If anyone doubts the power of the media to transform the policies of democratic governments, one need only to look to The New York Times' columnist Thomas Friedman for proof. It was Friedman, after all, who a year ago invented the so-called Saudi plan for peace in the Middle East.
Last February, reacting to the precipitous drop in American public support for the kingdom in the wake of mounting evidence of Saudi sponsorship of al-Qaida and hatred for the US generally, the House of Saud invited Friedman to Riyadh as part of a PR campaign.
Over dinner in a gilded palace, Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah told Friedman that he was considering a peace initiative whereby in exchange for Israel's retreat to the 1949 armistice lines and acceptance of Palestinian refugees, the Arab world would normalize its relations with Israel.
Friedman and The New York Times jumped on Abdullah's propaganda bandwagon and the "Saudi Plan" was born. It took but a week from press time for the White House to embrace the imaginary and dangerous initiative that is now firmly ensconced in the so-called "Road Map" for the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Now Friedman is back in the region. Reporting from Cairo on Sunday, he wrote about the ferocity of anti-American sentiment in Egypt.
Yet rather than condemn the hatred and call for a re-evaluation of US support for Hosni Mubarak's America-bashing dictatorship, he wrote that Americans must understand that the root cause of this hatred is US support for Israel.
"I am not talking about what is right, or what is fair, or even what is rational," Friedman wrote of Arab hatred. But, he concluded, "if we ignore it, if we dismiss it all as a fraud, we will never fully harvest the positive changes that could come from regime change in Iraq."
Put another way, if the US doesn't put pressure on Israel in a way that will convince the irrational, hate filled anti-American and anti-Semitic Egyptian "street" that the Bush administration isn't simply a tool of "the Jewish lobby," then the Arabs will continue to hate the US and blow up more of its skyscrapers.
This week we were witnesses to two dangerous diplomatic charades that showed that key international players are already on board with Friedman's cause of throwing Israel to the wolves in an attempt to mollify the Arab world.
First there was Tuesday's conference on Palestinian reform in London, to which Israel was not invited.
Defying Israel's reasonable refusal to allow Arafat's minions to travel to London to take part in a conference whose sole outcome would be legitimizing his terrorist regime, the British insisted that these terror apologists participate.
In a highly provocative move, the British bypassed the travel ban by setting up a satellite hookup joining Ramallah and Gaza to London. In so doing, the British government made a decision to legitimize Arafat's terror regime just one week after Arafat's Fatah organization took credit for the massacre of 23 people in last week's bombing in Tel Aviv.
Far from steering clear of the outrageous embrace of Arafat's terror factory, the US State Department dispatched Assistant Secretary of State William Burns to the summit. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher applauded Britain's embrace of the Palestinian Authority stating that the "reform" summit advances President Bush's vision of a two-state solution to the Palestinian conflict with Israel.
In the international community's embrace of Arafat's regime through its support for a patently fraudulent reform effort, we see an example of a Munich-like decision where Israel plays the role of Czechoslovakia. In the London conference this week we saw the British again leading the West in ignoring everything that is known about a dictator's aggressive behavior and designs and turning a blind eye to the genuine depravity of the society that he leads through indoctrination and terror.
And as in 1938, we see a British bid to force a democratic ally to accept concessions that will prevent it from defending itself against that aggression and depravity.
The honored guest at the London summit was Egypt's intelligence chief Omar Suleiman. Suleiman has recently made a name for himself by hosting the ongoing EU-backed summit of Palestinian terror chiefs in Cairo. Suleiman came to the meeting crowned in glory as the mastermind of the talks presumptively aimed at calling for a halt to the murder of Israeli civilians by Palestinian terrorists.
Israeli security sources have repeatedly called these talks, like the reform rhetoric, a sham aimed only at giving the appearance of interest in ending the Palestinian terrorist war against Israel. This is engineered, they warn, in order to pave the way for the international community's selling out of Israel to these unreformed and unrelenting terrorist chieftains.
In reality, what stands as a basis for the Cairo discussions is a plan that would both bolster the legitimacy of terrorism and prevent Israel from fighting to defend itself. The plan, which has so far received conditional and duplicitous approval by Arafat, calls for the establishment of Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital. The borders of this state remain conspicuously undefined.
