The Oslo Mistake

Mr. Pipes is the director of the Middle East Forum. His website address is

Ten years later, it is embarrassing to recall the elation and soaring expectations.

President Bill Clinton lauded it as a "great occasion of history." Secretary of State Warren Christopher ruminated on how "the impossible is within our reach." Yasser Arafat called it an "historic event, inaugurating a new epoch." Foreign Minister Shimon Peres of Israel discerned in it "the outline of peace in the Middle East."

The press hyped it, providing saturation coverage on television and radio, in newspapers and magazines. Pundits like Anthony Lewis of The New York Times called it "ingeniously built" and "stunning."

The date was Sept. 13, 1993, and the occasion was the signing of the Oslo accords on the White House lawn. Yitzhak Rabin, Israel's prime minister, and Arafat, the Palestinian leader, stood by President Bill Clinton and shook hands. For years afterward, "The Handshake" (as it was known) served as the symbol of successful peacemaking.

The agreement they signed, the "Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements" (to use its formal name) inspired widespread optimism that the Arab-Israeli conflict was at last about to be resolved. Other than a hardy band of skeptics, the world saw in the Oslo accords a brilliant solution whereby each side would achieve what it most wanted: dignity and autonomy for the Palestinians, recognition and security for the Israelis.

Instead, Oslo brought the Palestinians poverty, corruption, a cult of death, suicide factories and militant Islamic radicalization. The Israelis have mainly suffered from terrorism's toll of 854 murders and 5,051 injuries, plus assorted economic and diplomatic losses.

This Saturday marks the 10th anniversary of Sept. 13, 1993. By now, the name "Oslo" is mud among Palestinians and Israelis alike, with no one anymore seeing it "inaugurating a new epoch" – except for the worse.

What went wrong?

Many things, but most important was that the deal rested on a faulty Israeli premise that Palestinians had given up their hope of destroying the Jewish state. This led to the expectation that if Israel offered sufficient financial and political incentives, the Palestinians would formally recognize the Jewish state and close down the conflict.

Israelis therefore pushed themselves to make an array of concessions, in the futile hope that flexibility, restraint and generosity would win Palestinian goodwill. In fact, these steps made matters worse by sending signals of apparent demoralization and weakness. Each concession further reduced Palestinian awe of Israeli might, made Israel seem more vulnerable and incited irredentist dreams of annihilating it.

The result was a radicalized and mobilized Palestinian body politic. In speech and actions, via claims to the entire land of Israel and the murder of Israelis, the hope of destroying Israel acquired ever-more traction.

Thus did the muted Palestinian mood at Oslo's start in 1993 turn into the enraged ambition evident today.

When intermittent Palestinian violence turned in September 2000 into all-out war, Israelis finally awoke from seven years of wishful thinking and acknowledged Oslo's disastrous handiwork. But they have not yet figured with what to replace it. Likewise, the U.S. government, with the collapse of its Mahmoud Abbas gambit last week, finds its "road map" diplomacy in disarray, and it now too needs new thinking.

In the spirit of Oslo's 10th anniversary, I propose a radically different approach for the next decade:

  • Acknowledge the faulty presumption that underlay both Oslo and the road map (Palestinian acceptance of Israel's existence).
  • Resolve not to repeat the same mistake.
  • Understand that diplomacy aiming to close down the Arab-Israeli conflict is premature until Palestinians give up their anti-Zionist fantasy.
  • Make Palestinian acceptance of Israel's existence the primary goal.
  • Impress on Palestinians that the sooner they accept Israel, the better off they will be. Conversely, so long they pursue their horrid goal of extermination, diplomacy will remain moribund and they will receive no financial aid, arms or recognition as a state.
  • Give Israel license not just to defend itself but to impress on the Palestinians the hopelessness of their cause.

When, over a long period of time and with complete consistency, the Palestinians prove they accept Israel, negotiations can be re-opened and the issues of the past decade - borders, resources, armaments, sanctities, residential rights - be taken up anew. The sooner we adopt the right policies, the sooner that will be.

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Hector Rasmussen - 9/24/2003

I entirely agree that Palestinian hatred (and stupid stubbornness too) have prevented the state they could otherwise have had by now, but these are not the ONLY obstacles to peace over there, as Pipes likes to pretend.

AnotherNYGuy - 9/22/2003

Why is it that those who don't agree with Pipes' argument always call him "one-sided" or "boring?" The fact is that what he says needs repeating. Anti-semites and naive liberals believe that the Palestinians harbor no ill-will to Jews. Unfortunately, if it wasn't for their hatred, they would have achieved statehood by now.

Bill Bailey - 9/21/2003

The problem runs deeper than the pro-Likud bias of HNN.

"Get out of the Territories, Save Israel" and "Dismantle the Settlements" read the signs carried in a massive Tel Aviv demonstration yesterday, and shown in a photograph in today's San Francisco Chronicle (on page 19 and with NO accompanying article, just the photo).

How many of you heard about this demonstration by watching Fox or MSNBC ?

However see the following article at

Monday, September 22, 2003 Elul 25, 5763

Peace Now starts 'street campaign' with 6,000-strong rally
By Haaretz Service

Some 6,000 peace protesters gathered Saturday night at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv for what organizers said marked the opening of a "street campaign" that will be conducted over the next few months by Peace Now.

The demonstrators marched from the square through Tel Aviv to the Defense Ministry compound close to the Azrieli Center.

Among the speakers were Labor Party Secretary-General Ophir Pines-Paz, Meretz MK Avshalom Vilan and former Labor MK Yael Dayan.

All of the speakers kept to the central theme of the protest, calling for Israel to quit the
settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and for an end to the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Dayan emphasized the economic cost of the settlements, saying that the government was still pumping huge amounts of money into them, while other Israelis were going hungry. She pointed out that each year, 5,000 more children in the country slipped below the poverty line.

