Thomas Sowell

Those who see negotiations as a magic process leading to peace often fail to understand that negotiations between nations are not like negotiations between labor and management, where both sides realize that in the end they each need the other to survive. A nation does not need another nation in order to survive. The Palestinians would love nothing better than to survive by exterminating Israel.

If Arafat realizes that he cannot exterminate Israel, he may also realize that other Palestinians may exterminate him if he permanently calls off the war against Israel. The much discussed "Arab street" may not be willing to have peace with Israel -- at least not until they have tired of repeatedly suffering painful and devastating consequences from continuing the war. But so long as "world opinion" repeatedly intervenes to spare them the full consequences of their own aggression, that day can be postponed indefinitely.

Those who look for "root causes" might consider this: Several years before there was a state of Israel, Winston Churchill said that the Jews in Palestine had "made the desert bloom." Had they not done so, there might be peace in the Middle East today. Nothing has promoted more fierce and lasting hatred than assaulting people's egos by blatantly outperforming them.

Most of the great mindless slaughters of the 20th century -- whether of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, the kulaks in the Soviet Union, the Jews in Germany, the Ibos in Nigeria or the Tamils in Sri Lanka -- have been slaughters of those who dramatically eclipsed the accomplishments of others.

Ordinary life has been even more disrupted by the civil war in Sri Lanka than in Israel and has been marked by even more atrocities. Recently, there have begun to appear the first signs of a desire on both sides for peace in Sri Lanka. This was not brought about by a "peace process," by externally imposed cease fires or by photo ops at the White House. It was brought about by decades of suffering by both sides until they were exhausted.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate