The twin terror incidents in Baghdad and Jerusalem last Tuesday (Aug. 19) may have sprung from different sources, but as House Majority Leader Tom DeLay noted, "They are a common enemy." DeLay also broke through the fog about the Israeli-Palestinian "peace process" when he added, "The organizations behind the attacks will not be tolerated or bargained with. They must be dismantled and destroyed."
The dismantling of the "terrorist infrastructure," the ending of incitement and the election of new leaders "not compromised by terror," as well as the unequivocal embracing of democracy and free market economies were all conditions laid down by President George Bush on June 24, 2002, if the Palestinian side wanted American support for the creation of its own state. Not one of those conditions has been fulfilled, but the United States continues to pressure Israel to give more, thus encouraging terrorists to kill more. Why compromise when your murderous policies are working?
Former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft repeats the miscalculation of those who support the "road map" when he writes in the Aug. 20 Washington Post that the Israelis and Palestinians must take steps "in parallel, rather than sequentially, in order to increase the prospects for building and sustaining momentum." Otherwise, he says, there will be "renewed violence."
Whatever is he talking about? Violence as an instrument of policy by the Palestinian side has not stopped. It has ebbed and flowed as a strategy for extracting the maximum possible concessions from the Israeli and American sides before the coming all-out war to eliminate Israel. Any "cessations" are pauses that the terrorists use to rearm. Despite all of the gestures and hand-wringing by well-meaning Westerners, eradication of Israel has been the objective of the Palestinians and the Arab states since modern Israel's creation in 1948. Nothing that Israel's enemies have said and done in the last 55 years has shown they've changed their minds.
In fact, a strong case can be made that all of the pressure on Israel for "goodwill gestures," "confidence-building measures" and other wishful thinking has contributed to terrorism, not diminished it.
Over the last decade, 1,300 Israelis have been murdered by Palestinian terrorists, according to official Israeli count. That is proportional to 60,000 dead Americans. When 3,000 Americans were murdered on 9/11, the United States declared its intention to conduct a "war on terror" and dismantle terrorism's infrastructure in Afghanistan, Iraq and anywhere else that threatens American lives and interests. If that is a proper objective for the United States - and it is - why isn't it proper for Israel, whose very existence is threatened?
It does no good to pressure Israel to "do more" while allowing the Palestinian side to get away with doing less. Statements condemning Tuesday's bus bombing in Jerusalem by the Palestinian "prime minister," Abu Mazen (a.k.a. Mahmoud Abbas), are insufficient, especially when it has been Mazen who has shown his unwillingness to eradicate terrorism. Rather, he has incorporated terrorism as a means of reaching his political objectives. Mazen has been the chief architect since 1993 of the "series of understandings" reached between the PLO/Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas, allowing for the establishment of the largest terrorist base in the world inside PA-controlled areas.
If the United States cares about reducing terrorism, it will live up to the conditions set down by President Bush last year, especially those concerning the dismantling of terrorism's infrastructure. If the Palestinians won't do it - and they won't because terror is their policy - then the American yoke should be removed from Israel's neck. The Israelis know the location of the terror camps. They should be allowed to take them out.
Anyone who believes that what Israel does or doesn't do has any effect on what the Palestinian side does or doesn't do is self-deluded. American policy is to get the terrorists before they get us. That policy ought to be the parallel track for Israel.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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