Road map 3: “The value of the written or spoken word is worthless”

May 25, 2003

Please first see the note and dispatch from today titled Road map 2: This little sliver of land called Israel. I have split today's dispatch into four emails for space reasons

-- Tom Gross

 

CONTENTS

1. "Accepting the road map is only meant to buy time"
2. "Road map for legitimizing terror" (By Israel Harel, Ha'aretz, May 2, 2003)
3. "Column One: Abbas's burden of proof" (By Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post, April 25, 2003)
4. "Road map gives Israel just another bad steer" (By A.M. Rosenthal, New York Daily News, May 1, 2003)
5. "Israel must not miss yet another opportunity" (By Shimon Peres, The Los Angeles Times, May 16, 2003)



[Note by Tom Gross]

“ACCEPTING THE ROAD MAP IS ONLY MEANT TO BUY TIME”

In this email, I attach four pieces, with summaries first, prepared by myself, and first extracts from today's editorial from the center-left Yediot Aharonot, Israel's highest circulation newspaper.

Yediot Aharonot: "It appears that today something huge is going to occur, an historical event: A right wing government, headed by Ariel Sharon, and with Avigdor Lieberman and Benny Elon in it, is going to approve a document which includes within it explicitly, and with a timetable the establishment of a Palestinian state." Why is there not more of a public response to such a step? ... "Because both the left and right wing have learned that the value of the written or spoken word is worthless... The Palestinians will not fulfill their part, Bush will start his election campaign, Arafat will again be to blame. Accepting the road map is only meant to buy time."

 

SUMMARIES

1. "Road map for legitimizing terror" (By Israel Harel, Ha'aretz, May 2, 2003). "If political gains are, by definition, the main fruit of victory in the battlefield, the road map proves the Palestinians not Israel have the upper hand in the war of terror that they initiated... In order for the road map to have a chance, it must be pro-Palestinian because the initiative, even after 13 months of killing Jews, continues to be in the hands of the Palestinians... The road map's main danger is not the harsh demands it makes on Israel but its very publication. The Arabs conclude, and rightly so, that America is declaring via the map that the terror against the Jews, unlike terror against the citizens of any other country, pays and is therefore permissible..."

2. "Abbas's burden of proof" (By Caroline Glick, The Jerusalem Post, April 25, 2003). "Before any such talks begin it is vital that all concerned parties, but especially Israel, pause a moment and consider the reason for Oslo's abject failure. The Oslo process was predicated on a set of false assumptions. The primary assumption was that the PLO, an organization founded with the expressed aim of destroying Israel, no longer sought our liquidation. Instead, what we found with Arafat's rejection of Ehud Barak's offer at Camp David is that the PLO had not changed. Not only would Arafat not yield the Palestinians' so-called "right of return," he also denied that the Jewish people have any historic and legal claims to Jerusalem. And for this stand he received a hero's welcome by the Palestinians upon his return to Gaza... The Oslo process also posited that the PLO had forsworn its armed struggle for the destruction of the State of Israel. Yet Arafat himself formed the Aksa Martyr's Brigades, which as Thursday's suicide bombing shows, is still actively conducting terrorist operations against Israelis... Already back in September 1996, Arafat showed that he had no compunction about using the weapons Israel had given him to fight terrorism to kill Israelis... Now we are told that all of this is past, because under Abbas's leadership the Palestinian Authority is reformed... Yet even if we accept the dubious assertion that Arafat is now neutralized, we still must ask ourselves the question, why would Abbas be any different? Abbas received his doctorate in 1983 from Moscow's Oriental University [for advocating Holocaust denial]. To date, neither the Israeli government nor Abbas's main champion, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, have asked him to retract his statements of Holocaust denial... In an interview with Kul al Arab radio in August 2000, Abbas said that he does not believe that Solomon's Temple ever existed in Jerusalem... both Abbas and his Security Minister-designate Dahlan are some of the Palestinians most associated with PA corruption. Both men made a fortune from kick-backs from the cement monopolies in Gaza. For years, photographers were prohibited from taking pictures of the multi-million dollar villas in Gaza both men financed by bilking the public trough."

