Do the Arabs really want peace with Israel?

Do the Arabs really want peace with Israel?

© David Burton 2005

Bus Bombing

Does the PLO and other Arab countries in the Mid East really want peace with Israel? Let’s remember that the Oslo accord with Arafat and the PLO was predicated on “land for peace.” Israel offered Arafat over 90% of the West Bank and Gaza territories and a capital in East Jerusalem. Seemingly, Israel was prepared to offer land for peace. Were Arafat and the PLO prepared to offer peace for land? Seemingly not.

The PLO and most other Arab regimes in the Mid East (Jordan being the notable exception) foster virulent anti-Semitism and inculcate their children with a hatred of Jews and of Israel. This hatred is part of the curriculum taught in the Muslim schools. Newspapers, books, radio and television spew out anti-Semitic vitriol which is usually encouraged by the governments themselves and by fundamentalist Islamic Clerics.

Paul Johnson (Ref 1.) notes that the Middle East has become the new epicenter of Jew-hatred. He notes that, “For the last half-century key texts such as the Protocols {of the Elders of Zion, which has been known to be a complete fraud for over a century} and {Adolph Hitler’s} Mein Kampf, as well as locally manufactured tales of Jewish conspiracies, have circulated in all Arab countries. State publishing firms and state radio and television spew a steady diet of poison attacking the Jews and anyone else who can plausibly be associated with them (i.e., the U.S.). In recent years there has been a growing output of anti-American propaganda so that anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism are now intertwined in the minds of many Arabs. This is the poisoned soil from which suicide bombers and al Qaeda have sprung.”

Peace will never come to the Mid-East until this brainwashing of the Muslim masses and Muslim children in particular ceases. Even then, it will require the emergence of a new generation of Arab children, untainted by the current anti-Semitic propaganda torrent which is being fed to the region’s Arab populace.

For real peace to come to the Middle East, not only must the Arab nations in the region stop their anti-Semitic propaganda and incitements against Israel, but their support of terrorists and terrorism in general must be halted. As yet, such a real and unambiguous renunciation of terrorism is yet to be seen. Consider the following (Ref. 2). “The Middle East Intelligence Bulletin, citing Israeli news sources, reported that the Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah has acquired Russian SA-18 man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS), probably from Syria. In 2002 Syria reportedly had ordered SA-18s from Russia, but Russia Subsequently cancelled the deal. However, the UAE daily Al-Bayan reported that Hezbollah had already received a ‘first installment’ of SA-18 missiles earlier in the year.” Shoulder-launched infrared-guided surface-to-air missiles [SAM’s] not only pose a threat to Israeli civilian and military aircraft, but, in the hands of terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, pose a major threat to civilian aviation worldwide. Placing SA-18 SAM’s in the hands of Arab terrorists does not lead to peace with Israel nor with anyone else.

Syria has been one of the most implacable foes of Israel, participating in every war against the Jewish state. Syria refuses to recognize the State of Israel, harbors and sponsors recognized terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and, until very recently, had occupied its Arab neighbor, Lebanon, for over 20 years. Most recently, the United States has accused Syria of developing and storing weapons of mass destruction and of aiding and abetting Iraq and its murderous regime during and following the Iraq war in 2003.

There exist three major obstacles to peace and co-existence between Israel and Syria. These are:

  1. The Golan Heights, which Syria has used to harass Israeli settlements in Northern Israel and from which to launch its attacks on the State of Israel.
  2. Syrian harboring and sponsoring of terrorist organizations.
  3. Syrian intervention in and interference with Lebanon since 1976 and the failure to rein in terrorist organizations that have freely operated against Northern Israel from bases in Southern Lebanon.

While a peace agreement between Israel and Syria has sometimes seemed at hand, each attempt has resulted in disappointment and failure.

