Here are excerpts from a couple of recent articles about the Israeli-Arab conflict.
Jay Nordlinger (NRO)
We all know that the Palestinian territories — or whatever expression you prefer — are divided in two: The extremists, Hamas, control the Gaza Strip; the moderates, Fatah, control the West Bank. But what do you say to moderates’ naming a square in a town outside Ramallah after a terrorist? A mass-murdering terrorist?
They have just named the square for Dalal Mughrabi, a woman who led a team committing atrocities in 1978. Their atrocities are summed up in the name “Coastal Road Massacre.” I will quote from a column about this matter:
"On a Saturday in March 1978, the squad of Palestinian terrorists led by Mughrabi entered Israel by boat from Lebanon and made their way to the main road between Haifa and Tel Aviv. . . . By day’s end, they had murdered 38 innocent men, women and children.
The first person Mughrabi and her gang of terrorists encountered was Gale Rubin, an American photojournalist taking photos of birds near the beach. They killed her and continued on their deadly path.
They then hijacked a bus full of happy families returning from a Saturday excursion. On their way to Tel Aviv, the terrorists shot at passing cars and killed more innocent people.
The terrorists tied all the men’s hands to the bus seats. When Israeli security forces stopped the bus, the terrorists ran out while throwing hand grenades into the bus, setting it on fire. The men inside were burned alive."
I think of the Sbarro attack in 2001. Do you remember that one? A terrorist blew up a Sbarro’s restaurant in Jerusalem, killing 15. Okay, you say: Every society has its extremists, its murderers. But what do you do with this? At An-Najah University in Nablus, they created an exhibition celebrating this massacre. It was a diorama of sorts — a mock-up — showing the restaurant. The walls were drenched in blood, and body parts were strewn all over, along with pizza slices. Palestinian students — the best and brightest in that society — filed by reverently. It was like a religious rite.
How do you make peace with such people? Maybe you do. But can you grant it is hard?
When Israelis commit atrocities, Israeli authorities imprison them, and the society at large reviles them. When a Palestinian commits atrocities — the authorities may well name a square after her. And those authorities are not only Hamas: They are the “moderates” of Fatah, the moderates of the West Bank — the people you can do business with.
Ruth R. Wisse (WSJ) asks, How about an Arab "settlement freeze"?
Of the children of Abraham, the descendants of Ishmael currently occupy at least 800 times more land than descendants of Isaac. The 21 states of the Arab League routinely announce plans of building expansion. Saudi Arabia estimates that 555,000 housing units were built over the past several years. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced during a meeting in Baghdad last year that "Some 10,000 units will be built in each province [of Iraq] with 100 square meters per unit" to accommodate citizens whose housing needs have not been met for a long time. Egypt has established 10 new cities since 1996. They are Tenth of Ramadan, Sixth of October, Al Sadat, Al Shurouq, Al Obour, New Damietta, New Beni Sueif, New Assiut, New Luxor, and New Cairo.
In 2006 the Syrian Prime Minister, Mohammad Naji Atri, announced a new five-year development plan that aims to supply 687,000 housing units. Kuwait expects to have a demand for approximately 100,000 private housing units by 2010. Last year Jordan's King Abdullah launched a National Housing Initiative, which aims to build 120,000 properties for low-income Jordanians.
Arab populations grow. And neighborhoods expand to house them. What's more, Arab countries benefited disproportionately from the exchange of populations between Jews and Arabs that resulted from the Arab wars against Israel. Since 1948 upward of 800,000 Jews abandoned their homes and forfeited their goods in Egypt, Iraq, Morocco and Yemen. In addition to assets valued at hundreds of billions of dollars, the property deeds of Jews from Arab lands is estimated at a total area of 100,000 square miles, which is five times the size of the state of Israel, and more than Israel would include even if it were to stretch over all the disputed territories of the West Bank.
These preposterous disparities are a result of contrasting political cultures. The Arab League was founded at the same time as Israel with the express aim of undoing the Jewish state's existence. Although much has changed over the ensuing decades, opposition to the Jewish state remains the strongest unifying tool of inter-Arab and Arab-Muslim politics. Trying to eliminate the Jews rather than compete with them has never benefited nations.
It is unfortunate that Arabs obsess about building in Israel rather than aiming for the development of their own superabundant lands. But why should America encourage their hegemonic ambitions? In December the White House issued a statement opposing "new construction in East Jerusalem" without delineating where or what East Jerusalem is.
Ramat Shlomo, the neighborhood at the center of the present altercation, is actually in northern Jerusalem, west of the Jewish neighborhoods of Ramot, home to 40,000 Jewish residents. Why does the White House take issue with the construction of housing for Jewish citizens within the boundaries of their own country? The same White House raised no objection when Jordan recently began systematically stripping citizenship from thousands of its Palestinian citizens rather than providing new housing units for them in a land much larger than Israel.