Do the Arabs Really Want Peace?
Many times in their internal propaganda, the Arabs have
said that their involvement in the peace process is part of their "holy war to
liberate Palestine." Sadat said it bluntly when he explained to the Arabs why he
visited Jerusalem: He told them that he paid lip-service to the concept of peace because
he knew that in this way he could receive more from Israel than he could ever win in a
war. Afterwards, he explained, once Egypt's position was improved and Israel's was
weakened, he could wage war from a position of strength.
A look at the school textbooks and news media in Egypt - a country which is officially
at peace with Israel - reflects whether or not the Arabs have taken the concept of peace
seriously. Their press - which is all government controlled - seethes day after day with
anti-Israeli editorials and anti-Semitic caricatures. At school, in their history classes,
children are taught about the imperialistic intent of the Zionist invaders. And Friday
after Friday, a message of hatred resounds from the mosques.
Whoever wants a clear picture of whether or not the Arabs desire peace should ask the
ordinary Arab in the street. He will respond - as has been documented by many polls - that
he is not opposed to violence against Israel, and that he desires Arab dominion over the
entire land of Palestine. Have we forgotten the Palestinians who danced on their roofs
with glee when Iraqi Scuds fell on Israel?
Can they be blamed for such an attitude? The average Arab is certainly not responsible
for these feelings. These are the values on which he has been raised for years. For him to
defy them would mean challenging his society's entire hierarchy.
But absolving the ordinary Arab from blame should not lead us to ignore the situation
which prevails. From the heads of state to the ordinary man in the street, the Arab
world's attitude toward Israel is one of hatred and contempt; never have there been any
serious attempts toward coexistence.