The Prerequisite to Peace
By Jeff Jacoby
The Boston Globe
June 27, 2002
times, George Orwell is reputed to have said, when the first duty of an
intelligent man is to restate the obvious. President Bush did his duty
this week when he cut through the murk of the past nine years -- the years of
the Middle East "peace process" -- to assert some obvious
Palestinian authorities are encouraging, not opposing terrorism," he
said. "Today, the elected Palestinian legislature has no authority,
and power is concentrated in the hands of an unaccountable few. . .
. Today, the Palestinian people live in economic stagnation, made worse
by official corruption." All of this is true, all of it is plainly
visible, and all of it has been persistently denied or ignored for years by
most of the world's governments -- including, until very recently, those of
Israel and the United States.
acknowledged obvious facts, Bush drew an obvious conclusion. Peace
between Israel and the Palestinians will not be possible until there is "a
new and different Palestinian leadership," one "not compromised by
terror," nor until Palestinian society becomes "a practicing
democracy based on tolerance and liberty." Only when that
transformation takes place can a lasting peace between Israelis and
Palestinians be fashioned. And only then will it make sense to talk of a
there is no chance that the Palestinians will willingly undertake such a
transformation. For one thing, the current Palestinian rulers will
not agree to go. That includes not only Yasser Arafat, but his thuggish
lieutenants -- the likes of Jibril Rajoub, Mohammed Dahlan, Mahmoud Abbas,
Ahmed Qurei, and Marwan Barghouti, all of whom are "compromised by
terror." For his part, Arafat wasted no time in brushing off Bush's
call for new Palestinian leaders, telling reporters the next day that the
president was "definitely not" referring to him.
But it is not
only Arafat and his aides who are compromised by terror. The Palestinian
people themselves are openly wedded to it and deeply opposed to co-existence
with Israel. Bush fudged when he said, "The hatred of a few holds
the hopes of many hostage." The dismal truth is that among the
Palestinians, it is the many who nurse hatred and who support the
slaughter of civilians.
Just this month,
a poll by the Jerusalem Media and Communication Center (a Palestinian
institute) found that 68 percent of Palestinians approve of suicide bombings and
51 percent favor the liquidation of Israel. Palestinian TV extols the
terror attacks that have been turning Israeli pizza shops and commuter buses
into horrific scenes of massacre. Palestinian muftis preaching in the
mosques of Gaza exhort the faithful to kill Jews "wherever you meet
them." Summer camps indoctrinate Palestinian kids in jihad;
schoolbooks teach them that Israel must be destroyed.
The nearly nine
years of Arafat's misrule have severely poisoned Palestinian society, and in
such toxic soil peace cannot take root. Palestinians have been steeped in
hatred and bloodlust; great numbers of them are convinced that it is only a
matter of time until the Jews are expelled and all of "Palestine" is
theirs. It is folly to think that they could abruptly change course, and
extend to Israel the hand of neighborly goodwill.
prerequisite to peace, Palestinian culture must be drastically reformed.
The venom of the Arafat era must be drained. Persons implicated in
terrorism must be punished and ostracized; democratic norms must be instilled;
the virtue of tolerance must be learned. There is only one way to effect
such wholesale changes: The Palestinian Authority must be dealt a devastating
military defeat, one that will crush Arafat and his junta and shatter forever
the Palestinian fantasy of "liberating" Israel and driving the Jews
into the sea.
Palestinian territories must be reoccupied, the terror chieftains executed, and
the putrescence of Arafat and Hamas flushed away. That will make it
possible to rebuild the structures of civil society -- the legislature, the
courts, the police, the media, and above all, the schools -- from the ground
up. The Palestinian polity can become a true liberal democracy, one
committed to pluralism, civil rights, competitive elections, and the
marketplace of ideas. When that happens, peace with Israel will be a
given, and no one will fear the creation of a Palestinian state.
A fanciful pipe
dream? Not at all. There is a historical model for just this sort
of transformation: the US occupation of Japan.
In 1945, the
United States dealt the brutal Japanese empire an annihilating defeat.
The atom bomb broke Japan's will to fight and forced upon it the shame of
occupation and unconditional surrender. General Douglas MacArthur was
Japan's supreme ruler for the next seven years -- years he used to forcibly
remake Japanese society. A new constitution was imposed, new laws were
written, a new educational system was mandated. The values of democracy
were explained and popularized. By the time the occupation ended in 1952,
a frenzied warmonger had been transformed into a peaceable democracy, one that
remains to this day a trusted ally of the West. The postwar
treatment of Germany was much the same.
differences, of course -- no one proposes to drop an A-bomb on Gaza -- but what
was done to Japan and to Germany can be done to the Palestinians.
Pulverizing defeat, followed by occupation and transformation. It would
be a blessing to all the peoples of the Middle East -- to the Palestinians