ALAN KEYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, I'm Alan Keyes. Welcome to MAKING SENSE.
Tonight, we're going to continue to take a look at the terrible mess that's developing in the Middle East, getting closer and closer, unhappily, to all-out war. We'll also be visiting an issue on the war on terrorism, brought up by the Pilots Association. Should pilots be armed to defend their aircraft?
But first, let's take a look at the Middle East situation... And joining us to get to the heart of the matter, Marc Ginsberg, former U.S. ambassador to Morocco during the Clinton administration, who was also a senior adviser to Jimmy Carter for Middle East policy.
Also, Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum and a correspondent with the "New York Post." Also, an erstwhile colleague of mine at one time on the policy planning staff at the State Department.
And Hussein Ibish, who is with the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
Welcome to MAKING SENSE, gentlemen.
I would like to start first of all with you, Dan Pipes, looking at the situation, overall, and the context of the Clinton years, the Bush years, the argument that takes place about what should or should not happen. Do you think there was any truth in Ari Fleischer's remarks? Should he have stuck to his guns? Is it simply without point, to point the finger at the Clinton years, or is there something to it?
DANIEL PIPES, MIDDLE EAST FORUM: There's a lot to it, Alan. Ari Fleischer got it right. He said that President Clinton pushed too hard and the result of that, he actually was one of the reasons why there's the violence today.
If you shoot for the moon, as Mr. Fleischer put it, and you fail, there are consequences. And I think that's something that Americans, including American diplomats and politicians, haven't really thought through. That if you try one of these peace proposals - there's another one on the table right now —and it fails, you might be actually well worse off than you would have been had you not tried it.
KEYES: Well, what do you think of the actual logic of that, though?
I mean, I think there's another step that folks often don't get to, explaining why such a failure would actually contribute to a confrontational situation. What is that logic?
PIPES: The logic is that the Israelis offered a lot, and they then offered more and more, and instead of leading to an agreement, this led to a sense on the Palestinian and Arab side that Israel is weak, and the result has been exhilaration and ambition and violence that we've seen in the last year and a half.
Had the Israelis done what they had used to do, which was to be tough and show they're not vulnerable, then the chances of this violence —then this violence wouldn't have happened. So, in other words, to go back to the debate you had in the preceding segment, it's very clear, despite Mr. Mally's ideas, the Arabs have not accepted Israel and we're seeing it very much these days. That's still the issue.
KEYES: You wouldn't be saying, to put it simply, that they offered much and gave the impression that maybe more of the strategy could be satisfied so the Palestinians just kept moving. Marc Ginsberg, do you think that's an accurate understanding?
MARC GINSBERG, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO MOROCCO: No. I mean, this is partisan revisionism on the part of some very right-wing Republicans who are out to always go after President Clinton. Look, Alan, from 1973, from for 1973 war, successive presidents, Republican and Democrat, have done everything possible to bring about a negotiated settlement. To argue that the violence is attributable to the efforts by President Clinton is absurd.
The fact remains, is that up until Camp David, there was an effort by the Palestinians and Israelis to implement the Oslo Accord. The frustration levels by the Palestinians is due in part to policies that the Israelis and the Palestinians themselves had to face and deal with as part of the final status negotiations. That includes issues such as settlements and the right of return and refugees.
But the fact remains is that I am of the belief that one of the reasons why you have this violence, is because Mr. Arafat refused to acclimate his people to accept less than what he had claimed he was going to deliver to the Palestinians in the first place.
And that, I'm afraid, is one of the real problems here. Mr. Barak, who was the prime minister at the time, realized how important it was, ultimately tried to resolve all of the issues, not incrementally, but to go for the Hail Mary pass. It didn't work. But Mr. Arafat then turned around and resorted to violence to try to extract through violence what he couldn't at the negotiate table. This is not because of Mr. Clinton.
KEYES: Hussein Ibish, here again, it seems that we have somebody pointing the finger at Arafat, his lack of control, his lack of responsiveness. Do you think that's fair?
HUSSEIN IBISH, AMERICAN-ARAB ANTI-DISCRIMINATION COMMITTEE: Of course it's not fair. Because the whole point of this rhetoric is to shift the subject away from the occupation, which is the sole and only cause of this conflict. In spite of Frank and his ridiculous map, which he printed from the internet and carries around like a security blanket everywhere he goes. Look, we need to break through the mystification that has been going on in this discussion and get to fundamental realities.
The fact of the matter is, this is about Israel maintaining tens of thousands of heavily armed troops and hundreds of thousands of settlers outside of its country, in somebody else's land, for the sole purpose of taking that land away from them and keeping 3 million people captive. That is exactly what is going on, for 35 years with no end in sight.
The Palestinians recognized Israel in its internationally recognized borders, the same borders the United States recognizes, in 1993. They stuck with it. Israel has refused consistently to remove its troops back into Israel. It wants to maintain its troops inside somebody else's land.
The Saudi peace plan put it right on the table. If Israel removes its troops and settlers back to Israel, where they belong, where international law says they have to go, not only the Palestinians, but all the Arabs will recognize Israel and have peace with it. The Israelis rejected it outrightly over the weekend because they want the land. It's as simple as that.
