Another battle

ON Wednesday of last week an Arab, presumably a Palestinian, drove a white Toyota car alongside an Israeli military convoy and set off a bomb. It left a crater 15 feet wide, killed eight Israeli soldiers, and wounded seven more. Two days later, Israel responded by bombing suspected Palestinian bases near Sidon and the supposed center of strength of the Hizbullah Arab organization in the western part of the Bekaa Valley. Arab casualties were reported as 12 killed and 26 wounded.

The casualties bring to over 300 the number of Arabs killed by Israelis since the Arab rising against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the Golan Heights. It brings the number of Israelis killed in this same continuing battle to 14.

The disparity in numbers of casualties - 300 or more Arabs to 14 Israelis - has not smothered the uprising. It has had an effect on Israeli thinking.

Israel has for the first time begun to recognize that there is a Palestinian community and that it is in a continuing resistance to the Israeli occupation.

Killing one Arab youth per day, on average, over a period of 11 months can go on indefinitely. There are nearly 2 million Arabs in Israel and the occupied territories. Israel cannot stand indefinitely the odium of this process. It is undermining Israel's essential support in the United States.

Some radical Israelis would resolve this dilemma by raising the rate of killing. But that would expose Israel to the charge of committing genocide against the Arabs. Others would resolve it by a mass expulsion of Arabs. That would trigger another war.

Israel has long since lost general world acceptance for its attempt to consolidate its hold on the occupied territories. It is in danger of losing American acceptance.

There is one central fact here that is often overlooked: Israel is not a self-sustaining country as it exists today in a state of military hostility with its Arab neighbors. It could become self-sustaining if it could, and would, make peace with its Arab neighbors and live on the Arabian Peninsula with the consent of the Arabs. An economic federation of Israel, Jordan, and a Palestinian entity would not only be viable, but economically strong.

But to enjoy membership in such an entity would require giving up both the attempt to expand into the occupied territories and reliance on military power for its survival. An embattled Israel can exist only with American subsidies.

Official US policy favors a peace settlement based on an exchange of occupied territory for peace with the Arabs. Actual US operating policy has made it possible so far for Israel to continue along a path of military expansion.

If the American subsidies were to be cut off, Israel would have no choice. It would have to take the road to peace, which in turn requires giving up most of the occupied territories.

The annual American subsidy to Israel depends on two factors - general American public opinion, and the influence of the American Jewish community on American public opinion. Both are now being eroded.

Until now, Israel has sought security by the sword. It is in danger of destroying itself by overuse of the sword given it by America. The real issue in next week's Israeli election is whether to continue to rely for survival on another man's sword.

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