Daily Israel Report

Op-Ed: The PLO Ups the Ante

The murder of Rehavam ?Gandhi? Ze?evi will alter the rules of the game in the Middle East. Its largest effect may well be to put an end ? once and for all ? to the obscene ?controlled carnage? agreements Israel maintains with the PLO, the Hizbullah and other Arab fascists and terrorists.
Published: Friday, October 19, 2001 3:15 PM


The murder of Rehavam ?Gandhi? Ze?evi will alter the rules of the game in the Middle East. Its largest effect may well be to put an end ? once and for all ? to the obscene ?controlled carnage? agreements Israel maintains with the PLO, the Hizbullah and other Arab fascists and terrorists.

?Controlled carnage? agreements are those in which Israel agrees not to target certain Arab leaders or other targets directly, in exchange for those Arab terrorists not targeting Israeli leaders and otherwise restricting the conflict. As such, they represent something in between all-out-war and all-out-peace. Israel long maintained such an agreement with the Hizbullah, which is why Hizbullah villages and towns were never flattened by Israel after Hizbullah outrages.

I have always objected to any such ?controlled carnage? agreement. I believe they are morally repugnant. They allow the Arabs to select an in-between choice that is neither peace nor war, rather than forcing them to make a real choice between those two options. It is also obscene that the leaders of Israel insulate themselves from the dangers and follies caused by their own policies. If my children are at risk when they walk to school thanks to Israeli government policy, then I want the politicians who implemented those policies to be just as much at risk. Any other possibility is outrageously offensive.

In recent months, Israel has at long last eroded its controlled carnage policy with the PLO by assassinating assorted terrorist leaders. It does, however, MAINTAIN a controlled carnage agreement with the top terrorists, from Arafat on down, at least in the PLO. The non-PLO terrorist leaders, like those from the PFLP, have on occasion been targeted. Let us bear in mind that these assassinations are in lieu of answering the PLO atrocities in kind. When the PLO and its surrogates blow up Jewish school children at a disco or otherwise perform atrocities, instead of responding by blowing up Palestinian school buses, Israel attacks terrorist leaders of middle rank.

Personally, I favor attacking the very top PLO leaders. The response of the PLO, and let us not be deluded that the PFLP assassination of Ze?evi was anything other than a hit approved by Arafat, ups the ante. Ze?evi was almost the only politician in Israel who consistently opposed Oslo from the start and down to today, something that no doubt will cause the conspiracy theorists of the planet to invent new theories about Peres, Kissinger and the Council on Foreign Relations being behind the hit.

Ze?evi was an interesting guy. Despised by the left as a fanatic and having some skeletons in his closet (such as alleged dealings with criminals and dirty deals with contractors back in the past), Ze?evi was in recent years the most honest, principled and candid man in Israeli politics. He had no interest in diplomatic euphemism, which led him to adopt the Kahanist ?transfer? slogan. He also served as a whistle-blower for the Sharon government and as a motivator for taking harder lines.

In a political sense, therefore,we might speculate that had a Palestinian assassination of a centrist politician or a Labor Party minister taken place, this would have had more of a galvanizing effect on the government. Too many Israeli leftists have long chortled and grinned to themselves when ?settlers? and similar rightists ?get their comeuppance? and are targeted by Palestinian terrorism.

Nevertheless, while mourning this murder, there is some hope that it might help to awaken the Sharon government and motivate it to act at long last.

It is time to end "controlled carnage".
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Dr. Steven Plaut teaches at the Graduate School of Business, University of Haifa, Israel.