KEYES: Now, wait a minute. Daniel Pipes, as I listen to Hussein Ibish, I can't help but think that he is ignoring a certain amount of history here, including the kind of history that led...
IBISH: Well, I'm not.
KEYES: Let me finish. That led to the 1967 war.
IBISH: Started by Israel...
KEYES: And he gives the idea — hold on.
IBISH: Israel started the 1967 war on the morning of May 5, 1967 by attacking the Egyptian airforce on the ground, just like the Japanese at Pearl Harbor.
KEYES: Daniel Pipes, I'm addressing this question to you in particular, because I'm wondering whether or not, in the face of the reality of that history, it is fair to put the entire burden of this situation on the Israeli occupation.
PIPES: Well, as you're pointing out, Alan, the Israelis didn't occupy any of the lands which Mr. Ibish is upset about them being in now, before 1967. And they had to fight wars in 1948 and 1956 and 1967. There's a clear history to show that the Arabs, from 1948 until the present day, have not accepted Israel.
The Israelis deluded themselves in the mid-90's to think that they had won that acceptance and the point then was to close down the conflict by figuring out what to do with Jerusalem and refugees and water and borders and the like. But, in fact, as recent events have made very clear, that acceptance was never there.
KEYES: Marc Ginsberg, go ahead.
GINSBERG: Alan, the fact remains is that the Palestinians have, indeed, suffered greatly under the Israeli occupation. There's no doubt that the frustration levels felt by the Palestinians is acute. But the Palestinians also, in the handshake on the White House lawn between Mr. Arafat and Prime Minister Rabin, the Palestinians foreswore to use violence as a means to negotiate a final settlement with Israel.
IBISH: They never renounced the right of self-defense, and most of the civilians being killed are Palestinians.
GINSBERG: Let me finish here. I'm going to finish. And the fact remains, for Mr. Pipes, that there were peace treaties negotiated between Arabs and Israelis. There is a peace treaty and normalization and recognition by Jordan and with Egypt. So, it's not fair to say that Arabs have not been willing to enter into a fair, negotiated settlement with Israel and to draw an across the board — there is fault on either sides here, gentleman. The fact remains is, we have to deal with the reality on the ground.
IBISH: Look, the Israeli occupation is what drives this and it's not a concession of Israel to remove its troops back to its own country. It is true and it's simply a fact that the Palestinians recognize Israel and it's true and it's simply a fact that Israel will not remove its troops back into Israel and does not recognize the Palestinian right to be independent.
And I don't see how it is, frankly, that, you know - and, Alan, this involves you, too — that you seem to think that violence, designed to enforce the occupation by Israel is somehow legitimate and could be described as self-defense, whereas armed resistance by Palestinians, when directed against Israeli forces is somehow illegitimate. The resistance does not justify the occupation, as you are implying here, the occupation justifies the resistance.
KEYES: wait, wait, wait. I have a word to speak here. Hold on. I have a word to speak. Hold on.
KEYES: I have — let me finish. I have a word to speak here. The simple fact of the matter is, that I think the people on both sides have to be responsible for the violence that they do. And that means that the folks on the Arab side have to take responsibility for that violence. It may be in response to Israel. But the question is — let me finish.
Can they stop it? And the truth of the matter is, that up to this point, I don't think Mr. Arafat has demonstrated at any point a consistent control over those forces of violence, and that means if the Israelis withdrawal into their own country, they're simply leaving a staging area for violence which would become harder to handle.
IBISH: No, that's put to me. So, I must answer it. I must answer this. That's what the Israelis said, in south Lebanon for 18 years, that they couldn't withdraw from south Lebanon because of the resistance. Finally, two years ago, they withdrew, the border has been quiet, so this is all a lie. If resistance justifies occupation, then occupations will never and can never end, and are self-justifying. That's absurd. The Israelis, simply...
KEYES: Marc Ginsberg, very quickly. Go ahead. Mark Ginsberg, quickly go ahead. \
GINSBERG: I want to say the fact remains that despite what Mr. Ibish says, there is violence that is being perpetrated against civilians and it is terror.
IBISH: Yes, I agree, attacks on civilians are unacceptable.
Ginsberg: And Mr. Arafat is responsible for this.
KEYES: Last word from Daniel Pipes. Dan?
KEYES: Last word from Dan Pipes. Anything?
PIPES: Thank you, Alan. Yes, indeed. I would just want to note that the border between Lebanon and Israel has been anything but quiet.
IBISH: Oh, what a lie.
PIPES: Mr. Ibish, could you please be quiet?
IBISH: Only if you tell the truth.
PIPES: Mr. Ibish, could you please shut up?
KEYES: Now, Hussein, he listens to your comment. Dan, finish your remark. Quickly.
PIPES: Where it has not been quiet over the last year and a half and we're about to see, as the Hezbollah, the Lebanese terrorist group, has acquired what they say is 7,000 Katyusha rockets, we're about to see how much less quiet it's going to be.
KEYES: Well, I have to say, gentlemen, that I promised folks out there a lively discussion, and we certainly got it. I appreciate all of you for coming on this evening. I hope to see you again. We'll obviously be getting further and more deeply into this as the crisis continues.
Sep. 27, 2004 update: For the aftermath of this program, see "Newsweek's 'Periscope' Gets It Wrong."