3. "Road map gives Israel just another bad steer" (By A.M. Rosenthal, New York Daily News, May 1, 2003). [The writer is the former editor in chief of the New York Times] "The U.S. has made public still another plan for an Israeli-Palestinian settlement. It won't work. Once again, Israel will carry out irreversible concessions about land while the Palestinians keep talking about their promises most often, to dampen terrorism... When both sides went to negotiations, Israel lost land and consequent military maneuverability. What it gained from these negotiations I cannot see, except that it may have helped destroy the snarling myth that Jews are such shrewd bargainers ... Western journalists have been singing joyous ditties over the appointment by the Palestinian parliament of Mahmoud Abbas as prime minister. [Yet in his] 1983 book, Abbas mocked the idea that 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust. The Zionists, he wrote, invented the figure. The book's title was "The Other Side: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism and the Zionist Movement." Is he now a different man? Maybe. But he told an Arab paper that the intifada must continue and Palestinians must resist Israelis with all means, including arms."

4. "Israel must not miss yet another opportunity" (By Shimon Peres, Los Angles Times, May 16, 2003). This is a piece which is more welcoming of the Road-Map by Israel's former prime minister. "The Palestinian government must without delay put into effect a plan to dismantle and disarm the various armed militias operating on the ground and consolidate matters of security under its sole authority. Unless this course of action is enforced, Hamas and Islamic Jihad will dictate the Palestinian agenda and foil its attempts to advance peace. A government can be democratic or not democratic, but a country disjointed by splintered authority cannot survive... Fighting terror is not a gift that the Palestinians are offering Israel. A terrorist or even semi-terrorist Palestinian state has no chance of seeing the light of day. But Israel must also fight the motives for terror. The Palestinian people will commit themselves fully to fighting terror only when it becomes clear to them that an end to terror will yield greater dividends than allowing it to continue... Therefore, it is manifestly in Israel's self-interest to create a political horizon that will encompass an end to the occupation, its agreement to borders on the basis of U.N. resolutions 242 and 338 and the establishment of a demilitarized yet sustainable and independent Palestinian state."



FULL ARTICLES

“IT CAN BE SAID THAT ARAFAT LOST THE BATTLE BUT WON THE WAR”

Road map for legitimizing terror
By Israel Harel
Ha'aretz
May 2, 2003

If political gains are, by definition, the main fruit of victory in the battlefield, the road map proves the Palestinians not Israel have the upper hand in the war of terror that they initiated.

The attack in Tel Aviv in the early morning hours after Holocaust Memorial Day and after Holocaust denier Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) was sworn in as the Palestinian Authority's first prime minister is further proof that Israel does not have enough strength to put an end to that war.

Is it any wonder, then, that the United States is saying to itself: If Israel does not have the determination to put an end to the terror that is persistently striking it, its best friend must take the initiative to stop the bloodbath that Israel has been unable to halt due to inhibitions that are characteristic of Jews, who are afraid to take the necessary steps, even when they would lead to the prevention of the continuous murder of Israeli citizens.

In order for the road map to have a chance, it must be pro-Palestinian because the initiative, even after 13 months of killing Jews, continues to be in the hands of the Palestinians.

The road map's main danger is not the harsh demands it makes on Israel but its very publication. The Arabs conclude, and rightly so, that America is declaring via the map that the terror against the Jews, unlike terror against the citizens of any other country, pays and is therefore permissible. The road map is also a personal victory for Yasser Arafat, the man who until recently seemed to have fallen, never to rise again.

It can be said that Arafat lost the battle but won the war. What's more, despite the fact that, in principle, his crimes against humanity, particularly in the past two and a half years, are no different from the crimes of Saddam Hussein and all the other war criminals who have butchered civilians, Arafat enjoys immunity like no other leader of mass terror. Perhaps it is because his victims are Jews.

The bulk of his immunity is granted by the Israeli government, which is obligated to act on behalf of the victims who were murdered by his criminal activities. This is because the government, due to characteristic Jewish victims' complexes ("political reasons"), does not dare charge Arafat with war crimes. If this is the nature of the victims' government, how can we complain against the rehabilitation provided by European governments whose representatives do not desist from making pilgrimages to visit him.

