Ralph Peters is a regular columnist with the New
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A Taste For Terror
Terror in Tripoli. Havoc in Gaza. Palestinians assassinating the innocent and blaming it on their own victimization.
Sounds a lot like 1982. Except that yesteryear's political hit-men are now fanatics. And the Palestinians have blown yet another chance - to the relief of their fellow Arabs.
No Arab potentate wants the Palestinians to build a successful, rule-of-law state that co-exists with Israel. Nor does a single Arab ruler like democracy in Lebanon.
Ralph Peters - Contributor
Peters is a retired Army officer and the author of 19 books,
as well as of hundreds of essays and articles, written both
under his own name and as Owen Parry. He is a frequent columnist
for the New York Post and other publications. [go to Peters Index]
The Lebanese army's siege of the Nahr el-Bared refugee camp in Tripoli is an act of desperation. Forced to accept the autonomy of Palestinian bastions on Lebanese soil, a succession of Beirut governments has had to watch the growth of Islamist radicalism as rich Arab states played up the Palestinian cause - and ignored flesh-and-blood Palestinians.
The camp under fire (by the way, the shelling isn't indiscriminate - the Lebanese gunners just aren't very good shots) has 32,000 registered residents. The real number may be closer to 50,000, all crammed in a ghetto where poverty reigns and ignorance rules - exactly the kind of situation in which Saudis, Syrians and Gulf Arabs like to keep Palestinians.
The destitute camp - really, an urban slum - would seem to be a perfect recruiting ground for fanatics. Yet most of the local refugees, who have lived in Lebanon for a full generation, are siding with the Lebanese government. They don't like being shelled, but they want the terrorists gone. For their part, the terrorists hope the fighting will spread to other camps.
And who are these terrorists whose actions brought the Lebanese army down on their heads?
Fatah al-Islam is one of those countless splinter groups right out of Monty Python's "Life of Brian" - except for its murderous bent. Aligned with al Qaeda and backed by Syria, its immediate mission is to make Lebanon ungovernable.
So the bodies pile up as the buildings burn.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian try at self-government in Gaza is an even greater shambles. When Israel withdrew its forces in 2005, Palestinian leaders had an unprecedented chance to prove that they could govern competently. With aid in the pipeline (from the West, of course) and goodwill abounding, they could have given the people they ruled a chance.
Instead, they gave them anarchy, economic collapse, rampant criminality, a return to "honor killings" and a society broken by blood feuds and internecine hatred.
Last week, the Gaza fighting spun out of control, and Fatah forces, whose leadership now quietly leans on Israel for support, proved tougher than the Hamas thugs expected. With newly trained security-forces in play, Fatah threatened to seize the local initiative.
Hamas responded by launching waves of missiles against civilian targets in Israel. By week's end, the Hamas barbarism had become intolerable. Israel responded by killing dozens of Hamas terrorists - including senior figures - with stand-off weaponry.
The result? A fragile truce to which Fatah had to agree in the name of Palestinian solidarity. But the Pal-on-Pal fighting will resume soon enough. After winning the last election, Hamas outed itself as a pure-terrorist organization obsessed with killing Israelis and grabbing power for itself - not a party dedicated to improving the lives of the people.
Average Palestinians would like to get on with the shabby lives left to them. And some are staging a quiet rebellion against Hamas: A significant number of the targets Israel struck over the past several days were identified via Palestinian tip-offs.
Arab societies have a genius for self-destruction (look at Iraq), but President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party may prove readier to deal sensibly with Israel than any Palestinian faction in the past. Abbas recognizes that, today, the greatest danger comes from within, not from Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.
As for the mess in Lebanon, Syria's inability to refrain from deadly mischief is a blessing in at least one respect: It makes it harder for the advocates of phony Realpolitik (such as former Secretary of State Jim "Have you hugged your dictator today?" Baker) to push us back into yesteryear's cozy relationships with genocidal Arab despots.
But who really are the victims here?
Obviously, Israelis continue to suffer from Arab terror-as-self-actualization. But the global media hates Israel. So don't expect to hear much about the rockets raining on Sderot, beyond a perfunctory aside from a dismissive anchor-babe.
Of course, the Lebanese have been the long-standing victims of meddling Arab powers and the refusal of larger and far richer Arab states to give Palestinians hope for better lives. If the Saudis love the Palestinians so much, why not build a model city in the Kingdom for the 400,000 or so stranded in Lebanon? (Actually, few Palestinians would choose to live in such an oppressive place.)
And couldn't the tasteless Donald Trumps of Dubai spare at least one of those gold-plated, gated condo developments for deserving Palestinians?
The truth is that other Arabs want the Palestinians to continue to suffer. It's useful as an excuse for all their failings. They have about as much sympathy for the refugees as all those good Germans had for the Jews whose real estate was suddenly available.
But the ultimate victims of this round of Palestinian violence are the Palestinians themselves.
After passing up so many chances for peace and statehood, they can no longer be classed as victims of Zionism. Yet the Palestinians are victims - of the other Arabs who exploit them and neglect them. And of the madmen spawned from their own kind.
If you need someone to blame for the current carnage, blame the Palestinian terrorists for whom violence has become a way of life (and death). Forget the rage of the dispossessed and all that sanctimonious claptrap. For the Palestinians preying upon their brethren, terror's a business.
And business is good. CRO
latest book is Never
Quit The Fight.
piece first appeared in the New York Post
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