The latest issue of Commentary magazine leads with an article by Abraham Sofaer about the dicey future of Arab-Israeli negotiations. It is a sober recital by the State Department’s former legal adviser of the obstacles that stand in the way of a permanent peace. In his article, Sofaer describes the Palestine educational system as “an abomination.” He writes:
Palestinian children are taught mendacious versions of their own history as well as of Jewish culture, history and beliefs. Generations have been fed on propaganda that denies the legitimacy of the state of Israel while simultaneously glorifying intolerance, fanaticism and “martyrdom.”
And not only Palestinian children but children in Syrian schools from fourth grade up are taught:
Zionism is really a form of colonialism similar to Nazism.
Zionism endangers the Arab world and prevents its unification.
Israel, an aggressive and expansionist enemy, is responsible for the backwardness of the Arab world.
When they grow up they must engage in jihad against Israel and seek martyrdom — meaning, of course, suicide attacks.
Real peace with Israel would be treason.
Arab leaders who negotiate with Israel are spies and traitors.
Even outside of Israel, Jews are a menace and should be exterminated.
If the above sentences sounds incredible half-a-century after the Holocaust, let me quote in translation from a textbook called Islamic Education for the Tenth Grade, 1999-2000, page 116:
The logic of justice obligates the application of the single verdict [on the Jews] from which there is no escape; namely, that their criminal intentions be turned against them and that they be exterminated. The duty of Muslims of our time is to pull themselves together, unite their ranks, and wage war on their enemy until Allah hands down his judgment on them and us.
What needs saying is that no peace is possible between the two adversaries — road map or no — so long as the Arab nations insist, as they have been doing for generations, on teaching their children that hatred of Jews and suicide bombing is serving Allah. If the Arabs leaders were looking forward to a peaceful, negotiable resolution of the half-century conflict would Syrian school textbooks be peddling anti-Semitism?
From textbook brain-washing to the “real world”: In an interview published November 10, 1974, in the Washington Post, Yasser Arafat told Oriana Fallaci, the Italian journalist:
The goal of our struggle is the end of Israel, and there can be no compromises or mediators…We don’t want peace; we want victory. Peace for us means Israel’s destruction and nothing else.
That is what Arafat and his new Cabinet members believed yesterday, believe today, and will continue to believe in the unforeseeable future. Would Arafat today repudiate his quote? And if he did, who would believe him? In fact, could any Arab leader today repudiate Arafat’s words?
Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, with or without “road maps,” with or without U.S. mediation, promise only retreat and the eventual disappearance of Israel because the demands on Israel will never end. After all, what can you expect when First Lady Suha Arafat publicly accuses Israel of polluting air and water with “toxic gases” so as to cause cancer among Palestinian women and children. Mrs. Arafat’s husband and Palestine Authority official were at that moment engaging in “peace” negotiations with these well poisoners.
Is Bashar al-Assad, the new Syrian dictator, going to repudiate the anti-Israeli racism imparted to three generations of schoolchildren? Is he going to tell them everything’s changed: No more jihad; that making peace with Israel is in accord with Allah’s teachings? His Baathist dictatorship rests on the enduring enmity between Syria and Israel. Sofaer quotes al-Assad as saying, “Even if peace is accomplished Israel will not be a legitimate state.”
Not until Egypt President Anwar Sadat made the first move after the 1973 Yom Kippur War did peace loom as a distinct Middle East possibility. Sadat was rewarded for his efforts with a return by Israel of the Sinai, three times the size of Israel, and a few years later by his assassination in 1981. And there have been three assassination attempts against Sadat’s successor, President Hosni Mubarak.
Arab intransigence is the insoluble important question and it will not change. After all, the Palestinians’ annual “Palestine Prize for Culture” was recently presented to Abu Daoud for his recent memoir in which he detailed how he masterminded the 1972 massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics.
George Santayana once said: “All problems are divided into two classes, soluble questions, which are trivial and important questions which are insoluble.”
— Arnold Beichman, a Hoover Institution research fellow, is a columnist for the Washington Times.