The Hamas-Likud Pairing

Jerusalem Post 08/25/95

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THE complex Israeli-Palestinian relationship has given birth to a nasty new myth which began, like many such myths, with a lie so egregious that it could only be considered laughable. Now it threatens to become conventional wisdom.

Soon after the Beit Lid massacre, in which 21 Israeli soldiers were killed by two Islamic Jihad suicide bombers, Palestinian Authority chief Yasser Arafat told a group of visiting dignitaries that right-wing Israelis had collaborated with the killers. Otherwise, he said, the killers could not have passed through several army checkposts without being stopped.

The implications were mind-boggling: not only was Arafat implying that Israelis would participate in the mass murder of Israeli soldiers. He was saying that the Israeli conspirators were so powerful that they could exercise control over the army units all along the route the killers took from Gaza to Beit Lid.

The visitors who heard the story, knowing that it could only be interpreted as the ravings of a lunatic, kept it mostly to themselves.

Being supporters of the peace process, they thought reporting it would embarrass Arafat and harm his credibility. But at least one listener divulged its contents privately, and it became known. To the amazement of many, Arafat kept repeating it both before visitors from abroad and to visiting Israelis.

On Tuesday, the day after the bus bombing in Jerusalem, Arafat decided to come out publicly with these "revelations." He not only announced in Gaza that there was collaboration between what he called "Israeli and Palestinian extremists," but that he had documents proving it.

One of his lieutenants, Secretary-General of the Palestinian Authority Tayeb Raheem, went into details. He said that the Israeli army and other security services contained secret organizations like the French OAS during Algeria's war of independence. They and the Islamic fanatics have a common interest to defeat the Oslo agreement, he said, repeating that the PLO has documents to prove the allegation.

On the Voice of Palestine radio he went further, asserting specifically that these "extremist elements" want to weaken both the PLO and the Israel Labor Party, and that they hope the Likud will return to power. To prove his point he reminded his listeners that the Islamic militants started growing under Likud rule and that there is "coordination and collaboration" between them. Moreover, many of them called on their followers inside Israel to vote for "extremist parties like Shas."

Raheem's "proof" for the collaboration between Israeli rightists and the militants consists of testimony by Gaza residents accused of recruiting young men for terrorist strikes. "They admitted that they sent the two Islamic operatives who hit Beit Lid to the Dahaniya camp, where only collaborators with Israel can enter, and that the terrorists spent the night in

Dahaniya, and got Israeli uniforms and explosives there," he said. "We hope that Israeli decision-makers will understand that there are forces in Israel who are coordinated with extremist elements in Gaza."

It would be easy to dismiss such insults to the intelligence as childish efforts to explain away Arafat's inability or unwillingness to control Islamic terrorism. They are such crude imitations of Nazi and Soviet techniques that they cannot be taken seriously even as "Big Lie" propaganda.

But the attempt to portray the Islamic terrorists as opponents of the Labor government rather than as enemies of the State of Israel (and Jews in general) is no longer confined to the PLO. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin has often accused his opposition of collaborating with Hamas by calling for the suspension of the talks with the Palestinians; and the latest Hamas broadcast from Damascus, which vowed to cause the fall of the Rabin government, has provided

Labor with ammunition.

The Peace Bloc faction of the peace camp, whose slogans are all too often taken up by Labor, yesterday published an advertisement alleging that, "There is now a partnership-of-purpose between the enemies of peace of the two nations - [aimed at] toppling Rabin and Arafat, burying the Oslo agreement, and preventing reconciliation between [Palestinians and Israelis. ]" The New York Times headlined a story on Wednesday, "Arab Militants and Israeli Rightists Both Seek to Oust Rabin."

Before obscene parallels are drawn between the democratic opposition in Israel and Hamas terrorists, it may be wise to realize that fanatic Moslem leaders always personalize their enemies. Ayatollah Khomeini considered then president Jimmy Carter his nemesis and - vowing to bring about his downfall - refused to release the American Embassy hostages before Carter left office. Saddam Hussein made his war with the West a personal vendetta with then president George Bush. For Hamas, the current villain is Rabin, who expelled 400 of its operatives in 1992 and arrested 4,000 of them in the past few months. To suggest that Hamas would rather see the Likud in power

is to trivialize the depth of its hatred for Israel.

It is not difficult to imagine what the pairing of Likud and Hamas is intended to achieve. The agreement between Arafat's PA and Hamas allows the Islamic organization to function with impunity in Gaza. The latest GSS bust of a Hamas cell responsible for the recent bus bombing has revealed that the suicide bombers received their training and instructions in Gaza. All Israeli security agencies agree that none of Arafat's nine security forces is truly fighting the terrorist groups. There is no better way to deflect attention from this dereliction than to charge that Israel's right wing helps the terrorists. It would be a shame if the Labor Party stoops to using this charge for its own election purposes.

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