It is unfortunate that the Israel Defense Forces, unlike the American army in Iraq, did not manage to grant its government the unequivocal victory that would have enabled it to dictate political and security conditions to the Palestinians. Such a victory would also have restrained the international pressure and prevented the need, certainly from the American's point of view, for the road map.

This would also have created a political-psychological atmosphere that would have made it possible to try Arafat for war crimes, along with the band of terrorists who acted on his behalf, just as the Americans are about to try the war criminals in Iraq and just as the Allied forces, led by the Americans, tried the German war criminals 57 years ago.

We would also be able to drive home the awareness that the blood of Jewish terror victims is just as red as that of Saddam's victims and, believe it or not, as the blood of the Americans who were murdered in the terror attacks. Just imagine what America would do to Saddam, to bin Laden and their minions when they are caught.

Only after 19 months of rampant terror, following the attack at the Park Hotel in Netanya on Seder night (March 27, 2002), did Israel understand that it was the defensive doctrine that everyone praised, thanks to the reduced military casualty figures, that had practically given the terrorists free reign to organize and carry out the mass-fatality attacks.

Even during Operation Defensive Shield, despite its relative success, the job was not finished and the terrorists remained undaunted. The IDF, like the American army in the 1991 Gulf War, halted the war on the verge of victory, while most of the terror infrastructures, particularly the headquarters and the directive and political leaderships, continued to operate.

Abu Mazen, who is now being told to finish the IDF's job, will smoke out the terrorists with the same vigor, the same efficacy and the same results as his predecessor to the commitment "to dismantle the terrorists infrastructures" - Arafat.

The United States gave us enough leeway to win this war. President George W. Bush even tried to neutralize Arafat, the patriarch of Arab terror. When we did not meet the performance test due to our inhibitions and our failings, and the people continued to bleed, the Americans had to come up with a plan that they, in their mistaken naivete, felt would bring an end to the bloodshed.

And when Israel is ordered to start with "gestures" toward the Palestinians, and later to bear the brunt of the price of implementing the plan, there is no doubt as to who has won the battle. It is no wonder, then, that Arafat's calendar is so full of meetings with foreign ministers. He has been perceived, and rightly so, as the one who has again come out as the political victor in another round of the never-ending terrorist war the Arabs are waging, and will continue to wage, against the existence of the Jewish Zionist state.

 

ABBAS’S BURDEN OF PROOF

Column One: Abbas's burden of proof
By Caroline Glick
The Jerusalem Post
April 25, 2003

There was a distinct feeling of deja vu from 1994 in the air this week. Back then, Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak saved the international community from embarrassment by physically forcing Yasser Arafat to sign the Gaza-Jericho agreement on live television. This week, Mubarak sent the commander of his intelligence service to repeat the performance. General Omar Sulieman came to Ramallah on Tuesday and literally forced Arafat to meet with his deputy, Dr. Mahmoud Abbas, and accept Abbas's cabinet.

As in 1994, the US and Europe heaved a collective sigh of relief at Egypt's manhandling of Arafat. The question is whether Arafat's seeming capitulation now will prove as fraudulent as his behavior then.

When last June US President George W. Bush called on the Palestinian people to reject the regime of PLO chief Arafat and to elect leaders "not compromised by terror," he underscored the necessity of a complete overhaul of the way the Palestinians perceive their national identity. No longer could the Palestinians conceive of their nationalism as something that must necessarily supplant Jewish nationalism in order to reach fruition. Rather, a new group of leaders was called on to rise up who would understand that the realization of Palestinian aspirations can come about only after the Palestinians accept Israel's right to exist as the Jewish state.

Today, responding to British pressure, the Bush administration stands poised to preside over new talks between the Israeli government and the PLO under the nascent leadership of Abbas, Arafat's deputy of four decades. The announced aim of these talks is the speedy establishment of a Palestinian state.

But before any such talks begin it is vital that all concerned parties, but especially Israel, pause a moment and consider the reason for Oslo's abject failure.