Demonstrators also denounced the Sharon government's policy of assassinating figures from Hamas and other extremist groups, saying the policy creates an endless cycle of violence.

F.H.Thomas - 9/21/2003

You are right in the direction of your question: hyperbole is indeed less persuasive that calm reasoning, and if you have read any others of my comments you know my respect for learning, honesty, and good intentions above all, and yet, and yet...

The twentieth century is the century of government murder and propaganda. There is little else of note to come out of it. These murders were done by men who thought that their political needs were more important than the very lives of others.

At a very low level in my being I despise every one of those murderers, perhaps particularly those who are protected by our "free press", such as the Israelis.

You have to read French, German, Swedish, or, to a lesser degree British, to get any coverage which remotely resembles the truth which users of this web site would unanimously acknowledge.

Therefore I vented my spleen upon the chief Israeli murderer, Mr. Sharon. Despite the fact that it is against my normal congenial style, I actually do not feel sorry for having done so.

Dewey de Small - 9/21/2003

Mr. Kipper:

Your cooperative approach has proven to yield positive results here, which unfortunately are not likely to be widely noticed by those who could most benefit from paying attention.

Re the specifics of your query: You seemed to have missed Mr. Dresner's most important, and I think, very valid, argument: That Sharon went to the Temple Mount for the express and premeditated purpose of inciting Palestinian violence. The so-called Man of Peace, in other words, went out of his way to sabotage peace by deliberately provoking a resurgence of terrorism. I can only agree with those who regard the silence at HNN regarding this central turning point of recent Mideast history to be deafening.

I do not speak for F.H. Thomas, nor do I endorse his hyperbolic rhetoric, but I think if you take a careful perusal through the early comment boards at HNN you will not find anti-Sharon posters to be the most frequent sub-category of "venomous" and "alienating" commenters. Those trying to pursue "reasoned" and "effective" arguments related to the article at hand, are all too often torpedoed by rude pot shots hurled at them by commenters without informed views on the subject, if they even address it all, and, again, pro-Palestinian arguers are not prominent among such torpedo launchers. Complaints about any given poster, such as Mr. Thomas here, or even positive encouragements towards moderation, are of little lasting use unless they also address the endemic flaws of HNN. See my earlier comment elsewhere ( ) for specific suggestions in this connection.

Gus Moner - 9/20/2003

That's an insightful summary, thanks, Mr Lee

Jake Lee - 9/20/2003

For the full version of the article excerpted below, go to

It is a very good question why Daniel Pipes should be one of the most frequently heard voices on HNN.

The Devil and Daniel Pipes

By Salim Muwakkil, In These Times
September 15, 2003

The Bush administration's war on terrorism has done little so far but increase the ranks of potential terrorists. And while this may seem to be the regrettable result of a bumbling foreign policy, there are signs the administration is deliberately trying to antagonize the Islamic world; there seems to be method to its madness.

After a few bellicose statements about "crusades" early on, Bush's public soundbites have consistently portrayed Islam as a peaceful religion that has been "hijacked" by the forces of terrorism. But his official policies have done little to mark that distinction. The latest White House affront to Muslims is the recess appointment of Daniel Pipes to the board of directors of the U.S. Institute of Peace....

Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum, a right-wing think tank based in Philadelphia, a prolific author of anti-Islamic screeds and creator of Campus Watch, a Web site that monitors professors who criticize Israel. He has a long paper trail, and perusal of Pipes' oeuvre reveals two clear positions: He is strongly pro-Israel and avidly anti-Muslim.

His appointment is opposed by a number of Islamic, Christian, Jewish, and interfaith groups, all of which argue that Pipes is better at building barriers than bridges to the Islamic world. A number of editorial boards, including the Chicago Tribune and the Washington Post, have also urged the administration to rescind his appointment.

Pipes gained some public infamy in May 1995, when he told USA Today that the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was "just the beginning" of an offensive by Islamic fundamentalists. Many journalists already had learned to be wary of Pipes' biased analysis of issues concerning the Middle East or Islam.

"Pipes has repeatedly demonstrated hostility toward Arabs and toward Islam as a religion," says Mitchell Plitnick, co-director of the San Francisco-based Jewish Voice for Peace, one of several Jewish organizations that have mobilized against him. "Of equal concern is that Pipes has often espoused the view that force is the most appropriate solution to the problems in the Middle East and the Muslim world.

It seems odd that the administration would go out of its way to nominate such a belligerent and divisive voice to an organization seeking peaceful solutions. If the Bushites are trying to provoke the Muslim world, however, naming Pipes makes sense.

Such a motive would also explain why the Bush administration initially chose retired Lt. Gen. Jay Garner as the first administrator of U.S. operations in Iraq. Garner is president of SY Coleman Technologies, a firm that, among other things, helped develop Israel's Arrow missile system. He is a leading weapons manufacturer who was posing as a man of peace.

Garner also has a cozy relationship with Israel's right wing, particularly the Jewish Institute for Security Affairs (JINSA). He visited Israel in 1998 on a trip sponsored by JINSA. He also signed a JINSA-sponsored statement that praised Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for exercising "remarkable restraint in the face of lethal violence orchestrated by the leaders of a Palestinian Authority."

Even if Garner were a competent administrator (he wasn't), his support for Israel's right wing and the widely reviled Sharon should have instantly disqualified him as custodian of an Islamic nation in need of reassurance and reconstruction. Garner proved to be an embarrassment and was quickly replaced by career diplomat L. Paul Bremer. But why did the Bush administration name such a polarizing figure in the first place?

...The Bush administration seemingly has done all it could to offend Muslims and increase the allure of "jihadists" like Osama bin Laden, who argue that the West is inherently offensive to Islam. The military invasion of Iraq has unleashed forces of religious fervor that also feed jihadist passions. Many young Muslims now will be taught that secular ideologies are unable to protect Islamic lands from crusading imperialists.

