First of two parts
LAST WEEK retired Marine General Anthony Zinni began a visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the latest in a depressingly long line of US envoys sent to nudge along the Israeli-Arab "peace process." Zinni's mission, it seems safe to say, will achieve what all the missions preceding his have achieved; namely, nothing — or at least nothing resembling progress toward real peace.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, US envoy Anthony Zinni, and Israeli General Moshe Kaplinski aboard an Israeli Air Force helicopter for their aerial tour of Israel's border.
On the day Zinni arrived, Palestinian terrorists opened fire at the crowded central bus station in Afula, murdering two Israeli Jews and maiming 10 others. That evening, another terrorist threw grenades at passenger vehicles on the road near Kfar Darom, leaving a mother of four dead and sending three other Israelis — including a baby — to the hospital. Two days later, a Jewish motorist was murdered in a drive-by shooting in Samaria and a suicide bomber killed three Israeli civilians and wounded six when he blew up the No. 823 bus from Nazareth to Tel Aviv.
On Thursday, Zinni remarked that "both sides have suffered far too much in the last months" and urged them to "get back on the track toward peace." He may be new to the Israeli-Arab beat, but already he has mastered the State Department's rhetoric of "evenhandedness," in which no distinction is drawn between terrorism and self-defense — between attacks meant to murder and attacks meant to prevent murder. Yes, there have been many Arab casualties. But none was the victim of an Israeli suicide bomber or an Israeli killer emptying his Kalashnikov in a bus station.
Zinni's peace mission will fail because only one party to this conflict wants peace; the other wants what it has always wanted: victory. Over the past eight years, Israel has made extraordinary concessions — diplomatic, military, financial, and territorial — in its quest for peace with the Palestinians. But the most the Israelis can offer is less than the Palestinians will accept. For what the Palestinians crave, what they and much of the Arab world have craved since 1948, is not peaceful coexistence with Israel, but peaceful existence without Israel.
Perhaps Zinni could find time to meet with Andre Marcus, chairman of the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace. At a news conference one week before Zinni's arrival, Marcus released the latest findings in the center's ongoing survey of Israeli and Palestinian textbooks. In the past two years, the Palestinian Authority has introduced 58 new textbooks for Grades 1, 2, 6, 7, and 11. The center analyzed the approach these texts took to matters of "peace, tolerance, recognition, and reconciliation according to criteria set by the international community."
The topic is of more than abstract interest: The Oslo accords expressly obligate the Israelis and Palestinians to ensure that their educational systems promote peace between the two peoples. It is an obligation taken seriously in Israel, where an elaborate peace curriculum has been in place since 1993. In its analysis of Israeli textbooks last year, the center found that "Islam, the Arab culture, and the Arabs' contribution to human civilization are presented in a positive light" and that "many books express the yearning for peace between Israel and the Arab countries."
That is not what it found in the new Palestinian texts. Instead of preparing Arab children for peace with Israel, the center reports, the new books "foster a multi-faceted rejection of its existence." A few excerpts:
- "The concept of peace with Israel is not to be found anywhere in the Palestinian schoolbooks. The peace process . . . is not mentioned."
- "The State of Israel, a member state of the UN since 1949, is not recognized. . . . Its name does not appear on any map, nor do any towns, villages, and projects created and developed by Israel.
- "By contrast, the 'State of Palestine' is often referred to and its name appears . . . on the cover and front page of many textbooks. Palestine stretches from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea and is exclusively Arab. The 5.5 million Jewish inhabitants are not counted."
- "Maps that appear in the textbooks . . . disregard the existence of the State of Israel. In most cases no names are given at all. In other cases, Israel's place on the map is marked 'Palestine.'
- "Israel is presented exclusively as inhumane and greedy. . . . The Palestinian textbooks use terminology that is associated with war and violence and is likely to create prejudice, misunderstanding, and conflict. . . . The implicit aspiration [is] to replace the State of Israel with the State of Palestine."
(The full report, with maps and illustrations, is on the center's website, www.edume.org.)
Eight years into the Oslo "peace process," Palestinian children are still being taught to hate the Jewish state and work for its eradication. It is a goal constantly reinforced by the Palestinian media and in the slogans and speeches of the Palestinian leadership. The war against Israel continues without letup. We really ought to stop calling it peace.
Next: The myth of "Palestine"
(Jeff Jacoby is a columnist for The Boston Globe).
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