In the world of international diplomacy few issues receive more wall-to-wall support than the notion that it is essential to establish a Palestinian state. Leaders worldwide are so busy speaking of how essential it is for a State of Palestine to be founded that none of them seems to have noticed that it already exists.
This state was officially founded in the summer of 2005, when Israel removed its military forces and civilian population from the Gaza Strip and so established the first wholly independent Palestinian state in history. Israel's destruction of four Israeli communities in Northern Samaria and curtailment of its military operations in the area set the conditions for statehood in that area as well.
And so it is that as statesmen and activists worldwide loudly proclaim their commitment to establishing the sovereign State of Palestine, they miss the fact that Palestine exists. And it is a nightmare.
In the State of Palestine 88 percent of the public feels insecure. Perhaps the other 12 percent are members of the multitude of regular and irregular militias. For in the State of Palestine the ratio of police/militiamen/men-under-arms to civilians is higher than in any other country on earth.
In the State of Palestine, two-year-olds are killed and no one cares. Children are woken up in the middle of the night and murdered in front of their parents. Worshipers in mosques are gunned down by terrorists who attend competing mosques. And no one cares. No international human rights groups publish reports calling for an end to the slaughter. No UN body condemns anyone or sends a fact-finding mission to investigate the murders.
In the State of Palestine, women are stripped naked and forced to march in the streets to humiliate their husbands. Ambulances are stopped on the way to hospitals and wounded are shot in cold blood. Terrorists enter operating rooms in hospitals and unplug patients from life-support machines.
In the State of Palestine, people are kidnapped from their homes in broad daylight and in front of the television cameras. This is the case because the kidnappers themselves are cameramen. Indeed, their commanders often run television stations. And because terror commanders run television stations in the State of Palestine, it should not be surprising that they bomb the competition's television stations.
SO IT WAS that last week, terrorists from this group or that group bombed Al Arabiya television station in Gaza. And so it is that Hamas attacks Fatah radio announcers and closes down their radio station claiming that they use their microphones to incite murder. Because indeed, they are inciting murder. What would one expect for terrorists to do when placed in charge of a radio station?
And so it is that in the State of Palestine, journalists - whether members of terror groups or not - are part of the 88 percent of their public who are afraid. Sunday they protested outside the offices of one terror faction or another that controls the Palestinian Authority.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, reporter Ala Masharawi explained, "No one goes outside, no one moves without thinking twice. Gaza's streets have become terrible streets, especially at night. Gaza is a ghost town."
As the Post's Khaled Abu Toameh reported last week, in the State of Palestine, Christians are persecuted, robbed and beaten in what can only be viewed as a systematic campaign to end the Christian presence in places like Bethlehem. As Samir Qumsiyeh, owner of the Beit Sahur-based private Al-Mahd (Nativity) TV station lamented, "I believe that 15 years from now there will be no Christians left in Bethlehem. Then you will need a torch to find a Christian here."
MANY GOVERNMENT ministers and commentators seek strategic meaning in the strife in the State of Palestine. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, for instance, goes on and on about the need to strengthen the "moderates" - that is, the Fatah terror group - over the "extremists" - that is, the Hamas terror group.
Helping her to propound this nonsense is PA Chairman and Fatah chief Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas and his men tell Westerners how pro-Western they are at the same time as they name streets and schools financed by US aid after Saddam Hussein and build sports facilities on the American taxpayers' tab in memory of terrorists who killed American soldiers in Iraq.
For the umpteenth time, on Sunday Fatah spokesmen in PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's office blamed Iran and Syria for the escalating violence in Gaza and Judea and Samaria that has killed 29 people, including two children, in four days. "Iran and Syria are encouraging Hamas to continue fighting against Fatah," they alleged.
And yet, just last Thursday the Shin Bet arrested Omar Damra, a Fatah terrorist in Nablus. Damra is accused of manufacturing suicide bomb belts and attempting to smuggle them into Israel. He also stands accused of plotting to place explosive devices along roads in Judea and Samaria with the intention of blowing up IDF patrols.
Damra and his partner and fellow Fatah terrorist Mahmad Ramaha, who was arrested a month ago, were working under the instruction of Hizbullah - that is, under the direction of Iran. According to the Shin Bet, Hizbullah - that is, Iran - has taken over Fatah operations in Nablus. Since Israel's withdrawal from northern Samaria in August 2005, the Shin Bet has noted that, like Gaza, the Nablus area has become a mini-Afghanistan.
So not only are Hamas terrorists operating under Iranian and Syrian direction today, Fatah terrorists are as well. Yet this doesn't stop the US and Israel from pouring guns and money into the hands of Fatah terror chiefs. They fail to recognize that what you see is what you get.
These guns are not used to encourage moderation. These guns are used against Israelis and Palestinians alike in a turf battle between terror groups over money, guns and power that will never end. And it will never end because fighting and killing for money, guns and power is what terrorists do.
FOR THE past 13 years, since the Palestinian Authority was established in 1994, the contours of the State of Palestine have taken form in front of our eyes. Starting with Yasser Arafat's abrogation of the rule of law and murderous campaign against land dealers and journalists, with each passing year and with each move to further empower the PA, the situation has only grown worse. And yet, international pressure on Israel from Arabs, Europeans and the US to surrender more territory, curtail its authority, abrogate its claims to the areas set for Palestine, and finance the Fatah terror group have only grown in intensity.
And with each passing year, as the reality of Palestine has become clearer, the Israeli leadership's will to resist this pressure is increasingly eroded.
So it is that last week Defense Minister Amir Peretz announced that he supports negotiating with Hamas. Peretz laid out his "vision" for the reinstatement of the so-called peace process with the Palestinians, and stated that, to "empower" the Palestinians, he supports extending the ban on IDF operations from Gaza to Judea and Samaria. It should go without saying that such IDF operations are aimed at preventing massacres of Israeli civilians like the one that happened in Eilat Monday morning.
LIVNI, FOR her part, has become the international champion of Fatah. Gushing to an audience of international peace processors in Davos, Switzerland, last week, Livni said, "In order to achieve peace and in order to promote a process, we must stick to this vision of a two-state solution and examine what the best steps to take are."
Of course, neither Livni nor Peretz, who insist that Israel's most urgent priority is to establish Palestine, is willing to recognize that Palestine exists already. They refuse to acknowledge what we already know: Palestine is a terror state and an economic basket case fully funded by the international community. Indeed, over the past year since Hamas won the Palestinian elections, international assistance to the Palestinians has increased dramatically.
As Ibrahim Gambari, the UN under-secretary-general for political affairs, noted last Thursday, official Western aid to the Palestinians, not including Arab and Iranian support for Hamas and Fatah, increased by 10 percent in 2006 over 2005, and stood at $1.2 billion.
The Palestinians, who receive more aid per capita than any people on earth, are needy not because they lack funds. They are poor because they prefer poverty, violence and war to prosperity, peace and moderation. So it is that 57 percent of Palestinians support terror attacks against Israel.
The multitude of protesters worldwide who demand an end to the so-called "occupation" and the establishment of Palestine should be made aware of the fact that Palestine already exists. The hordes of political leaders mindlessly squawking about "visions" and "two-state solutions" should know: This is Palestine. Enter at your own risk.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is an evil man. But he is not a stupid man. Indeed, he is smart and fastidious. He understands power and how to get it. And he understands that the purpose of a nation's foreign policy is to sell ideas and messages and to build coalitions that enable a state to achieve its national aims. Due to his understanding and his abilities, Ahmadinejad has achieved significant success in advancing his policy aims of defeating the United States, destroying the State of Israel, and acquiring nuclear weapons.
The source of his frenetic motivation for destruction is his deep-seated and fanatical desire to hearken the arrival of the Shi'ite messiah - the twelfth imam or the Mahdi. Ahmadinejad promises that the arrival of the Mahdi will signal the enduring defeat of liberal democracy and the notion of human freedom and the eradication of Christianity and Judaism. All will be replaced by the "pure" Islam of the Mahdi, of Ahmadinejad and of the late Ayatollah Khomeini.
Over the past week evidence of Ahmadinejad's success was legion. On Wednesday, London's Daily Telegraph reported that Iranian-North Korean nuclear collaboration has reached new heights. Not only were Iranian scientists present at North Korea's nuclear test last October, according to the Telegraph, North Korean nuclear scientists are in Iran today assisting their Iranian counterparts in preparing a nuclear test that could take place by the end of the year.
This new information means that the time-line for Iranian acquisition of nuclear bombs has been shortened dramatically. If just months ago US intelligence officials claimed that Iran would not acquire nuclear weapons until 2011, and if just six weeks ago Mossad chief Meir Dagan told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Iran needed two years to acquire the bomb, the report that Iran could test a nuclear weapon by the end of 2007 means that there is reason to fear that Iran will have the means to launch a nuclear attack against Israel next year.
Moreover, recently there have been several reports that all Iran's nuclear facilities are working at full strength to increase uranium enrichment. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki's announcement Monday that 38 predominantly Western UN nuclear inspectors would be barred from returning to the country is yet another sign that Iran's nuclear efforts are being stepped up. As well, Iran's acquisition last month of advanced Russian Tor M-1 anti-aircraft missiles demonstrates that with Russian assistance, Iran is preparing seriously for war.
