Vol: 23 Issue: 29 Friday, August 29, 2003
Since the beginning of the week, Hamas cells fired 14 Kassam rockets at communities in the Gaza Strip and inside the Green Line. On Sunday, one landed on Zikim Beach near Ashkelon. IDF officers noted that, since the so-called cease-fire, 24 Kassam rockets have been fired at Israeli settlements and towns.
An Israeli man was killed this morning by Palestinian gunmen when he and his pregnant wife were ambushed at the Alon Junction near the Kochav Hashachar settlement. The attack was so vicious that the car was turned over by the hail of bullets.
Also in the Gaza Strip, Israeli border police bomb disposal crews blew up two bombs containing 120 kilograms of explosives near Ganei Tal.
Shots were fired at a convoy leaving Netzarim and at soldiers deployed near Rafah. On Wednesday night, 13 mortar shells and two anti-tank rockets were fired at communities in the Gaza Strip. One of the mortar shells hit the Kfar Darom museum, causing extensive damage.
A mortar shell was fired at a community in Gush Katif. Shots were fired at soldiers Jenin, and two bombs were thrown at troops in the Balata refugee camp in Nablus.
Hamas says the attacks are in revenge for the killing of the planners of the bus bomb attack. To the Arab world indeed, to most of the world, it is the Israeli retaliation for the attack that broke the ceasefire and not the Hamas attack on the Jerusalem bus itself.
That attack, it is important to remember, was an unprovoked attack on a busload of Israeli civilians mostly women and children, that killed 21 and maimed and wounded another 136.
Yesterday, after Palestinian Kassam rockets reached as far as the southern city of Ashkelon, Israel grimly warned that such attacks crossed “a red line.” Is an attack that takes, say, fewer than 20 victims a tolerable situation?
The European Union as a whole has decided that Hamas is NOT a terrorist organization. Well, maybe the guy who blew up the bus was a terrorist, goes the thinking, but Hamas has a military wing and a political wing.
So the EU concluded that the political wing isn t terrorism, meaning, Hamas isn t really a terrorist organization, it is an organization that has some terrorists in it.
Hamas knows it has some terrorists within its ranks, which it trains to be terrorists in terrorist camps funded by money from the political wing — which the EU says are not terrorists. Got all that?
This is the same logic that has hamstrung Israel concerning Yasser Arafat. Arafat has had ten years to figure out a way to make peace with Israel. Israel offered Arafat everything he had ever asked for at Camp David, and Arafat turned it down.
Nobody believes that Arafat has any intention of making peace with Israel. Everybody who has an IQ above room temperature in an igloo knows that Arafat is dedicated to Israel s destruction. He has thrown away chance after chance to achieve his alleged twin goals of Palestinian statehood and peaceful coexistence with Israel.
Had Arafat accepted the offer at Camp David in 1998, there would already be a UN member state called Palestine. But Arafat would not be its leader and he knows that.
What would a peaceful, legitimized state of Palestine need a terrorist mastermind for?
From Israel, we hear that Arafat is both irrelevant and a mastermind of terrorism. From the US, we hear that Israel must take no steps to deport or assassinate Arafat, because this would undermine Abbas.
The principal reason the US opposes the forcible removal of Arafat is because it is not convinced something better will fall into place. Better the devil you know, than the devil you don’t, as the saying goes.
Israel’s view is more or less the same, compounded by fear of international reaction. The European Union, and in particular the French, continue to insist that Yasser Arafat is the only legitimate leader of the Palestinian people.
Both Javier Solana and Dominique de Villepin continue to make pilgrimages to Arafat s Ramallah compound to conduct meetings with the old terrorist.
The EU just issued a letter urging the US administration to abandon all attempts aimed at sidelining the Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat as the group of 15 European states believes that all such maneuvers are hampering the implementation of the Middle East Roadmap to peace. It went on to say it also expects Israeli leaders to drop their policy of declaring Arafat “irrelevant.”
(Note that is NOT the terrorist attacks that hamper peace, but Israeli refusal to negotiate with the terrorists.)
Following a recent meeting with Kofi Annan, Colin Powell called on Arafat directly, saying, “I call on Chairman Arafat to work with Prime Minister Abbas and to make available to Prime Minister Abbas those security elements that are under his control so that they can allow progress to be made on the road map — end terror, end this violence that just results in the further repetition of the cycle that we’ve seen so often.”
This is a significant turn of events for Arafat, since it obliquely recognizes that he, and not Abbas, is the one in control, and therefore the one who is really in charge, and that the US may soon stop pretending he isn t.
Which leaves Israel with just two choices. Re-engage with Yasser Arafat diplomatically, or remove him from the equation permanently. In either case, Israel loses.
It is an absurd situation inexplicable from any human point of view. The world pressures Israel to negotiate with terrorists, while simultaneously saying, in defending their own refusal to negotiate with terrorists, that it would reward the terrorists and thus increase acts of terrorism.
Which is exactly what the last ten years of Israeli negotiation under global pressure has produced. That s how WE know not to negotiate with Osama bin-Laden, for example. Negotiating with terrorists is like paying off a blackmailer. In every case (except that of Israel), this is accepted conventional wisdom.
It doesn t apply to Israel, however, because Israel isn t like any other nation. Israel isn t assessed by the same standard as that used to assess her enemies. Indeed, Israel isn t assessed by the same standards as her friends.
If Israel were to respond to terror attacks the way the United States has since September 11, the Iranian, Syrian and the current Palestinian leadership would have beaten Saddam Hussein to the ash heap of history by several decades.
(Assuming Saddam was still there by March, 2003, which is doubtful)
Lebanon s Bekaa Valley would look like Afghanistan s Tora Bora and there d be no rockets raining down on Israel from anywhere Israeli warplanes could reach.
But Israel is assessed by a uniquely impossible standard of conflict that guarantees the continuation of hostilities, unlike any other place on earth.
Israel is not like any place else on earth. It is the seat of an ongoing spiritual conflict that is about to spill over into the here & now.
The current road map is supposed to lead to peace. As it stands, however, it is leading straight to Armageddon.
The literal one.
“Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20)