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Pity the poor Palestinians, for truly they are victims in this war.

They could have lived side by side with the Israelis. But a cruel, conniving, terroristic people have conspired to deny them their birthright, to live in peace and harmony with their neighbors.

The villain, however, is not Israel, whose only crime has been to defend its very right to exist. Rather, it is the heartless and hopelessly corrupt regimes throughout the Middle East, including that of Yasser Arafat.

The Palestinians have been the pawns of totalitarian Arab potentates and powers who have wanted since the day Israel became a nation in 1948 to annihilate it. The Palestinians have served as a bloody battering ram, a bludgeon, a dagger in the hands of unseen Arab leaders who couldn’t destroy Israel through successive wars of aggression, and therefore resorted to Plan B – to destroy Israel a piece at a time through a “Palestine liberation” movement.

Most Arab leaders don’t truly care a bit about the Palestinians. As former President Jimmy Carter confessed at a 1979 press conference: “I have never met an Arab leader that in private professed a desire for an independent Palestinian state. Publicly, they all espouse an independent Palestinian state …”

The truth is, this conflict has never been about land-for-peace. Remember what happened when former Prime Minister Barak, after much arm-twisting by then-President Clinton, agreed in 1999 to give on a silver platter 95 percent of Arafat’s negotiating demands?

“The much-vaunted political solution to end the conflict was in fact attempted two years ago at Camp David, and it utterly failed,” former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu observed recently. “Arafat rejected a scandalously far-reaching Israeli offer of a sovereign Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, which included half of Jerusalem, and instead chose to unleash this war of terror against Israel.”

Before 1948, there was no clamoring among Muslims to possess Jerusalem. Even after the establishment of Israel, after Jordan annexed the West Bank and up until the time it lost it to Israel in an Arab war of aggression against the Jewish state in 1967, there was no international outcry from the Palestinians, or from any other Arabs, for their own state, or for a sacred Jerusalem.

But what about the religious fervor for the Al-Aksa Mosque, the third holiest place for Muslims? Isn’t that what drives Palestinians to want Jerusalem as the capital of their hoped-for nation?

Mecca, the holiest place to Muslims, and Medina, the second holiest, are mentioned many times in the Koran. But Jerusalem? There’s not even one reference in the entire Koran, nor is there any historical evidence that Muhammad ever went there.

The latter-day Palestinian hunger for the Temple Mount – the holiest site for Judaism – is like the sudden desire a child has for a toy with which his brother is playing. The first child never particularly paid much attention to that toy before, but now that his brother, whom he has always envied, is happily playing with it, the first boy feels compelled to take it away. The only “happiness” he would obtain by getting the toy, however, is the satisfaction of having deprived his brother of it.

Is it possible that what makes the Al-Aksa Mosque so attractive to the Palestinians is the fact that it is built on the ruins of the holiest site of the Jews, whom they detest?

Here is a bitter truth that none dare speak, but that many know deep down in their hearts. This current generation of Palestinians, so deeply corrupted, so absolutely and profoundly brainwashed from birth, will never – can never – live in peace, side by side with Israelis.

It’s a strange thing about corruption: It’s easy to brainwash and traumatize people – but it’s extremely difficult to undo the damage.

Since the beginning of this current intifada in late 2000 – which today has escalated well-nigh into all-out war – I have been writing about the Palestinian love of breeding suicide bombers. When these stories first appeared, many were incredulous over the notion that high religious and political leaders were encouraging toddlers to become suicidal terrorists. We reported how a popular Sesame Street-like television program called the “Children’s Club,” complete with puppet shows, songs and a Mickey Mouse character, celebrated violence and terror, teaching Palestinian children songs like, “When I wander into Jerusalem, I will become a suicide bomber.”

Then came Sept. 11, and the rest of the world learned more than it ever wanted to know about suicide bombers and the insane religious interpretation that justifies such wanton terror and mass murder in the name of Allah.

A generation of Palestinian children has been carefully and heartlessly groomed to look forward to the day they can blow up their precious, God-given bodies in order to destroy innocent Israeli men, women and children.

The Palestinian leadership, comprising Arafat and his political apparatus working in concert with certain Islamic leaders, has brainwashed a generation of beautiful children to become instruments of death, and to believe they are going to heaven as their reward for murdering their innocent brothers and sisters.

Do you have any idea at all just how profoundly and deeply you have to screw up someone’s brain to get them to do that?

Sadly, in all likelihood, this damage cannot be undone.

Not only would the current generation of Palestinians be unable to live side-by-side with Israelis in peace. They would not even be able to live side-by-side with themselves.

What do you suppose would happen if Yasser Arafat got his wish and Israel disappeared from the face of the Earth today? That’s right, just imagine that all the Jews in Israel simply disappeared overnight – vanished into thin air.

The Palestinians – yes, they would march triumphantly into Jerusalem and raise their flag above the city, and so on, acting out their fantasy of liberation. They would celebrate in the streets for days, firing guns into the air. A few overly enthusiastic would-be martyrs probably would blow themselves up with their new explosive belts to mark the occasion.

But before long, the fury, the traumatic hatred that’s been injected into them since birth, would again have to express itself. They would turn on each other, or go to war with their Arab neighbors.

“No,” you might say, “these people are oppressed. Once the oppressor was gone, so would the reason for their anger.”

Wrong. When you continually inculcate such intense hatred, such unquenchable fury, virtually from birth, it literally becomes what you are. It forms your very identity. You can’t live without hatred and violence. Do you understand this?

Sure, the anger would likely transmute into some other form, and the sales of suicide explosive belts would certainly fall off sharply. But the insane, warlike culture – with no enemy to hate and attack any more – would turn first inward on itself and later on its neighbors.

Nations and tribes are always going to war to redirect the anger of their oppressed and rage-laden people away from each other and onto an outside enemy. The Palestinians would be unable to live without their hatred – they would have to have something to hate. After all, it’s their righteousness, the only kind many of them have ever known since birth.

The Israelis, who took a tiny bit of barren desert wasteland the size of New Jersey and turned it into a blooming oasis of civilization and freedom in the Mideast, have a right to defend themselves against this unrelenting campaign to destroy them – whatever it takes. And I do mean, whatever it takes.

If you want to get a brief taste of how Palestinian youths are “educated” today, view this slide show. (Note: Requires Microsoft PowerPoint. It may take a couple of minutes to load, but is well worth the wait. Return to browser window to exit slide presentation.)

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