The Oslo process was predicated on a set of false assumptions. The primary assumption was that the PLO, an organization founded with the expressed aim of destroying Israel, no longer sought our liquidation. Instead, what we found with Arafat's rejection of Ehud Barak's offer at Camp David is that the PLO had not changed. Not only would Arafat not yield the Palestinians' so-called "right of return," he also denied that the Jewish people have any historic and legal claims to Jerusalem.

And for this stand he received a hero's welcome by the Palestinians upon his return to Gaza.

The Oslo process also posited that the PLO had forsworn its armed struggle for the destruction of the State of Israel. Yet Arafat himself formed the Aksa Martyr's Brigades, which as Thursday's suicide bombing shows, is still actively conducting terrorist operations against Israelis. Then, too, even before the Palestinian Authority launched its terrorist war against Israel in September 2000, its security services never made any sustained effort to destroy Hamas or Islamic Jihad terror infrastructures. To the contrary, PA military commanders like Col. Muhammad Dahlan embraced Hamas leaders like Muhammad Deif. Already back in September 1996, Arafat showed that he had no compunction about using the weapons Israel had given him to fight terrorism to kill Israelis.

Finally, the Oslo agreement wrongly assumed that the PLO could be trusted to abide by its signed commitments to Israel. It could not. From allowing the free flow of sewage into riverbeds streaming into Israel to amassing arsenals of prohibited armaments to registering tens of thousands of vehicles stolen from Israelis, the Palestinian Authority breached every single commitment it made to Israel at the negotiating table.

Now we are told that all of this is past, because under Abbas's leadership the Palestinian Authority is reformed. We are told that Arafat, who this week was feted by the entire international community in an effort to have him accept Abbas's proposed cabinet a cabinet that looks almost exactly like Arafat's cabinet no longer holds influence over what happens in the Palestinian Authority.

Yet even if we accept the dubious assertion that Arafat is now neutralized, we still must ask ourselves the question, why would Abbas be any different? Abbas received his doctorate in 1983 from Moscow's Oriental University. There his dissertation topic was "The Secret Relationship between Nazism and Zionism." In his dissertation, which was adapted into a book published in Jordan in 1984, Abbas argued that, as opposed to what is commonly believed, "even fewer than a million Jews" were murdered by the Nazis.

He further argued that the gas chambers were not used to kill people but rather to disinfect them and to burn bodies to prevent the flow of disease. Abbas claimed that Hitler did not decide to kill the Jews until David Ben-Gurion provoked him into doing so by "declaring war on the Nazis" in 1942. It was the Zionist conspirators, Abbas explains, who created the myth of six million murdered Jews in order to force the world to accept the establishment of Israel.

To date, neither the Israeli government nor Abbas's main champion, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, have asked him to retract his statements of Holocaust denial.

Then too, the US plan to base new rounds of negotiations with an Abbas-led PA on the Quartet's "road map" has never taken into account Abbas's expressed agreement with the maximalist Palestinian demands set out by Arafat at the Camp David summit. In an interview with Kul al Arab radio in August 2000, Abbas said of the Palestinian demand for the "right of return," "It is only natural that each refugee return to his home." In the same interview he also directly threatened Israel, stating that if Israel does not accept the Palestinian demands, "We will open up the records of the past and demand the country in which they live" that is, pre-1967 Israel. He also stated that he does not believe that Solomon's Temple ever existed in Jerusalem.

A year later, in an interview with the PA's Al-Ayyam newspaper, Abbas explained why any flexibility in the Palestinian demands toward Israel is unacceptable. "When a Palestinian says that we have missed an opportunity or a tempting or a beneficial offer [by rejecting Barak's offers at Camp David and Taba] it weakens the Palestinian position since [consequently] the Americans and Israelis say, 'Here is a Palestinian who agrees with our position.' Such things, unfortunately hurt the Palestinian position."

