Rich Tucker

Writers make a living stringing words together. So we know that words matter -- but only as long as they have clearly understood definitions. Change the definitions, make the words mean the opposite of what they seem to mean, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

Much like the Middle East “peace process.”

Take a look at those two simple words. We all know what they mean. A “peace process” would entail at least two groups moving, well, toward peace. Frankly, that’s the opposite of what’s actually happening.

On Aug. 19, a homicide bomber killed at least 20 people on a bus in Jerusalem. Members of the terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility. Strangely, there was officially a “cease-fire” in place at the time of the attack. In fact, this was the fourth militant attack since June 29, when the three major Palestinian terrorist organizations declared a three-month cease-fire.

Four attacks. During a “cease-fire.”

Even more strangely, the terrorists insist that a “cease-fire” still exists. As CNN’s Jerrold Kessel reported on the night of the attack, “both the Islamic Jihad and Hamas [are] claiming responsibility. [But] both say that they remain true to the cease-fire which they proclaimed seven weeks ago.”

Hold on. The terrorists insist they’re remaining true to a cease-fire, even as they blow up busses and kill 20 people. And our major media outlets accept that explanation. Or, at least, they’re willing to report it uncritically.

As long as the bombers go unchallenged, the phrase “cease-fire,” like “peace process,” has no meaning, or at least that it no longer means what most of us think it means. This is especially dangerous because, like it or not, the United States is deeply involved in the region.

Israel and the Palestinians are supposedly following a “road map for peace” laid out by President Bush. It’s supposed to lead to an independent Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel by 2005. Those words all sound good. But do they really have any meaning? Or are we just pretending they do?

In June, our State Department released a statement to “welcome the appointment of Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas and the strong start he and his government have made in difficult circumstances, and the acceptance by Israeli and Palestinian authorities of the [Bush] roadmap.”

Rich Tucker

Rich Tucker is a communications professional and a columnist for