Aside from North Korea's apparent nuclear alliance with Iran, we have the escalation of chaos by Iran's proxy arm in Lebanon. This week Hizbullah moved ahead with its stated goal of overthrowing Prime Minister Fuad Saniora's government. It should be clear from the events this week in Lebanon that Iran is working to undermine any semblance of order in that country in order to facilitate its exploitation as a forward operating base against Israel.
As Nobel laureate Professor Israel Aumann explained Wednesday at the Herzliya Conference, the empowerment of Iran's terror army in Lebanon is an acute strategic threat to Israel. Aumann noted that there is every reason to fear that Iranian nuclear bombs could be transferred to its terror proxies. A nuclear attack against Israel aimed at annihilating the Jewish state can be conducted by relatively primitive delivery systems. And there is little reason to doubt that Hizbullah possesses such systems.
Iran's recent diplomatic successes are also quite impressive. This week, Iran signed a defense pact with Belarus. The agreement comes on the heels of Ahmadinejad's successful state visit to Hugo Chavez's Venezuela. Indeed, Iran's hyperactive diplomacy is bringing about a situation in which every state with a beef against the US or Israel is collaborating on some level with Iran. Bringing this point home on Wednesday was Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa. In his speech before the Global Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Wednesday, Moussa expressed opposition to any US military strike against Iran's nuclear installations.
In the realm of international public opinion, Iran's position is anything but weak. This was made clear last Saturday in London during a public debate between London's pathologically anti-American and anti-Israel Mayor Ken Livingstone and US Islamic scholar Dr. Daniel Pipes. During the debate, Livingstone noted in a laconic manner that evoked no outrage that he thinks that the establishment of the State of Israel was a mistake.
Speaking at the Herzliya Conference Tuesday, former minister Natan Sharansky explained the significance of statement's like Livingstone's for Israel's national security. Sharansky warned that today international opinion is more sympathetic to the view that Israel should be destroyed than European opinion in 1939 was to Germany's exhortations that the Jewish people should be expunged from Europe. As a result of the Arab-Islamic-Leftist campaign to demonize Israel that has been going on systematically for more than six years, today throughout the world there is a large and growing sense that wiping Israel off the face of the earth wouldn't be particularly objectionable.
MANY MEMBERS of the audience who heard Sharansky's remarks on Tuesday serve in official capacities vested with responsibility for contending with this terrible state of affairs. So the question that must be asked is what are they and the politicians under whom they serve doing to contend with the growing specter of national destruction? Unfortunately, on the level of international diplomacy the answer is precious little. Israel's top leaders spend most of their time spreading baseless promises that everything is under control. Aside from that, they engage in either feckless or counter-productive diplomatic activity.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, for instance, has visited world capitals and told us that he is building a coalition. Yet, all evidence is to the contrary. During his visit last month to Germany - a potential coalition partner against Iran - Olmert failed to give the Germans any reason to work with us against Iran. His recent visits to Russia and China were preordained failures since there is no chance that those countries - which are assisting Iran economically, militarily and diplomatically - will lift a finger to prevent Teheran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
For their part, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and Deputy Premier Shimon Peres are working to build international coalitions to join forces not against Iran, but against Israel. All three are encouraging the US, Europe and the Arabs to pressure Israel to give Judea and Samaria to Hamas and Fatah - Iran's Palestinian proxies.
A proper Israeli foreign policy would serve to check and undermine Iran's international maneuvering. It would work to bring about Iran's delegitimization and isolation in the international community. It would work to dry up Iran's bank accounts and so unravel the stability of the regime and then act to overthrow it through popular insurrections. An effective, coherent foreign policy would be aimed at building solid international coalitions in which Israel could be part of an international military effort to destroy Iran's nuclear installations. Or, at the very least, it would prepare international public opinion for a unilateral Israeli military campaign against Iran.
There is a small group of prominent Israelis who currently serve in no official capacities who are privately acting to delegitimize and isolate Iran internationally. Members of this group include opposition leader and former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Sharansky, former IDF chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. (res.) Moshe Ya'alon, MK Dan Naveh and former UN ambassador Dore Gold. These men are pushing to have Ahmadinejad indicted under the Genocide Convention for inciting to genocide by calling for Israel's destruction. Many also work tirelessly to explain the magnitude of the Iranian nuclear threat not only to Israel, but to the entire world.
On the economic warfare front, Netanyahu is waging a one-man war - and rather successfully at that - to push forward an international campaign to divest from companies doing business with Iran. A study conducted by the Washington-based Center for Security Policy showed that US public employee pension funds are heavily invested in such companies. Divestment from these companies could potentially cause hundreds of billions of dollars in losses for Iran.
During the Herzliya Conference, Republican presidential contenders including former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senator John McCain all went on record in support of pension fund divestment. Moreover, Netanyahu met with the state treasurers of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine and Connecticut on Tuesday in Boston and urged them to divest their public employee pension funds from companies that do business with Iran. If all five states were to divest their funds, Iran would stand to lose $71 billion.
There are a significant number of prominent public figures - both Jewish and non-Jewish - in the world who fervently wish to join forces with Israelis to defend against Iran and the forces of global jihad more generally. A number of them participated in the Herzliya Conference. Sharansky noted that during the war with Iran's army in Lebanon last summer, several prominent foreigners volunteered to help Israel in defending itself in the crucial battle for international opinion. Yet these esteemed friends of Israel, such as Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz and former Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, could get no information from the Foreign Ministry, the Prime Minister's Office, the Defense Ministry or the IDF's Spokesman's Unit. No one could be bothered to talk to them. No one had time to help them help Israel.
In a similar fashion today, angry voices are emanating from the Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office complaining about Netanyahu's efforts. Olmert, Livni and others have repeatedly accused Netanyahu of alarmism and are seeking to silence Israel's most effective defender in the international arena today.
TOMORROW WILL mark the 62nd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. In recent years, the international community has declared the day International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Under the morbid influence of the Iran discussions at Herzliya, this week I paid a visit to Yad Vashem's new museum. On display were several copies of Der Stuermer - Josef Goebbels's infamous anti-Semitic propaganda organ. What was most striking about the caricatures that pictured Jews as monkeys and monsters in human form was how stupid and primitive they were. If we had had the power then to respond to the demonization campaign that paved the way to Birkenau and Babi Yar, we could have defeated it. But we did not have the power then.
Today, the genocidal propaganda emanating from Iran, the Arab media and the radical Left is no less foolish and flimsy. If we are wise enough to fight it as a nation and a state, there is no doubt that we will be victorious. All Ahmadinejad's coalitions and evil intentions cannot help him against a roused Jewish people.
But if we want to win, we need to fight.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.
Israel prides itself on being the only democracy in the Middle East. But if we are not careful, we will lose that distinction. Today Israel finds itself increasingly under the rule not of law, but of lawyers. And the results are similar to the results in other states where the rule of law is undermined. Lawlessness, loss of personal security and selective legal protection are becoming more and more widespread.
Sunday, former justice minister Prof. Amnon Rubinstein warned against this growing phenomenon in a broadside against Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz. Speaking at the Herzliya Conference, Rubinstein, who now serves as the dean of the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center, rebuked Mazuz for threatening to limit Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's executive powers if he deems them to be in conflict with the criminal probe of Olmert's role in the privatization of Bank Leumi.
In Rubinstein's words, "The attorney-general is not permitted to limit the powers of a minister or of the prime minister. He is certainly not permitted to threaten to limit them." Rubinstein continued: "This is an extremely serious matter. It is without precedent in any democratic country… There is a danger in a regime of bureaucrats. An elected representative is always dependent on the public, whereas we have no control over appointed officials."
Mazuz and his colleagues routinely respond to attacks similar to Rubinstein's by stating that their expropriation of the legally mandated powers of elected leaders is done merely to protect the rule of law. Yet this is untrue.
MAZUZ AND his associates in the state prosecution wrest power from political leaders to advance their own political agendas - agendas that uniformly align with those of the radical, anti-Israel Left. One of the most important powers the state prosecution took from the government is the power to choose the attorney-general and the state's attorney. Today appointments for both positions are vetted by a committee comprised of unelected lawyers. That is, in a manner even less open to political oversight than the self-selection of judges, the state prosecution selects its own leaders.
And asserting control over the prime minister's powers in office is not the only area where Israel's state prosecution uses its law enforcement powers to advance its politically-uniform membership's political agenda. In addition to using its authority to investigate and indict, state prosecutors use their power to determine how and against whom the laws will be enforced generally in the country.
And because of the uniform political views of the country's prosecutors, laws are generally enforced in a consistently prejudicial fashion. Certain favored groups receive legally negligent lenience from prosecutors, while other groups, which are out of favor, are prosecuted to the limits, and often beyond the limits of the law, and at the same time are denied the protection of the law.
CASE IN point is the state of law enforcement against Beduin gangs in the Negev. Over the past several years, hundreds of gangs of Beduin thieves have totally overthrown the rule of law in the Negev. They have squatted on thousands of dunams of state lands and then demanded that the state provide them with water and electricity in the lands they stole. They have set up protection rackets against the utilities companies by cutting power lines, damaging water pipes, destroying cellular telephone antennas and breaking into businesses, and then offering their "security services" to the firms and owners they have robbed in exchange for promises not to rob again.
