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Thursday, July 20, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Guest columnist

The dangerous fantasy of peaceful Arab intent

Special to The Times

The two-front war launched against Israel by the Hamas and Hezbollah branches of the worldwide Islamic fascist movement — the same folks who brought us the recent Bombay massacre, to say nothing of 9/11 and the London Underground abattoir of last summer — has shattered many lives, and will undoubtedly destroy many more.

Is there any hope that it will also shatter illusions tenaciously held by accredited experts on the Arab-Israeli "conflict" (more accurately called the Arab — also Iranian — war against Israel)?

For nearly 40 years, academic Middle East experts and State Department inventors of quixotic "peace plans" have insisted that Israeli occupation of "Arab lands" causes Arab hatred and terror and is the "root cause" of the conflict; end the occupation, they have always said, and all will be well.

How, then, is it that, starting the very day after its withdrawal from Gaza last year and six years after its unilateral retreat from Lebanon, Israel is under attack from both those places?

Would it not be closer to the truth to say that terror is caused far less by Israeli military occupation than by the removal of that occupation?

Complete removal of Israeli forces and Jewish residents from an area achieves nothing except to invite greater terror and aggression from people who use every meter of land they control not to build their own state but to destroy an existing state.

This is why the idea — promoted by virtually every recent American (and Israeli) administration — of two sovereign entities, Jewish and Arab, between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean is dangerous fantasy.

What, except historical amnesia, could have made the experts forget that it was Arab hatred and aggression that led, in 1967, to occupation, and not occupation that led to Arab hatred and violence? For 19 years, starting in 1948, the Arabs had full possession of the "West Bank," theirs to do with whatever they chose, and — as always — what they chose was not an independent Palestinian state but incessant terrorist attacks on Israel.

Fences afford Israel only temporary and partial protection; they cannot keep out rockets and missiles, such as have been raining down on Israeli towns in the south of the country ever since Hamas won the election in Gaza (a voting result that could have come as a surprise only to the experts, including Condoleezza Rice). Unless Israel controls both sides of its borders, it can have no security against invaders bent on raw murder.

Can anything positive emerge from the current carnage? Perhaps. Since Hezbollah has over the years killed hundreds of Americans (most notably the Marines in Lebanon) without ever paying a price, its destruction by Israel would constitute a major American victory; the same may be said of Hamas, whose agents of mass murder are already operating in America.

Perhaps the incessant nattering about "the occupation" will finally give way to a recognition that the real "root cause" of Middle Eastern wars is a genocidal Islamicist culture, which must be uprooted by a process roughly akin to the denazification of Germany after World War II.

Perhaps the Israeli politicians who were so proud of their flight from Lebanon and Gaza will conjure the ghost of Winston Churchill rebuking arch-appeaser Neville Chamberlain: "You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor, and you will have war."

Perhaps — but maybe this is too much to hope — even our Middle East experts in this country (who bear a large portion of responsibility for our mental unpreparedness for 9/11) will be subject to liability laws for scholarly malpractice of the sort that have long been in place for medical malpractice.

Edward Alexander is emeritus professor of English at the University of Washington and co-author (with Paul Bogdanor) of "The Jewish Divide Over Israel: Accusers and Defenders" (Transaction Publishers).

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