The America-hating sector of the Islamic world is pushing hard on a gossamer boundary separating its people from extermination.
The recent signals: President Bush telling Israeli Prime Minister Sharon, in effect, "Do what you feel you must" in the wake of suicide bombings last weekend (December 1-2). President Bush shutting down putative United States charities sending benefits to Palestine. President Bush telling Yasser Arafat, in effect, "Clean up your act regardless, regardless, regardless, or else" without saying a compensating word about Israel's bombing the burnooses out of Arat's supposed police facilities.
Osama bin Laden made goof number one, assuming that, since Arkansas is adjacent to Texas, an ex-governor of the latter would act about like an ex-governor of the former, when given a nasty shove. Now, reports say and the probabilities are, he sits in a hole under a large mountain wondering what happened.
But the even greater stupidity was committed by Palestinian Chief Yasser Arafat. Here was President Bush closing in on bin Laden in Afghanistan, looking for a next paragon of terrorism to disassemble, starting a campaign against Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and Arafat through ineptitude, inattention, or guile, brightly raises his hand and yells, "Me! Me!"
That bit of brillance set Palestinian hopes and ambitions back a good 20 years. It has put Palestinians and their sympathizers out of the game of platitude-and-propaganda trading. It has forfeited the benefit of American ambivalence, such as it was, in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. It has allowed Sharon to draw a compelling parallel between the bombed mall in Jerusalem and the World Trade Center/Pentagon massacres, even unto using the phrases "ground zero" and "war on terror," and it has made the protestations of Palestinian spokeshumans on American television click-away events. Neither Bush nor most Americans are any longer in a mood to consider the Palestinian other hand.
Accordingly, Arafat has appealed to the general international community, a large portion of which, as evidenced by the United Nations, has traditionally been ready to form an obliging Greek chorus bleating against Israel, the United States, and Britain. But under the raised Texan eyebrow, the response this time has been one of deafening silence.
Arafat and/or Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other militant organizations have just disqualified themselves from the debate and placed themselves in the O'Day position, to-wit:
Here lie the bones of Dan O'Day, Who died defending his right of way; His right was clear, his will was strong, And he's just as dead as if he had been wrong.Before those suicide bombings, Palestinian Arabs were granted a hearing and some degree of support in the United States. And, make no mistake, world sympathy was largely powered because permitted by U.S. ambivalence. A country could favor Arafat, deride Israel, be loud and nasty about it, and still do business in the United States, where, it happens, the business that matters is solidly headquarted. There was no penalty.
By exhausting Bush's patience, especially when he was rather looking for a next target anyway, the Palestinians forfeited all of those benefits. Israel aims to clean house and establish its security after lo this more-than-a-half-century of peril, and the United States, for once, is in no mood to say, "Hold it."
Which has placed Palestine and, for a newly extended period, all Islamic militant groups, in a position not usually encountered this side of human evolution: down at the bare essentials where moralizing, wheedling, cajoling, and expostulating don't work for a person, group, or political regime any more than they work for a lion's lunch lamb.
In other words, Arafat and the Palestinians have left themselves only three options:
2) Leave. Head out for Jordan or some other Arab country, re-settle there, and raise not one hand against Israel, the United States, or much of anybody else henceforward.
Well, no, maybe its's not quite to that point. Sharon did, after all, try to and say he tried to bomb facilities rather than humans while retaliating for the Jerusalem massacre. He is still calling on Arafar to subdue attacks on Israel one hundred percent, as is Bush, while implying one last, last chance to do so while being bombed for not doing so before. In practice, that coincides with Option No. 1, but, just maybe, with latitude to complain about it a bit.
But the gossamer lifeline between the Palestinians and the lion's lunch lamb options, possibly excluding the first, is stretched to the breaking point. With one more substantial provocation, whatever justification for it may be offered, Israel is now in a position to commit absolute expulsion and/or Biblical-scale genocide and get away with it.
Somebody ought to say it. Somebody'd better listen. It can happen in a heartbeat, apologies and remorse deferred until later. It's very, very close.
War & Peace in the Real World
Page Two Page One
Islamist Terrorist Attacks on the U.S.A.
Terrorism & U.S. Homeland Security
Osama bin Laden & the Islamist Declaration of War
Against the U.S.A. & Western Civilization
Islamist International Terrorism &
U.S. Intelligence Agencies
U.S. National Security Strategy
John G. Lankford is a retired lawyer and onetime reporter. He lives on Ambergris Caye in Belize and returns, at times, to his native Alabama for extended visits. He devotes his time to ethical and political philosophy, an e-mail list storm advisory column during the hurricane season, pontifications on third-world nations' development, and all-purpose tropical island decadence. His philosophical scratchpad website is at http://www.radical positivism.org, and his most reliable e-mail address is jglankford@Yahoo.com.
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