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A Good First Step

Finally the sort of negotiations Yassir Arafat understands.

By and 4.2.02

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And you never thought that Arabs could do things efficiently! It took the Arabs to stage a three-ring circus with only one ring! The huge ringed table with all the sheiks in their bed sheets sitting around it was the best circus in town -- or at least in any town where they don't admit Jews. This bunch was the nastiest looking group of grownups sitting around a table since Frank Nitti presided over meetings of the Mafia (they also probably would not let a Jew join) on the TV show "The Untouchables."

These Arab leaders, not one of whom was elected in any sort of even remotely, democratic process, were to decide how to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian problem, specifically to consider the proposal of Crown Prince Abdullah, that if the Israelis would go back to their pre-1967 borders, the Arabs would then recognize Israel.

For Israel to move back to the pre-1967 borders would be to place the country in a militarily indefensible position. It would also ignore the reality that the way Israel obtained its present boundaries was as a result of defending itself against Arab attempts to destroy the state of Israel in 1948, 1956, and 1967. To surrender this position in exchange for an Arab recognition of Israel is an absurdity. The Arabs could, once the new boundaries are in place, simply break off diplomatic relations -- a common event in dealings between nations. The Arab sheiks must have been playing with their sheep too long if they believed that the Israeli leaders were so desperate or foolish to fall for this nonsense. And yet, incredibly, the Western world said the Arab proposal was "a good first step."

If a burglar who had already broken into your house three times in the past said to you, "I recognize that you have a right to believe that I would not burglarize your house again," would such a declaration by the thief be considered "a good first step" in preventing him from trying to rob it again? Would the fact that he previously burglarized it three times make it more or less likely that he would do what he intended to do, no matter what he said? Yet, this moronic quid pro quo was what brought the Arab leaders together.

The first problem was that the Egyptians made it clear that they would not show up for the party. Egyptians generally, if you meet them at a party, and they perceive that you are Jewish, will take great pains to explain to you that they are not really Arabs. That 3,000 years ago one of the local Nile nymphs fooled around with a camel salesman from Nubia passing through the neighborhood on his camel, and what developed from them jumping all over each other that night in a stone-age motel, was the beginning of the country of Egypt -- so they are not really Arabs. They basically took the position that they had already recognized Israel, and anyway, who wants to fool around with a bunch of people who can give you the Tenth Plague that would smite your first-born children?

Arafat, on the other hand, was a different story. First he said he was coming to the summit, then he said he didn't know if the Israelis would let him out of his room to come, then he said that they would let him come, but he didn't know if they would let him back. When he said he could not risk leaving (which disappointed everybody in the neighborhood since they would finally get a chance to air out his room and throw away their gas masks), he said he would talk to the assembled Arabs by video. After that was agreed, he changed his mind and said he would not speak to them at all, and as a matter of fact, his delegation, that did attend, walked out of the conference.

As a result of all this, nothing was accomplished, except for exchanging telephone numbers of some camels who were interested in trying something new, and the Arabs went home to their sheep, some even to their wives. Arafat, went back to his specialty: the killing of women and children and having his people blow themselves up to get a one-way ticket to Paradise. All of this gives rise to the unworthy thought that if Arafat preaches to his followers that the quickest and best way to get to Paradise is to blow yourself up, why doesn't he set a personal example for them to follow. This would save a lot of trouble, since, from the information we have available, there are no return tickets from Paradise.

The big problem that Palestinians have is really with their own oil-rich brother Arabs, not the Jews. Jordan kicked them out, Kuwait kicked them out and the gulf states, after the Iraqi war, got rid of them. Although they were one of the few supporters of Saddam Hussein, Iraq only allows a small number of Palestinians to live there. The only country to grant them full citizenship is Israel. There are 1,131,000 Palestinians living in Israel, all of whom are Israeli citizens. Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia and the other gulf countries, each do not have, as citizens, half the number of Palestinians as does Israel. Saudi Arabia, a major financial backer and instigator of the Palestinians, has only approximately the same number of them living in their country as does the United States. Maybe the Arabs know something about the Palestinians that the rest of the world does not. Perhaps we should all pay a little closer attention. Remember the advertising slogan of the old Packard automobile, "Ask the man who owns one."

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About the Author

Jackie Mason is a comedian.

About the Author

Raoul Felder is a lawyer.