From Dove to Hawk

[Newsweek] Benny Morris - During the 1990s, as the Oslo peace process gained momentum, I was cautiously optimistic about the prospects for peace. But at the same time I was scouring the just opened archives of the Haganah and the IDF. Studying the roots of the Arab-Israeli conflict - in particular the pronouncements and positions of the Palestinian leadership from the 1920s on - left me chilled. Their rejection of any compromise was deep-seated, consensual and consistent. The Palestinian Arab "street" chanted "Idbah al-Yahud" (slaughter the Jews). So when Arafat rejected Israeli Prime Minister Barak's two-state proposals at Camp David in July 2000, my surprise was not excessive. Arafat's rejectionism and the election of Hamas persuaded me that no two-state solution was in the offing and that the Palestinians, as a people, were bent, as they had been throughout their history, on "recovering" all of Palestine. It has become clear to me that from its start the struggle against the Zionist enterprise wasn't merely a national conflict between two peoples over a piece of territory, but also a religious crusade against an infidel usurper. Those currently riding high in the region - like Hamas' Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Meshaal, Hizbullah's Hassan Nasrallah and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - are true believers who are convinced it is every Muslim's duty to extirpate the "Zionist entity" from the sacred soil of the Middle East.

2008-05-09 01:00:00

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