Highway robbery is another favorite pastime. Pini Badash, the head of the Omer Regional Council, told Makor Rishon last Friday that residents of Dimona will only drive to Beersheba after dark in five-car convoys for fear of highway robbery. During the day they travel in armored buses. While Beduin make up only 10-15 percent of the Negev's population, they account for approximately 60 percent of the crime in the region.
Worst hit are the farmers. Farmers, and particularly ranchers, are the main obstacle preventing the Beduin from taking over the Negev and connecting a lawless, ungoverned southern Israel to Gaza, Sinai and Judea. As a result there is both an irredentist political motivation as well as a criminal intent to the constant harassment of Negev farmers. And the results are dramatic.
The Israeli Cattle Breeders Association reported a 236-percent increase in cattle rustling in 2006 over the previous year. Most of the theft occurred in the south. The overwhelming majority of the agricultural theft - of livestock, trees and greenhouses themselves - is carried out by Beduin gangs.
TWO WEEKS ago, sheep farmer Shai Dromi was the latest victim of Beduin criminality. On January 13, Dromi's farm was infiltrated by four Beduin thieves. Led by Khaled Atrash, one of the most notorious car thieves in the region - who had just completed a four-year prison term for agricultural theft - the thieves poisoned Dromi's guard dogs before moving toward his sheep pen.
Dromi's farm had already been robbed three times. Each time, after killing his dogs with poison, the thieves stole his herd. To save his livelihood, Dromi built a room in his sheep pen and moved in to guard them. During the latest attack, Dromi was awakened at 4 a.m. by his dying dogs' tortured howls and went out to defend his property. After his calls for the thieves to leave were ignored, he shot off his rifle. Atrash was hit in the leg and later died of his wounds despite Dromi's attempts to save him. Another thief was also wounded. The other two ran away.
According to Israeli criminal law, "A person will not be criminally liable for an act that was immediately necessary in order to prevent an unlawful attack that involved clear danger to his life, his liberty, his body or his property, or that of others." The law also stipulates that "A person will not be criminally liable for an act that was immediately necessary to save his life, liberty, body or property, or that of another."
On the face of it, there can be no clearer case of self-defense than Dromi's case. And yet the police and state prosecution have remanded him to custody and are planning on indicting him for manslaughter. Badash argues that many prosecutors and judges are wary of prosecuting or convicting Beduin for fear of revenge attacks against themselves and their families. In Dromi's case, prominent criminal attorney Yoram Sheftel believes that the prosecution's decision to throw the book at him for protecting himself against the Beduin thieves is politically motivated.
Sheftel notes that State Attorney Eran Shendar is the former treasurer of the radical left-wing Peace Now organization. Iska Leibowitz, the chief prosecutor in the southern district, is the daughter of the late professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz, one of the ideological founders of the radical Left in Israel and the earliest prominent Israeli purveyor of the obscene comparison between Israel and Nazi Germany. Her nephew, attorney Shamai Leibowitz, is a radical anti-Zionist attorney. After defending Fatah terror chief Marwan Barghouti in his multiple murder trial, Shamai Leibowitz has been agitating in the US for divestment from Israel. Iska Leibowitz's colleagues state forthrightly that she shares her family's political views.
In his remand hearing Dromi said, "I think the writing was on the wall. The reality in our country is known. We have no personal security here."
The police claim that their failure to protect the lives and property of the Negev farmers is a result of lack of manpower. But they also note that they are afraid to enforce the law for fear of being accused of anti-Beduin prejudice by anti-Zionist Arab legislators and by the radical Left state prosecution.
WHAT WE see, then, in Mazuz's absurd assertion of imaginary authority to limit the powers of the prime minister whose criminal investigation Mazuz's office oversees; and in his underlings' decision not to enforce the law against Beduin crime rings on the one hand, and to zealously and unjustifiably prosecute Shai Dromi on the other, is an effective subversion of the rule of law by unelected officials tasked with enforcing the laws.
The end result in all these cases is that the collective and individual fates of citizens are decided by politically motivated prosecutors. Due to these attorneys' anti-Zionist bias, they are actively weakening the political foundations of Israeli democracy, while undermining the normative foundation of the rule of law by denying equal protection and unprejudiced prosecution under the law.
For Israeli society to protect our democracy we must reestablish the rule of law in this country. To do so, we need to put a rapid end to the rule of lawyers.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.
There are two reasons that IDF chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz's resignation this week was essential. First, during the war last summer with Hizbullah, Halutz failed to conceive of a war fighting plan for the IDF. Having failed, he needed to go. Second, both during the war and in the six months since its cessation, Halutz lost the faith of his officers and soldiers. A commander cannot function without the faith of his men, and so, again, he had to go.
There is every reason to expect that Halutz's replacement will win the faith of troops and officers. And it is essential that he do so quickly for as the war made clear, the IDF needs to undergo a massive, painful and rapid process of reform and overhaul if it is to meet the wide-ranging and acute challenges it faces.
Yet even if Halutz's replacement is an Israeli version of General George Patton, it is doubtful that he will have the opportunity to apply his military talents to the conceptualization and implementation of a fighting doctrine capable of defeating Israel's enemies. The IDF's doctrinal discussions are framed by the larger national debates in Israel. And today those debates remain captive to the same fantasies and lies that since 1993 have prevented the IDF from planning properly for war - whether in Lebanon, Gaza, Judea and Samaria or even Iran.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit to Israel this week reinforced this untenable situation. In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, US Ambassador Richard Jones explained that during her visit, Rice "picked up" Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's plan to hold "discussions" with Fatah terror group commander and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas about the establishment of a Palestinian state in spite of the fact that the PA is ruled today by the Hamas terror group.
According to Jones, Livni convinced Rice that it is necessary to provide a "political horizon" to convince the Palestinians to replace Hamas with Fatah. After the Palestinians overthrow Hamas, he explained, it will be possible to implement the agreement and handover Judea and Samaria to Fatah (and Hamas).
That is, the Israeli government is pushing a national strategy that is based on a total lie. While Abbas plans his visit this weekend with Hamas terror master Khaled Mashaal in Syria in the hopes of facilitating the formation of an Iranian-Syrian sponsored Fatah-Hamas unity government, the Israeli government wishes to "strengthen" him.
A revitalized IDF will be unable to secure Israel under these conditions. As long as the guiding strategic principle dictating Israel's policies is that Israel must establish a Palestinian state, and to that end, the policy debate revolves around issues such as whether protecting the residents of Sderot from rocket attacks will strengthen or weaken Abbas, the IDF will be incapable of defending Israel regardless of who its leaders are.
SINCE THE inauguration of the 1993 Oslo peace process, Israel's national debate has largely ignored the only question that should be guiding it: How are we to advance Israel's national interests? Rather, since 1993, our national debate has been anchored around the question of how best to establish a Palestinian state. This question, rooted in the false Arab narrative which consciously rejects the morality of the Zionist revolution, has brought us to a position where the IDF is cognitively barred from rationally approaching Israel's security challenges.
Things needn't be this way. The Israeli public is quite sick of hallucinatory peace processes and is keen to reignite a Zionist national discussion. Consistent opinion polls show that the overwhelming majority of the public knows there is no possibility of achieving peace with the PA and that any Palestinian state will be a terror state. Moreover, in poll after poll, the Israeli public expresses its patriotism and its desire to strengthen and preserve the Jewish, democratic character of the State of Israel.
And there are options other than delusion. On Wednesday, one such option was presented in Washington at the American Enterprise Institute. There, the American-Israel Demographic Research Group (AIDRG) presented a plan for Israel's future called "The Fourth Way."
Led by American economist Bennett Zimmerman and former Israeli diplomat Yoram Ettinger, the AIDRG first burst onto the screen in early 2005 when it presented the first comprehensive analysis of Palestinian population data.
Since 1997, Israel's leaders have based their policies towards the Palestinians on what was perceived as a madly ticking Palestinian demographic time bomb. The public was told that the Palestinian population in Jerusalem, Gaza, Judea and Samaria was rapidly expanding and that by 2015, Jews would lose our majority west of the Jordan River. If we didn't hurry up and hand over Judea, Samaria and Gaza and partition Jerusalem, we would find ourselves forced to choose between a Jewish state and a democratic one.
The AIDRG took it upon itself to do what no Israeli governmental body had considered doing: Its members just started counting heads. It worked out that the doomsday scenario was based on a massive fabrication. In 1997, the PA published census figures that exaggerated its population figures in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Jerusalem by nearly 50 percent. The PA double counted Arab Jerusalemites, included hundreds of thousands of emigrants to its population rolls, asserted mass immigration when in fact there has been net emigration from the PA since 1995. It exaggerated fertility rates and understated mortality rates. In all, the PA added approximately 1.4 million people who did not exist to its population rolls.
Rather than 3.8 million Palestinians, the team found there were likely no more, and perhaps less than 2.4 million Palestinians. Jews, who make up an 80 percent majority within sovereign Israel, make up a 59% majority of the population of Israel with Gaza and Judea and Samaria and a 67% majority of the population with Judea and Samaria without Gaza.
Last year, the group analyzed fertility trends in Israel and Judea and Samaria among Jews and Arabs. They found that in contradiction to the Palestinian and Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics forecasts, while Jewish fertility rates are on a steep and consistent incline, Arab fertility rates are steadily declining.
The significance of these actual trends is obvious: Not only is there no Palestinian demographic time bomb necessitating the immediate handover of Judea and Samaria to Palestinian terrorists. Israel's actual demographic position is its ace in the hole.
