It has become vogue in many circles to represent Middle East savagery as part of some sort of “war of civilizations.” It is not. In fact, it is simply a war by barbarism against all civilization.

It is also considered chic to represent the Middle East conflict as a ”cycle of violence” and as something fundamentally symmetrical between Arab terrorists and Israeli soldiers. It is not. The shallow appeal to a supposed ”cycle of violence” is nothing more than a manifestation of the laziness of those unwilling to invest the energy needed to understand the conflict, or by those motivated by things worse than laziness when it comes to Jews.

And it has become even more fashionable to claim that Israel is causing the Palestinians to
”suffer” by erecting its security fence. One does not know whether to laugh at such assertions or cry.

At the beginning of the Oslo ”peace process,” the PLO officially renounced terror and swore to resolve all conflict with Israel through peaceful negotiation. In exchange, the world followed the leadership of the Israeli Left and legitimized the PLO, rescuing it from its pariah status and exile in Tunisia, while Israel allowed the PLO to manage and govern the bulk of the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. By the mid-1990’s, some 95 percent of West Bank and Gaza Palestinians were ”liberated” from Israeli ”occupation” and were ruled by the
Palestinian Authority.

The removal of Israeli occupation was the direct cause of the outbreak of the worst round of
Palestinian barbarism in history.

It has been repeated so endlessly and so mindlessly that Palestinian terror is a consequence of
Israeli ”occupation” of the West Bank and Gaza that the most glaring and obvious fact of all is being ignored: the Palestinian terrorism of these past eleven years was not caused by Israeli occupation but by its removal.

As a result of Israel’s offering to allow the PLO control over the West Bank and Gaza, and Israel’s willingness to acquiesce in Palestinian statehood in the medium run, the PLO and its affiliates have murdered 1,300 Israelis, most of them civilians and many of them children, since foreswearing the use of violence.

The notion that the terror is coming from ”renegade” organizations outside the PLO and which
the PLO cannot control is little more than an insult to the world’s collective intelligence. In recent months the bulk of the violence (including many of the suicide bombings) has come from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, from Fatah, and from the Tanzim. All of these are under the direct personal command and control of Yasir Arafat.

Anyone who believes that Arafat is trying to rein in the terror must also believe that Hitler was a passive stooge and that Saddam never really controlled his Baath party. In any case, the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists do not really differ much from the PLO terrorists. Like the Viet Cong, the terrorists switch identities throughout the day, and joint PLO-Hamas atrocities have been perpetrated.

The barbarous depravity of Palestinian violence gets worse by the day. Palestinians have long used ambulances of the Red Crescent (the PLO’s version of the Red Cross, directed by Arafat’s own brother) to transport weapons and explosives and terrorists. In recent months, Palestinians have employed mothers of small children as suicide-bombing murderers. Parents of Palestinian suicide bombers routinely proclaim their pride in the atrocities carried out by
their offspring. Arafat himself and the rest of the PLO openly celebrate the bombers, suicide murderers, and other terrorists. Palestinian children as young as toddlers are marched about in pride with explosives belts attached to their waists. PLO-run TV and radio each day broadcast blood-curdling Nazi-like propaganda that demonizes Jews and openly exhorts
Palestinians to murder Jewish civilians.

The world media largely ignore the fact that the PLO operates a large military-industrial complex, many from out of North-Vietnamese-style underground tunnels. These have produced large numbers of ground-to-ground rockets. In 2003 alone the Palestinians fired 210 Kassam rockets from the Gaza Strip into Jewish civilians areas. When Israel enters the Gaza Strip to demolish the tunnels into Gaza from Egypt, through which weapons and
explosives are smuggled in to murder Israelis, it is accused of ”inhumane behavior” while the
International Solidarity Movement designer-jean wearing pro-terrorist dupes try to block Israeli bulldozers.

There are other indications that the PLO is seeking to escalate the war and threaten Israeli
viability. While the PLO once held the world’s Gold Metal for plane hijackings, it has abstained from such things since the beginning of its Oslo legitimization by the world. Alan Dershowitz, among others, has argued that the coddling of the PLO by Europe and much of
the rest of the world when the hijackings began made such things a worldwide plague. But all this is nothing compared to recent reports that Israeli intelligence has foiled nine separate attempts by Palestinians to shoot down civilian airliners landing at Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion airport.

Part of the world’s problem in understanding the Middle East is that most people have no idea of how small Israel really is. Without the West Bank, Israel is at its waist about as wide as the length of the San Francisco Bay Bridge. All of the West Bank is smaller than the New York City borough of Queens.

If Israel were to turn the West Bank over to complete PLO control, many of the landing routes into Tel Aviv would pass unavoidably over the Palestinian territories, making every flight vulnerable to the very same terrorists who have made those nine recent attempts at firing shoulder-held missiles at landing jetliners.

In 1985, PLO-controlled terrorists who hijacked the cruise ship Achille Lauro shot and tossed
overboard the wheelchair-confined American citizen Leon Klinghoffer. The U.S. State Department has long suffered from repressed memory syndrome when it has come to the dozens of American citizens murdered by the PLO. Instead, the State Department insists on
maintaining the most studied of ”even-handedness” between terrorists and their victims, between barbarians and those defending themselves from barbarism.