So much, then, for Abbas's alleged moderation. Then there are the claims that Abbas, unlike the rest of the PA, is untainted by corruption. Yet both Abbas and his Security Minister-designate Dahlan are some of the Palestinians most associated with PA corruption. Both men made a fortune from kick-backs from the cement monopolies in Gaza. For years, photographers were prohibited from taking pictures of the multi-million dollar villas in Gaza both men financed by bilking the public trough.

Abbas has also shown that his Soviet education rubbed off on him. Speaking of reforms in May 2002, Abbas explained that the reforms need to take economic power away from Palestinian civilians and transfer all power to the Palestinian Authority. Abbas argued then that a necessary reform would involve preventing international NGOs from distributing monies directly to Palestinian NGOs. All those funds, he argued, must be transferred to the PA, the sole organization responsible for deciding how it should be apportioned.

It is true that in some recent statements, Abbas has argued that the PA's terror war against Israel did not serve the national aspirations of the Palestinian people. But these sort of statements, while encouraging, should be seen for what they are: an argument about tactics, not strategy, certainly not morality. They are not denunciations of terrorism per se, only of terrorism that doesn't work. Together with his record as anti-Semitic ideologue of Palestinian terrorism, it ought to be enough to dampen anyone's enthusiasm for Abbas as an improvement over Arafat.

Learning the lessons of Oslo means placing the full burden of proof on the Palestinians. Abbas, not Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, must be challenged to show that he wishes to make concessions for peace. He must be challenged to recant his denials of the Holocaust. He must be called to accept that Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. He must forswear his insistence on the "right of return." He must be called on to accept publicly the existence of the Jewish people whose national, spiritual and political roots are in Jerusalem.

None of this is meant to humiliate Abbas. After all, no one believes that Sharon is humiliating himself when he says he will accept the establishment of a Palestinian state. Rather, all of this is necessary to ensure that not only will a peace deal be reached, but that the peace will hold. If we learned anything from the past three years it must be this: Unless the Palestinian Authority under Abbas is actually willing to abide by the commitments taken on by the PLO a decade ago, there is no point in cheering his rise, no reason to negotiate anything with him, and certainly no reason to sigh in relief that Arafat again has done Mubarak's bidding.

 

“WESTERN JOURNALISTS HAVE BEEN SINGING JOYOUS DITTIES OVER THE APPOINTMENT OF ABBAS”

Road map gives Israel just another bad steer
By A.M. Rosenthal
The New York Daily News
May 1, 2003

The U.S. has made public still another plan for an Israeli-Palestinian settlement. It won't work.

For one thing, it is too vague, or tricky, about the problem that bedevils the Israelis. Once again, they will carry out irreversible concessions about land while the Palestinians keep talking about their promises most often, to dampen terrorism. They forgot to carry through with those promises after each of seven previous negotiations.

This new plan, mostly American-made, is called the road map. But in addition to Israelis, Palestinians, Americans and Britons, a bunch of others will be at the talks reaching for the driver's wheel Russia, the European Union and the UN, all of which spend much of their time slanging away at Israel and making its life as hard as they can.

Even though a new Palestinian state is taken as a given, the road map gives Palestinians three years to create the government and social and political frameworks to make it democratic. One might think the Palestinian movement would have to prove its ability to govern itself before it's brought into the UN.

If the Israelis have any memory, they'll recall the fiasco of Oslo and other talks that wound up with land for Palestinians and promises for them. Like earlier negotiations, this one will end without tested machinery to make peace a permanent reality.

The road map does create a lot more meetings whose accomplishments, if any, cannot be enforced. Before the talks start is the time for every Jew, Christian and Muslim to think through past Israeli-Muslim negotiations and their failure to reach peace and to ask whether the upcoming talks will succeed or merely set the scene for another round of talks in a few years.

While Arabs are given independence, Israelis must scrap their settlements whether decades old or recently built for Jewish families who dared to expand. Where the Jewish babies will be put, the road map does not say.

The plan instructs Palestinians to end violence, terrorism and incitements and to confiscate illegal weapons and arrest terrorists. Presumably, this time they'll keep them locked up instead of rushing so many out of prison, as in the past. Then, to show its even hand, the road map tells Israelis to do the same against its own terrorism. The authors, whatever bureaucrats or specialists they may be, are among the most unashamed practitioners of the sin of moral equivalency I have encountered.