This year the team members took their data to the next logical step by offering their best shot at a national strategy for Israel, based on true population data. While one can agree or disagree with the viability of their strategy, the fact that it is based on truth rather than lies already places it in a different league from the "peace" plans that have held Israel intellectually hostage since 1993.
The plan is predicated on electoral reform in Israel that will set the course for a democratic absorption of all or parts of Judea and Samaria into Israel while securing the political rights of all Israelis - both Jewish and Arab. Israel today is governed by a proportional electoral system that treats the entire country as a unitary voting district. The plan recommends changing the electoral system to a direct, district-based voting system divided along the lines of the Interior Ministry's administrative partition of the country.
Given Israel's 80 percent Jewish majority outside Judea and Samaria, it is unsurprising that Jews form massive majorities in every administrative district in the country except the northern district. In the North, Arabs comprise a bare 52% majority. But the internal migration of just 52,000 Jews to the North would overturn that majority.
Within Judea and Samaria, the sparsely populated sub-districts of Western Samaria and the Jordan Valley are vital for Israel's national defense. As the study shows, an internal migration of approximately 150,000 Jews to these areas would give them strong Jewish majorities. Given that the Tel Aviv district has a 99% Jewish majority and the central region of the country has a 92% Jewish majority, a national plan for populating the areas could easily facilitate such a migratory trend.
In the Jerusalem district, the population trends are in flux. The erection of the separation fence has driven tens of thousands of Arabs from Judea and Samaria into the city to avoid PA rule. Conversely, the high real estate prices in Jewish neighborhoods are forcing Jews to leave the city.
Today Jews make up a 67% majority in the capital. The researchers demonstrated that if the capital's boundaries are extended to include Jerusalem's western suburbs, the Etzion bloc, the Adumim bloc, and the Givon bloc on the Jewish side as well as Abu Dis, Beit Hanina and the north Jerusalem bloc on the Arab side, the Jewish majority of the expanded city would be 66%. The flow of Arabs into the city's center to get away from the PA would abate. Real estate prices throughout the city would drop with the increase of land supplies and so the capital would again be affordable to young Jewish families. If Bethlehem is added to the municipal boundaries of the capital, the Jewish majority would be reduced to 62%.
On the other hand, with the separation fence bringing about an effective partition of the city, "Arab Jerusalem" around its truncated and walled-off boundaries will enjoy a 72% Arab majority and the Jewish population within the shrunken, expensive capital will continue to dwindle.
NEXT WEEK Israel's premiere policy conference, the 7th Annual Herzliya Conference, will take place. The "Who's Who" of Israel will again present their "visions" for the country. In most cases, the speakers will regale us with tales of how they will make peace with the PLO and will warn us that we have to be nice to Abbas, (and eat our peas and carrots,) or be destroyed by Iranian nuclear bombs.
At last year's conference, the AIDRG team presented the data they had painstakingly compiled. They were greeted with unabashed hostility. Many walked out in the middle. Others groaned or chatted loudly with their friends trying to drown out the presentation. The audience of elitists didn't want to hear proof that for the past decade, Israel's national debate - which they themselves have led - has been based on a lie aimed at destroying the Zionist idea.
This year the team will return to the conference. But rather than being allowed to present their newest data and their plan, they were given a mere three minutes to speak at the end of a session about something else entirely.
Halutz's resignation was a good and necessary thing. But in and of itself, it will have little significance for Israel if it remains a lone incident. For Halutz's exit from the scene to be a harbinger for a better, safer future, it needs to be followed not only by the resignations of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Amir Peretz.
Our failed and delusional leaders must take their mendacious and defeatist national debate along with them. As they depart, we must regain control over our national conversation and build it upon the firm foundations of reality and a renewed commitment to advancing and securing Israel's national interests.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.
Ehud Olmert's Kadima Party is on the skids. The weekend opinion polls showed that if elections were held today, the Likud would win 29 Knesset seats while Kadima, which now controls the government with 29 seats, would fall to 12 seats. But elections are anything but a foregone conclusion, and if his colleagues have their way, Olmert's political destruction will not bring about elections but simply pave the way for their ascension to power, just as Ariel Sharon's massive stroke paved Olmert's path to the premiership.
Indeed, this week Olmert's two principal deputies, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman, were veritably basking in the heat of his political infernos. Both used their photo-ops with visiting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to present themselves to the Israeli public as Olmert's rightful heirs - the leaders with the big ideas and the international cachet that we can turn to in our hour of need.
On the face of it, Livni is best positioned to seize the reins of leadership. If Olmert is forced out of office, as vice premier Livni is legally the next in line. And as the inevitability of Olmert's political demise has sunken in, supported by much of the local media, Livni has been priming the public to accept her as Olmert's replacement. The media constantly reminds us that unlike many of her party and coalition colleagues, Livni is not suspected of having committed any criminal felonies and so, we are led to believe, we should be relieved to have her in charge. Her 51-percent job approval rating versus Olmert's 14-percent approval rating indicates that the public has bought this line of thinking.
BUT DO we really want her to lead us? In Livni's press appearance with Rice Saturday night she was asked whether she supports moving ahead with Palestinian statehood before the Palestinians end their involvement in terrorism, in contravention of the principal guideline of the US-backed road map peace plan. Livni's response illustrated at once her unique rhetorical skills and the unmatched analytical acumen she brings to bear today as Israel's chief diplomat.
In her words, "And but yes, I do and I was not talking about jumping or skipping or bypassing some of the phases of the road map, but I do believe that talking with the Palestinians today what are the best steps that we can take and maybe to make some visions or some - what we say the political horizon more concrete if this can help, so this is something that we have to do. But there's a difference and we can distinguish talking with the Palestinians and implementing parts one before the other, and I believe that this is the difference maybe and maybe the kind of misunderstanding that was in the understanding of talking or implementing the phases in a different order."
It is not simply that this statement is garbled to the point of incoherence. It is not simply that Livni uses phrases and watchwords like "some visions" and "political horizons" and "misunderstanding that was in the understanding" in an attempt to cover up cognitive foolishness and disconnect from reality.
There is the pretension of know-it-all snobbery running through this - and indeed every statement that Livni makes - which demonstrates that Livni is altogether convinced that her grand designs for Palestinian statehood are so grand and designer that she will never allow the reality of the total Palestinian commitment to Israel's destruction to disturb her.
INDEED TWO days before Livni made this incomprehensible statement, Fatah terror organization and Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas, on whom she pins all her hopes, told a rally in Ramallah that the "moderate" Palestinians in Fatah must understand that it is their job to continue to kill Israelis. In his words, "We will not give up our principles and we have said that rifles should be directed against the occupation."
Saturday night's question to Livni about her view of the road map was a reasonable one. Late last month she outlined her vision for Israel's future in an interview with Haaretz. There she expressed her total commitment to establishing a Palestinian state as soon as possible. In her view, establishing a Palestinian state is a much more important priority for Israel than neutralizing the burgeoning Iranian nuclear threat to Israel. And to this end, she broadly intimated, she believes that it is in Israel's interest to hand Judea and Samaria over to Hamas and Fatah after first ethnically cleansing the areas of all Jewish presence.
And, by Livni's telling, this massive empowerment of terrorists and evisceration of Israeli societal cohesion would be nothing more than a first move toward the ultimate settlement of the Palestinian conflict with Israel. A final settlement would also include the ceding of parts of Jerusalem and facilitating the entry of millions of foreign-born Arabs dedicated to Israel's annihilation into the rump Palestinian terror state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
As to Iran, Livni sees no real reason for concern. She insists that due to her diplomatic brilliance, Israel won the war against Iran's Lebanese army Hizbullah last summer. Livni proclaims Israel's victory even as both the IDF and the US Director of National Intelligence and Rice's incoming deputy John Negroponte, have admitted that Hizbullah has rebuilt its forces to pre-war levels and is widely perceived as having won the war, to the detriment of Israel's strategic posture.
IN SPEAKING of Iran itself, Livni sounds more like a detached international relations professor sitting in Berkeley or Boston than the politician responsible for Israel's international relations. As she sees it, the biggest problem with Iran's nuclear weapons program is that it is liable to set off a regional arms race where lots of countries will try to get the bomb.
That is, her principal concern is not that Israel is first on Iran's list of declared targets for nuclear annihilation. That, she explains, is really beside the point. And anyway, it isn't Israel's problem - it's the whole world's problem; and thanks to her, the whole world is unifying to stop Iran from getting the A-bomb.
BUT THEN, Livni wasn't the only cabinet minister pushing the notion of herself as Olmert's heir. Lieberman did too. Although the Likud has been leading in the polls for six months, Lieberman joined the government in early November to both prevent elections and so block the Likud's ascension to leadership, and to build his own credibility in a bid to replace the Likud with his Yisrael Beitenu party as the largest center-right party in Israeli politics.
Lieberman projects himself as the anti-Livni - the sane voice in the government that will curb her radical leftist tendencies. But is this true? Is he a sane voice?
At the beginning of the month, Lieberman assailed Livni's plan to give the Palestinians a state before they renounce their plans to destroy Israel. But then he unveiled his big idea. Lieberman understands that Israel is a frontline state in the global jihad. But since this is a global jihad, he has determined that Israel's best bet is to join the European Union.
