Is Now The Time For Peace In The Middle East?

Posted: March 14, 1991

The world is demanding a settlement to the nearly 43-year-old dispute between Israel and its Arab neighbors, as well as resolution of the ''Palestinian problem."

As Secretary of State James Baker visits the region (and Israel for the first time), some "experts" are saying there has never been a better opportunity to reach an accord than in the aftermath of the war with Iraq during which "moderate" Arab nations aligned themselves with the West.

This is a dangerous and inaccurate conclusion. The problem is not a few hundred square miles of land that make up the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but the attitude of Arabs about the very existence of Israel and Jews.

Arab literature, schoolbooks and public pronouncements are filled with hatred and animosity toward Jews. A Kuwaiti newspaper, Al-Qabas, described Jews in 1989 as "human scum" and persons in whom "treachery is inbred." Abhorrence to the very existence of Jews is commonly read in all Arab countries, including Egypt, which is officially at peace with Israel but whose opposition media continue to convey the worst anti-Semitic epithets.

As Karl von Clausewitz noted more than a century and a half ago, hostile

emotions mean hostile intentions. The hostile emotions have not subsided. It is unlikely the Gulf War has caused a reduction in the hostile intentions.

During the war, the PLO and its allies urged Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to attack Israel and its civilian population. Can the PLO be considered a legitimate representative of the Palestinian people? If so, the true intentions of the Palestinian people must be viewed as identical to those of PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, who said Dec. 31: "We will answer the Zionist enemy and say to him in 1991: a land without the Israeli or Zionist people. This land is Arab, Arab, Arab, Palestinian in her face and Arab in her heart . . ."

How safe would Israel be next to a Palestinian state with Arafat, or someone like him, as president committed to an all-Arab "Palestine?"

But Palestine is a side issue. The real issue is whether Arab nations are willing to make peace with the sovereign nation of Israel. As national security affairs expert Steven Emerson has written, "The Palestinians are not interested in or capable of living in peace with the Israelis. Most Palestinians have sheer hatred for Jews."

The idea of "land for peace" is foreign to the Islamic world. Terms precious to the West, such as "human rights," "civil rights," ''democracy," "free elections," "self-determination" and "peace," are not practiced in any Arab nation.

Instead of pressuring Israel with "land for peace" formulas, the United States ought to be concentrating on the real needs of the Arab world: overcoming ignorance, fanaticism, hate, exploitation by their fellow Arabs; proper development of their resources; advancing agricultural and water projects, and so on.

President Bush was right to call for compromise, but his hint that Israel ought to be compromising ignores who is the predator and who is the potential meal.

The Arab nations have lost every war they have launched against Israel. Each was for the purpose of occupying all of Israel and driving every Jew to his grave or into the sea. Each time the Arab nations lost, they came back to try again.

Israel is not so fortunate. It has only to lose one war.

It is worth remembering a line from the Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement: "There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors . . . The land of Palestine is . . . consecrated for future Muslim generations until Judgment Day."

There's an attitude that will take more than one visit by Secretary of State Baker to change.

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