In 1994, negotiations between Israel and Syria appeared to be nearing a successful conclusion. Two years later, after continuing negotiations, the negotiations ended in failure when Syria’s then president Hafez Assad withdrew from the negotiations. During the negotiations, “Assad insisted that Israel agree to a complete withdrawal from the Golan Heights before he would commit to revealing what concessions he would make in return.” (Ref. 3) The then Israeli Prime Minister Yizhak Rabin insisted during the negotiations that the details of the security arrangements and demilitarization of the Golan Heights region needed to be discussed and agreed to prior to any discussion of returning part or all of the Golan to Syria and a subsequent Israeli withdrawal. “Rabin hinted at a willingness to give up part of the Golan, but only in exchange for concrete assurances about what sort of peace Israel could expect, making clear that he wanted full normalization of relations similar to that between Israel and Egypt” (Ref. 3) (similar to the agreements in the Israeli/Egyptian peace treaty that was signed on March 26, 1979).

During the negations that lasted from 1994 to 1996, the Israelis made clear that Syria had to restrain the Hezbollah terrorists operating from Southern Lebanon in order to prove the seriousness of the Syrian intentions. Shortly after the beginning of negotiations, it was reported (Ref. 4) that “Syrian army units raided Hezbollah strongholds and confiscated weapons.” During the two years over which the negotiations dragged on, relative quiet existed between Hezbollah and the Israeli forces in Lebanon. Clearly, Syria had the capability to control the terrorists in Hezbollah, just as for the past 20 year they have had the power to control the actions of the less-than independent government in Lebanon.

A renewal of peace talks between Israel and Syria was announced by then President Bill Clinton in December of 1999. As in 1994, the talks were looked upon optimistically. However, in January of 2000, the talks came to an abrupt end. The reason given for the failure of this round of negotiations was Hafez Assad’s insistence on controlling a strip of land alongside Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee), the major source of Israel’s scarce supply of water. There have been no negotiations between Israel and Syria since January 2000.

The major issue from the Syrian perspective has always been the return of the Golan Heights which Israel captured during the 1967 War after Syria attacked Israel from its positions there. During the years of negotiations, Israel has offered to return some or all of the land in dispute. In December 1999, a senior government minister said, after a Speech by then Prime Minister Ehud Barak, that “It’s all over, they (the Israeli settlers in the Golan Heights) need to start evacuating.” (Ref. 5)

As he left for the January 2000 negotiations with Syria in the United States, Barak said the following (Ref. 6), “Nobody knows what the border line will be, but I did not hide that there is a painful price for an agreement, and we will not sign one for any price. We are going toward a difficult agreement, but one which is necessary to bring an end to the era of wars.” Barak then concluded by saying, “. . . we will not sign an agreement which will not strengthen, in our opinion, the security of Israel.”

The Middle East Peace Process
In 1993, the Middle East peace process was initiated with the agreement in Oslo, Norway between representative of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and representatives of the State of Israel. The agreement was formally signed on the White House lawn in September of 1993, by Yasser Arafat for the PLO and Yizhak Rabin for Israel with a smiling then U.S. President Bill Clinton overseeing the proceedings. The Oslo agreement supposedly brought recognition of Israel by the PLO, it supposedly bought an end to violence against Israel, and it supposedly ended incitement to terror. Israel recognized the PLO as representing the Palestinian people, gave them control of all major Palestinian cities, armed the PLO with Israeli weapons, and offered them increasing autonomy in the West Bank and Gaza, followed by a final resolution of the status of the Palestinians. The first round of implementation of the Oslo agreement ended up in producing nothing but the establishment of a terrorist base within the areas under PLO control and an intifada that has claimed the lives on hundreds of Israelis and Palestinians.

In June of 2003, President George W. Bush attended two meetings to advocate and gain support for his “roadmap to peace” as part of the ongoing “Middle East peace process.” The first was a meeting of Arab states and was held at Sharm el-Sheik in Egypt. The second meeting was held in Aqaba in Jordan with Israel, the PLO and Jordan attending. According to Charles Krauthammer (Ref. 7), both meetings failed to produce concrete advances in the so-called peace process.

Krauthammer says, that at Sharm el-Sheik, the representatives of the Arab states present “did not take a single concrete action toward Israel. Egypt did not offer to return its ambassador to Israel [which it previously recalled in support of the intifada]. The Saudis threatened a boycott if Israel was even invited.”

