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This Time You Missed the Mark

Reader comment on item: Bush is rewarding [Palestinian] terrorism

Submitted by IBrodsky (United States), Jun 25, 2002 at 16:59

Dear Dr. Pipes,

I value your analysis and believe you deserve recognition for consistently identifying the real enemy, militant Islam.

But I think "Bush is Rewarding Terrorism" is wrong on multiple counts.

He did tell "the Palestinians clearly and unequivocally that their 21-month campaign of violence against Israel is unacceptable." There is no sin in telling them what the reward will be if they stop terrorism and build truly democratic institutions. Remember, the reward is a process with the details still to be worked out between the parties.

But I doubt he really believes that the Palestinians are going to run out and dump Arafat, embrace democracy, and put terrorists out of business. This speech was intended more to sideline State Dept. Arabists, rally support among European leaders, and force "moderate" Arab leaders to put more distance between themselves and terrorist groups.

The world has spent the last decade confusing terrorists with statesmen, and that is not something that can be rectified overnight.

I saw nothing in the speech that suggests Palestinians will be rewarded for more violence. Keep in mind that the President did not say one word against the ongoing Operation Determined Path. While mass murder attacks against Jews delayed the speech, the assassination of Hamas leaders in Gaza did not.

You are right that Palestinians collectively support terrorism, but the President's remark "The hatred of a few holds the hopes of many hostage" can be viewed in a broader context as an invitation to Palestinians to return to the norms of civilized behavior. Whether they do or don't is their own decision, but the President made it clear that US support for a Palestinian state is contingent on them making very big changes.

The Palestinians have "been treated as pawns" by Arabs bent on Israel's destruction. Again, I see nothing wrong with pointing this out. Similarly, Muslims as a whole are victims of militant Islam.

Regarding good governance, there is no precedent for a genuine Arab democracy, but certainly it would be better to negotiate peace with institutions representing more than just the current power clique. (Though I suspect the IDF has a much greater chance of winning the peace than any committee of diplomats.) Israel gave back the Sinai, a decision that is not easily reversed, but what happens if Mubarak is kicked out of power?

I think if Israel had to choose between fighting terrorists and a regular army, it would choose the latter. But a negotiated settlement guaranteeing Israel's security would not leave the Palestinians free to build armed forces to accomplish the same goal.

In a nutshell, I think you take the President's speech too literally. This speech was probably the best Israel could expect from a sitting U.S. President, even given that the U.S. is Israel's staunchest ally. It was intended not to reward Palestinian terrorism, but to make it clear that no one will gain from such terrorism. Bush has already made it clear that the Arab/Islamic dream of destroying Israel just ain't gonna happen.

We know Bush is nearly obsessed with deposing Saddam Hussein, and he has correctly singled out Iran and now Syria as part of the problem. This was a great speech, and you would do better to advise readers to make sure the U.S. doesn't deviate from it in an effort to placate "moderate" Arab dictators.

ibrodsky
www.israelforum.com
Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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