The decades since the beginning of Israel's fight for survival show that when it came to military matters, the Israelis came out on top. But when both sides went to negotiations, Israel lost land and consequent military maneuverability. What it gained from these negotiations I cannot see, except that it may have helped destroy the snarling myth that Jews are such shrewd bargainers.

Fairy tales aside, the creation of an independent Palestine will hardly make Israel more secure. The Palestinian Authority will have another army and police force to add to its strength, and it was enormously skillful at integrating its forces with Yasser Arafat's terrorists. Young Arabs who may fight Israel in the future have grown up immersed in vicious anti-Israeli propaganda. Saddam Hussein was their hero before, during and after the war on Iraq.

Western journalists have been singing joyous ditties over the appointment by the Palestinian parliament of Mahmoud Abbas as prime minister. They may be premature. In a 1983 book, Abbas wrote that Zionist leaders gave permission to the Nazis to drive Jews out of Europe as long as they fled to Palestine. And like a good Arab leader, he mocked the idea that 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust. The Zionists, he wrote, invented the figure it was really just a few hundred thousand. The book's title was "The Other Side: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism and the Zionist Movement."

Is he now a different man? Maybe. But he told an Arab paper that the intifadeh must continue and Palestinians must resist Israelis with all means, including arms.

That was March 3, 2003.

 

“A COUNTRY DISJOINTED BY SPLINTERED AUTHORITY CANNOT SURVIVE”

Israel must not miss yet another opportunity
By Shimon Peres
The Los Angeles Times
May 16, 2003

For the "road map" to avoid becoming moribund even before it has had a chance of turning into a green light for the peace process, issues that have little chance of being resolved such as the Palestinian "right of return" must be removed from the road map agenda.

Israel's position on this issue is unequivocal and backed by the whole of the Israeli political spectrum. If millions of Palestinian refugees are allowed to return to Israel, it will endanger the very foundations of a Jewish state. A Jewish state means a Jewish majority. And Israel will not commit political suicide.

The Palestinian right of return will need to be realized within the borders of a Palestinian state. I am aware that the Palestinians will not express public acceptance of this position. On this subject, we must therefore agree to not agree, without allowing this absence of agreement to interfere with the road map.

The Palestinian government must without delay put into effect a plan to dismantle and disarm the various armed militias operating on the ground and consolidate matters of security under its sole authority. Unless this course of action is enforced, Hamas and Islamic Jihad will dictate the Palestinian agenda and foil its attempts to advance peace. A government can be democratic or not democratic, but a country disjointed by splintered authority cannot survive.

Israel's government must implement the assurances it gave not only upon its recent election but also during its previous term, that new settlement activities will cease. This resolution was debated at the Knesset and approved, making it legally binding. The same commitment was made to the United States and must be fulfilled.

Since this commitment was made, several hundred settlements and outposts were created, and they must be dismantled. The so-called "painful concessions" pledge (by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon) cannot replace the real test of deeds.

All of the sides the "quartet" with the United States in the lead (along with Russia, the European Union and the United Nations), Israel and the Palestinians must agree on a two-way track at the start: to fight terror as though there were no negotiations and engage in negotiations as though there was no fight against terror. If one is dependent on the other, it is doubtful that the process will ever leave the station.

Fighting terror is not a gift that the Palestinians are offering Israel.

A terrorist or even semi-terrorist Palestinian state has no chance of seeing the light of day. But Israel must also fight the motives for terror. The Palestinian people will commit themselves fully to fighting terror only when it becomes clear to them that an end to terror will yield greater dividends than allowing it to continue.

Therefore, it is manifestly in Israel's self-interest to create a political horizon that will encompass an end to the occupation, its agreement to borders on the basis of U.N. resolutions 242 and 338 and the establishment of a demilitarized yet sustainable and independent Palestinian state.

We must not miss yet again the rare opportunity we are now given. It has always been hard to untangle ourselves from the complexities of the situation, and this time too will not be easy. But as opposed to the past, the potential peace today seems to overshadow the fear of war.


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.