Peace with Realism

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Something is very odd in world politics today regarding the Middle East.

In spite of the demonstrable insincerity of the Palestinian leadership and the continuing war of terror, it is Israel that receives by far the bulk of the world's condemnation.

Months of deadly attacks on Israeli civilians have gone by with hardly a word of criticism from Europe or the U.N. Palestinian violence has never prompted the Security Council to take any action or propose any resolution. Finally, after one of the bloodiest weeks in Israel's history last Passover (2002), Israel took action, moving into Palestinian cities to do the job Arafat promised but never carried out: to search for and arrest terrorists and to confiscate their weapons.

During Operation Defensive Shield Israel put the lives of its own soldiers at risk in order to minimize Palestinian civilian casualties. They did the job on the ground instead of from the air, losing soldiers whose lives they could have spared. They uncovered a whole network of bomb factories, stockpiles of arms, and preparations for more terrorism. And as a result the incidence of suicide bombing attacks, which prior to the operation had become virtually a daily occurrence, was for a while reduced almost to nothing.

And Israel did manage to keep Palestinian civilian casualties to a minimum. According to a Washington Times report, Kadoura Mousa Kadoura, director of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement for the northern West Bank, had the official Palestinian count of the dead at 56, far fewer than the hundreds and even thousands originally claimed. And when CNN asked Hassan Abdel Rahman, chief Palestinian representative to the United States, whether the Palestinians had exaggerated the death toll in Jenin, he replied: "It is not the numbers that count."

Nevertheless U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, while barely making a pro forma mention of Palestinian suicide attacks, spared his rage and vituperation for Israel alone: "I am, frankly, appalled by the humanitarian situation," Annan proclaimed last April after a meeting of the "Quartet" (European Union, Russia, the United States and the United Nations), in very plain language condemning Israel and its operations to stop the terrorism - but he was never "appalled" before, when Jews were dying in restaurants, shopping centers, birthday parties, and Passover celebrations.

And so Kofi Annan appointed a "fact-finding" commission to look into exactly what Israel did in the refugee camp of Jenin (and it is worth noting that 23 successful suicide bombing attacks had been launched from Jenin alone). Israel could only appear more guilty by refusing to cooperate with such a commission. But look at who the members of this commission happen to be, all appointed by Annan (Jerusalem Post, April 28, 2002):

  1. Martti Ahtisaari, the team leader, former prime minister of Finland, and immediate past president of the European Union. The strong anti-Israel bias of the EU is already well known. In addition, he was Yasser Arafat's personal choice in July 1999 to mediate talks with the Barak administration. Ahtisaari has long been partial to Arafat: on December 12, 1994, after receiving his Nobel Peace Prize, Arafat flew to Finland to thank Ahtisaari personally for Finland's support of the Palestine Authority.

  2. Sadako Ogata, former United Nations high commissioner for refugees. She too is known to sympathize with the Palestinians. On October 6, 2000, Agence France Press (AFP) quoted Ogata as saying: "I was in the [Mideast] region earlier this year and I know under what kind of fragile and crowded conditions the Palestinian refugees are living."

  3. Last but not least, Cornelio Sommaruga, former head of the International Red Cross. In May 1993, after Israel had sealed off the territories following a deadly wave of terrorist attacks, Sommaruga stated: "I was badly impressed by the sufferings of the Palestinian people and the destructions of property" by the Israeli army. During the twelve years he was head of the International Red Cross, Sommaruga made certain that Israel was the only nation not allowed membership in his organization. Why not? Because of the emblem of the Israeli counterpart of the Red Cross, the "Magen David Edom" ("Red Star of David"). Sommaruga insisted that this unconventional emblem was grounds for disqualification, saying that admitting Israel with its Magen David would be like having to accept a swastika (again, the comparison of the Jews with Nazis!). Nevertheless, Sommaruga never had any trouble with the "Red Crescent" of the Muslim countries, an emblem certainly as unconventional as the Star of David.

Can anyone seriously doubt that the findings of this commission, appointed by a man who has already condemned Israel prior to any investigation and consisting of members with known biases towards one side, could be anything but a foregone conclusion?

What is truly "appalling" is the hypocrisy with which Kofi Annan and others judge Israel by a standard to which they hold no other people on earth.

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict:
Peace with Realism