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Bush is Rewarding Terrorism

Bush is Rewarding Terrorism

The President's vision for a "provisional" Palestinian leaves one crude message: Terrorism pays.


June 25, 2002 -- U.S. President George W. Bush has been adamant since Sept. 11 about stopping terrorism, but he took a firm step in the opposite direction in his speech yesterday.

He should have told the Palestinians clearly and unequivocally that their 21-month campaign of violence against Israel is unacceptable and must conclude before any discussion of rewards can be started. Instead, the President outlined his vision for a "provisional" Palestinian state and demanded an end to what he called "Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories." Both of these constitute very major benefits to the Palestinians; as such, they represent rewards for suicide bombings, sniper attacks, and the other forms of terrorism.

This not only does grave damage to the President's proclaimed war on terrorism but it sends a signal to the Palestinians to expect further rewards for yet more violence. True, there was much in his presentation about the virtues of local elections, independent auditing and market economics, but the only message that will stick is a cruder one: Terrorism pays.

Bush's outline for action then went on to make a large number of mistakes about the specifics of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Here are some:

- Misreading Palestinian opinion: Bush declares that only a small minority of Palestinians subscribe to the means or views of the terrorists. "The hatred of a few holds the hopes of many hostage." But this is false; nearly every opinion survey, political speech, mosque sermon and other indication suggests that a substantial majority of Palestinians enthusiastically support the campaign of violence against Israel. This has the ominous implication that practising democracy, as the President calls for, would lead -- ironically -- to a more aggressive policy toward Israel.

- Moral equivalence: Bush implies a basic commonality between the plight of Israelis who suffer terrorism and the Palestinians who inflict it. "It is untenable for Israeli citizens to live in terror. It is untenable for Palestinians to live in squalor and occupation." To see the error of this statement, change it to "It is untenable for American citizens to live in terror. It is untenable for Afghans to live in squalor and occupation."

A political program cannot work if it is premised on errors.

- Victimology: Palestinians have "been treated as pawns" says the U.S. President. Not so: Since 1967, the Palestinians have had an increasingly autonomous and powerful voice in running their own affairs. Especially since the creation of the Palestinian Authority in 1994, they have been in control of their own destiny. To portray them as victims suggests they would behave differently once they have a formal state. In fact, every sign points to a continuation of the present policies.

- Good governance the key: "True reform will require entirely new political and economic institutions based on democracy, market economics and action against terrorism." This is a touching but naive belief in the wonders of decent ruling institution. To be sure, autonomous local leaders, multi-party elections and honest politicians are all to the good, but how might they lead to a reduction of hostilities? This view has things precisely turned around: Democracy, market economics and anti-terrorism will only follow on a far more fundamental change, namely a Palestinian willingness to accept the existence of Israel. A Palestinian state that continues to seek the destruction of the Jewish state by nature cannot be democratic.

- Overemphasizing terrorism: "There is simply no way to achieve [Palestinian-Israeli] peace until all parties fight terror." Palestinian terrorism has caused terribly tragedies but it is not the heart of the problem. Terrorism, after all, is but a tactic in the service of a war aim. That war aim -- the destruction of Israel -- is the heart of the problem. For example, it is perfectly possible to imagine a future Palestinian state that does renounce terrorism and instead builds up a conventional force of planes, tanks and ships with which to attack and destroy Israel. Along these lines, it is noteworthy that Bush did not call on the PA to reduce the size of its armed forces.

A house cannot be built from a blueprint that gets wrong the terrain, the size and shape of the plot, and the building materials. Likewise, a political program cannot work if it is premised on errors.

By rewarding terrorism, the Bush speech sets back the current war effort; by misunderstanding the Palestinian-Israeli war, it is rendered unworkable as a serious effort at conflict resolution. In all, it represents a disappointment and a missed opportunity.

June 29, 2002

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Visitor Comments: 9

(9) Benjamin, July 19, 2003 12:00 AM

I agree, AND....

