January 10, 2008
Peace in the Mideast remains an illusion
(Page 2 - Previous Page)Abbas turned out to be a president without real power, who is desperately trying to hold on to power. Obviously, he only cares about ending the fights with Hamas and bringing this terror organization back to being his little partner.
Within Abbas' strategy lurks a confusing double standard, which is what Palestinian political groups have used for so long to conceal their true ambition, namely the complete elimination of the State of Israel.
"Sooner or later we all come to realize that one cannot escape reality," concluded Moshe Arens, Israel's former minister of defense. "The peace process can only start thriving after a significant defeat of Palestinian terrorism."
Despite public discussions on the influence of the "Israeli lobby" on American politics, support for Israel in Congress and the Senate remains strong. The United States granted military support in the form of $30 billion over the next 10 years -- an increase of 25 percent.
Iran destabilizes the region by supporting militant Islamic organizations, such as the Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. The United States has a lasting interest in securing Israel's safety.
That security remains threatened on two fronts. The most obvious is Iran, whose nuclear ambitions pose an existential threat to Israel. But the source of almost daily terrorism is, alas, in territory Israel handed back to the Palestinians.
For the first time in 10 years in an Islamic country, we have witnessed an assumption of power by an Islamic group. Today, Gaza is not being run by a conventional political party but by a revolutionary Islamic terrorist organization -- Hamas. Gaza is now a center of terrorism and an Islamic emirate.
Had Israel given into pressure to create a road for trucks and connecting Gaza to the West Bank, the West Bank today would be in terrible danger. The grenades and Qassam rockets being fired today from Gaza into Israel are, according to Israeli military sources, proof of the establishment by Hamas of an army with infantry and an antitank defense division.
Israel's withdrawal from Gush Katif was meant to show that Israel is not only willing to give up Jewish settlements but, indeed, ready to return territories to the Palestinians in return for a peace treaty. Unfortunately, it has become shockingly clear in the last year that Palestinians have no intention whatsoever to recognize Israel and its existence. Israel has left the flourishing gardens and farmland of Gush Katif, a former desert, to the Palestinians, who managed to transform it into a base for terrorism.
The essence of the problem is the fact that for Palestinians, the word "occupation" is not only used in reference to the in 1967 conquered territories but to Israel as a whole. We tend to forget that the Palestinian Liberation Organization was founded before the Six-Day War by the Palestinians for the purpose of liberating Jaffa and Haifa.
Territorial concessions from Israel would only help the rising Islamists to increase leverage and confirm their assumption that Israel can be defeated militarily. The main conflict in the Mideast is not territorial but ideological. An ideology cannot be defeated by concessions.
There is no concrete hope for peace in the Middle East at this time. So what's the purpose of all the diplomatic efforts, Annapolis, the handshakes, the promises and hopes? "The essential [thing] lies in the dynamic of life that detests any vacuum," concluded Tommy Lapid, the former minister of justice.
Yes, Israel needs to hold talks, needs to go to meetings and explain, be hopeful and make predictions and promises. All this is nice and good for as long as we understand that this is foremost a game of illusions.
Anyone interested in history and geography knows of countries that don't live in peace with their neighbors, but whose citizens nevertheless manage to live normal lives. This seems to be Israel's destiny for 2008.
Arthur Cohn is an international film producer whose films include "The Garden of the Finzi-Continis," "Central Station" and "One Day in September."
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