According to the plan, the various terrorist organizations would agree to stop killing civilians although it is unclear whether they would stop killing all civilians. The terror organizations would be allowed to continue to kill IDF forces. In exchange for this vague and limited temporary halt to Palestinian aggression, Israel would redeploy its forces out of areas previously transferred to Arafat's control, would release all the terrorists arrested over the past two years and would cease all military actions against the terror organizations.
It takes few powers of discernment to realize that this cease-fire plan is a complete lie. Yet the EU has been sponsoring this charade and the State Department has been highly supportive of Egypt's "positive role" in attempting to end Palestinian terrorism. Suleiman was so comfortable in London that he did not even feel it necessary to present the great accomplishments of his mediation efforts to those assembled. Rather he sufficed with a promise that these efforts would continue. For their part, Arafat's lackeys announced on Thursday that the talks would continue in Cairo starting next week.
What is Israel to do when faced with an enemy that uses lying as its principle tool of diplomacy? What is Israel to do when the pivotal Western powers the US and Britain are only too happy to accept the Arab lies in an attempt to appease their hate filled societies? What is Israel to do when super influential columnists advocate fashioning US foreign policy in a manner that rewards insane and groundless hatred by abandoning loyal and rational democratic allies?
At the same time that the London appeasement conference was taking place, Labor leader Amram Mitzna announced that the Labor party will not join a unity government led by Ariel Sharon. Given the fact that it took Mitzna's colleagues less than five minutes to dispute his position on record, it is likely that while Mitzna himself may not join a Sharon led government, his Labor colleagues will do so happily. Now that Yossi Beilin has left Labor, the only Oslo extremists of Thomas Friedman's ilk left in the party are Amram Mitzna and Shimon Peres.
Sharon claims with some justification that only with a unity government can Israel properly defend itself against military and diplomatic aggression. There is some truth to the claim that having had Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and Dalia Rabin heading the Defense Ministry helped build the national consensus around the need to take offensive action aga
inst the Palestinian terrorist war machine. At the same time, it is absolutely clear that Shimon Peres's presence at the helm of Israel's diplomatic front for the past two years hindered Israel's cause in the diplomatic arena. Rather than combating appeasement-prone foreign ministries, Peres strengthened and legitimized the voices in the West like Thomas Friedman's that are committed to appeasing Arab hatred.
There is no doubt that Shaul Mofaz is an excellent choice for Defense Minister. But there is also no doubt that to form a national unity government Sharon will have to give the Labor party responsibility for either the Defense or Foreign Ministry. Today, thanks in large part to Mofaz's leadership as IDF Chief of Staff, our army is capable of doing what it takes to defend against military aggression.
But after two years of Peres's stewardship, and the better part of the past ten years under his tutelage, the Foreign Ministry is yet to be readied for its vital task of fighting the Western appeasement drive.
Beginning with Friedman's overt call for the US to appease the Arab world at Israel's expense, and continuing both at the London summit where that call was advanced and with the international embrace of Cairo's diplomatic deception, we saw this week both the ideological underpinnings and the first fruits of the renewed drive to sacrifice Israel's security for the Arab world's self-respect.
Back in October 2001, Prime Minister Sharon warned the West that Israel would not be the second Czechoslovakia in the present world war against Islamic terrorism. For his warning Sharon was roundly condemned, particularly by the Bush White House which resented being compared to Neville Chamberlain's government.
Unfortunately, the Bush Administration's adoption of Friedman's policy prescriptions, first by embracing the fictitious Saudi peace initiative and now by legitimizing irrational Arab hatred by pressuring Israel to accept an imaginary cease-fire and fraudulent reforms of Arafat's terror regime shows Sharon's warning to have been on target.
In the months ahead, Israel's primary challenge will be use every opportunity to repeat Sharon's stern warning to the West against treating us like Czechoslovakia. It will take our most powerful diplomatic guns to fight this fight. Winning it will in many respects be even more difficult than emerging victorious from the military struggle. This fact must be at the core of the Prime Minister's thinking as he forms his next unity government.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.