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What They Are Saying Week of Nov. 23, 2005
Bush Misses the Opportunity to Push for Real Peace
Columnist Joel Mowbray writes on www.Townhall.com on Nov. 18 that the threat of radical Islam is a threat to the United States and Israel:
“President Bush … has already started reframing the biggest issue of the day, the war on terror, by calling it what it is: a war on radical Islam.
“Not only does he need to continue to do so, but he would be wise to take the lead on something that should have been done long ago: linking the Islamic terror that Israel faces with the Islamic terrorism that has struck elsewhere, from New York to London.
“In a surprisingly little-heralded speech last month, Bush for the first time went beyond calling the enemy ‘terrorists’ or ‘evil-doers’: ‘Some call this evil Islamic radicalism; others, militant Jihadism; still others, Islamo-fascism.’
“Without any context, the war on terror seems like little more than a patchwork of military actions in far-flung regions around the world. But understanding that the ideology of Islam is the link between Al Qaeda, its loosely affiliated offshoots, and other Islamic terrorist organizations better presents the enormity of what we are facing. It also makes clear that military action alone will never be enough.
“Yet as brilliant as Bush’s speech was, just two weeks later, he ignored its central premise when Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas came to town. With Abbas at his side, Bush urged [Yasser] Arafat’s long-time right-hand man to ‘confront the threat that armed gangs pose to a genuinely democratic Palestine.’
“And while Bush later also called for Abbas to ‘dismantle the terror infrastructure,’ he never once referred to the root cause of Palestinian terror: radical Islam.
“Even many who should know better have long been reluctant to link Palestinian terror with other Islamic terrorism. Yet to claim that the two movements are somehow separate and distinct, Hamas and Hezbollah, among others, would have to be clearly distinguishable from Al Qaeda and Qaeda affiliates — and they’re not.
“Aside from strong evidence that Al Qaeda is establishing a presence in Gaza, Hamas has for years expressed great sympathies for [Osama] bin Laden’s network. This should be hardly surprising, though, since Hamas founder and former ‘spiritual’ leader Sheik Yassin said repeatedly during his life that the entire world should become Islamic … a position identical to bin Laden’s.
“Hezbollah’s founding charter called for the destruction of the United States for its role in stopping the spread of Islam, which is strikingly similar to one of bin Laden’s primary complaints about America.
“But perhaps the greatest propagator of radical Islam to Palestinians is not Hamas or Hezbollah, but the Palestinian Authority. Schools, television and radio broadcasts, as well as books and newspapers are all littered with venomous Islamic indoctrination, albeit in a vein that contains a much heavier emphasis on violent anti-Semitism.
“The prevalence of Islamic indoctrination did not spring up in spite of Arafat, who started out as a secular Arab nationalist, but rather because of him. After the decline of communism and Arab nationalism, Arafat turned to Islam. In radical Islam, Arafat found the most powerful of motivators, one that would enable him to make young adults and even children clamor for the ‘honor’ of strapping a bomb to their chests.
“To put it another way: without Islam, the current intifada probably never would have happened.
“The general unwillingness to identify Palestinian terrorism with the broader Islamic terrorism means that any intended solution will solve nothing. Without draining the swamp and dismantling not just the terrorist infrastructure, but also the indoctrination industry, there cannot be peace. Quite simply, Israel cannot share a peace with a neighbor that wants it dead.”
What to Try in the Mideast? ‘Land for Peace,’ With a Twist
The former director of intelligence for Israel’s Mossad, Uzi Arad, writes in The New Republic (www. tnr.com) on Nov. 18 that Israel should swap land inside the 1967 borders for parts of the West Bank:
“For 70 years, efforts to devise a fair and durable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute have centered on the question of how to partition the land between the two peoples. There have always been maximalists who wanted dominion over the entire area. But over the years … a ‘two-state solution’ has become the internationally accepted key to the dispute’s resolution. This guiding principle has received additional support in the wake of the second intifada, whose violent attacks have disabused many Israelis of the idea that they can co-exist with the Palestinians.
“Plans for implementing partition have given rise to the mechanism of land swaps, meaning the exchange of sovereignty over territories without the physical transfer of populations. All land-swap plans use the 1949 armistice lines — which divided the British Mandate territories west of the Jordan River between Israel and the Arabs — as a starting point.
“Their appeal lies in demographic developments that have created settlements that are nearly uni-ethnic. Geographically, these blocs are situated in such a way that they could be attached either to Israel or to a Palestinian state. The plans propose a trade-off of territories to increase ethnic homogeneity and preserve each side’s basic territorial reach.
“In this context, land swaps allow an exchange of sovereignty over contiguous population blocs — Jewish population blocs in the West Bank proximate to the armistice line and Arab population blocs west and north of the armistice line. For example, the Gush Etzion and Ariel blocs and towns in the Jerusalem district could be exchanged for the towns and surroundings of Umm El Fahm, Arara, Bartaa, Qalansuwa, Taybe, Tira and Kfar Kassem.
“A land-swap plan must be part of a final-status agreement. Indeed, it appears that without such territorial exchanges, a final agreement may not be reachable.
“But not all Palestinians living in Israel (the Israeli Arabs) want to be in Palestine — an objection that presents a serious moral challenge. Public-opinion polls in Israel’s Arab community show that only about one-third support land swaps, and that most Israeli-Arab leaders oppose the idea.
“This sentiment is particularly strong in those towns destined for exchange under the land-swap proposal. Recent surveys have shown that almost half of the Arab-Israeli residents in those areas oppose Israel’s continued existence as a Jewish and democratic state, and a significant number of them espouse fiercely radical Islamic ideology.
“Given this kind of pronounced Palestinian nationalism and the deep ideological, religious and political alienation from Israel, territorial exchanges would not only achieve greater ethnic and cultural homogeneity in the two states, but they would also enhance their political stability.
“Others argue that, faced with the possibility of economic hardship under Palestinian sovereignty, Israeli Arabs would invoke their Israeli citizenship and relocate to the Jewish state. That argument cynically assumes that economic benefits would lead Arabs, who so frequently and vociferously express a deep attachment to their native towns and villages, to cavalierly pack up and move to predominantly Jewish areas. Moreover, it would undercut the Arab argument for refugees’ ‘right of return.’ ”