In his words, "Israel's diplomatic and security goal... must be clear: joining NATO and entering the European Union." In his photo-op with Rice, Lieberman expounded on his big idea that NATO and the EU will now take Israel under their wing. Israel, he said, must reoccupy Gaza to end its transformation into a new hub for global jihad. But after Israel invades Gaza, NATO should send 30,000 soldiers into Gaza to take over security from Israel.
Just as Livni, in advancing her idea of giving Judea and Samaria to Fatah and Hamas, ignores the fact that Fatah and Hamas are not interested in peace with Israel, so Lieberman in advancing his plan to subsume Israeli sovereignty into EU and NATO membership pays no attention to the nature of these groups. He ignores the fact that the central guiding principle of EU foreign policy is support for the Palestinians - including Hamas - in their bid to destroy Israel. And he seems to overlook the fact that US leadership of NATO did not prevent NATO members France, Belgium, Germany and Turkey from doing everything they could to prevent the US from defeating Saddam Hussein in 2003.
After ascending to his accidental premiership when Ariel Sharon was felled by his stroke last year, Olmert was able to win the elections last March by disguising his radical leftist and strategically stillborn plan to transfer Judea and Samaria to Fatah and Hamas as "pragmatism." In his efforts he was ably assisted by the media, which hid Gaza's post-withdrawal transformation into a base for global terrorism from the public.
So in their presentation of themselves as competent alternatives to Olmert, Livni and Lieberman are simply following in his footsteps. They know that if they offer policies to the public that deny the reality of war and so lead the public to believe that Israel does not have to fight that war, they will receive the support of the pacifist media and be well positioned to win the elections without ever having to actually defend their positions.
What becomes clear, then, is that if Israel is to emerge successfully from its real strategic challenges it needs to rid itself not only of Olmert, but of all his heirs apparent. For this to happen, his government must fall with him, and we must proceed to general elections.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.
I grew up in Chicago's ultra-liberal, anti-American and anti-Israel stronghold of Hyde Park. Hyde Park's newest famous resident is Barack Obama. He fits right into a neighborhood I couldn't wait to leave.
I made aliyah to Israel in 1991, two weeks after receiving my BA in Political Science from Beir Zeit on the Hudson -- otherwise known as Columbia University. I joined the Israel Defense Forces that summer and served as an officer for five and a half years.
From 1994-1996, as an IDF captain, I served as Coordinator of Negotiations with the PLO in the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. In this capacity I was a core member of Israel’s negotiating team with the Palestinians.
After leaving the IDF at the end of 1996, I worked as the assistant to the Director General of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
I then returned to geo-politics serving as Assistant Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in 1997-1998.
From 1998-2000 I went back to the US where I received a Master's in Public Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in June 2000. Although I spent most of my free time hiking in New England, it did not escape my attention that the vast majority of the faculty at the Kennedy School were not particularly fond of America -- or of Israel.
In the summer of 2000 I returned to Israel and began writing at Makor Rishon newspaper, (Hebrew). I served as chief diplomatic commentator and edited magazine supplements on strategic issues for Makor Rishon until March 2002.
In March 2002, I accepted the position of Deputy Managing Editor of The Jerusalem Post. At the Post I write two weekly columns. These columns are regularly syndicated.
During Operation Iraqi Freedom, I covered the US-led war in Iraq as an embedded journalist with the US Army’s 3rd Infantry Division. Reporting for the Post, Maariv, Israel TV’s Channel 2 and the Chicago Sun Times, I was one of the only female journalists on the front lines with the US forces and the first Israeli journalist to report from liberated Baghdad.
My writings, which have also been published in The Wall Street Journal, National Review, The Journal of International Secrutiy Affairs, The Boston Globe, The Washington Times, The Jewish Press, Frontpage Magazine and Moment Magazine and numerous online journals focus on the strategic and political issues challenging the Israel and the United States. I have appeared on MSNBC, FOX News, Sky News, Christian Broadcast Network, Israel Television channels 1, 2, 3 and 10. I am a frequent guest on talk radio shows in the US, Britain, Australia and Israel.
In April 2004, in addition to my work at the Post, I resumed writing for Makor Rishon as the paper’s lead columnist and commentator.
I am the senior fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, DC and travel several times a year to Washington where I routinely brief senior administration officials and members of Congress on issues of joint Israeli-American concern.
In its Israeli Independence Day supplement in 2003, Ma’ariv named me the most prominent woman in Israel. In December 2005, I was awarded the Ben Hecht award for Middle East reporting from the Zionist Organization of America. In January 2006, I was awarded the Abramowitz Prize for Media Criticism by Israel Media Watch.
In 2008, my first solo book - Shackled Warrior: Israel and the Global Jihad was published by Gefen Publishers. You can purchase the volume here.
I live in Jerusalem.
The average Israeli is not particularly interested in the US-led war in Iraq. As far as most Israelis are concerned, that war, going on just a few hundred kilometers from our borders, might as well be taking place in outer space. It simply doesn't seem connected to our local reality of the Palestinian-Iranian and Lebanese-Iranian jihad. Although greeted with sadness, the daily news updates on US and Iraqi casualties seem to bear no tangible relation to us.
Similarly, most Americans do not think that the war being fought against Israel is linked to the war in Iraq. Both the Bush administration's efforts to limit IDF operations against the Palestinians and Hizbullah and the US media's generally hostile portrayal of the war against Israel lead most Americans to share the Israeli view that the wars our nations fight are separate, distinct ones. And so, as far as most Israelis and Americans are concerned, Americans have nothing to learn from Israel's war and Israelis have nothing to learn from their war.
But the truth is far different. Indirectly, US President George W. Bush's address Wednesday night on the new direction the war in Iraq will soon take was a testament to this truth.
Although expected to announce a radical change in his administration's strategy in Iraq, in Wednesday's speech Bush did no such thing. In essence the president restated his long-held view that victory in Iraq will come with the stabilization of a unified, democratic Iraqi regime and the parallel defeat of both the Sunni and Shi'ite insurgencies. Conversely, the enemy forces, operating under Syrian and Iranian sponsorship, fight precisely to prevent the stabilization of the regime and to undermine the unity of the multi-ethnic, multi-religious Republic of Iraq.
Bush's plan to implement a "surge and hold" strategy for taking and maintaining control over Baghdad and the al-Qaida infested Anbar Province is based on a new realization that establishing and maintaining a modicum of security for the country's citizens is a precondition for any subsequent moves towards stabilizing Iraq politically.
FOR ISRAELI ears, the most notable aspect of Bush's "surge and hold" strategy is its striking similarly to the IDF's Operation Defensive Shield in 2002.
There is little doubt that the US has much greater leeway in its operations in Iraq than the IDF enjoys in its efforts against the Palestinians or Hizbullah. Their ability to cultivate and empower Iraqis who share their strategic outlook while weakening others who oppose them is far greater than Israel's ability today to influence the Palestinians or the Lebanese.
But for all that, the fact is that after nearly four years fighting in Iraq, the US essentially embraced the counter-insurgency strategy that Israel adopted in Judea and Samaria five years ago. And similar to the US operations in Iraq until now, Israel only adopted its surge and hold strategy in Judea and Samaria after two years of absorbing unrelenting and ever-escalating Palestinian terrorist attacks. Until Defensive Shield, Israel responded to the war being waged against its society by carrying out brief incursions into Palestinian towns, conducting arrests and swiftly retreating.
Indeed, if the Americans want to get a sense of the president's new plan's prospects for success they would do well to study developments in Israel since Operation Defensive Shield.
Bush warned that his new plan will not end the violence in Iraq. As he put it, "This new strategy will not yield an immediate end to suicide bombings, assassinations, or IED attacks. Our enemies in Iraq will make every effort to ensure that our television screens are filled with images of death and suffering. Yet over time, we can expect to see Iraqi troops chasing down murderers, fewer brazen acts of terror, and growing trust and cooperation from Baghdad's residents."
Ariel Sharon's voice echoes deeply in Bush's statement. After Defensive Shield failed to end Palestinian terrorist attacks, Sharon repeatedly stated that we couldn't expect for terror to end. And it is not surprising that the president's message was so familiar. His plan for Baghdad gives the same opportunities and places the same strategic limitations on success in Iraq that Defensive Shield placed on Israel's chances of ending the Palestinian jihad.
In both cases, the chosen strategy works to prevent terrorists located in specific, limited areas from rebuilding their capabilities by first defeating them and then remaining in place to block them from rearming or operating openly. Israel's experience since April 2002 in Judea and Samaria demonstrates its success. By maintaining IDF control over the areas, Israel has succeeded in limiting and delaying the development of the Palestinians' fighting capabilities in Judea and Samaria.
If US forces do surge and hold Baghdad, the Americans can safely assume that in the months to come Baghdad will experience a steep and sustainable drop in violence.
But by the same token, the Israeli experience also informs us of the price of adopting a strategy limited to an isolated front. Neither the war in Iraq, which is sponsored by Iran and Syria, nor the Palestinian war against Israel, which is sponsored by Iran, Syria and Egypt, are isolated, singular campaigns. And yet both the Israeli and the American surge and hold strategies treat them as if they are isolated, distinct, non-regional wars.
