: a war between two populations. Almost every Palestinian is a potential suicide bomber and every Jew living in Israel a potential target.
Over the nine years since Oslo, Arafat has whipped the Palestinian population into a frenzy of hatred. True, not every Palestinian is yet ready to strap an explosive belt to his or her body, but the overwhelming majority of the Palestinian population supports suicide bombings. Spontaneous celebrations invariably break out in Palestinian towns after every "successful" suicide bombing. Parents of suicide bombers rejoice in their offspring’s heroic actions, and tell the eager Palestinian media of their hopes that their remaining children will follow a similar path.
Palestinian opinion polls consistently find support for suicide bombings against Jewish targets hovering around 75%. Let the United States take note, a November 2000 poll by Bir Zeit University researchers showed an equal level of support for suicide attacks on American targets. And the official Palestinian paper Al Hayat editorialized on September 11 that `Palestinian suicide bombers are the noble successors of . . . the Lebanese suicide bombers who taught the U.S. Marines a tough lesson [killing 241 in a suicide bombing of a Marine barracks in 1983]."
ALL the President’s lectures to Arafat for not having done enough to stop terrorism presume that somehow Arafat is on one side and the terrorists on the other. That too is preposterous. Arafat is the father of modern terrorism, and has never renounced its use. The PLO was formed in 1964, three years before Israel took possession of the West Bank and Gaza. In its first major action, the same year, a PLO guerrilla squad attempted to blow up an Israeli pumping station. The goal: to provoke an Israeli retaliation that would ignite a pan-Arab offensive against the Jewish state. Nearly forty years later, Arafat continues to pursue the same strategy. Only today suicide bombings are the trigger with which he seeks to ignite a full-scale war involving all the Arab states.
The Palestinian Authority media, which is fully controlled by Arafat, plays a major role in the creation of the Palestinian death cult. Moslem clergy appointed and supported by the Palestinian Authority regularly broadcast sermons on PA television extolling martyrdom as the highest goal of the faithful and suicide bombings as the highest form of martyrdom. Last Friday’s TV sermon proclaimed the belief "that one day we shall enter Jerusalem as conquerors, Jaffa as conquerors, Ramle and Lod . . . and all of Palestine as conquerors.
The preacher then castigated "whoever has not merited martyrdom in these times," calling on them "to rise in the night and call out, `My Lord, why have you denied me martyrdom."’ That reproach to all those who are not yet martyrs echoed Arafat’s response to the Seder night massacre in Netanya (as quoted in the Washington Post), "Give me martyrdom like this."
Calendars and posters glorifying suicide bombers sprout after every attack. Documents found in Arafat’s compound reveal that the Palestinian Authority pays directly for the publicity when the suicide bombers are members of the Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade. Three days after Arafat condemned suicide bombings against Israeli civilians in a February 3 New York Times op-ed piece, his Fatah movement sponsored a demonstration of elementary school girls caring posters of Wafa Idris, the first woman suicide bomber.
The Palestinian Authority’s support for the terror apparatus goes far beyond mere moral support. IDF commanders in Operation Defensive Shield confess to being amazed by the quantity and sophistication of the bomb-making laboratories uncovered. Such a vast terrorist network could not have been established and maintained without the active complicity of Arafat at every step.
The connection between Arafat and the terrorist infrastructure, however, is no longer just a matter of logical inference. In the past three months, more than half of the suicide bombers were dispatched by groups under Arafat’s direct authority: the Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade and Fatah-Tanzim. Asked by the New York Times’ Joel Brinkley whether Arafat had ever asked them to cease suicide bombings, Naser Badawi, a political leader of the Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade, answered in the negative.
Israeli searches of Arafat’s compound turned up the "smoking gun" linking the Palestinian Authority directly to the terrorist network. Prime Minister Sharon read in the Knesset last week two requests for funding from leading terrorists on which Arafat had affixed his personal approval. A third document, which the Prime Minister did not read, is from the Tulkarm district commander of the PA’s General Intelligence Service to a superior. The local commander sings the praises of a squad that succeeded in killing six Jews at a bat mitzvah party, and boasts of that squads close cooperation with the Palestinian General Intelligence Service.
ARAFAT has not only enlisted nearly the entire Palestinian population as active combatants or enthusiastic supporters of terror attacks on Israel, he has targeted every sector of the Jewish population, regardless of sex, age, and geography. Those attacks have been calculated with fiendish precision.
Demography is one of the weapons upon which Palestinians rely for their ultimate victory, and they have therefore deliberately targeted Jewish mothers and children. Of Jewish motorists killed in drive-by shootings and by snipers, a disproportionate percentage have been women. The suicide bomber who plunged last month into a group of mothers pushing baby strollers, in Jerusalem’s Beit Yisrael neighborhood, committed the ideal atrocity from the Palestinian point of view.
The large number of recent suicide attacks on restaurants and cafes in the heart of Israel’s major cities have been designed to deprive the Jews of Israel of any semblance of a normal life or the enjoyment of leisure activities of any kind. The Chol HaMoed attacks on an Arab-run restaurant in Haifa and on a health care clinic in Efrat later the same day carried an additional message to Arabs and Jews alike: No attempt at peaceful coexistence will be tolerated by the Palestinian Authority.
The Efrat health clinic serves Arabs from surrounding villages, as well as the residents of Efrat. When Arabs from those villages recently told a camera crew from Russian-TV of their gratitude to Efrat for extending quality medical coverage to them, the Palestinian Authority could no longer tolerate the use of the health care center by Arabs.
Finally, the Seder night massacre, which left 27 Jews dead, was an expression of absolute contempt for everything Jewish.
Arafat is close to realizing his vision of a total war in which everybody is a combatant, whether willingly on the Palestinian side, or unwillingly on the Jewish side. His guiding vision has always been a Palestine free of all Jews. While the Jewish population of Eretz Yisrael has, in the main, long since accepted that they will have to coexist with a large Arab population, Arafat and his people view of the future is much simpler terms: only one people will survive on this narrow strip of land.
Until the Palestinians are forced to renounce their belief in such an "it’s us or them" resolution, there can be no hope of peace. President Bush’s failure to adequately address the core of the problem, and to focus instead on a distinction between "innocent" Palestinians and terrorists, which bears no relation to the realities on the ground, will not force them to do so.
Related Topics: Peace Process
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