Q: Given that peace is always better than war, why don't the Israelis just give the Palestinians what they want and be done with all this violence?
A :It wouldn't end the violence. And what the Palestinians want is the destruction of Israel. Arafat and the Arabs/Islamists are pledged to it. The Arabs/Islamists have attacked Israel at least four times - the first time, notably, on the very day of Israel's creation as a state by the United Nations.
Q: But all they want is their land back. Don't the Palestinians have a legitimate grievance?
A: In the first war (1948), Arab leaders got on radios and urged the Palestinians to leave their homes so that they wouldn't get hurt in the Arab attack meant to rub out the Israelis; it was estimated to last three days. Because the Israelis won that and the subsequent wars, the Palestinians remain in refugee "camps" - the Arab/Islamist dictatorships and monarchies themselves refusing to take them in.
Q: Aren't the displaced Palestinians entitled to a homeland, just as the Israelis were?
A: Perhaps. Yet they're pariahs in the Middle East, and widely regarded there as thorns in the side of the hated Israel rather than as absorbed citizens of Arab or Muslim regimes. Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia don't want anything to do with them. Kuwait has ethnically cleansed them. Jordan, the Hashemite kingdom and properly the Palestinians' "state," won't take them, in fact has killed them by the thousands - notably after Palestinians tried to take the place over.
Q: Then why not Israel?
A: Perhaps half-a-million Palestinians do live in Israel, and more work there than work in Egypt or Syrian-occupied Lebanon. Once the Palestinians were Israeli citizens, their explosive birth rate would quickly have them outvoting Israelis. Besides, what rational citizenry would invite into its midst a large cohort intent on blowing up the host citizenry?
Q: But Yasser Arafat has won the Nobel Peace Prize....
A: Arafat is a dedicated terrorist who packs heat, orders in secret shipments of arms, and (if not incompetent to stop them) rejoices in - or directs - the mayhem and death Palestinian suicide bombers wreak on Israeli civilians.
Q: So why doesn't Israel just give the Palestinians some of the land it has won - just some of the occupied territories?
A: Israel has done that - and sought to do it a second time. In 1993, Yitzhak Rabin gave the Palestinians key autonomous regions in Gaza and the West Bank. They have used those regions as staging areas for waging an internal urban war against Israel. Nearly two years ago, Bill Clinton and Ehud Barak proposed giving the Palestinians about 95 percent of what they demanded (interesting: losers demanding), but Arafat rejected the deal on the grounds that anything less than 100 percent - all - is not enough.
Q: You really don't have much use for the Palestinians, do you?
A: No use for terrorist bombers devoid of all notions of decency and compromise - do you? These people cheered our 9/11 dead. A decade ago they chanted for Saddam Hussein to "use the gas." They hate Israel. They train their young in how to kill Jews and "infidels" - namely us. They seek to throttle not only this democracy, but also the only democracy in the region.
Q: You're just reflecting all the power Jews wield in the West, particularly in the United States - particularly in the media....
A: That statement is the purest essence of anti-Semitism.
Q: But if only Ariel Sharon weren't so inflexible.
A: If only. Please remember that Sharon is popularly elected, something no other Arab or Islamist leader - including Arafat - is. He was elected largely because Israeli voters concluded that the reigning flexibility had succeeded only in driving the situation down and diminishing Israel's prospects. No less than President Bush in the war against terror, Sharon is fighting for the survival of his country.
Q: Then what should Sharon - the Israelis - do?
A: They clearly don't know what to do. Their principal mistake - beyond existing - may have come in the aftermath of the 1967 Six-Day War. Knowing the demand of well-intending accommodationists to give back land would become irresistible the world over (and never mind that no one is demanding that, for instance, Syria give up any part of the Lebanon it has occupied since 1975), they probably should have created a consolidated Palestinian state out of the war-won lands at that time. But they didn't.
Q: And now?
A: Israel cannot long abide suicidist terrorism. No country could, or would, or should. Look at the American response to 9/11. Israel's population is smaller than is Virginia's.
Q: So? And what about the Saudi plan?
A: The Saudi plan is old stuff. It would mean Israel's demise. Yet it is a starting point. It would carry far more credibility if Abdullah of Saudi Arabia would deliver it not through intermediaries and in tongues but by visiting Israel and delivering his plan via a speech to the Knesset, preferably with Mubarak of Egypt and King Abdullah II of Jordan standing at his side.
Q: If not the Saudi plan, what?
A: A tall order - and drastic. After obliterating the Palestinians' ability to wage conventional war, Israel probably should (1) take back control in the autonomous Palestinian areas of the West Bank and Gaza. (2) Then, declaring Palestinian behavior had forced them to do this, they should designate land for a Palestinian state - and be the first to recognize it as such - and move all Palestinians into it, and all Israelis out. (3) Israel probably should build a security perimeter around the Palestinians' new country - a demilitarized zone. Anyone crossing it without permission would do so at the risk of his life.
Q: Right. And what would the reaction of world opinion be to that?
A: The reaction likely would be conniptions. Yet given current circumstances, it should be one of cautious, even joyous, support. And the reaction in the United States should go farther - to liberating Iraq, establishing another viable democracy, and shutting down that major branch of Terror Inc.