While IDF units capably tie down the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria, they are incapable of wiping out the Palestinian terror infrastructure. Outside of Judea and Samaria, in places like Gaza, Lebanon, Syria and Iran, our enemies continue to develop and diversify their capabilities and today those capabilities span the terror and weapons of mass destruction spectrums. Indeed, by refusing to attach its operations in Judea and Samaria to a regional strategy for victory, the government has rendered the forces in Judea and Samaria powerless to achieve true victory in the areas. If the Israeli government is ever foolish enough to order the IDF to stand down, those terror forces will immediately rebuild their capabilities.
Israel's refusal to recognize the regional nature of the Palestinian war against it stems from the strategic blindness of Israel's leaders. Sharon and his successors Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, together with the opinion makers in the local media who back them, all refuse to recognize the regional nature of the war being waged against us. Ignoring the overwhelming evidence that the Palestinians - from Hamas to Islamic Jihad to Fatah - take their marching orders from Teheran, our leaders irrelevantly and dangerously work to establish a Fatah-led terror state in Judea and Samaria. That is, they seek to create a new Iranian-run terror state that will operate side-by-side with the Hamas-led Iranian-run terror state in Gaza.
While the Olmert government's decision to fork over guns, ammunition and $100 million to Fatah makes clear that it will not change its current course, Bush's address Wednesday gave hope that his administration may actually not ignore the regional character of the war it faces in Iraq. After presenting his plan for Baghdad and the Anbar Province, Bush spoke forthrightly about the ideological and regional nature of the war. Pointing an accusatory finger at Iran and Syria for their support for the insurgents in Iraq, Bush announced his intention to take action to end to their interference. He even hinted that the US may take military action against Iran's nuclear facilities saying, "I recently ordered the deployment of an additional carrier strike group to the region."
BUT THERE is also cause for concern. As Bush gave a clear warning to Iran and Syria, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was preparing her next trip to the Middle East. Thursday Ma'ariv reported that Rice will devote her time here next week to pressuring Israel to agree to withdraw its forces from Judea and Samaria and so enable Fatah to establish a terror state there. Rice's reported plans indicate that far from acknowledging the regional nature of the war, the administration continues its slavish adherence to the view that war's various fronts are wholly unrelated, and that an Israeli defeat will either not impact or advance the chances for an American victory in Iraq.
In addition to the battlefield constraints the limited strategic approach imposes, it also causes damage on the home front. During Operation Defensive Shield, the Sharon government prevented the IDF from destroying the Palestinian Authority or even mounting a similar operation in Gaza. By so acting, the government ensured that the Palestinian war against Israel would continue.
Yet at the same time, the unprecedented scale of the IDF's counter-terror offensive and Sharon's own rhetoric led the Israeli public to believe that after two years of stalling during which war had been waged against Israeli society, the government was finally ordering the IDF to win the war and defeat our enemies and so secure us from yet more massacres and terror. When the limited offensive did not bring about a sustained victory, Israeli society began to lose faith in the IDF's ability to defend it.
Similarly, the humiliating results of last summer's war with Hizbullah caused the public immense disappointment which only served to intensify its sense of despair. That disillusionment and despair also goes a long way towards explaining how the Kadima Party - which ran its election campaign last year under the banner of "pragmatic" defeatism - was able to win in the general elections. And it is the same despair that feeds our enemies' growing faith in their ultimate ability to destroy Israel.
In the US, the fact that the Bush administration's limited strategy in Iraq has taken a toll on the public's faith that victory will ultimately be achieved was demonstrated even more starkly in last November's Congressional elections. The Democrats won those elections while running as the anti-war party that will "Bring the Boys Home," from Iraq. Bush's attempt Wednesday to lower the public's expectations for victory by including statements like, "There will be no surrender ceremony on the deck of a battleship," in his speech, risked making the Democrats' defeatist message for them.
At the same time, by finally acknowledging the Iranian and Syrian role in the war in Iraq and implicitly widening the battlefield to encompass them, Bush's address presented the first cause for hope in recent memory that the US may actually stop its current policy of acting like Israel and fighting a regional war by playing defense on one front. For the first time since 2004, Bush gave reason to believe that Iran should be worried today.
There is something insidious about half-truths. To accept a half-truth demands accepting also a lie.
Last week, readers of The Wall Street Journal were presented with a particularly insidious half-truth along with a lie in the form of an op-ed by University of Haifa professor and prominent Israeli intellectual Fania Oz-Salzberger.
Oz-Salzberger's article, "With Friends like These… Jews, beware of Islamophobes bearing gifts," was a broadside against Israel's supporters in Europe.
The column began with a breezy recognition and cool condemnation of European hostility toward Israel. Oz-Salzberger went on to elegantly deride the opportunistic and sleazy embrace of the Holocaust by the same European elites who reject Israel's right to exist.
Then, having duly expressed the self-evident truth of European moral corruption, Oz-Salzberger moved on to her lies. She turned her attention to Israel's tiny group of ardent supporters in Europe and their little umbrella organization, the European Coalition for Israel (ECI). These people, she alleged, are no-good bigots motivated purely by their racism against Muslims, or the view that "The enemies of Israel are also a threat to Europe."
In her most devastating paragraph, Oz-Salzberger wrote, "I, for one Israeli, would be grateful to my newfound buddies if their sympathy for me did not rely on trashing another religion. Unlike them, I am touched by the sight of young Muslim women on European university campuses. They remind me of my own grandmother, a student in Prague who had to flee after the Nazi rise to power, and of all the other young and hopeful Jews whose dreams and lives were shattered by the European culture they so admired. I will therefore not solicit support based on unqualified dislike of other human groups, least of all on the continent that kicked out my grandparents."
Is it really possible that her grandmother or any Jewish student in European universities before the Holocaust would accept her comparison of them with Muslim students in European universities today?
NO DOUBT, the Jewish students in European universities - like European Jewry in general - would have broken down and cried in exultation had the treatment they received from the Europeans then been even vaguely similar to that which European Muslims receive today. Indeed, drawing parallels between the subjugation and genocide of European Jewry during the Holocaust and the treatment of European Muslims today runs dangerously close to Holocaust denial.
Aside from the vast difference between Europe's treatment of its Muslims today and its Jews 60 years ago, there is the issue Oz-Salzberger's protestation that those Jews and today's Muslims are comparable in and of themselves. For while she notes that European Jews "admired" European culture, and identified with it, it is far from clear that Muslim students share their admiration.
According to a Pew Research Center poll taken last spring, 81 percent of British Muslims identify with their religion, while only 7 percent identify with Britain. In Germany, 13 percent of Muslims identify themselves as Germans while 66 percent identify as Muslims. Similar numbers were recorded in Spain. In France, Muslims are almost evenly split, with 42 percent identifying as French citizens and 46 percent identifying as Muslims.
PERHAPS THE greatest disparity between European Jewry in the 1930s and European Muslims today is their disparate views of Jews. While European Jews overwhelmingly liked Jews European Muslims overwhelmingly don't like Jews. The Pew poll showed that only 32 percent of British Muslims, 38 percent of German Muslims, and 28 percent of Spanish Muslims have a favorable view of Jews.
While 71 percent of French Muslims professed a favorable view of Jews, the 29 percent who did not state such a view no doubt include, among others, Ilan Halimi's murderers.
As is the case throughout Europe, in Prague itself - the city of Oz-Salzberger's memory - evidence suggests that jihadists are making inroads. A 2005 Czech documentary film, I Muslim included candid camera footage from inside a Prague mosque. The film showed Muslims proclaiming their support for Islamic terror and for the replacement of civil law with Shari'a law - including the death penalty for adultery - throughout the Czech Republic.
And Sorbonne professor Guy Milliere wrote recently: "In many French cities with a growing radical Islamist population, no teenage girl can go out in the evening, at least without a full burqa - otherwise she's admitting that she's worse than a whore and asking to be raped."
Yet Oz-Salzberger ignores all of this in her bid to publicly malign Israel's supporters in Europe for their alleged racism - a racism whose sole alleged manifestation lies in their insistence on warning about the rising jihadist threat to European civilization. Ignoring that threat herself, Oz-Salzberger unfairly conflates those who bravely express the need to confront the danger of jihad with racists.
Oz-Salzberger's analysis devolves rapidly from the vindictive to the bizarre. In her conclusion, she recommends that Israelis act as Islam's defenders in Europe by pointing out irrelevantly that a thousand years ago Jews flourished under Islamic rule.
THE ODDEST thing about Oz-Salzberger's attacks is that during the European Coalition for Israel's fourth annual conference last September, which she invokes as proof of its members' racism, no hateful diatribes against Islam were issued.
In fact, a review of the 28 pages of minutes from their conference - available on the ECI's Web site - shows that during the two-day affair, European funding of the Palestinian Authority, and UNWRA was scrutinized. EU commissioners were asked to justify their statements against European newspapers that published the cartoons of Muhammad last year. The European media was criticized for its inherent hostility toward Israel. The EU's policy of ignoring the persecution of Christian communities in the Palestinian Authority, Lebanon and the Arab world in general was criticized.
In this vein, the ECI hosted Palestinian Greek-Orthodox pastor Naim Khoury from Bethlehem. After telling the conference how his church was firebombed repeatedly by jihadists, Khoury noted that Israel is the only country in the Middle East where Christians are not persecuted for their religious beliefs. Khoury demanded to know why the EU has refused to defend Christians in the PA, Lebanon and the Middle East.
So too, a Lebanese Christian spokesman, who, fearing Hizbullah, spoke incognito, told the attendees that Hizbullah has prevented Christian villagers from the south from returning to their homes after this summer's war with Israel. He demanded to know why Europe's UNIFIL forces are doing nothing to prevent Hizbullah's persecution of Christians and reassertion of control over south Lebanon.
As to European Muslims, ECI members called for funds to be raised to begin an outreach program to Muslim youth in high school to give them an option other than jihad early on. So too, they called for a public awareness campaign to inform Europeans about Muslim Brotherhood activities on the continent.
That is, far from engaging in racist attacks, ECI conference participants called for the tools of liberal democracy - deliberation and debate - to be used to launch a war of ideas against the ideology of jihad that is swiftly gaining currency over an ever-growing proportion of European Muslims.
SO WHAT prompted Oz-Salzberger's unfathomable broadside against ECI? The only readily available explanation is the identity of its members. ECI is made up of a handful of Christian groups: Bridges for Peace; Christian Friends of Israel, Christians for Israel; the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem, and Operation Exodus.
Oz-Salzberger laments the fact that Israel's European friends are not leftist atheists like the late Orianna Fallaci, "whose commitment to the Jews stemmed from her heroic anti-Fascist youth, and whose harsh critique of Islam came from an enraged liberal soul."
But if she had bothered to listen to what the members of the ECI said she would see that their commitment to Jews stems from their enraged liberal souls too. Like Fallaci, their liberalism arouses their commitment to the preservation of the Judeo-Christian foundations of Europe. Unlike Fallaci, at least until her later years, the root of their commitment to human freedom is their Christian faith.
AND SO, at last, we discover the true irony in Oz-Salzberger's attack on Israel's European friends. In attacking these courageous European Christians she is attacking, rather than upholding, the liberal values of tolerance she professes.
There is nothing liberal about attacking Christian supporters of Israel simply because their religious beliefs are different from ours.
Moreover, morality is inverted and corrupted by the likes of Oz-Salzberger who, on the one hand, purport to "respect" Muslims while denying the xenophobia, bigotry, misogyny and anti-Semitism that dominates so many European Muslim communities today; and, on the other hand, decry Christian faith that is coupled with amity, calls for dialogue, and the moral courage to confront true evil.
Israel's friends deserve better than this.
Israelis deserve better than this.
And we all deserve the full truth.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.
With the Israeli media scope-locked on bigger stories, the fact that Thursday Prime Minister Ehud Olmert paid an obsequious and shameful visit to a country which propagates Holocaust denial and sponsors the Palestinian jihad went largely unnoticed.
No, Olmert did not visit Iran. He visited Egypt.
Iran's Holocaust denial conference last month was roundly condemned in Israel and in the West - as well it should have been. Not only is Holocaust denial intellectually and morally unacceptable. When undertaken by people whose stated desire is the physical annihilation of the Jewish state, Holocaust denial is also dangerous.
Yet while everyone took note of the Iranian conference, aside from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, no one considered it disturbing when last week a sister conference organized by Egyptians who share Iran's aspiration to wipe Israel off the map was held.
Under the banner, "The Holocaust Lie," on December 27th the Egyptian Arab Socialist Party held its Holocaust denial conference in Cairo. The conference was broadcast live on Iran's Arabic language network Al-Alam. Its keynote speaker was party leader Waheed al Uksory. Uksory gained international prominence for being one of the few politicians whom the regime permitted to run against Egypt's dictator Hosni Mubarak in the 2005 presidential elections.
That psychotic and genocidal hatred of the Jewish people rules the Egyptian street no less than it dominates the leadership ranks in Teheran has made no impression on Olmert and his associates. Far from responding to the Wiesenthal Center's call to protest the conference during his meeting Thursday with Mubarak at Sharm e-Sheikh, Olmert and his colleagues devoted their time ahead of the summit to searching for new superlatives to heap onto Mubarak for his "responsible" leadership of the so-called "moderate" Arab states.
Israelis received a taste of that "Egyptian moderation" on Wednesday night. On the eve of Olmert's visit with Mubarak, Channel 2 broadcast a Hamas recruitment video displaying the terror training camps it has built on the ruins of the Israeli communities of Gush Katif.
One of the stars of the film was an Egyptian jihadist who arrived at the camp for weapons training. He was filmed standing in front of the Egyptian flag - no doubt in a bid to demonstrate his country's great contribution to making "liberated" Gaza the jihadist wonderland it is today.
Prior to Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, Israelis were led to believe that the role Egypt would play in the area after the retreat would be quite different. Under Mubarak's iron fisted leadership, Egypt was then prime minister Ariel Sharon's ace in the hole - the leg on which his entire strategy of surrender rested.
Sharon and his advisers promised the Israeli people that we could trust Egypt to prevent Gaza from becoming a forward base for global jihad. To help Egypt fulfill its responsibilities, Sharon even agreed to breach the central principle and strategic guidepost of our peace treaty with Egypt - the demilitarization of the Sinai Peninsula. With Sharon's blessing, Egyptian military forces were deployed along the border with Gaza for the first time since 1967.
Unfortunately, Holocaust denying Egypt has not lived up to Sharon's promises. Not only have its military forces done nothing to prevent the mass transfer of weapons to Gaza. Egyptian authorities have enabled the inundation of Gaza with advanced weapons systems by allowing weapons shipments from Iran, Lebanon and other countries to be transferred from Egyptian ports to Gaza through the breached border which Egyptian authorities have done nothing to seal off.
And as the Channel 2 film showed, the Egyptian military also allows foreign terrorists to enter Gaza at will.
OLMERT'S VISIT to Sharm e-Sheikh yesterday is but one consequence of his government's overall foreign policy. Among its other guiding delusions, that policy is founded on the fiction of an Egyptian-Israeli alliance and friendship. It is this imaginary alliance that informs Olmert's belief that Israel has no need, and indeed no right to fight the burgeoning threat to its national security emanating from "liberated" Gaza - a threat that has grown to strategic proportions largely as a result of Egyptian actions.
But then the public and the media both had bigger fish to fry this week than Olmert's imaginary friendship with Mubarak. This week in two separate developments, the illusions of competence and integrity in the IDF General Staff and in the civil service came crashing down.
First, following a two-day closed conference of the IDF's senior commanders, Tuesday night IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz held a disturbing press conference where he presented his assessment of the central lessons from the summer's war. Earlier that day, the nation awoke to the news that overnight the police conducted mass arrests of the country's top tax officials, leading businessmen, and Olmert's bureau chief Shula Zaken. The arrests were the result of their investigation of a suspected conspiracy whereby acting under Zaken's alleged guidance, the businessmen and tax officials conspired to defraud the Tax Authority.
Standing before the cameras, Halutz enumerated a long list of strategic, operational, tactical and moral failures that took place during the course of the IDF's operation against Hizbullah last summer. While Halutz didn't admit it, a common thread runs through the General Staff's failure to clearly define its war aims to the forces in the field; the Navy's decision to send the INS Hanit into battle against an enemy armed with missiles without turning on its missile defense systems; the decision not to mobilize reserves or launch the ground campaign until it was too late to make a difference; the decision to ignore precise intelligence regarding Hizbullah's intentions and locations; and the failure to destroy Hizbullah's short-range missile arsenal. The thread that links all these failures is Halutz himself.
Any doubt that Halutz is unfit to command the IDF dissipated Tuesday when he stated that one of his central lessons from the war is "that we need to redefine the concept of defeating the enemy." That is to say, since he is incapable of winning a war, he prefers to define defeat as victory and remain at his post.
No doubt to his great relief, Halutz's frightening display of arrogant incompetence was in the end relegated to the inside pages of the newspapers. It was hard to devote column space to the professional collapse of the IDF's General Staff when the heads of Israel's Tax Authority and Olmert's bureau chief were being shuttled from police interrogation rooms to the court house for arraignment.
The media and police spokespeople have emphasized that Shula Zaken's suspected involvement in massive corruption does not mean that Olmert had a role in the conspiracy. But whether Olmert played a role in the scheme to defraud the public trust or not, Zaken's suspected role in the plot indicates that a culture of criminal corruption apparently flourished inside of Olmert's office.
ON THEIR surface, neither Halutz's press conference nor the tax fraud scandal are connected to the Olmert government's hallucinatory policies towards Egypt. But in fact they are inextricably linked. The fact that Israel faces unprecedented threats to its security and very existence while it is being led by the most incompetent, corrupt leadership it has ever known is not coincidental.
To understand why this is the case it is necessary to recall how the current leaders came to be in their current positions in the first place.
In 2003, Ariel Sharon and his sons found themselves on the brink of political, economic and personal destruction. Criminal investigations of their alleged corruption were coming to a head and it was widely predicted that Sharon and his sons Omri and Gilad would all be indicted on felony charges. A way had to be found to step away from the abyss. After advising with Sharon's personal attorney and chief of staff Dov Weisglass, Sharon and his sons chose to protect themselves by adopting the Left's irrational strategy of destroying Israeli communities and giving their land to terrorists. That is how the policy of retreating from Gaza and northern Samaria and carrying out the mass expulsion of Israeli citizens from the areas was born.
