Jewish World Review April 8, 2002 / 27 Nisan, 5762

Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Peace at any price = war | You cannot make sense of the Israeli-Palestinian war without first making sense of 1993.

That year found Israel in reasonably good shape. Its economy was the most powerful in the Middle East. Its military power was respected and feared throughout the region. Its enemies in the Arab and Muslim world, who for so long had dreamt of wiping Israel off the map, were at last coming to accept that the Jewish state was here to stay. To be sure, Yasser Arafat and his Palestine Liberation Organization still plotted to "liberate" Israel from the Jews, but they were in exile in Tunisia and their political and moral capital were close to nil.

Things were not perfect, of course. The Palestinian intifada of the late 1980s had petered out, but violence still flared in the West Bank and Gaza, where Israel's military presence -- the result of the Arabs' 1967 war of aggression -- was resented. In Israel proper, Arab terrorism sometimes sent innocent civilians to terrible deaths. Israelis longed for a more normal existence, one that didn't involve such a heavy burden of military service or the hostility of their neighbors or the onus of ruling over another people.

If these conditions weren't ideal, they were stable. Israel could have continued to shun the PLO as long as its charter called for Israel's extermination. It could have maintained indefinitely its tough-minded policy of deterring hostility by retaliating fiercely when attacked.

But Israel chose a different course. In 1993, following secret negotiations in Oslo, Norway, it embarked on a "peace process" designed to elevate Arafat and the PLO to heights of power, wealth, and respect they had never before known. In exchange for Arafat's promise of peace -- "the PLO renounces the use of terrorism and other acts of violence," he had pledged in writing -- Israel agreed to forget the PLO's long history of mass murder and terror and to treat it as the legitimate representative of the Palestinians. The deal was sealed at the White House on Sept. 13, 1993, when Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin gave Arafat his hand and affirmed his new status as Israel's partner in peace.

What followed was unprecedented in the history of statecraft. Arafat and thousands of PLO killers, now reconstituted as the "Palestinian Authority," entered Gaza and the West Bank in triumph. In short order, Israel transferred virtually every Arab city and town in the territories to Arafat's control. It allowed the Palestinian Authority to assume total control over the Palestinian people. It not only agreed to the creation of an armed Palestinian militia, it supplied that militia with weapons. It began paying Arafat a multimillion-dollar monthly allowance and lobbied internationally for additional financial support. It permitted the PA to build an airport, to operate radio and television networks, and to deal with other countries as a sovereign power.

This was appeasement on a scale far beyond Neville Chamberlain's infamous 1938 land-for-peace agreement in Munich. For when it became clear that Hitler's intentions were not peaceful, Britain abandoned appeasement and went to war. But even after Israel saw that Arafat's hostility was undimmed, it went on making one concession after another.

Literally from the day the Oslo accord was signed, Arafat made it plain that his lifelong goal -- Israel's liquidation -- had not changed. He reaffirmed the PLO's "Plan of Phases," its 1974 program of eliminating Israel by stages. He repeatedly called for jihad and extolled Palestinian terrorists as "martyrs" and heroes.

The starting point of the Oslo peace process, the foundation on which everything else had been conditioned, was the Palestinians' unequivocal renunciation of terror and violence. But instead of ending, the terror and violence accelerated. The Israeli death toll soared. Arab snipers and bombers, many from Arafat's own wing of the PLO, murdered Jews at a faster pace than ever before. And each new atrocity was hailed by the Palestinian media, which poured out a flood of antisemitic venom and bloodlust.

Yet the Israeli government never called a halt. Time and again, it responded to Israeli deaths by proclaiming its faith in the "peace process" and giving more territory to Arafat. Desperate for peace, the Israelis kept overlooking Palestinian violations and upping the price they were willing to pay for a final settlement. With every new concession, the Palestinians grew more certain that the Israelis were weak and on the run -- and that hitting them even harder would bring even greater returns. When Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Arafat nearly everything he had demanded, including a state with Jerusalem as its capital, Arafat's reply was to unleash a second intifada, more furious and lethal than the first.

Israel is at war today because it refused to see that dictators bent on conquest can never be appeased, only defeated. It craved peace at any price, craved it so madly that it was willing to overlook even the murder of its own sons and daughters. In so doing, it emboldened the murderers -- and achieved not peace, but its opposite.

Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

03/26/02: Decency matters most, Caleb
03/22/02: The U.S. embargo and Cuba's future
03/19/02: The keepers of Cuba's conscience
03/15/02: A walk in Havana
02/26/02: Buchanan's lament
02/12/02: What 'peace' means to Arafat
02/05/02: Antismoking: Who pays?
02/01/02: Turn the Saudis
01/25/02: Making MLK cry
01/21/02: Ted to tax cut: Drop dead
01/18/02: Musings random and otherwise
01/14/02: An ultimatum to Saudi Arabia
01/11/02: Friendship, Saudi-style
01/07/02: Shakedown at Harvard
01/04/02: More guns, more safety
01/02/02: Smears and slanders from the Left
12/28/01: Congress gives to others -- and itself
12/24/01: The littlest peacemakers
12/20/01: How to condemn terror
12/18/01: Greenland once was
12/14/01: Parents who never said ''no''
12/11/01: Wit and (economic) wisdom
12/04/01: The war against Israel goes on
11/30/01: Tribunals, motorcycles -- and freedom
11/19/01: Friendship and the House of Saud
11/12/01: The Justice Department's unjust monopoly
11/09/01: Muslim, but not extremist
11/02/01: Too good for Oprah
10/29/01: Journalism and the 'neutrality fetish'
10/26/01: Derail these subsidies
10/22/01: Good and evil in the New York Times
10/15/01: Rush Limbaugh's ear
10/08/01: With allies like these
10/01/01: An unpardonable act
09/25/01: Speaking out against terror
09/21/01: What the terrorists saw
09/17/01: Calling evil by its name
09/13/01: Our enemies mean what they say
09/04/01: The real bigots
08/31/01: Shrugging at genocide
08/28/01: Big Brother's privacy -- or ours?
08/24/01: The mufti's message of hate
08/21/01: Remembering the 'Wall of Shame'
08/16/01: If I were the editor ...
08/14/01: If I were the Transportation Czar ...
08/10/01: Import quotas 'steel' from us all
08/07/01: Is gay "marriage" a threat?
08/03/01: A colorblind nominee
07/27/01: Eminent-domain tortures
07/24/01: On protecting the flag ... and drivers ... and immigrants
07/20/01: Dying for better mileage
07/17/01: Why Americans would rather drive
07/13/01: Do these cabbies look like bigots?
07/10/01: 'Defeated in the bedroom'
07/06/01: Who's white? Who's Hispanic? Who cares?
07/02/01: Big(oted) man on campus
06/29/01: Still appeasing China's dictators
06/21/01: Cuban liberty: A test for Bush
06/19/01: The feeble 'arguments' against capital punishment
06/12/01: What energy crisis?
06/08/01: A jewel in the crown of self-government
05/31/01: The settlement myth
05/25/01: An award JFK would have liked
05/22/01: No Internet taxes? No problem
05/18/01: Heather has five mommies (and a daddy)
05/15/01: An execution, not a lynching
05/11/01: Losing the common tongue
05/08/01: Olympics 2008: Say no to Beijing
05/04/01: Do welfare mothers a kindness: Make them work
05/01/01: Another man's child
04/24/01: Sharon should have said no
04/02/01: The Inhumane Society
03/30/01: To have a friend, Caleb, be a friend
03/27/01: Is Chief Wahoo racist?
03/22/01: Ending the Clinton appeasement
03/20/01: They're coming for you
03/16/01: Kennedy v. Kennedy
03/13/01: We should see McVeigh die
03/09/01: The Taliban's wrecking job
03/07/01: The No. 1 reason to cut taxes
03/02/01: A Harvard candidate's silence on free speech
02/27/01: A lesson from Birmingham jail
02/20/01: How Jimmy Carter got his good name back
02/15/01: Cashing in on the presidency
02/09/01: The debt for slavery -- and for freedom
02/06/01: The reparations calculation
02/01/01: The freedom not to say 'amen'
01/29/01: Chavez's 'hypocrisy': Take a closer look
01/26/01: Good-bye, good riddance
01/23/01: When everything changed (mostly for the better)
01/19/01: The real zealots
01/16/01: Pardon Clinton?
01/11/01: The fanaticism of Linda Chavez
01/09/01: When Jerusalem was divided
12/29/00 Liberal hate speech, 2000
12/15/00Does the Constitution expect poor children be condemned to lousy government schools?
12/08/00 Powell is wrong man to run State Department
12/05/00 The 'MCAS' teens give each other
12/01/00 Turning his back on the Vietnamese -- again
11/23/00 Why were the Pilgrims thankful?
11/21/00 The fruit of this 'peace process' is war
11/13/00 Unleashing the lawyers
11/17/00 Gore's mark on history
40 reasons to say NO to Gore

© 2002, Boston Globe