By Michael Gove, September 11, 2001
Land for peace is an ancient principle. There is a special place in history for all
those who have given an extra mile of territory to avoid further conflict. That
place is called Munich.
That we in the West have failed to heed our own history is apparent in the
approach we take to the Middle East. Observing the escalation of violence in
Israel, with seven dead in the latest suicide bombings, the instinctive prayer is
for peace. As it was in the Thirties. And hope therefore fixes on the prospect of
‘talks’. As it did in the Thirties.
So determined are we to see ‘talks’ as the solution, that they are held as the
one inviolable good in a wilderness of tears. The prevailing media narrative
therefore has ‘renewed violence threatening the talks’, as though they were
mutually exclusive antagonists, violence the indivisible evil and talks the
quintessential good of this drama.
But the truth about ‘talks’ is that they are the product of violence, not its
solvent. Munich was a reward for terror. Indeed the more ‘successful’ talks are,
the greater the legitimation for further violence. Once Sudetenland fell, who
stood up for Prague?
The talks which the West demands that Israel continues to hold with the
Palestinian Authority will only confer further legitimacy on a terrorist state. It is
not just that Arafat’s territory harbours terrorists. It is terrorist. Militarily,
culturally, spiritually. Just as much as any totalitarian regime from our dark
continent’s 20th century.
Militarily terrorist? Arafat’s own presidential guard, Force 17, and its allied
forces engage in regular sniping against Jewish targets, on both sides of the
1967 green line. Force 17 has combined with Hamas to attack Israeli
communities in northern Jerusalem, liaised with Hezbollah in attacks from Gaza,
and engaged in its own mortar bombings of Israeli settlements in Gaza as well
as kibbutzim in the neighboroughing Negev.
The Palestinian Authority’s summer camps train children to handle
weapons with the aim, in the words of one 14-year-old, ‘to chase out the
In the words of the US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern
Affairs, Edward Walker, ‘Arafat has embraced violence as his prime negotiating
Culturally terrorist? Arafat’s newspapers produce a stream of anti-Jewish
invective, its cartoons depicting Jews as worms, Nazis and hook-nosed
dwarves labelled ‘the disease of the century’. Those same media have accused
the Jews of implementing ‘the protocols of
the Elders of Zion’, spreading ‘mad cow’ disease by smuggling
contaminated chocolate into the Palestinian Authority, infecting
Arab children with HIV and engaging in an ‘organised conspiracy to
harm male virility’ through poisoned food.
Arafat’s official school
textbooks also practise the same subtlety. A set text for 13-year-
old Palestinian children runs “Draw your sword, let us gather for
war with red blood and blazing fire. Death shall call and the sword
shall be crazed from much slaughter.”
Lest any child wonder against whom the crazed sword should be
unleashed a prose exercise for eight-year-olds makes all clear: “Complete the
following blank exercise with the appropriate word: ‘The Zionist enemy (blank)
civilians with its aircraft.’
No gold stars I suspect for any pupil who writes in ‘salutes’.
And spiritually terrorist? How about the sermon of Sheikh Sabri broadcast on
the official Palestinian radio in which he declared:
“Allah shall take revenge on behalf of his prophets against the colonialist
settlers who are sons of monkeys and pigs.”
Should anyone doubt what fate awaits the children of ‘monkeys and
pigs’ another sermon from the same sheikh clarifies doubts: “Muslims, I am
sure that Israel will eventually be destroyed and that the settlements will be
And it’s Israel that the UN thinks is racist? Anyone tempted to condemn Israel
for its recent actions should just ask themselves, what would any other state
do when, having granted land for peace, it finds that land is being used as a
bridgehead for war?
Perhaps even more pertinently, what do other Middle Eastern states do
when they face any opposition activity on their own soil? If you want the
answer consider what the late Syrian President Hafez al-Assad did to dissidents
in Hama and President Saddam Hussein of Iraq to the Kurds of Halabja. If you
can find witnesses alive.
And yet we expect talks with these people to be productive? In contrast to the
practice of every other Middle Eastern state, democratic Israel is exercising
restraint in the face of provocation. It responds to indiscriminate terror with
limited, targeted, military strikes against the instigators of terror.
Because, unlike every other Middle Eastern state, Israel is a democracy.
And therein lies the inescapable, unspoken, obstacle to peace in the Middle
Arab nations, such as Arafat’s, Assad’s and Saddam’s, are tyrannies which
need an external enemy to blame for the woes of an oppressed people. Israel is
that enemy, as the Jews were for Hitler.
It does not matter how much land Israel cedes, or how many settlements
are removed to make the West Bank satisfactorily Judenfrei for Chairman
Arafat, these tyrannies will still need their enemy. And so the campaign of
terror against Israel will continue as long as their tyranny does.
The only way to bring lasting peace to the Middle East is to bring democracy to
its peoples. And yet that is a course from which the West is steering away. It is
no longer UK policy to back the opposition to Saddam, we place no sanction on
Syria for its recent turn back to darkness, and we impose no penalty on Arafat
for his reign of terror. All we do is beat up on the victim.
When will we learn? Ask Neville Chamberlain.