|Editorial April 2005|
|By Roland S. Süssmann, Editor in Chief|
We are living through a period of bombastic commemorations and ceremonies: 60 years since the liberation of Auschwitz, 60 years since the end of the Second World war, the inauguration of a new wing at Yad Vashem, and more. These occasions are excellent opportunities for political leaders to offer a begrudging mea culpa, while continuing their pro-Arab policies and weakly fighting anti-Semitism. But can there be an act of memory while passing over the realities of History in silence?
At not one of the remembrance ceremonies was the Arab world’s collaboration with the Nazis mentioned, because it is not politically correct to recall the friendships of these regimes and of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem with Hitler. This type of recollection is particularly unwelcome just when a new “messiah” has arisen in the Middle East: Mahmoud Abbas. Everything is being done to make us believe that a new hope has been born, that the time has come for Israel to make concessions that are not painful… but suicidal.
In this respect, it is interesting to recall some of what was contained in the official communiqué of the Cairo Declaration, jointly signed by 13 “Palestinian” terrorist organizations under the aegis of Mr. Abbas at the end of March 2005: “…the right of the Palestinians to end the occupation, to create a Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital, the return of all refugees and the recovery of their land and homes. Let us remember that the construction of the separation barrier, of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the Judification of Jerusalem (!) are explosive issues that could re-ignite the armed conflict at any moment.” There followed a magnanimous offer: “acceptance of a temporary period of calm in return for an irrevocable commitment by Israel to renounce all forms of aggression and to release all prisoners”.
The tone has been set: no peace, no cease-fire! All that Mr. Abbas is offering Israel is to try a new period of “hudna”, calm, thereby also meeting the wishes of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad who want a let up in order to refurbish their stock of arms. It should be properly understood that the hudna fully legitimizes the “the armed struggle against the occupier”, a euphemism that authorizes the murder and mutilation of Jews while keeping open political channels for negotiations. The proposed hudna comes with two basic conditions: reciprocity and Israel’s acceptance of a long list of PLO demands. “Reciprocity” is an attempt by Mr. Abbas to place Israel’s defense and Arab terrorism on the same footing.
This development does not have to be worse to cause concern. The results of the Sharm el Sheikh summit have caused spineless relief among most international opinion: “anything but violence, even a poor agreement, even Israel’s submission to constraints that are dangerous for its security, and why not, with time, a bad peace?” Mr. Abbas is pursuing two quite clear objectives: internally he wants above all else to re-establish confidence in the Palestinian Authority and to strengthen his power. Towards Israel he is attempting a series of maneuvers that are very dangerous for the Jewish State. He wants to show George Bush that under his leadership the PLO has fulfilled all the initial conditions of the Road Map, by implementing a series of political and security reforms, meaning that he is actively combating all forms of terrorism. However, since the Sharm el Sheikh summit, PLO forces have not confiscated any arms or arrested any terrorists, while rockets and Kassam missiles continue to fall regularly on Israel.
The object of these tactics is to change the perception of the nature of the conflict by trying to forget Arab terrorism and putting the emphasis on “the illegal Israeli occupation”. Mr. Abbas’s strategy is designed to get the US and the Europeans to put pressure on Israel to retreat as much as possible on the West Bank and the rapid creation of a Palestinian state. If the happy disappearance from the scene of the anti-Semitic terrorist Arafat offers some possibilities of a respite for Israel, it also involves a large number of risks. The positive items can be summarized as follows: the possible reorganization of the Palestinian Authority under the aegis of a slightly more stable leadership; a slim chance of restarting negotiations; a significant current reduction in acts of terrorism. The biggest risks are: the Palestinian Authority has not rejected the principle of armed struggle, but is trying to legitimize it in the eyes of international opinion; while maintaining a dialogue with the 13 other Arab terrorist organizations, Mr. Abbas retains a permanent, active terrorist threat against Israel; the hudna threatens to become a political trap for Israel, because it limits its freedom of action against terrorism, particularly preventative actions; if Arab terror starts up again, Israel will be subject to international pressure to “show restraint”. We should recall that nothing is being done in the areas under the PLO’s control to end incitement and the encouragement of anti-Semitism. In Authority school textbooks, hate for Jews is taught as is admiration for those who kill them, while sermons calling for the killing of Jews have not been banished from the mosques of Ramallah or Gaza.
Under such conditions, how can Israel translate its real wish for peace into reality on the ground? Only firmness pays off. Politically, Israel must retain its right to fight Arab terror under all circumstances. And Mahmoud Abbas must be held responsible for all acts of terrorism coming from the territories he controls, especially if he brings Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in under his roof. Construction of the security fence must continue apace, because it is better that an Arab child should be a bit late for school than that a Jewish child never arrives because he or she has been blown up on a bus. Lastly, strengthening the en masse populating of Judah-Samaria and the Golan is imperative, if only at the strategic level.
At the same time Israel is preparing to liquidate the Jewish villages in Gaza and four in northern Samaria. Notwithstanding the scandalousness of this idea, it is hard to believe that Ariel Sharon will squander the Jews’ eternal rights for some security considerations or prostitute them on an impulse. At our many meetings, he always told me, “Above all else I am a Jew, and the protection of our rights and the well-being of my people are my priority”.
At this time of Pesach we are faced with many questions: assimilation, anti-Semitism, and the lack of interest shown by our young people in community life and in Israel. However, we are privileged to leave at a time when we have a strong State, with an army that is our pride and a population that, despite all the difficulties, has succeeded in giving Israel a democratic and economic boom, which no other country on earth surrounded by 22 dictatorships and subject to similar pressures would have been able to achieve. Here is a source of courage, and only the strengthening of our support for Israel lets us hope that in 60 years no one will need to arrange commemoration ceremonies in memory of us!
The entire SHALOM team wishes you a marvelous Pesach holiday.
Roland S. Süssmann
Editor in Chief