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.
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