Posted: May 24, 2001
he Oslo "Peace Process" is dead. It is time for a public burial, before the corpse infects the landscape even more than it has already. As the fighting between Israelis and Palestine Liberation Organization-led Palestinians escalates, American policy lamely calls for an end to the fighting and a return to the conference table. But the fighting is a consequence of all the previous visits to the conference table. What is the point in renewing a process that cannot lead anywhere except back to where we are now?
The idea underlying Oslo was that the Israelis would give up land to the PLO to form a Palestinian state, and that state would then conclude an agreement for lasting peace and economic cooperation with Israel. But "land for peace" today is indistinguishable in principle from "Sudetenland for peace" in 1938. Hitler then declared the Sudetenland to be his last territorial demand in Europe, and Chamberlain believed him. When Chamberlain returned from Munich waving a slip of paper with Hitler's signature, he declared that it meant "Peace in our time." In fact, it guaranteed the outbreak of the greatest war in all human history.
Winston Churchill once observed that a policy of appeasement was not in itself a bad thing. One may appease one's hunger by a good meal. At the end of the meal one is no longer hungry. But giving Hitler what he wanted only made him hungrier for more. Shortly after occupying the Sudetenland he occupied all of Czechoslovakia. That in turn was a springboard for his attack on Poland, and after that, all of Europe. In 1938 the Czechs had one of Europe's best armies. The German panzer divisions would have had great difficulty operating in the Sudeten Mountains. The German generals had little confidence in their ability to defeat the Czechs in 1938, and there were rumors of a coup against Hitler if he gave them the order to do so. But the capitulation of the western democracies at Munich gave Hitler an aura of invincibility. Had the Czechs fought, they would have drawn their reluctant allies into battle, and they might not have had to undergo the same and misery of being subject, first to the Nazis and then to the Communists.
Hitler could not be appeased. He was a bloodthirsty tyrant who had to be overthrown from within, or defeated from without. By continually making concessions in the interest of peace, the appeasers only made the war, when it came, more difficult and costly. The imbecility of the democracies in dealing with Hitler was rooted in their inability to see his regime for what it was. There was no diplomatic solution to the problem presented by Hitler.
Exactly the same is true of Arafat and Palestian Authority. Their aim is the extermination of the "Zionist entity." This is in the original PLO Charter, and it has never been changed, propaganda to the contrary notwithstanding. Wiping Israel from the face of the earth remains their unchanging goal. It is well to remember that Arafat's predecessor, the Grand Mufti, spent World War II in Berlin, hoping to become the Gauleiter of the Middle East in order to carry out Hitler's "Final Solution" there. It is also well to remember that PLO sided with Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War, and cheered the SCUD missiles as they descended upon Israel.
Barak's concessions at the end of his tenure as Prime Minster were as reckless as Chamberlain's at Munich. It is a piece of good fortune that Arafat refused to accept them. Among his escalating demand was the return of some two million alleged refugees (or their descendants) from the 1948 war. Such a measure would of itself have marked the end of the Jewish state. Actually, there were in 1948 about 600,000 such refugees, about the same as the number of Jewish refugees from Arab states in the region. Israel absorbed its refugees, but the Arab states have refused to do the same, preferring to keep them in turbulent misery, living sores on the international body politic. Does anyone think that the Germans who were expelled from East Prussia after World War II should be returned?
There cannot be a constructive diplomatic process between a tyranny and a democracy. The problem of Hitler could be resolved only by the destruction of Hitler. After Hitler, Germany became a peaceful, democratic regime, able to join the neighbors it had once conquered in an equal partnership in the European Union. The Palestinians whom Arafat represents are like the Germans Hitler represented. The Palestinian Authority, like the Nazis, is a gangster regime that rules its own people by terror. More Palestinians have been murdered by their own government for expressing dissent than have died in action against Israeli Defense Forces in the Intifada. The bulk of the hundreds of millions of dollars we have poured into Arafat's treasury has been embezzled.
The first step in American policy must be the de-legitimizing of the PLO, returning it to its former terrorist status. The next step must be the establishment of a procedure by which the Palestinians, free from all intimidation, like a de-Nazified German, can choose a new and genuinely representative government. Such a government should be capable of helping to form a Middle East Union not unlike the European Union. After all, the long-standing hostility of Arabs and Jews is no greater that that which prevailed during two world wars between Germans and French. Ancient hatreds can be overcome, but only by a political realism that sees freedom and tyranny for what they are.