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The Price of Vanity

In the aftermath of the deadly Islamist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Israeli leaders should have hammered home a few simple points at every opportunity.
* Palestinians did, in fact, celebrate the collapse of the Twin Towers, and those celebrations reflect a pathological hatred of America actively promoted by the Palestinian leadership.
On the very day of the attacks on the World Trade Center the official Palestinian Authority daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida proclaimed, “[Palestinian] suicide bombers are the noble successors of … the Lebanese suicide bombers who taught the US Marines a tough lesson [killing 241 Marines in Beirut]… These suicide bombers are the salt of the earth… They are the most honorable among us…” The same PA newspaper reported on November 11, 2000 that 73% of the Palestinians support military attacks on American targets in the Middle East.
Hafiz al-Barghuti, editor-in-chief of Al-Hayat, characterizes American sanctions against Iraq as an “effort to terrorize the entire Arab world and cause it to vomit up its Arabism, its religion and its history… and to remain the humiliated slave of bloodsuckers.” In a 1997 editorial, al-Barghuti savored the image of “45,000 American soldiers returning to the US in body bags” and rejoiced at the flight of US Marines from Beirut “after one bold operation executed by a holy martyr, who suckled from his mother's breast a pure jihad (holy war) tradition.”
* PA Chairman Yasser Arafat virtually invented international terrorism, including skyjackings.
* Palestinian society is permeated with the same death cult that possessed those who hijacked four US airliners and crashed them into the WTC and the Pentagon.
In recent Palestinian polls, anywhere from 73% to 81% of Palestinians expressed support for suicide bombings. Palestinian media portray martyrdom as the highest goal of the faithful, and suicide bombers as the greatest of the martyrs. Children as young as eight expressing their desire for martyrdom and parents speaking of their hopes that all their offspring will be “martyrs” are daily media fare.
A typical announcement: “The Martyr... (14) responded to the call of Allah and achieved the martyrdom he yearned for, to clear the way for the liberation of Palestine from the defilement of occupation.”
* Osama bin Laden’s insane loathing of America and the Palestinian rage at Israel are both rooted in a vision of global jihad between Muslims and infidels. Their hatred is thus implacable, compromise impossible.
Islamist rage derives from a sense of historical grievance that can only be assuaged by the complete destruction of the enemy. In bin Laden’s case, the manifest superiority of Western civilization in providing for the welfare of its citizens and the attraction of that civilization to people around the world is seen as an ongoing affront to Islam. For Palestinians, and perhaps most Muslims, Israel’s very existence on even one inch of land once held by Muslims is similarly an insult to Allah.
Official Palestinian media continually harps on the sacred quality of the land and the religious requirement to expel Jews from every inch. “Since Palestine is Wakf [Islamic Trust] for all Muslims, giving recognition to the occupation is prohibited by Muslim religious law and no one has the right to give it up,” proclaim preachers appointed by the PA on PA radio and TV. In recent months, PA-appointed religious leaders have taught repeatedly that it is Allah’'s will to kill Jews, “as the Hadith [authoritative statement of the Prophet] states, ‘The Day of Resurrection will not arrive until Muslims make war against the Jews and kill them…’”
Every treaty with Israel, including Arafat’s most recent declaration of a “cease-fire,” is explicitly justified by PA media as a tactic for the ultimate destruction of Israel. It is thus not accidental that no Palestinian textbook or document has ever portrayed Israel within any borders, or recognized Israel’s right to exist in any borders, for such recognition contradicts the theology of the Palestinian movement.
Forcefully and repeatedly pointing out Arafat's terrorist past (and present) and Palestinian support for attacks on Americans would have greatly discredited the PA in American eyes. Americans today have little use for terrorists, and even less for those who rejoice over the deaths of Americans.
Stressing the common elements of anti-American and anti-Israeli terrorism - Israel is hated as an outpost of “Western imperialism” on Arab land - would have undercut all efforts to distinguish between the two. The jihad mentality underlying the rejection of Israel’s right to exist proves that terror attacks on Jews in Israel have little to do with the living conditions of Palestinians.
Unfortunately, our government failed to stress any of these points. It was left to private organizations such as Palestinian Media Watch to copiously document each of these points and private citizen Binyamin Netanyahu, in testimony before the US Congress, to drive them home.
Not only did out government miss a goldern opportunity to argue our case, our foreign minister actively undermined our position. By continuing to pursue the holy grail of meeting Arafat, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres effectively rehabilitated Arafat and gave credence to his crocodile tears over murdered Americans.
Peres cannot admit that Israel faces an enemy bent on its destruction. To do so would be to concede that Arafat's Nobel Peace Prize, and Peres's too, was a farce.
During the month of Tishre, when all our striving is directed toward repentance, a process that requires absolute honesty with oneself, we can at least thank Peres for providig a clear reminder of how difficult such self-scrutiny is and how hard it is to confess past mistakes.