Israel: December 4, 2001


Israel has responded to last weeks terror attacks by destroying Palestinian helicopters, security headquarters. Israeli ground forces have also moved into Palestinian towns believed to be bases for terrorist operations. The stated aim of all this is destroy the power of the Palestinian Authority, which Israel now calls a terrorist organization. Israeli police have arrested 100 terrorist suspects and Palestinian Authority have arrested another 120. But Israel protests that none of the key terrorist leaders have been rounded up. While many Israelis feel that the attacks and arrests play into the hands of the Palestinian radicals, Israeli public opinion is largely behind these actions. As a democracy, the Israeli leadership risks being voted out of office if they do not respond. Yet the Israeli reaction is just what the Palestinian radicals want. Yasser Arafat's power gets weaker as the radicals become more popular. Israel has now called Arafat the leader of a terrorist organization and is even less willing to negotiate with him. The radicals want Arafat out, to be replaced by a more militant leader of the Palestinian Authority. This prospect, which Israelis don't deny, would simply lead to "separation" (electrified fences and other barriers between Palestinian and Israeli authority.) But "separation" would condemn Palestinians to increasing poverty and anger. Israelis don't much care about this any more, simply putting it to the Palestinians to suppress their radicals and negotiate a peace deal or wallow in their own miseries. But even "separation" would leave thousands of Israeli settlers living in Palestinian territory and subject to constant attack. The bloodshed would stop. Of course, this carnage might lead to the majority of Israelis to get behind shutting down the settlements. This would be progress, as the settlements are one of the major sore points for the Palestinians. 

Meanwhile, the upsurge in Palestinian terror attacks, and the Israeli attacks, might help bin Laden. The rapid collapse of the Taliban has silenced many Arabs and other Moslems who saw bin Laden as the guy who was going to bring the Great Satan (the U.S.) down a notch or two. Once more, everyone was reminded that America is a military superpower that can get things done quickly if angered. Increased violence in Israel and Palestinian territories gets other Moslems enraged, and this could lead to problems for the Moslem nations providing support for American operations in Afghanistan.


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