Terror claims the West Bank
In world affairs over this past week two important changes occurred: one between Jews and Arabs in Palestine, the other among members of the European Common Market.
In Palestine, the public image of the relationship between the two populations was reversed by the coordinated bombings aimed at three politically prominent Arabs. Heretofore Jews have been the most publicized victims of terror. Now, Arabs are the victims of terror. Arabs no longer have a monopoly on the opprobrium that goes with being the author of violence. This is bound to improve the Arab case against Israel in world opinion.
In Europe the unity of the Western allies of the United States had another "Hair- breadth Harry" escape from trouble. The issue was whether the continental allies would make those economic concessions that would make it possible for the British remain inside the Common Market. Any less might have forced them back out, and destroyed the economic base that is probably essential to continued political coordination of their policies.
At the last moment the Common Market delegates, assembled in Brussels, managed to agree to reduce Britain's contribution to the Community's budget from its present level of $2.6 billion to $890 million for this year. Similar reductions are promised for the following two years. The British are still unhappy about what they consider an unfair financial burden on them, but the Cabinet in London accepted the concessions as making possible their continued membership in the Community.
There has been little change for better or worse in most other world issues. Increased military activity along the Iraq-Iran frontier ought logically to cause a softening of anti- Americanism in Iran, to the benefit of the hostage situation. But the clerical leadership in Tehran apparently continues to find anti-Americanism an essential instrument for its domestic political purposes.
Soviet military forces continue to dominte Afghanistan by day, but must retreat behind their garrison walls by night when guerrillas roam at will. Worl opinion continues to be diverted by Iran and Middle East situations from full attention to the Afghan story. However, Christian Science Monitor special correspondent Eric Bourne reports that the government of Poland, Hungary, and Romania have lodged strong private protests in Moscow against the Afghan venture. Although forced to line up in public with Moscow, these seems to be no doubt that these three communist countries are all trying to get across to the men in the Kremlin that the cause of communism has suffered net damage from Moscow's use of military force against the Afghans.
Most significant change of the week was the one in Palestine where bombs, obviously coordinated by a command center, went off simultaneously in three cities -- Nablus, Ramallah, and Bira -- all aimed at the Arab mayors of those cities. A hand grenade was tossed into the shopping center at Hebron at the same time. Nablus is the main city in the northern section of the West Bank. Ramallah and Bira are in the center. Hebron is the largest city in the south.
The government of Israel officially deplored the bombings and violence, which would seem to indicate that it has lost control over the behavior of the more extreme Zionist groups. The peace party in Israel is probably strengthened. Ezer Weizman had already resigned as defense minister, partly in protest against Prime Minister Menachem Begin's failure to move toward autonomy for West Bank and Gaza Arabs. The bombings seemed to confirm his judgment that without progress toward peace between Arabs and Jews, the situation in the West Bank and Gaza will continue to deteriorate to Israel's disadvantage.
The bombings followed by one day the publication in the New York Times of a statement by former Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban, which included this paragraph:
"There is no prospect that Israel can have peace, security, or creative life if it is so constituted that between a third and a half of its population feel themselves alien to its flag and its national sentiment, and are supported in their secessionist ambition by the opinion of all mankind."
One of Israel's war heroes, retired Gen. Matti Peled, noted a similarity between the coordinate bombings aimed at the Arab mayors on June 2 and an earlier use of terror in the Arab-Jewish dispute over Palestine. That was the massacre of some 250 residents of the Arab village of Deir Yassin in April of 1948. There were savage Arab reprisals. But the massacre at Deir Yassin helped triger the flight of nearly a million Arabs from the territories of what is now the state of Israel. Extreme Jewish groups have long argued that the Arabs of the West Bank should also be driven out of what they call "the land of Israel." Was the cluster of June 2 bombings a deliberate attempt to repeat the effect of the Deir Yassin massacre? That was what General Peled implied.
The Deir Yassin massacre was carried out by members of both Irgun and Stern gang. Prime Minister Begin was head of the Irgun at the time. Between Deir Yassin and this past June 2 most terror in the old Arab-Jewish feud would seem to have been done by Arabs, with Jews as the victims. It has given the Arab cause an unfavorable image in the outside world. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is usually represented as being made up of ruthless terrorists who make war on women and children.
Apparently PLO leaders have finally realized that bombs planted by their terrorists inside Israel have damaged, not helped, their cause. At any rate they seem to have suspended most of that tupe of activity for the moment, leaving the field of Jewish extremists. The Israeli government has tried to prevent acts of violence by Jews against Arabs, but seems to have lost the ability to prevent them.
The present wave of violence and counterviolence appears to have started when settlers from Jewish settlements in the Ramallah area sortied into Ramallah, smashing car and house windows and shouting that the Arabs should get out of the West Bank and leave it to the Jews. The Arabs retaliated on May 2 with a sniper attack on a procession of Jews moving into the center of Hebron, a solidly Arab city. The June 2 bombings were turn a reprisal for the May 2 attack.