Is there a certain respect for suicide murderers abroad in the land? One knows, of course, that these killers are the toast of the Arab world. Saddam Hussein, for one, donates $25,000 each to the families of the mass murderers (how he can spare it when laboring under U.N. sanctions is another matter for another day), and the entire Arab press lauds and praises their "martyrdom." But that's not what I'm thinking of.
No, it's those here, who purport to shed light on the conflict by noting that suicide bombers are acting out of "desperation" after so little progress on ending the "occupation." For the millionth time, 98 percent of Palestinians have not been living under occupation since Israel pulled out under the Oslo accord. (Israel was promised peace in exchange.) Yasser Arafat started this war after Ehud Barak offered him a state on 97 percent of the West Bank and Gaza, with a capital in East Jerusalem. Arafat rejected it because he has in mind the map children study in Palestinian schools -- the one that shows "Palestine" filling the entire region called Israel. His goals have not changed since he founded the PLO in 1964, before Israel owned an inch of the West Bank and Gaza -- territories Israel seized only because she was attacked by five Arab armies in 1967.
C-SPAN recently asked the question on a call-in show, "What would you do for a cause?" stressing the suicide, but not the murder, inherent in suicide bombings. Some phoned in to say that they would certainly blow themselves up for a cause (whether they would take innocent teen-agers and babies with them in the process was never probed).
Cable TV channels have provided round-the-clock coverage of Arafat's comfort. Does he have batteries for his cell phone? Is he cramped in only two rooms? This murderer with the deaths of thousands of Jews and Arabs on his hands is treated by some in the media, and most of the "world community," as Albert Schweitzer in a kaffiyeh. Even President Bush warns the Israelis not to touch him. (The Arab blood Arafat has spilled includes anyone agitating for democracy, anyone suspected of collaborating with Israel, Jordanians who stood in his way in 1970 and Lebanese who stood in his way in 1982. Only a couple of months ago, he pulled a pistol on one of his cabinet members. He is, as he always was, a brutal terrorist -- the complete moral equivalent of Osama bin Laden. Indeed, there is no act bin Laden has performed that was not cheered excitedly by Arafat's hate-imbued people.)
Our TV instructors have seldom shown the Ramallah kindergartners dressed as suicide murderers, nor the Palestinian ambulances carrying Kalishnikovs. They displayed the contents of the Karine A -- once. Oh, and the small gaggle of European and American leftists and anti-globalization fanatics who arrived to show solidarity with the encircled Arafat were called "international peace activists" by NPR and other news organizations. Funny, their interest in peace was missing when Israelis were being blown up in discos, cafes and supermarkets. Only The Washington Post mentioned that their leader bombed a McDonald's in France.
Still, with numbing obduracy, The New York Times, NPR, the European Union and even, alas, on bad days the Bush administration continue to treat the terror inflicted on Israel as qualitatively different from that visited upon us. And officials, as if floating down from some other planet unsullied by knowledge of the headlines of the last 18 months, state mindlessly that Israel and the Palestinians "must get back to negotiations."
For years now, it has been clear that the issue between Israel and her neighbors is not occupation, it is not settlements, and it certainly is not Israeli brutality and aggression. It is the Arabs' inability to live peacefully with others. There are 22 Arab nations spanning thousands of square miles -- many of them rich in oil. But they cannot abide one tiny Jewish country in their midst. Saudi Arabia would not even permit the president of the United States to observe Christmas on its territory (George H.W. Bush did so on an American ship offshore).
Israel was bullied and cajoled into offering everything that reasonable Western diplomats thought the Arabs needed to make peace. Israel got war instead. Only a lunatic would now argue that Israel needs further "negotiations" with the murderers who are blowing up her citizens.