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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

March 25, 2003

Iraq as a Model for Palestine

Chuck Chriss is the President of the Jewish Internet Association and writes in Arutz Sheva
Do you recognize this scenario? An evil dictator, whose corrupt regime oppresses and exploits his own people, obtains prohibited weapons and threatens neighboring countries with armed conflict while supporting international terrorism. The dictator commits serious human rights violations, uses lies and propaganda to cover his actions, and brands his enemies as the source of the problems. The international community of nations is split between those who see the dictator for the brutal menace he is and those who oppose any action against the dictator, finding ways to heap blame on the democratic countries in conflict with the dictator.

The above could describe the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Following the intolerable attacks of September 11, 2001 the United States entered Afghanistan with large scale forces and crushed the Taliban, driving their remnants into the mountains or out of the country. A democratic regime dedicated to peace and economic development has been installed in Kabul, under Hamid Karzai. US forces remain in Afghanistan to root out the stragglers and to protect the fragile new government.

The above could also describe Saddam Hussein and his regime in Iraq. After exhausting alternatives short of war, the United States is now leading a coalition of countries who view Iraq under Hussein as a serious threat, which requires invasion and regime change to crush. Their goal is to allow for a new government to emerge representing the people, a government that will pose no international threat. It is an explicit goal of the American campaign to install a democratic regime committed to peace and economic development -- a continuation of the old government is explicitly rejected. A broad coalition of nations supports the US-led war, including moderate Arab regimes.

Yet the same scenario also describes Yassir Arafat and his regime in the disputed territories adjacent to Israel. In order to avoid extinction in the early 1990s, Arafat and his cronies publicly renounced terrorism and entered into US-brokered agreements with Israel. But almost immediately Arafat and the PA armed themselves with types and numbers of weapons prohibited by the Oslo agreements they signed, building a huge security apparatus. They continuously failed to carry out their side of agreements, while complaining loudly that Israel was not in compliance. Terrorism against Israel never stopped and, in fact, increased. In the same pattern as the US and its coalition partners, after exhausting the Oslo "Peace Process", and after suffering a major escalation of violence against them, Israel has engaged in combat operations in the PA-controlled zones, successfully suppressing (but not eliminating) terrorism against Israel. In operations that are quite similar to those now on TV, live from Iraq, Israel has entered enemy strongholds and has chosen to use less than maximal force in order to spare civilian lives and public infrastructure, at increased risk to IDF soldiers. Israel has paid a terrible price in casualties for its restraint, as is also the case for the US in Iraq.

American public support for the war in Iraq is around 75% and will probably grow as the demonic nature of the Hussein regime is further revealed. As Americans and others watch the on-line, real-time war in Iraq, they will hopefully see the parallels with Yassir Arafat´s Palestinian Arabs:

1. In both cases, a brutal dictator has suppressed political opposition to hold his own people hostage to his program of power politics and regional aggression. Rather than focus on economic cooperation and development, millions of Palestinian Arabs have been kept in refugee status and poverty purely as a political lever against Israel, just as millions of Iraqis have been impoverished and terrorized to maintain the power of Saddam Hussein.

2. Each regime is directly and indirectly responsible for violence against its neighboring countries and internal sub-populations. Iraq attacked Iran, Kuwait, the Kurds, the Shi’is and others, while Arafat has attacked Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Arab Christians and others, while conducting or supporting terrorist operations all over the Middle East, Europe and elsewhere.

3. Each regime is in constant violation of international agreements, twisting their meaning or ignoring them altogether, while falsely blaming other countries for violations.

4. Each regime has acquired prohibited weapons -- both the kind of weapons and the number of weapons. These weapons have been used aggressively against neighbors, to support terrorism and to suppress dissent internally.

5. In both cases, there has been widespread corruption in their internal affairs. Arafat has become a billionaire and his cronies live in luxury, while most Palestinian Arabs are impoverished. Saddam Hussein can choose which palace to inhabit and his armies wax fat (at least until the US-led attack) while ordinary Iraqis struggle to live.

6. In both PA-controlled areas and in Iraq, there have been widespread violations of human rights. Arafat has suppressed the press, the courts and the political opposition in the areas he controls. Palestinian Arab thugs intimidate, torture or kill opponents or alleged "collaborators", including dragging their bodies through the streets and publicly displaying the corpses. Terrorists are immune from law enforcement and are in fact trained and equipped by the regime. Almost the same list applies to Iraq, with the addition of horrific torture and rape as a regular method of terror and public control.

Why is it that Israel is expected to settle with the current Palestinian Arab government and make major concession to them in the name of "peace"? Unlike Afghanistan and Iraq, there is no requirement to totally crush and eliminate the current Palestinian Arab government and replace it with a new, democratic government committed to peace and economic development. Quite the contrary, the US, Britain and the "Quartet" have published a new "road map" promising a Palestinian state by 2005, with few preconditions. These actions continue to prop-up the corrupt Arafat regime and show that even inhuman levels of terrorism against Israel will not cause a loss of international support for the Palestinian Arabs.

In this vein, last week, the US welcomed the appointment of Mahmoud Abbas (a.k.a. Abu Mazen) as "Prime Minister". Abbas is an Arafat crony, a Holocaust-denier who expresses a radical position on the "Right of Return", a highly tainted man who cannot be represented as a departure from the old regime. He lives in a $1.5 million house in Ramallah, a sign of his close ties to the existing power structure. But even though the powers of this "Prime Minister" are not well defined, and Arafat continues to hold onto key elements, Abbas´ appointment was widely welcomed as progress in the reform of the PA.

After the speech by President Bush in June of 2002, Israel expected that a Palestinian Arab state would only be discussed again after crucial pre-conditions were met: the end of terrorism, the end of anti-Israel incitement in Palestinian Arab schools and propaganda, the emergence of new democratic institutions to empower the people and end corruption, and other positive changes. But unlike Iraq, unlike Afghanistan, the Palestinian Arab con game continues at the expense of Israel, with outsiders rushing to endorse a State of Palestine regardless of reform.

Israel is a nation under siege. The Palestinian Arabs, backed by other Arab and Muslim countries, want to destroy Israel. They attack Israel every day. Every day! The international community clearly supports the Palestinian Arabs in their attacks; Israel is condemned for its efforts to defend its people. When it matters enough, the United States can rise above the international back-stabbing and self-dealing to do what has to be done for American and world security. Israel is not so powerful, but deserves and should get the support of all who support the US-led war in Iraq and War on Terror.

The dictatorships and corrupt monarchs of the Middle East, including Yassir Arafat and his Palestinian Authority, must be replaced by truly free and democratic governments of their people, dedicated to economic growth and human potential. Then, peace with Israel will be automatic and long lasting.