The U.S. "victory" provides a ready argument to help recruit young people into groups like al-Qaeda and Islamic Jihad. This is one component of the "clash of civilizations" long predicted by the neocons now running foreign policy. And right before our eyes, they are transforming that prediction into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

John Kipper - 9/19/2003

First of all, I want to thank Messrs.Dressner and Thomas for their reasoned and moderate response to my question. If I put together both of their responses, I come to the conclusion that the problem was necessarily the visit, but the fact that it was the person of Sharon who was the visitor and the fact that he did not visit as a respectful guest. Fair enough, I can accept that reasoning.

My next question is to Mr. Thomas. Why did you use such hyperbolic rhetoric in the post to which I responded when obviously you are so much more persuasive when you write more moderately? The first post was alienating and irritating in its venom, it was certainly not designed to win over the doubtful. The second post reveals a much more reasoned personality and a much more effective argument. It may not have convinced me, but it certainly makes me more inclined to listen.

Gus Moner - 9/19/2003

Palestinian terror attacks get dramatic headlines and spectacularly bad press for the Palestinian cause. However, Jewish terrorists in the West Bank and Gaza work with impunity under the eyes and near-protection of the Jewish army and police forces. They are under no international scrutiny, when caught are soon freed due to ´lack of evidence’ and get zero press in the USA, Britain or other nations who claim to have an interest in Palestine’s emancipation and peace.

It’s as if they were part of the Jewish state’s policy of colonisation, settlement and conquest of Palestine- the death squads of Israel. Their fate becomes clear when reading the article. In a tactic, resembling a charade from a Nazi or KGB operation, the Jewish terrorists are ‘captured’, so as to create a headline, then released and returned to the settlements whence they came, to bring more trouble and death to the Palestinians in their very homeland. It’s clear the Jewish state wants to be tough on Palestinian terrorists, selectively acting as jury, judge and executioner, killing them without arrest and trial and using US made helicopters and F-16’s to do it. When it comes to Jewish terrorists, well, it is velvet glove treatment. Here is the latest from the Jewish press:

Settler charged with series of security crimes
By Yair Ettinger, Haaretz Correspondent
”Shahar Dvir Zeliger was indicted Friday for involvement in a Jewish terror cell responsible for the deaths of eight people, including a baby, in multiple attacks against Palestinians, Israel Radio reported. A state representative said Zeliger, who was indicted in the Jerusalem District Court, was a central figure in the Jewish terror group - even though the radio quoted him as saying there is no proof that he was responsible for pulling the trigger or preparing the bombs.

The seven-count indictment charges Zeliger of belonging to a terror group, being an accomplice to murder after the fact, stealing weapons for criminal activity, possessing weapons and failing to prevent a crime, the radio reported. The court decided to delay until next week a debate on the prosecution's request that Zeliger, a resident of the Adei Ad outpost* in the West Bank who was arrested in August, remain in custody until the end of the proceedings against him…

…M16s, anti-tank missiles, machine guns and explosive devices were among the types of weapons investigators discovered in a weapons cache in Adei Ad, Israel Radio reported. The weapons are suspected of having been stolen from Israeli troops guarding West Bank settlements, according to the radio…

…Zeliger is one of several people who have been arrested recently on suspicion of involvement with Jewish terror, the last nine of whom were released in the last few weeks because police don't have sufficient evidence to indict them*. Only two of the Jewish terror suspects who have been arrested so far - Yitzhak Pas and Matityahu Shabo - have been indicted. They are charged with stealing explosive material* from the Israel Defence Forces”.

None are charged with the murders. In Israel the rule of law is for Jews, the rule of the bullet for the Palestinians.

No one is yet charged with the murderous terrorist acts against Palestinians, who are murdered in their own land whilst under the full control of Jewish security forces, by Jewish colonial settlers who are themselves there in violation of multiple UN resolutions. No F-16s hunt them down and murder them, no helicopters attack them and none of their illegal settlements are destroyed as a form of collective punishment.

Indeed, few state resources are spent in the surveillance and catching of these Jewish terrorist groups, whilst vast treasure is spent on Palestinian terrorists. Jewish terrorist acts go unmentioned in the Western press.

The double standard applied here seems clear. Yet, as Mr. Bush would have us believe, a man surrounded by Israeli forces in a compound half a hectare in size, unable to enter or leave, is the only person responsible for the terror in Palestine and Israel and for the breakdown in Bush’s perfect Road Map to peace.

*The emphasis in the quoted parts was added.

Peter K. Clarke - 9/19/2003

Neither Hamas nor Pipes have any interest in or ability to contribute to a meaningful discussion about the Mideast. What we really need from HNN is an explanation of and an apology for their absurd and extreme pro-Likud bias so far. 37 back to back articles by Hamas would only generate a cacophony of denunciatory screaming. It might make HNN's claim to be both "from the left" and "from the right" less bogus, it would not make less irrelevant.

Wilson - 9/19/2003

If you're going to continue to publish this ideologue, then I for one would one would like to see a regular contributor from Hamas as well.

Bill Bailey - 9/19/2003

Thanks, Jonathan. You have a solid and balanced grasp of the complexities of the Israel-Palestine mess, and I basically share both your assessment of the challenges and the approaches you advocate. Re “trilateral” or “quadrilateral” aspects, I would point out that the Arab League on than one occasion has quite forcefully stated its willingness to grant full recognition to Israel in return for withdrawal to pre 1967 borders. That still leaves "sticking points" like Golan, but the morally justifiable position of Israel (before the amoral take-over of that country by Likud) was that the post-1967 occupation was in order to have a security buffer to guarantee Israel's survival in the ABSENCE of Arab recognition. Now that recognition is on offer, (and the international community, post USSR, is available to make sure that Arab states live up to that recognition), the expansionist Likudniks have moved the goal posts.