Bush is rewarding terrorism. He is also being hypocritical. He tells Israel to use restrain when attacking terrorist targets. Is this the same Bush who just invaded Iraq and Afghanistan? Also he tells Israel to pull out of "Palestinian territories" while US forces are still occupying two countries.

(8) Anonymous, July 20, 2002 12:00 AM

Reconsider George Bush's Attitude

As a former racist who used to hate the Jewish people I suggest you reevaluate the statements made about George W. Bush. When I was a racist, I used to hope that the President of the United States would die and that a Right Wing President would take over so that the U.S. would stop supporting the Jews in Israel. As a Born Again Christian I thank GOD that we have a Christian President such as George W. Bush to support Israel. Now I want to visit the Holy Land someday and without the suuport of Israel that President Bush constantly demonstrates I know that would never happen. Mr. Pipes needs to reevaluate his satements and consider what would happen in Israel without the suuport of the U.S. President. In my opinion the only Jews that would be left alive without the support of President Bush would be in America, Canada, and the British Isles. There would be no Israel. It would be Palestine. All the Jews in the Holy Land would be dead. Think about just who it is that surrounds Israel 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. MOSLEMS. You should thank the GOD of Moses, Abraham, and Isaac for President George W. Bush. He guarantees your continued existence.

(7) Menachem Ben Yakov, July 7, 2002 12:00 AM

On the Presidents Middle East Speech

While I agree with Mr.Pipes that there was much in the Presidents speech to disagree with I think that George W. Bush has demonstrated great regard for Israel throughout his term as President.

The case could easily be made that the current administration is the most supportive in American history.

And while the Presidents words have impact his deeds have even greater impact.

The President spoke of various vital reforms to be made by the Palestinians.Free elections, restructering security, autonomy for elected officials , a revised judiciary and economic reform all got mentioned.

But a vital Palestinian reform was left out - reform of education .

Educational reform goes to the very heart of the war against terror.

In the rebuilding of Japan after WW2 the Allies would not permit the teaching of Japanese militarism . The same must been done today with Islamic militarism.

The President did speak to tolerance and stopping support for terror.And we can read into his words his desire for educational reform.

I think it would have been more effective however to state categoricaly that educational reform was a must.That would have been a strong signal not only to the Palestinians but represive regimes throughout the world.

(6) CAT, July 1, 2002 12:00 AM

Bush on terrorism

I think his speech was very bold and positive.

He called for the removal of Arafat.
I sincerely believe he KNOWS that won't happen.

I see it this way, and I mentioned this on another comment on another article.

Bush challenged the two-faced Palestinians before the world. He is givng them the chance to show the world what their made of...and I believe he knows.

His speech hands the Palestinian people a rope. He is saying, there is "smoking gun" proof that Arafat is corrupt and keeping you from the state you want. He is telling the people, that if they REALLY want a PEACEFUL state, then the obvious answer is to get rid of Arafat.
Now, given the FACT that every Palestinian Mom that's been on TV has praised her "martyred" children, I'd say that it is common knowledge that they DON'T want peace.
But the challenge has been issued now.
Bush has given the Palestinian people a rope. He has esplained how they can build a peaceful bridge with it.
It is their rope. WIll they build a bridge? Or will they defiantly re-elect Arafat, thereby making a noose?
Bush's speech was merely wise words.
In my opinion, if the Palestinian people re-elect Arafat, that means--to the world--that they enjoy their "so-called" squalor, poverty, and corrupt leadership.
Mr. Pipes is dead wrong here. Bush has not rewarded ANY terrorism by making this speech. He has, instead, vowed to cut off support to the Palestinians.
As to what the future holds...time will tell.

(5) debi barrington, July 1, 2002 12:00 AM


What can we do as American jews and american citizens to voice our contention against what Bush is doing ?I agree with what you said and saw it as "reward" before ever reading this article, it is either that Bush is not the man he portays to be(strong ) but he is weak or he is just plan crazy! thank you deorah barrington

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