Mon, 01 Aug 1994

The message of the bombs

The three recent bomb attacks targeting Jews in Buenos Aires and London show that anti-Israeli guerrillas have partially shifted their battlefield from the Middle East to Western countries. By escalating their terrorist activities, the attackers -- who are yet to be identified -- have clearly showed the world that they want to derail the peace train which is moving at ever higher speeds in the Middle East.

Syria has been enticed to enter the peace process and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin has put more trust in Damascus leader Hafez Assad than in Palestinian Yasser Arafat. At least, in Rabin's mind, Assad has never disappointed him.

However, the anti-Israeli groups might well view the three bombs as elements in their most successful operation. The two bombs which exploded in London last week, aside from the attack in Argentina, whose intelligence service is far from effective, show that an advanced country, which is known for its sophisticated intelligence network, can now easily fall prey to the onslaughts of frustrated urban guerrillas. The failure of the British to prevent the second bombing, which happened less than 24 hours after the first car bomb exploded near the Israeli embassy on Tuesday, leaves many people asking why such attacks could have happened in a country which has long waged anti-urban guerrilla warfare against the IRA fighters.

The second attack terrified Jews living in 100 centers in Britain and convinced them they had to worry about their own safety.

The failure to anticipate the second attack could spur the guerrilla groups to try more bombings in other advanced countries, where Jews are actively raising funds for what certain of their groups see as financing terrorist acts against the Arab people. And guerrilla groups, advocating opposing views, in many parts of the world have long believed that terrorism, which seems brutal to some people, is an effective weapon for the oppressed.

And the anti-Israeli elements in Middle East continue to be concerned by the shadow of Israeli hegemony in the Middle East even though Israel and the Arab states have taken steps to live in peace. They see the peace agreement concluded between Yasser Arafat and Rabin in Washington last year as benefiting the Israelis more than the Palestinians because it will strengthen the Jewish state's position as a superpower in the region. With such a peace process, they believe, Israel might cease to dominate Middle East politics, but will be stronger in the regional economy.

Any frustration on the part of the anti-peace groups will eventually challenge Arafat's authority in Gaza and Jericho. The best way for the Palestinian leader to prevent the unwanted trouble is to make his government effective by vigorously reconstructing the regions under his authority.

Arafat clearly needs to set up a national development mechanism so that Western countries, which have promised financial aid, will be convinced of the effectiveness of his administration. His failure to do so will disillusion his own people concerning their newly-gained sovereignty.