Since the PLO has made it clear that it will do everything in its powers to increase the carnage and promote mass murder and atrocities, Israel’s government, led by Ariel Sharon, has been under pressure to do something to stop it. While at first resisting the idea of a security wall or fence as a solution, the government eventually caved in to public pressure.

Let us put this fence into perspective. The massive opposition to Israel’s erecting any security
fence is coming from the same people who have never had much to say about the mass murders of Israeli children and other civilians by the terrorists. The simple fact of the matter is that many of those screaming against Israel’s building a security fence simply want the mass murders of Israelis to continue and escalate. They are quite simply in favor of the atrocities and endorse the terror. They would oppose anything Israel would do to fight the terror, and have
always opposed all anti-terror measures. They want Israel to capitulate to the terror, not fight it. There are few problems in the world that they do not think can be resolved through Israel being placed in clear and present existential danger.

The International Court of Justice sought to put Israel on trial, allegedly for ”oppressing Palestinians” with its security fence. But the judges at the same ICJ sit comfortably behind a fence. Yes, they are protected by a security fence that keeps out the street urchins, the Euro-hooligans, and the radical protesting thugs.

The same American liberal newspapers, which berate Israel for trying to protect its children through erecting a security fence, are published and written by journalists who often live in gated communities or in buildings with security doormen. In short, it seems like the only folks not entitled to live behind a security fence are Israelis.

The caterwauling against Israel’s security fence is coming from those claiming that Israel is building it on ”Palestinian lands,” but these often are the same people who regard Tel Aviv and Haifa as ”Palestinian lands.”

The fact of the matter is that the West Bank and Gaza are hardly ”Palestinian lands,” and even if they were, why should Israel not build its fence on such lands? The same people insisting that these are Palestinian lands never quite seem to come to terms with the notion that it is Palestinian terrorism that Israel is fighting. Were it not for the terrorism, there would be no need for any fence. As my teenagers would say, like duh!

Even if one is inclined to the notion that the Palestinians might at some point have had some
legitimate claim to statehood, the Palestinians themselves forfeited any right to sovereignty over
those territories as a result of their decades-long war of atrocity and terror. True, Israeli governments in the 1990’s were, naively and foolishly, willing to grant the PLO control over these territories in exchange for peace. But rather than peace, Israel got war and mass
murder of its civilians in exchange.

The great irony is that the security fence is not at all an effective solution to Palestinian barbarism and attacks on Israeli civilians. What exactly does Ariel Sharon think the PLO will do once it is behind the fence — take up quilting? The PLO is already routinely shooting mortars and rockets over the Gaza security fence into Jewish homes, with no serious Israeli retaliations. And the security wall is all too easy to dig under, climb over, blow holes in, and
otherwise overcome by Palestinian devoted to murdering Jews at random.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it until it’s no longer necessary: The only way to suppress the
carnage is for Israel to re-occupy the West Bank and Gaza in full, implement open-ended military control there and a long-term program of de-Nazification (based in part on the Allied programs at the end of World War II), and to expel the terrorists and destroy their infrastructure.

Everything else is wishful thinking and delusion. While the terror has partly subsided over the past few months, the reason for this is the stepped-up campaign by Israel of assassinating Palestinian terrorist leaders, not the erection of the fence itself.

While I have my strategic doubts about the fence, if Israel is going to build it at all, it should definitely not follow the lines of Israel’s pre-1967 Green Line border. That would only reward the terrorists by signaling that Israel is acquiescing in acknowledging everything on the other side of the wall as somehow ”Palestinian.” If the past decade has taught us anything, it is that appeasement of terror simply breeds more terror.

Instead, Israel should erect security cages, not a security wall. Security cages would be rings of fences and walls around the large Palestinian cities. These would fence the Palestinians in, rather than fencing the Jews out. When the world bellyaches, Israel should simply respond: Look, people who behave like animals must be treated like animals and put behind cages until they learn to behave like humans.

If the Palestinians ever abandon Islamofascism and Nazi-like atrocities, then Israel may no longer need any fence. Meanwhile, let the rest of the West Bank outside these cages be an unfenced, free and open Israeli range. Let all of Israel be as safe as your typical American gated community.

Palestinian ”suffering”? If the Palestinians are unhappy with Israeli fences and checkpoints and
military incursions, let them stop the terror and desist from murdering Israelis. As long as they
persist, any ”suffering” by Palestinians — like the suffering of Germans and Japanese in World War II — is their own fault. The solution is certainly not for Israel to stop resisting the terror, to stop fighting back, or to desist from trying to protect its citizens. The Palestinians and their apologists do not like Israel’s wall? Tough.

The endless post-Oslo Middle East violence and terror was triggered because Israel indicated that it was on the run, exhausted, unwilling to fight, and ready to capitulate. It will end only when Israel gets back its determination to end the terror through military victory and force of arms. The United States, which has understood that there is only a military option for dealing with terror in Iraq and Afghanistan, must back up such a return by Israel to pre-Oslo sanity.

There are no non-military solutions to the problems of terrorism.

Steven Plaut is a professor at Haifa University. His book “The Scout” is available at He can be contacted at