Sharon's moral and criminal corruption, like the strategic insanity and danger inherent in the decision to transfer control of Gaza to Hamas and Fatah, were self-evident. And yet, as Sharon predicted, the media, law enforcement and judicial authorities which are dominated by the Left chose to ignore the truth. Overnight the media transformed Sharon from the corrupt politician to the visionary leader. As Amnon Abramovich, Channel 2's chief commentator explained, the media understood that corrupt or not, their job was to protect Sharon to make sure he threw the Jews out of Gush Katif. And as Supreme Court Justice Mishel Cheshin admitted in an interview upon his retirement, the Supreme Court justices would never have dreamed of acting against Sharon lest they endanger the withdrawal.
Senior officials, cabinet ministers and the IDF General Staff first heard of the withdrawal plan from the media. Those who dared to question the retreat policy were distanced from positions of influence. Then national security adviser Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland couldn't get an audience with Sharon.
Then Sharon fired the IDF's chief of general staff Lt. Gen. Moshe Ya'alon. And so it was that Halutz, a good friend of Omri's and a good pilot by all accounts, was promoted to replace Ya'alon - who although far more qualified than he to command the military, was far less obedient.
In the political arena, Sharon's advisers moved quickly to destroy his political opponents. Then finance minister Binyamin Netanyahu was demonized. Government ministers from Shas and the National Union were fired. In their place Sharon promoted obedient, opportunistic and inexperienced yes-men. So it was that Olmert and Tzipi Livni rose to the top positions in his cabinet.
In summary, Sharon's corruption caused him to adopt irrational strategic policies. Principled opposition to these policies voiced by senior public servants and politicians led to their removal from positions of influence. These competent public servants were then replaced by incompetents whose only qualification for their jobs was their total obedience to Sharon.
Sharon's defenders claim that he knew that the people he surrounded himself with after deciding to retreat from Gaza were incompetent to lead the country. But, they argue, Sharon did not foresee his stroke which placed these people in charge of the country. If he hadn't been incapacitated, they argue, everything would have turned out differently. Perhaps they are right. Perhaps not.
Whatever the case may be, the one obvious conclusion that can be drawn from the events of the past week and year without Sharon is that in order to forge competent, honest policies, Israel needs competent and honest leaders. And so to extricate itself from the morass of ineptitude and criminality that has become our public sector, Israel must find the way to rid ourselves of the current political and military leadership that embody both.
The good news is that we have an alternative leadership. It is made up of those principled public servants who were removed from positions of power for their refusal to deny the truth.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Yasser Arafat was a master of the big lie. Since he invented global terrorism with the founding of the Fatah terror organization in 1959, Arafat successfully portrayed himself as a freedom fighter while introducing the world to passenger jet hijackings, schoolhouse massacres and embassy takeovers.
To cultivate the myth of his innocence Arafat ordered his Fatah terror cells to operate under pseudonyms. In the early 1970's he renamed several Fatah murder squads the Black September Organization while publicly claiming that they were "breakaway" units completely unrelated to Fatah or to himself.
In 2000, as he launched the current Palestinian jihad, he repeated the process by renaming Fatah terror cells the Aksa Martyr Brigades and then claiming that they were completely unrelated to Fatah or to himself. This fiction too, has been successful in spite of the fact that all Aksa Martyr Brigades terrorists are members of Fatah and most are members of Palestinian Authority official militias who receive their salaries, guns and marching orders from Fatah.
Last week, with the quiet release of a 33-year-old US State Department cable, a good chunk of the edifice of his great lie was destroyed.
ON MARCH 1, 1973, eight Fatah terrorists, operating under the Black September banner stormed the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan during a farewell party for the US Embassy's Charges d'Affaires George Curtis Moore. The terrorists took Moore, US ambassador Cleo Noel, Belgian Charges d'Affairs Guy Eid and two Arab diplomats hostage. They demanded that the US, Israel, Jordan and Germany release PLO and Baader-Meinhof Gang terrorists, including Robert F. Kennedy's Palestinian assassin Sirhan Sirhan and Black September commander Muhammed Awadh (Abu Daud), from prison in exchange for the hostages' release.
The next evening, the Palestinians brutally murdered Noel, Moore, and Eid. They released their other hostages on March 4.
Arafat denied any involvement in the attack. The US officially accepted his denial. Yet, as he later publicly revealed, James Welsh, who served at the time of the attack as an analyst at the National Security Agency, intercepted a communication from Arafat, then headquartered in Beirut to his terror agents in Khartoum ordering the attack.
In 1986, as evidence of Arafat's involvement in the operation became more widely known, more and more voices began calling for Arafat to be investigated for murder. As the New York Sun's online blog recalled last week, during that period, Britain's Sunday Times reported that 44 US senators sent a letter to then US attorney-general Edwin Meese, "urging the American government to charge the PLO chief with plotting the murders of two American diplomats in 1973."
The article went on to note that the Justice Department's interest in pursuing the matter was making senior State Department officials uneasy: "State Department diplomats, worried that murder charges against Arafat would anger the United States' friends in the Arab world, are urging the Justice Department to drop the investigation."
As late as 2002, in spite of President George W. Bush's pointed refusal to meet with Arafat, the State Department continued to protest his innocence. At the time, Scott Johnson, a Minneapolis attorney and one of the authors of the popular Powerlineblog weblog, inquired into the matter with the State Department's Near Eastern Affairs Bureau. In an emailed response from the bureau's deputy director of press affairs Gregory Sullivan, Johnson was told, "Evidence clearly points to the terrorist group Black September as having committed the assassinations of Amb. Noel and George Moore, and though Black September was a part of the Fatah movement, the linkage between Arafat and this group has never been established."
So it was that for 33 years, under seven consecutive presidential administrations, the State Department denied any knowledge of involvement by Arafat or Fatah in the execution of its own people.
Until last week.
THE CABLE released by the State Department's historian states, "The Khartoum operation was planned and carried out with the full knowledge and personal approval of Yasir Arafat, Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, (PLO), and the head of Fatah. Fatah representatives based in Khartoum participated in the attack, using a Fatah vehicle to transport the terrorists to the Saudi Arabian Embassy."
Although clearly skilled in the art of deception, Arafat could never have succeeded in creating and prolonging his fictions and with them, his crimes, without the cooperation of the US government and the media.
In this vein, the release of the State Department cable raises two daunting questions. First, how is it possible that the belated admission of a massive 33 year cover-up of the murder of senior American diplomats spanning the course of seven consecutive presidential administrations has been ignored by the US media? A Google news search for Cleo Noel brought up but a handful of stories - none of which were reported by the major news networks or national newspapers.
On the face of it, the released cable, which calls into question the very foundation of US Middle East policy for the past generation is simply stunning. The cable concludes, "The Khartoum operation again demonstrated the ability of the BSO to strike where least expected. The open participation of Fatah representatives in Khartoum in the attack provides further evidence of the Fatah/BSO relationship. The emergence of the United States as a primary fedayeen target indicates a serious threat of further incidents similar to that which occurred in Khartoum."
The media's silence on the issue does not merely raise red flags abut their objectivity. By not availing the American public to the knowledge that Fatah and the PLO have been specifically targeting Americans for 33 years, the media has denied the American people basic knowledge of the world in which they live.
The media's abject refusal to cover the story raises an even more egregious aspect of the episode. Specifically, what does the fact that under seven consecutive administrations, the US government has covered up Arafat's direct responsibility for the murder of American diplomats while placing both Arafat and Fatah at the center of its Middle East policy, say about the basic rationale of US policy towards Israel and the Palestinians? What would US Middle East policy have looked like, and what would the results for US, and for international security as a whole have been if rather than advancing a policy that made Arafat the most frequent foreign visitor to the White House during the Clinton administration, the US had demanded his extradition and tried him for murder?
How many lives would have been saved if the US had not been intent on upholding Arafat's big lie? How would such a US policy have impacted the subsequent development of sister terror organizations like Hizbullah, al-Qaida and Hamas, all of which were founded by members of Arafat's terror industry?
Sadly, the release of the cable did not in any way signal a change in the US policy of whitewashing Fatah. In contravention of US law, for the past 13 years, the State Department has been denying that Fatah, the PLO and the Palestinian Authority are terrorist organizations, and has been actively funding them with US taxpayer dollars.
This policy went on, unchanged even after Fatah gunmen murdered three US embassy employees in Gaza in October 2003. This policy continues, unchanged still today, as Fatah's current leader, Arafat's deputy of 40 years Mahmoud Abbas works to form a unity government with Hamas. Indeed, the central component of the US's policy towards the Palestinians today is the goal of strengthening Fatah by arming, training and funding its Force 17 terror militia.
In a November 14, 2006 interview on Palestinian television, Ahmed Hales Abu Maher who serves as Secretary of Fatah in Gaza, bragged of Fatah's role in the development of international terrorism. In his words, reported by Palestinian Media Watch, "Oh warrior brothers, this is a nation that will never be broken, it is a revolution that will never be defeated. This is a nation that gives an example every day that is imitated across the world. We gave the world the children of the RPG [Rocket Propelled Grenades], we gave the world the children stone [-throwers], and we gave the world the male and female Martyrdom-Seekers [suicide bombers]."
Imagine what the world would have looked like if, rather than clinging to Arafat's big lie that he and his Fatah terror organization were central components of Middle East peace, the US had captured and tried Arafat for murdering its diplomats and worked steadily to destroy Fatah.
Imagine how our future would look if rather than stealthily admitting the truth, while trusting the media not to take notice, the US government were to base its current policies on the truth, and the media were to reveal this truth to the world.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.