I also think you underestimate the momentum that could be achieved if the logjam in Washington imposed by the Likud-hijacked Israeli lobby could be broken. It is the resolve to do THAT, that is still lacking, it seems to me.

I took a look at the websites recommended by Mr Greenland
( )
and even bookmarked a couple. Some very fine and noble efforts are going on to turn around the Jewish American community’s outdated views of “Israel right or wrong” and to get Israel back on a track that would again inspire the international sympathy and support it once had but has since lost. What what still seems to be lacking, though, is the resolve to take on the Likud lobby in America directly. I would point out that, at least as far as I can see, these various reform-minded Jewish organizations are further along than their Palestinian counterparts in the U.S. are in their (Palestinian groups’) much-needed confrontation with the abomination of suicide terrorism. But the Jewish groups also have further to go.

The U.S. Congress today is more pro-Likud than the Israeli Knesset, and that ridiculously skewed situation is mostly due to the Likud-hijacked Israeli lobby and their kneejerk support from too many “mainstream” American Jewish groups. And it is up to American Jews to lead the charge against the evil being done in their name. (Look at the ridiculous verbal abuse with which non-Jew Howard Dean was barraged when he had the cheekiness to suggest something as outrageous as evenhandedness in the Mideast).

I appreciate the insights, the dedication and the sacrifice of Jewish efforts to reform the badly derailed movement for a lasting Jewish homeland in Israel, but the resolve to really fight the cancer of extreme Zionism and its stranglehold on the U.S. Congress still seems to be woefully insufficient. Until it is there, and sympathetic non-Jews have a strong, effective public cause they can get behind, that sympathetic non-Jewish majority can only scratch its head in dismay and hope that we can head off the threat of a resurgent world-wide anti-Semitism that the Likud is provoking (and probably deliberately in many cases).

Jonathan Dresner - 9/19/2003

Mr. Bailey,

I was kidding about recolonization, though your proposal isn't too far off from what I meant, either.

While I largely agree with both your analysis and recommendations, I don't share your optimism about the result in the short term. Two main reasons:

First, the "sticking points" you mention are very serious and very subtle problems. Jerusalem, final borders, right of return, cross-border travel, settlements (and I believe that they are more deeply rooted in Israeli self-consciousness than you think, though the vast majority of Israelis are now willing to jettison them): all of them could be solved simply, but no solution will be final unless it is psychologically satisfying to both sides. In addition to coordinated resolve, we need creative solutions that are carefully propogandized to both sides as mostly victories with minor concessions.

Second, of course, Israel's relationship with Palestine (for that will surely be the name of the new nation-state) will probably never be a simple bilateral (or even tri-lateral including the US) one as long as the vast majority of Middle Eastern states are openly and/or actively hostile to Israel's existence. Can the US really impose its will on Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Libya, et al. at once? Even if we obliterate Alaska's wildernesses starting tomorrow, an oil embargo (or the serious disruption in flow that open hostilities would cause) would devastate the US-Euro economy. For evidence: Ms. Cornett's list showing the vast majority of the world which sees Israel as a problem and "Arabia" as a valued resource.

"Go slow" approaches with bilateral reciprocal assurances "and balance" are ok, in theory, but they are very vulnerable to sabotage. (and it's not clear that the participants want them to succeed, either) I've advocated for years a highly unilateral approach for Israel: stop doing the things that are offensive to 95% of the world population, and make life better for Palestians without making it dependent on whether or not terror attacks occur. Ignore the terror attacks, or at least delink the response from the human rights and humanitarian situation. Make a clear delineation (even if it doesn't quite exist in reality, pretend it does) between legitimate Palestinian institutions and criminal ones, and deal openly and honestly and generously with the legitimate ones.

Obviously, this approach would work better with strong international support, so US resolve would be most welcome.

Bill - 9/19/2003

Par. 1:

"dystopian", not "dustpan", (spell check running amok)

Par. 3:

Sharon to "STOP doing" (instead of "do")

Bill Bailey - 9/19/2003

"Recolonize" ? Surely you jest, Jonathan. The Mideast problem is a very thorny one indeed, and America has probably the least competent team in Washington in many decades trying to grasp those thorns, but relative stability over there is not going to require bringing Churchill back to life, restoring the British mandate, or any such surrealistic dustpan fantasy.

The settlements are an utter lunacy and have to go. Their only legitimate purpose EVER was as a bargaining chip to insure Arab acceptance of a genuine peace and secure borders for Israel, something that the Palestinians have so solidly pledged that they could never manage to reverse themselves now, not until many more years, a whole generation probably, of Likud madness and oppression. The settler pipe dream of a Great Israel with Samaria and Judea is a demographic impossibility and even less viable than apartheid South Africa ever was. The only reason the settlements are still there is so that wobbly Knesset coalitions can avoid having to buckle down and really deal with THEIR extremists the way they keep insisting that the Palestinian Authority, greatly sabotaged by Likud policies and practices nevertheless totally suppress Palestinian terrorists. The settlements are an excuse for Palestinian terrorism which is in turn an excuse for the Likud coalition to make no concessions to Palestinians. Thus do Hamas and Likud cooperate against peace.

The U.S. does not have to urge Israelis to be restrained against terrorism. Where restraint should be urged is in the bulldozing of olive groves, the smashing of civilian infrastructure, the deliberately humiliating checkpoints etc., all the things Likud is doing to encourage terrorism. The stuff Bush said he wanted Sharon to do in Spring of 2002, when he said "I really mean it" but obviously, and typically, didn't.

The U.S. is as strong today as Britain was in her imperial glory days and there is now a UN as well (despite the best efforts of Wolfowitz, Perle etc. to sabotage it). And there is no more USSR. I have no doubt that if the U.S. were to lay down the law to both Arafat and Sharon, we could, with some patience, prevail. Demolish the (by the way, hideously ugly and economically wasteful) settlements, withdraw Israeli forces from the West Bank and give the Palestinians their country as Amram Mitzna already proposed. It is inconceivable that a restored Palestinian Authority, acting WITH the IDF and WITH the U.S. and WITH the U.N. behind it, could not then utterly rout all but the very occasional Hamas or Al Aqsa suicide fanatic. The Palestinian Authority practically put a stop to terrorism all on their own in the 1990s before Sharon and Arafat began their dance of escalating blunders and deliberate provocations and Dubya twiddled his tax cuts.

To be sure, there are still sticking points, like who gets Jerusalem (when did you ever hear Daniel Pipes mention that two-side example of dug-in intransigence ?) and that is why the gradual, confidence-building road map approach is probably better than (for example) Barak's all-at-once go-for-broke strategy. For similar reasons the federated one-state idea will have to wait until later, when a modicum of real trust has been restored between old enemies. But decisive action by the U.S. is long overdue. When Americans, particularly Jewish Americans, wake up, actively and directly confront the Likudist lobbies that have exploited and hijacked their sympathy and goodwill, and force a truly honest-broker role on the U.S. government, instead of a rubber-stamp in "evenhanded" packaging (but not too much packaging, Howard Dean), then good things could happen fairly quickly (albeit probably not as quickly as in Eastern Europe in 1989 or even South Africa in 1992).

Earl Edmondson - 9/18/2003

It's interesting that Daniel Pipes says nothing about the Jewish extremist who murdered Yitzak Rabin or about zealots who insist on populating the West Bank with Jewish settlers. The failure of Oslo is all the other guy's fault, right?

Jonathan Dresner - 9/18/2003

I'm just a little tired of people who make points by allusion, assumption and sly suggestions. I really prefer that people make their points clearly and be up front about what they are arguing for.

I agree with you on the need for a clear comittment to a two-state solution (though I recently saw a proposal for a federated one-state solution that is clever, if unlikely to be either acceptable or workable) and some restraint in preempting issues that should be negotiated. I've said myself that the settlement movement is aggressive and counter-productive, so there's no disagreement there.

We're not exactly in a strong moral position to insist on anyone else being restrained in attacking terrorist organizations, are we? I wish the Israeli army would give up on "assassination by missile" which really does seem to produce more dead bystanders than dead targets, but their successes against Hamas, Islamic Jihad, etc., don't make things worse. These groups aren't waiting around for Israel to give them a reason, they just cite whatever happened most recently.

Pipes isn't often right about things, but he sometimes hits a point or two: Palestinian acceptance of Israel's legitimacy and security is also lacking. Frankly, sometimes I think we should recolonize the entire region, so neither side has control over anything, and give it back when they actually have learned to live together.

Bill Bailey - 9/18/2003

Jonathan, are you having a rough day ? I know you have a better understanding of Mideast history than your post would suggest.

What to "ask of Israel", in return for scores of UN vetoes (and bundles of cash and credits) ? Simply that its government acknowledge the right of a Palestinian state to exist within reasonable borders, the same acknowledgment that Israel has consistently and justifiably insisted upon for itself. And take the first steps towards a two state solution which (as George Mitchell, Jimmy Carter, Thomas Friedman, Amram Mitzna, and a thousand others having been saying for decades, although never seemingly on HNN) include dismantling illegal settlements and halting the deliberate bolstering of the ranks of Hamas and Al Aqsa by inhumane brutality and senseless eye-for-an-eye killings and oppression of the non-terrorist majority of Palestinians.

Thanks for the link to the full veto list. The facts there are informative. I had a higher opinion of Reagan’s foreign policy vis a vis Clinton’s, and now, comparing the occasional vetoes of the 1990s to the almost non-stop nose-thumbing of the 1980s, have to rethink that opinion.

Jonathan Dresner - 9/18/2003

Mr. Bailey,

Do you want the full lecture? Of course I teach facts and the importance of facts. Facts (by which I mean both facts in the abstract and sources in the concrete) are the raw material of our coherent narratives; facts contain the answers to the important questions which drive our research forward; disparate facts, and contradictions in sources, and gaps in the record offer us the chance to ask new questions and make sense of the world.

But facts are the beginning of understanding, not the end. Those facts must be put into context, into coherent arguments, applied to theories.

And a student who handed me a chronology instead of a coherent essay would get a poor grade indeed.

Jonathan Dresner - 9/18/2003

Mr. Bailey,

Ms. Cornett has posted this list elsewhere as well: the more complete form can be found at

What, exactly would you ask of Israel? Intelligence data? Serve as a buffer against an Arab-Soviet alliance? Bomb Iraqi nuclear production sites? Absorb thousands of post-Soviet Russian immigrants? Been there, done that. What else is on your list?

Bill Bailey - 9/18/2003

Fair enough, Jonathan, but dates and facts ARE important regardless of how politically incorrect it may be to ask students to know them. I will let others "analyze" Barbara's list, and instead suggest two questions it raises.

1) (This is a question about facts). Is this list really complete ?
Something like 70 vetos in the '80s and not a single once since 1990 ? Let's have "part two" of this list, before we go on to the "analysis" please.

2) (Since this page concerns U.S. Mideast policy) Isn't it high time that the U.S. asks for something in return for almost always shielding Israel in the UN, and almost always doing so regardless of who is in charge of (or today I would say mismanaging) that country ?

Jonathan Dresner - 9/17/2003

Ms. Cornett,

Why don't you tell us what the pattern is that you think you see, then we can test that theory against the facts as presented (and those ignored by your theory)? That's what I tell my students: facts are just facts; you need to make an argument to make a point.

Barbara Cornett - 9/17/2003

30 Years Of U.S. UN Vetoes.
How the U.S. has Voted // Vetoed- See any bias - See any pattern ?

by rp 3:38pm Sat Mar 8 '03

1972-2002 Vetoes from the USA
Year -----Resolution Vetoed by the USA
1972 Condemns Israel for killing hundreds of people in Syria and Lebanon in air raids.
1973 Afirms the rights of the Palestinians and calls on Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories.
1976 Condemns Israel for attacking Lebanese civilians.
1976 Condemns Israel for building settlements in the occupied territories.
1976 Calls for self determination for the Palestinians.
1976 Afirms the rights of the Palestinians.
1978 Urges the permanent members (USA, USSR, UK, France, China) to insure United Nations decisions on the maintenance of international peace and security.
1978 Criticises the living conditions of the Palestinians.
1978 Condemns the Israeli human rights record in occupied territories.
1978 Calls for developed countries to increase the quantity and quality of development assistance to underdeveloped countries.
1979 Calls for an end to all military and nuclear collaboration with the apartheid South Africa.
1979 Strengthens the arms embargo against South Africa.
1979 Offers assistance to all the oppressed people of South Africa and their liberation movement.
1979 Concerns negotiations on disarmament and cessation of the nuclear arms race.
1979 Calls for the return of all inhabitants expelled by Israel.
1979 Demands that Israel desist from human rights violations.
1979 Requests a report on the living conditions of Palestinians in occupied Arab countries.
1979 Offers assistance to the Palestinian people.
1979 Discusses sovereignty over national resources in occupied Arab territories.
1979 Calls for protection of developing counties' exports.
1979 Calls for alternative approaches within the United Nations system for improving the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
1979 Opposes support for intervention in the internal or external affairs of states.
1979 For a United Nations Conference on Women.
1979 To include Palestinian women in the United Nations Conference on Women.
1979 Safeguards rights of developing countries in multinational trade negotiations.
1980 Requests Israel to return displaced persons.
1980 Condemns Israeli policy regarding the living conditions of the Palestinian people.
1980 Condemns Israeli human rights practices in occupied territories. 3 resolutions.
1980 Afirms the right of self determination for the Palestinians.
1980 Offers assistance to the oppressed people of South Africa and their national liberation movement.
1980 Attempts to establish a New International Economic Order to promote the growth of underdeveloped countries and international economic co-operation.
1980 Endorses the Program of Action for Second Half of United Nations Decade for Women.
1980 Declaration of non-use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states.
1980 Emphasises that the development of nations and individuals is a human right.
1980 Calls for the cessation of all nuclear test explosions.
1980 Calls for the implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.
1981 Promotes co-operative movements in developing countries.
1981 Affirms the right of every state to choose its economic and social system in accord with the will of its people, without outside interference in whatever form it takes.
1981 Condemns activities of foreign economic interests in colonial territories.
1981 Calls for the cessation of all test explosions of nuclear weapons.
1981 Calls for action in support of measures to prevent nuclear war, curb the arms race and promote disarmament.
1981 Urges negotiations on prohibition of chemical and biological weapons.
1981 Declares that education, work, health care, proper nourishment, national development, etc are human rights.
1981 Condemns South Africa for attacks on neighbouring states, condemns apartheid and attempts to strengthen sanctions. 7 resolutions.
1981 Condemns an attempted coup by South Africa on the Seychelles.
1981 Condemns Israel's treatment of the Palestinians, human rights policies, and the bombing of Iraq. 18 resolutions.
1982 Condemns the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. 6 resolutions (1982 to 1983).
1982 Condemns the shooting of 11 Muslims at a shrine in Jerusalem by an Israeli soldier.
1982 Calls on Israel to withdraw from the Golan Heights occupied in 1967.
1982 Condemns apartheid and calls for the cessation of economic aid to South Africa. 4 resolutions.
1982 Calls for the setting up of a World Charter for the protection of the ecology.
1982 Sets up a United Nations conference on succession of states in respect to state property, archives and debts.
1982 Nuclear test bans and negotiations and nuclear free outer space. 3 resolutions.
1982 Supports a new world information and communications order.
1982 Prohibition of chemical and bacteriological weapons.
1982 Development of international law.
1982 Protects against products harmful to health and the environment .
1982 Declares that education, work, health care, proper nourishment, national development are human rights.
1982 Protects against products harmful to health and the environment.
1982 Development of the energy resources of developing countries.
1983 Resolutions about apartheid, nuclear arms, economics, and international law. 15 resolutions.
1984 Condemns support of South Africa in its Namibian and other policies.
1984 International action to eliminate apartheid.
1984 Condemns Israel for occupying and attacking southern Lebanon.
1984 Resolutions about apartheid, nuclear arms, economics, and international law. 18 resolutions.
1985 Condemns Israel for occupying and attacking southern Lebanon.
1985 Condemns Israel for using excessive force in the occupied territories.
1985 Resolutions about cooperation, human rights, trade and development. 3 resolutions.
1985 Measures to be taken against Nazi, Fascist and neo-Fascist activities .
1986 Calls on all governments (including the USA) to observe international law.
1986 Imposes economic and military sanctions against South Africa.
1986 Condemns Israel for its actions against Lebanese civilians.
1986 Calls on Israel to respect Muslim holy places.
1986 Condemns Israel for sky-jacking a Libyan airliner.
1986 Resolutions about cooperation, security, human rights, trade, media bias, the environment and development.
8 resolutions.
1987 Calls on Israel to abide by the Geneva Conventions in its treatment of the Palestinians.
1987 Calls on Israel to stop deporting Palestinians.
1987 Condemns Israel for its actions in Lebanon. 2 resolutions.
1987 Calls on Israel to withdraw its forces from Lebanon.
1987 Cooperation between the United Nations and the League of Arab States.
1987 Calls for compliance in the International Court of Justice concerning military and paramilitary activities against Nicaragua and a call to end the trade embargo against Nicaragua. 2 resolutions.
1987 Measures to prevent international terrorism, study the underlying political and economic causes of terrorism, convene a conference to define terrorism and to differentiate it from the struggle of people from national liberation.
1987 Resolutions concerning journalism, international debt and trade. 3 resolutions.
1987 Opposition to the build up of weapons in space.
1987 Opposition to the development of new weapons of mass destruction.
1987 Opposition to nuclear testing. 2 resolutions.
1987 Proposal to set up South Atlantic "Zone of Peace".
1988 Condemns Israeli practices against Palestinians in the occupied territories. 5 resolutions (1988 and 1989).
1989 Condemns USA invasion of Panama.
1989 Condemns USA troops for ransacking the residence of the Nicaraguan ambassador in Panama.
1989 Condemns USA support for the Contra army in Nicaragua.
1989 Condemns illegal USA embargo of Nicaragua.
1989 Opposing the acquisition of territory by force.
1989 Calling for a resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict based on earlier UN resoltions.
1990 To send three UN Security Council observers to the occupied

cassandra - 9/17/2003

I agree. Pipes is a johnny one-note. Need another opinion on this site.

cassandra - 9/17/2003

cassandra - 9/17/2003

Egypt Steve - 9/17/2003

Here we go again ... Pipes, the born-again peacenik, demonstrates in this piece why all those who actually know something about the Middle East recognize him as mouthpiece of the anti-Islamic, anti-Palestinian, pro-Likud, pro-settler, pro-ethnic cleansing radical right. Compare the end of Pipe's diatribe

" When, over a long period of time and with complete consistency, the Palestinians prove they accept Israel, negotiations can be re-opened and the issues of the past decade - borders, resources, armaments, sanctities, residential rights - be taken up anew. The sooner we adopt the right policies, the sooner that will be."

To the infamous words of Vladimir Jabotinsky, the spiritual father of Likud and inveterate ethnic cleansers like Shamir, Netanyahu and Sharon, in his essay "The Iron Wall":

"(T)his does not mean that there cannot be any agreement with the Palestine Arabs. What is impossible is a voluntary agreement. As long as the Arabs feel that there is the least hope of getting rid of us, they will refuse to give up this hope in return for either kind words or for bread and butter, because they are not a rabble, but a living people. And when a living people yields in matters of such a vital character it is only when there is no longer any hope of getting rid of us, because they can make no breach in the iron wall. Not till then will they drop their extremist leaders whose watchword is "Never!" And the leadership will pass to the moderate groups, who will approach us with a proposal that we should both agree to mutual concessions. Then we may expect them to discuss honestly practical questions, such as a guarantee against Arab displacement, or equal rights for Arab citizen, or Arab national integrity.

And when that happens, I am convinced that we Jews will be found ready to give them satisfactory guarantees, so that both peoples can live together in peace, like good neighbours.
But the only way to obtain such an agreement, is the iron wall, which is to say a strong power in Palestine that is not amenable to any Arab pressure. In other words, the only way to reach an agreement in the future is to abandon all idea of seeking an agreement at present."

Pipes' stance is what the Israeli right's stance has always been: let the Arabs abandon all hope; let them admit defeat, and then we'll talk. In the meantime, to make sure they get the message that they are a defeated people, we build settlements, demolish houses, confiscate land, and hope that those we don't kill or expel will move to Kuwait or Detroit.

This from the latest member of the U.S. Institute for Peace. Perhaps Pipes, when looking at what Israel has done in the West Bank and Gaza, thinks fondly and without irony of Tacitus, and his summary the speech of Galgacus. Galgacus was the Scottish chieftain who described for his people the real nature of the Pax Romana: "They make it a wasteland, and call it peace."

Good strategy, Dan. It's working out great ...

William S. Monroe - 9/17/2003

Once again, we are treated to the deliberate falsifications and omissions of Mr. Pipes.
What purpose does such an essay serve? Will it lead to peace? Can HNN not find a
real historian to contribute thoughtful pieces on this subject? I do not necessarily expect
to agree with such a person, nor even expect neutrality, but Pipes diatribes are totally
without merit.
Why does he cite the number of Israelis killed and wounded, for example, without also
citing the number of Palestinians killed and wounded? Because the other numbers are
much higher, as he well knows. Because it will show that BOTH sides in this struggle
are guilty of terrorism. That does not serve his purpose. He also fails to note the failure
of Israel to recognize the right for a Palestinian state to exist, and that ever since the Oslo
accord, Israel has pursued a deliberate policy of illegally settling its own citizens on the
very land that would form such a state.
Another point worth mentioning is the Iraeli signer of the Oslo accord was assassinated
afterward -- not by a Palestinian, but by an Israeli. If the Israeli government ever carries out
its threat to kill Arafat, we will have seen both signers killed by the Israelis. Who, then, will
be seen as the enemies of Oslo?

F.H.Thomas - 9/17/2003

Mr. Dresner:

Perhaps instead of citing Finkelstein to Mr. Kipper, I should have cited you.

Learned and incisive, as always.


F.H.Thomas - 9/17/2003

Thank you for your question, which I do not take as baiting. How else does man learn but by observation and inquiry?

I suggest to you that a full answer is available in Norm Finkelstein's "Image and Reality of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict", which goes in remarkable detail into the history of deliberate provocations and atrocities, which has been an integral part of Israel's quite open policy since the inception of the country, and which has involved every PM but Rabin. The purpose is always to grab more and more land, by creating an incident which causes an Arab reaction, leading to a massive Israeli response which butchers many and clears more land. Consider Gaza: the fact that the 5% of the population which is Israeli controls 40% of the arable land is an atrocity.

In this case, had Sharon come respectfully to the former temple site, without 200 armed supporters, ready to shoot, it might have turned out differently. If Sharon had not publicly agitated for raizing of the Dome of the Rock, and replacing it with a rebuilt temple, prior to this incident, the reaction of the Muslim worshippers would have been restrained. If Sharon were not the butcher of Sabra and Shatila, and expelled from government service by his own country for that crime, perhaps reason would have prevailed. Remember that the Arabs are the only culture which has had a peaceful and respectful relationship with Jews and most others, who have lived under their political control, before Israel.

Another of Mr. Finkelstein's books, "The Holocaust Industry", provides detail on how clever PR involving the holocaust, which Mr. Finkelstein does not deny, is used to cover for the human rights abominations in Israel.

Jonathan Dresner - 9/17/2003

Mr. Kipper,

The mosque (not Jewish shrine) that Sharon visited is on the site of the twice-destroyed (neither time by Muslims, by the way) Jewish Temple. All that remains of the Temple is a single retaining wall, known as the Western Wall or the Wailing Wall, as well as the hill known as the Temple Mount, on top of which is the ancient and revered (third holiest site in the Islamic tradition) mosque known as the Dome of the Rock. The Wall is indeed a special site for Jews (also a contentious one, as the Orthodox who control the site have repeatedly restricted worship activities by Liberal Jewish women), one of the few physical sites considered holy in Jewish tradition. The mosque on the Temple mount, by tradition, is a site that Jews visit only with great respect for the Muslims who have prayed there continuously for 1300 years. The Temple Mount area, except for the Wailing Wall and the approach to the Wall, is controlled by Islamic authorities which have considerable (but not complete) autonomy.

Sharon could have visited the Wall with no difficulty or controversy: thousands of Jews do it every day. What he did was visit the Dome of the Rock. And he didn't do it quietly or respectfully. He brought a large contingent of armed security guards into the mosque; he cleared the mosque of worshippers before and during his visit; he and his detail failed to remove their shoes in the Dome, which is a gross insult.

It was offensive, and it was entirely avoidable so one must assume that it was deliberate. It was precisely the excuse that groups like Hamas and Fatah needed to reinitiate the Intifada uprising and terror attacks. Truly cruel and stupid behavior on all sides, but Sharon quite deserves the special mention Mr. Thomas gives him.

John Kipper - 9/17/2003

I do not ask the following question in order to bait you or to be sarcastic. I have an honest desire to know, what in your opinion, was so terrible about a Jewish leader visiting a Jewish shrine of immense antiquity located in a city under his government's control? Once again, I am honestly looking for your opinion, not trying to spark a cat fight. How could this visit have spurred the Infatada if the other side were not looking for an excuse? I also would welcome comments from others, on both sides.

Arnold Goldberg - 9/17/2003

The Bush Administration's veto of the UN resolution against kidnapping and assassination is in full correspondence with a Mideast policy subservient to that of the extreme right-wing Israeli government, as advocated here for the umpteenth time by neo-Zionist Pipes.

F.H.Thomas - 9/16/2003

Mr. Pipes Stated:

"Many things, but most important was that the deal rested on a faulty Israeli premise that Palestinians had given up their hope of destroying the Jewish state. This led to the expectation that if Israel offered sufficient financial and political incentives, the Palestinians would formally recognize the Jewish state and close down the conflict."

Actually, the most important was that that miserable old murderer, Ariel Sharon, hands still dripping blood from Shabra and Shatila, and probably from Rabin's death, at least undirectly, just could not resist starting up the intefada by taking a gang of his murdering goons up on temple mount.

Professional warmongers such as Sharon and his acolyte, Pipes, probably have been spouting this garbage so long that truth would turn to acid in their mouths.

If Dante had a circle in hell for the likes of these, they would be eternally drowning in the blood of innocents, unable to save themselves.

Oliver Knox - 9/16/2003

To the plethora of false premises, broken promises, and dashed hopes associated with the recent illegal invasion of Iraq, one can now add the notion that liquidating the Baath regime there would "pave the way" for implementing a "road map to peace" between Israel and Palestine. Largely due to the efforts of Colin Powell, the only top Bush Administration official with actual military combat experience, the U.S. did make an effort in late Spring of this year, forcing Israel's ruler Ariel Sharon to back off from his unworkable position that the Palestinian Authority, already decimated by the Israeli occupation army, nevertheless exercise total control over every move of every single potential suicide bomber. Simultaneously, on the Palestinian side, the U.S. forced the appointment of Abu Mazen. But as so often happens, the Bush team chocked when it come to following through.

Since June there have been escalating tit for tat ceasefire violations on both sides and now the Likud hardliners, and their overseas stooges like Daniel Pipes, have gone back to their original plan to destroy the possibility of a future Palestinian state. The key "statue to topple" is clearly Arafat, and the U.S. looks poised for further disgrace in the form of a veto of a proposed U.N. resolution to protect Arafat from assassination or exile.

Genuine historians will, of course, not be fooled by Pipes' bogus history, which leaves out such key events as the assassination of Arafat's partner and Nobel Peace Prize sharer, Yitzhak Rabin (by those same Israeli extremists), Sharon's deliberately provocative trip to the Temple Mount in 2000, and the intense (though ultimately fruitless) negotiations which followed between Sharon's predecessor Ehud Barak and the Palestinians.

Peter K. Clarke - 9/15/2003

The American and international press are filled with a wide range of informed commentaries on the Mideast conflict and its long and tangled history. Many of these essays and opinion pieces are available on the web and a good number of them have been cited in comments posted recently on HNN.

There is no reason why a competent editorial staff needs to run a 37th article by the boringly one-sided Daniel Pipes. We know already from most of his previous 36 articles that, according to Pipes, every bad thing that happens in the Mideast is the fault of Palestinians, Arabs, Moslems or anti-Israeli Americans, that the Israeli Labor Party does not exist, and that all the U.S. has to do is open its Treasury to Ariel Sharon, support whatever does with American taxpayers’ money, and let the Man of Peace lead us to the Reign of One-state-solution Peace.

Norway is a peaceful and intelligent country and the Nobel Peace Prizes will be remembered long after Pipes joins the ranks of forgotten hacks. At the rate it is going, HNN will be long gone and long unlamented by then too.

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