Frontline Tells Less Than Half the Story

A report on Jewish extremists sheds some interesting light on why the peace process is doomed to fail.

A public television documentary in the U.S. last week gave some ironic insight into the challenges of the peace process in Israel.

On April 5, PBS’s Frontline aired “Israel’s Next War?” about Jewish extremists in Israel. These extremists are among those who recognize Ariel Sharon’s plan to vacate the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank as the mistake—the genuine military defeat for Israel—that it is. The problem is, some of them believe in using violence to get their point across—even killing innocent Palestinians.

The report dramatically described these individuals, numbering in the thousands, as “a small but dangerous group of extremists who threaten both the peace process and Israel itself.”

It’s true that such individuals may present Israel’s security forces with some trouble—but do they really threaten “Israel itself”? Apart from the 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (who was a committed partner in the peace process they despise), they have achieved quite limited “success” in their evil aims. In the Frontline report, the head of Israel’s security service said that, during the first two years of the intifada, Jewish extremists killed seven Palestinians and injured 19. (By way of contrast, Palestinian terrorists killed over 600 Israelis during the same period.)

Why have Israeli terrorists been so comparatively ineffective? Besides having small numbers, they have been vigilantly dogged and hunted by Israeli security forces. Much of the Frontline report concentrated on planned attacks that have been foiled by Israeli police and by Shin Bet, Israel’s formidable counter-intelligence and internal security service.

Israel’s strong measures to prevent a rogue contingent within its own populace from waging unauthorized war against Arabs are admirable. But they are more than that: They are plainly, bitterly illustrative of just how one-sided—and thus how doomed—the peace process really is!

The glaring truth of the situation is that there has never been anything close to a corresponding effort put forth by Arab leadership—the partner on the other side of the table in this “peace process”—to stop Palestinian terrorism!

Almost daily, more headlines appear verifying that Mahmoud Abbas—the new Palestinian leader that so many are hoping will bring the stalemated situation to a peaceful conclusion—far from cracking down on Palestinian terrorists, is actually romancing them.

Abbas is trying to convince Hamas and Islamic jihad to officially join the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). Israel Radio reported that the head of Hamas said he and Abbas “had struck a deal on the future control of the Gaza Strip following Israel’s planned withdrawal” (Jerusalem Newswire, April 1). Abbas recently went so far as to label Hamas and other Palestinian terrorists his “brethren” (ibid.). Even when, in a rare move at the end of last month Abbas ordered a crackdown on “insurgents” following their shooting toward his office, it took only hours before he backed down under pressure from his own security chiefs, who said, according to one Palestinian official, “Nobody is willing to take the responsibility for hurting these people”—speaking of the terrorists (Middle East Newsline, April 3).

Frontline’s focus on the Jewish extremists—an interesting and worthwhile story, to be sure—demands to be put into the larger context. Those who really threaten “Israel itself” are the Arabs intent on pushing the Jews into the sea—and the Jews intent on bargaining with them along the way.