We recently marked the start of a new year on the Jewish calendar, as good a time as any to sum up where things now stand.
* The net long-term effect of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on America is not yet altogether clear.
In the past, once the United States went to war it abandoned politically correct nonsense
and took off its blinders. Before World War II, some Americans no doubt toyed with the idea that while Imperial Japan's politicians might be nasty, the vast majority of Japanese civilians were peace loving. But once the war started, it was clearly aimed against the Japs. Similarly, there surely were those who argued in the 1930's that most German civilians were innocent, but once the war began, the Krauts were the enemy.
I still have hope that the vast majority of Americans will rally behind the war against Islamism and Arab fascism, perhaps once the U.S. attacks Iraq. I concede, however, that the past year saw only renewed assaults on Jews and Israeli legitimacy in the aftermath of Sept 11 and an effort by the world to legitimize Palestinian atrocities and force Israel to commit national suicide.
* While showing occasional signs of awakening, the Israeli government is still dominated by the doctrine which holds that Israeli stupidity is the best way out.
Israel's defense policy is still based on waiting for the Palestinians to get tired of murdering Jews, while Israel does little or nothing. Israel refuses to adopt a serious anti-terrorist or anti-Palestinian defense policy. It refuses to adopt a death penalty for terrorists. It refuses to kill Arafat and his henchmen. It continues to pretend that cosmetic ''reforms'' of the PLO are all that are needed to get the “peace process” moving again.
Perhaps the best illustration of the continuing reign of stupidity in official circles is that the Israeli government still pays out survivor pensions and benefits to the immediate kin of suicide bombers if they are Israeli Arabs, including some who were involved in recent atrocities.
The government has reluctantly begun making some efforts, often blocked by the leftist Israeli Supreme Court, to ''expel'' kin of West Bank murderers to the Gaza Strip, itself a laughable demonstration of Israeli befuddlement. In a few cases Israel is demolishing homes of kin of suicide bombers, but this is much too little and much too late.
* The most Israel under Sharon is willing to do in the war against terror is to send troops into Palestinian towns for a few hours or a few days, and then withdraw them in ''goodwill gestures'' — making the next Palestinian atrocities inevitable. Sharon's people seem to believe that if goodwill gestures have failed to produce reductions in Palestinian barbarism the last 7,123 times they were tried, this does not mean they will not succeed if Israel tries them a 7,124th time.
* Sharon remains more afraid of Bibi Netanyahu than of Arab terrorism. This is why he prefers to sit as long as possible in a coalition government with the very same leftists who produced the Oslo debacle and its resultant bloodbaths in the first place — the same true-believing Oslo Leftists who even now are seeking ''dialogue'' with, and new concessions to, the Palestinians.
* Among the achievements of the Oslo cult has been the radicalization of the world's anti-Jewish media and the open support by much of the media for Palestinian suicide bombers and similar atrocities. In recent UN votes, most of the EU members present endorsed the Palestinian ''right to resist'', a thinly-disguised blessing for suicide bombers and other mass murderers of Jews.
Much of the media, particularly in Western Europe, continue to justify every Arab atrocity on grounds of ''Israeli Occupation'' of the Palestinians — an ''occupation'' that in fact ended almost 10 years ago. If there is one lesson that should be unambiguous and obvious from the past decade, it is that the removal of occupation produces atrocities and a bloodbath, whereas occupation and direct action against Arab fascism reduces violence.
* Public opinion polls in Israel are showing a partial collapse of the Left and an abandonment of support for Oslo by most Israelis, but none of this is as yet reflected in either the Knesset or the major Israeli political parties or the universities.
It is also not seen at all in the Israeli media, still under the near-totalitarian hegemony of the Israeli Left. University faculties are still solidly left-wing. Free speech by non-leftists is under constant assault on campuses.
* The Israeli Labor Party is weak and would implode if elections were held, although Sharon refuses to hold them because he fears squaring off against Netanyahu in the Likud primaries. Labor is for now headed by ''Fuad'' Ben-Eliezer, an ex-generalissimo who, being of Iraqi extraction, is less obsessed with Jewish self-debasement and defeatism than the typical Labor hack. But he's weak in the party, does not control the party machine, and faces internal opposition and challenges from Laborites to his Left, including Yossi Beilin and Amram Mitzna.
About the Author: Steven Plaut is a professor at the University of Haifa. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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