By Jeff Jacoby, April 14, 2002
IF THE DEFINITION of madness is doing the same thing over and over while
expecting a different result, Secretary of State Powell’s mission to the Middle
East is crazy. “However long the Israeli incursions continue,” he said on
Thursday, “the problem will still be there. We will still need to go to a
negotiating process that will lead to peace.” Even for Powell, with his long
history of strategic misjudgments, this is insane.
How can Powell still imagine that a “negotiating process” with Yasser Arafat
can ever lead to peace? For Arafat and his Palestinian Authority, negotiations
are a tool of war – a mechanism for harvesting their gains from terror and
violence. They don’t seek negotiations in order to stop the killing, they kill in
order to make their negotiations more fruitful.
After eight years of a “peace process” that has slaughtered more Israelis than
the 1967 war did, it should be clear even to Powell that negotiating with Arafat
leads only to bloodshed.
And forcing Israel to back away from its current war will lead only to
bloodshed, too. Last Tuesday, yielding to Bush administration pressure, Israel
pulled its troops out of the West Bank cities of Tulkarm and Qalqilya.
Forty-eight hours later, eight Israelis were murdered and 22 were wounded
when a suicide bomber exploded a bus near Haifa. The terrorist had entered
Israel by way of – Tulkarm.
Powell is not alone, of course, in demanding an Israeli pullback. “The whole
world is demanding that Israel withdraw,” lectures Kofi Annan, the UN
secretary general. “I don’t think the whole world, including the friends of the
Israeli people and government, can be wrong.”
But the whole world can be wrong. It was wrong in 1981, when Israel bombed
Saddam Hussein’s nuclear-weapons reactor in Osirak. The death toll Israel
prevented with that daring mission is incalculable, yet the unanimous reaction
was one of outrage and scorn.
This is another Osirak moment. Far from being an impediment to the war
against international terrorism, the battle in the West Bank is a frontline in that
war. Unless Israel demolishes Arafat’s mass-murder machine, unless his hellish
“martyrdom” cult is shut down, it will only be a matter of time before suicide
bombers are detonating themselves in the markets and cafes of the West.
The United States did not spend eight years negotiating with Mullah Omar and
the Taliban. President Bush gave them one chance to cooperate and hand over
Osama bin Laden; when they refused, they were destroyed.
Arafat and his lieutenants, by contrast, have been given chance after
chance to prove their peaceful bona fides. What they have proven instead is
that they are liars and conscienceless killers. If America after Sept. 11 had the
right to obliterate the Taliban, Israel has the right to obliterate the Palestinian Authority.
The history of this conflict can seem complicated, but its moral dimensions now
One side sends its soldiers to wipe out suicide bombers. The other side sends
suicide bombers to wipe out guests at a bat mitzvah.
One side publishes maps showing how Israel and a Palestinian state can
coexist. The other side publishes maps on which Israel doesn’t exist.
One side apologizes when its explosives kill the wives and children of the killers
it targeted. The other side targets wives and children.
One side was grief-stricken on Sept. 11 and declared a national day of
mourning. The other side danced in the streets and distributed candies in
One side has never deployed a suicide bomber in its 54 years of existence. The
other side has deployed more than 40 in the past 12 months alone.
One side developed a mandatory “peace curriculum” to prepare its children to
live in peace next to a Palestinian state. The other side steeps its children in
hate, extolling suicide bombers as “martyrs” they should emulate and operating
summer camps to train them for jihad.
One side is an unshakable ally of the United States and fully backs our war
against global terrorism. The other side is armed and financed by Iraq, Iran, and
Syria, three of the world’s most notorious terrorist states.
One side repeatedly gave up land for peace. The other side took the land and
This is not the time for peace missions and negotiations. The way to end the
war in the West Bank is not to make Israel retreat but to let it fight its way to a
decisive victory. The ‘peace process’ was the cause of this war; now it will
take a war to bring peace.
Israel should be encouraged to crush the Palestinians’ terrorist network, destroy
the Palestinian Authority, demilitarize the territories, and banish Arafat forever.
Only then will the Palestinians be free. And only then will it be possible for
them to detoxify their poisoned society, choose decent and responsible leaders,
and join with Israel in crafting a genuine and lasting peace.