The Egyptian position is not surprising in view of its historical dealings with Israel even after signing a peace treaty with Israel in 1979 (that returned the Sinai to Egypt, allowing the Arab states to meet at Sharm el-Sheik). In 2000, Daniel Pipes (Ref. 8) wrote:

   “Twenty years of relations between Egypt and Israel since the treaty of 1979 testify bitterly to the same state of affairs. Formally there is peace, but Cairo permits, even sponsors, a vicious propaganda campaign against Israel that includes the crudest forms of anti-Semitism, and it is rapidly building up offensive military forces that could be deployed against the Jewish state. In effect, what Egyptian authorities are telling their people is this: for all sorts of reasons we have to be in contact with Israelis and sign certain pieces of paper, but we still hate them, and you should, too.”

This state of affairs exists throughout the Arab states and throughout the worldwide Islamic community. Until this attitude changes, the peace process is doomed to failure, no matter how hard the United States tries. If the United States is fully committed to a real peace process, it and other countries must make it clear to the Islamic world that their duplicitous position will no longer be tolerated. The Arab countries of the Middle East need to understand that peace in the region can only be achieved if they both speak and act in a manner that is consistent with the achievement of peace and stability. Their failure to do so will spell continued misery for the Palestinians and a virtual state of war with Israel. There is much to suggest that this is exactly what these regimes want.

With respect to President Bush’s meeting with Ariel Sharon, Israel’s Prime Minister, and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Prime Minister, Krauthammer (Ref. 7) wrote that nothing concrete was actually achieved, optimistic public statements to the contrary. He wrote: “Did Abbas recognize Israel as the Jewish state? No. He refused to give up the Palestinian principle of ‘return', which means eradicating Israel by flooding it with millions of Palestinian refugees.” With respect to Arab terrorism, Krauthammer reported that Abbas offered an end to terrorism, but, “until the lip service is carried out, this is nothing but a restatement of the famous 1993 letter from Arafat to Rabin in which he pledged that the ‘PLO renounces the use of terrorism and other acts of violence.’” Abbas’ ability to carry through on his promise is certainly in doubt as shown by the Hamas response, less than a week after the Aqaba meeting, that it was withdrawing from peace talks with Abbas and it was promising to continue it’s terror attacks against Israel.
   “At Aquaba, Abbas recognized Israel. So did Arafat pretend to 10 years ago in the very first line of the Oslo agreement.
   “Abbas pledged there will be no more incitement of hatred against Israel – another repetition of another Oslo pledge. The Palestinians then spent the next decade poisoning their children with the worst anti-Semitic propaganda since the Third Reich.”

Israeli attitudes and concerns toward the “road map” for peace between Israel and the Palestinians are summarized by Hillel Newman (Ref. 9), the Israeli consul to New England. He noted that Israel’s acceptance of the “road map” was done with the “understanding that Israel’s concerns about the road map will be fully and seriously addressed during the implementation phase of the plan.”

He stressed that “Israel’s adoption of the steps of the plan . . . places the burden of proof on the Palestinian leadership.” He further stated that, “The entire peace process relies on his [the Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Abu Mazen] ability to lead the Palestinians toward co-existence with Israel.”

Unless and until Abu Mazen is able to effectively address three central issues, Newman stated that peace would not be achieved. The three issues are:

  1. The end of terror and violence. “A true peace cannot be achieved while the Palestinian Authority continues to condone terror.” Newman calls for Abu Mazen to take “significant” action that includes, “clear and decisive commands to the Palestinian security forces to eliminate terrorism, unification of all security forces, collection of illegal weapons, verifiable arrests of terrorists, cessation of incitement in mosques and public places, and the disruption of funds and ammunition to terrorists.” Abu Mazen’s willingness or even his ability to implement these steps remains highly questionable. Unless he is able to undertake an effective implementation, the peace process will be doomed by repeating the mistakes made by Yasser Arafat throughout the previously failed Oslo peace process. “Arafat preferred temporary internal peace with extreme fundamentalists” rather than “a final peace with Israel. . . . Abu Mazen is faced with the same dilemma: . . . peace with Israel, placing him on an inevitable collision course with the forces of terror in the Palestinian Authority, or . . . internal unity with terrorist groups at the cost of peace with Israel.”
  2. The claim of the “right of return.” In Newman’s words, “The call for the right of return is another way of calling for the end of the Jewish, democratic State of Israel. . . . a lack of Palestinian willingness to compromise on the right of return has only one meaning: Their intentions are not to live side by side with Israel, but to bring an end to the State of Israel.”
  3. Recognition of the State of Israel – by the Palestinians and by the entire Arab world. The reality of a Middle East peace eventually rests upon this crucial issue. According to Newman, “Even today, most of the countries in the Arab world have not recognized Israel’s right to exist. Judging by the incitement against Israel and Jews, the maps (which do not even display the State of Israel), and the hate-filled material distributed within the Palestinian Authority, one doubts their wish for co-existence. The support of the Arab world is crucial for the success of the peace process.”

Finally, Newman summarized by saying, “No matter how many agreements are signed or summits convened, without the willingness of the Palestinians and the Arab world to compromise, halt all terrorism and recognize the State of Israel, no lasting peace can be established.”

Contrary to what Islamic terrorists, the Arab nations and their fellow travelers would hope to have you believe, “The Middle Eats conflict is not about the right to self-determination of Palestinian Arabs, but rather about the right to self-determination of Israeli Jews. For a century the Arabs have attempted to block any expression of Jewish self-determination, using violence, armed aggression, and terrorism. The Arabs today control 22 countries and territory nearly twice the size of the United States. They refuse to share even a fraction of one percent of the Middle East with Jews, even in a territory smaller than New Jersey.
   “The Arab countries invented the Palestinian ‘people’ and their ‘plight’ as a propaganda ploy in imitation of the German campaign on behalf of Sudeten self-determination in the 1930’s. Just like the struggle for ‘Sudeten liberation’ was nothing more than a fig leaf for the German aggression aimed at annihilating Czechoslovakia, so the struggle for Palestinian liberation is nothing more than a jihad to destroy Israel and its population.” (Ref. 10)

While there is considerable doubt that any of the Arab nations in the Middle East give a real hoot about the fate of their Palestinian brethren and certainly little to no concern about Jews and the State of Israel, there is some hope that self interest may help convince them to join the U.S. in pursuing an effective Middle East peace. This self-interest is becoming clear to some of the Arab states as they realize that allowing the Palestinian-Israeli condition to fester is feeding the growth of Islamic Fundamentalism which poses a real threat to their own regimes. Egypt and Saudi Arabia are prime examples of Arab countries that have become targets of Islamic Fundamentalist terrorism that threatens to destabilize their despotic regimes. There is also the hope that President George W. Bush (and his successors) may be serious about requiring more than just words from the Palestinians and from the other Arab regimes in the area. While there are these hopes, I, for one, am not yet prepared to bet the farm on these hopes becoming a reality in my lifetime.

  1. Paul Johnson, Forbes, Pg. 25, November 25, 2002.
  2. Hezbollah Reported to Have SA-18s, Michael Puttre, JOURNAL of ELECTRONIC DEFENSE, Pg. 28, June 2003.
  3. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Middle East Conflict, Mitchell Bard, pg 381, Alpha Books, 1999.
  4. Ha’aretz, April 19, 1994.
  5. Yediot Aharonot, December 10, 1999.
  6. Yediot Aharonot, January 3, 1999.
  7. Israel threatened by Oslo redux, Charles Krauthammer, Boston Globe, Pg. 27, June 6, 2003.
  8. Israel’s Moment of Truth, Daniel Pipes, The Mideast Peace Process, edited by Neal Kozodoy, Encounter Books, Pg 79, 2002.
  9. Palestinians must match Israel’s peace overtures, Hillel Newman, The Jewish Advocate, Pg 19, June 6-12, 2003.
  10. Letter To The Parents Of An American Martyr For ‘Palestine’, Steven Plaut, The Jewish Press, Pg. 6, October 28, 2005.

  8 November 2005 {Article 6; Islam_01}    
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