On Point

Iraqi Blood Money

by Austin Bay

Follow the money -- in this case $15,000.

That's the blood money Iraqi operatives shuttle to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers, the martyrs who strap on canvas belts packed with TNT. These mercenary martyrs -- with this economic plum in the picture, in a very real sense they are mercenary killers -- serve as "smart bombs; human bio-weapons in the anti-restaurant and counter-cafe offensive waged by Palestine against Israel.

Other sources say a martyr's family can receive as much as $25,000, with "Islamist charities" joining Saddam (ironically, the world's leading murderer of Muslims) in financing the bloody pot. Of course, some of the cash must filter through the fingers of the Palestinian Authority. Israelis claim to have found a counterfeiting press in Ramallah -- one for faking shekels, not dollars. Shekels, however, are the local hard currency. One wonders if a few martyr families have been slipped plug nickels in exchange for a kamikaze child.

Sound cynical? The vicious shenanigans behind the slaughter are exponentially cynical. Yes, the Israeli settlements policy (emplaced by Arik Sharon) is very wrong. Yes, Palestinian kids are desperate and despairing -- but that terrible condition infects so many of Earth's hard corners. The West Bank is paradise compared to south Sudan, where Christian Dinka are savaged and enslaved by Khartoum's Islamist militias. However, they don't become human bombs.

The cafe bombings are calculated, promoted homicide -- Fatah-directed Hamas- cide. Palestinian militant masterminds aren't strapping bombs to their waists. They are, however, directing a "Lebanon strategy," mimicking the grating war in south Lebanon waged by Iranian-backed Hezbollah. Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon convinced a crop of Islamist-inspired tacticians that Israelis lacked the spine for a "terror war of attrition" that crimped lifestyles and economic productivity. The suicide campaign intends to erode Israeli will with kamikaze strikes on cappuccino bars. The message is: You'll never be safe, anywhere.

At this point, one must follow the myths. The offensive's ultimate goal isn't Israeli withdrawal to 1967 borders, but Israeli expulsion from the region. Islamists say it took two centuries to push Christian Crusaders from Palestine. These Jewish Crusaders will also go.

The support infrastructure for this offensive extends throughout the region. Saddam uses the Palestinian conflict to buy time to develop nukes and delay or deter U.S. action against his regime. Iranian mullahs use Hezbollah as an "agent of influence" (i.e., threat) throughout the Middle East. The Palestinians are pawns in their scheme.

Al Qaeda and Islamo-fascist organizations understand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is THE point to pressure Washington and perhaps derail the War on Terror. In the hothouse minds of Osama bin Laden and his boys, all Muslims are martyrs to their dream of global Islamic rule.

Israel's counter-strategy is unfolding. TV records the blunt instrument of battalion- sized pincer operations isolating Palestinian streets. Israelis then go house by house to arrest or kill known (or suspected) terrorists. Welcome to attrition.

After the Netanya Passover slaughter, no Israeli military response can be completely ruled out. Strikes against Hezbollah in Lebanon are possible, with sustained operations in the Bekaa. Syrian weakness will once again be exposed.

Following the 1972 Munich massacre of Israeli Olympians, Mossad assassins struck globally. This dirty war will accelerate. Iranian mullahs won't be safe in Tehran coffee shops. "Attrition" will occur in European cafes, perhaps on American and Asian streets.

The War Process, with its bare-knuckle and barren brutality, will grind on until ... what? If heavily punished (or in Iraq's case, eliminated), state sponsors of terror will curtail support.

But the basic issue of Israeli and Palestinian co-existence -- and one hopes, co- development -- remains. Pragmatists still see U.N. Resolution 242 as a cornerstone. If the Israelis withdraw to pre-1967 war borders (with a few adjustments), the Palestinians would recognize the results of the 1948 war.

Rejectionists, however, now direct events. Radical Zionists draw maps based on their reading of Genesis. Israeli pragmatists, as the war proceeds, must prepare to build a new peace. That means dismantling the settlements -- those bunkered Idahos of hard-right zealots. As difficult as it may be in current circumstances, it means formulating a "Money Process," offering Palestinian pragmatists a long-range economic development plan, an alternative to the promoters of foolish self-destruction.

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