Israel And The Bush Doctrine

Fox News broadcast President Bush's speech in Georgia on Wednesday afternoon live, a few hours after a suicide bomber perpetrated the Passover massacre in a hotel in Netanya, Israel. During part of the speech, Fox used a split screen--Bush speaking on one side, while the other side showed pictures of the aftermath of the blast that blew body parts 50 yards from the hotel. Bush could not have known that he was being seen on a split screen as he said this:

"I laid out a doctrine and it's really important for when the United States speaks it means what they say. And I said that if you harbor a terrorist, you're just as guilty as the terrorist; if you feed one or hide one, you're just as guilty as those who came and murdered thousands of innocent Americans. It's an important part of any foreign policy to do what you say you're going to do, and we did. Thanks to the mighty United States military, the Taliban no longer is in power."

The juxtaposition of Bush's statement and the pictures of the carnage in Netanya was useful. The suicide bomber went to Netanya from the West Bank. There, in the jurisdiction of Yasir Arafat's Palestinian Authority, terrorists are trained, armed, incited and dispatched. According to the Bush Doctrine, Israel has a right, indeed a duty, to do to the PA what the United States did to the Taliban: destroy it.

However, as Bush was speaking in Georgia and body parts were being collected in Netanya, Secretary of State Colin Powell was in Washington saying this about the practice of murdering Jews as they observe Seder: "This sort of activity and the tolerance of this sort of activity will destroy the very vision that the Palestinian Authority stands for and Chairman Arafat says he is committed to."

Powell's response to mass murder--to the PA's longstanding policy of nurturing an atmosphere in which mass murder is celebrated--represents an alarming degree of incomprehension on his part. Not since Cyrus Vance said in 1978 that Leonid Brezhnev shared America's "dreams and aspirations" has a secretary of State seemed so impervious to the obvious. Powell's version of the PA's "vision" is this: "A Palestinian state living side by side in peace with Israel, behind secure and recognizable borders." Powell's version is his, not Arafat's. And it is absurd.

What kind of a state does Powell think will be built by men who send suicide bombers to discos, pizzerias, weddings and Seders? When Powell issues his ridiculously recurring demands for Arafat to order PA security forces to crack down on terrorism, does Powell know that Jibril Rajoub, head of the Palestinian Preventive Security Service, praises suicide bombers?

Powell certainly knows that the PA's maps of Palestine are, as the Nazis used to say, Judenrein --cleansed of Israel. The PA's jurisdiction reverberates with incessant incitements to murder and genocide. When Daniel Pearl was forced to say, "My mother is a Jew. I am a Jew," and then had his throat slit, that was applied Arafatism.

U.S. policy has been impervious to the obvious fact that a secure Israel is incompatible with the PA's purpose. That purpose is to establish a state whose capital is an undivided Jerusalem and whose western border is on the Mediterranean. Powell's willful disbelief of such unpleasant truths, which the PA hardly disguises, is of a piece with the delusional behavior that has surrounded the farcical Saudi "peace plan."

The plan has been consistently misdescribed as merely a matter of "land for peace." Such an exchange must mean that Israel surrenders something tangible, crucial and irrecoverable without a war, in exchange for words that can be repudiated in a trice. But never mind that. The Saudi plan actually calls for Arab nations to recognize Israel after Israel accepts a peace satisfactory to the Palestinians. That would involve much more than Israel's withdrawing to the (indefensible) 1967 borders. It would involve a "right of return" of those, or the descendants of those, who fled Israel in 1948, expecting to return after Arab armies destroyed the new nation. This "right" would mean the end of Israel.

The Saudi plan was a public-relations ploy by a nation with a public-relations problem: 15 of the 19 September 11 terrorists came from there. The Saudis' well-chosen conduit for their plan was New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, a consistent advocate of Israeli concessions. Friedman breathlessly reported that the Saudis were Friedmanites, offering normalization of relations after Israel's total withdrawal to the 1967 borders and creation of a Palestinian state.

Because Friedman has become a participant, or at least a pawn, in the process, note that his judgment about the process is, to say no more, fallible. In July 2000, at Camp David, Arafat spurned a recklessly generous Israeli offer--control of up to 95 percent of the West Bank, removal of 40,000 Israeli settlers, redivision of Jerusalem and a limited right of return. Friedman was sanguine about Arafat's destruction of the Camp David meeting: "There will be a great temptation to pronounce the Israeli-Palestinian peace process over. That would be a great, great mistake. The truth is, it has just begun... The days of the intifada are over."

Friedman said, "The Palestinian police now have guns--and that changes everything." He meant that the intifada dare not become more than a people's movement with stones, because "the last time the Palestinians used guns against Israeli guns was in a place called Lebanon and it ended with the P.L.O. on a boat to Tunis."

The current phase of the 54-year war against Israel began 18 months ago, shortly after Friedman's bulletin that the peace process "has just begun." The PA, which is the PLO masquerading as a government, has earned the fate that befell the PLO in 1982: exile, far from Palestine. Pending that, the fiasco of the Saudi plan and the "Arab summit" in Beirut demonstrated, albeit redundantly, that "the Arab world" remains a geographical, not a political expression, and that is a very good thing indeed.