Grim anniversary

The world marks a grim anniversary this week. It is four years since the outbreak of the second intifada, and no one is celebrating.

The intifada has brought nothing but death, destruction and division to Israelis and Palestinians. No final settlement. No solutions. No justice. No peace.

All told, the casualty count of the intifada has exceeded by far the toll exacted here on Sept. 11, 2001.

As our story this week points out, the murderous campaign launched by Hamas, Fatah and other Palestinian terror groups triggered an aggressive Israeli military response that undid all the steps towards Palestinian autonomy achieved during the Oslo years.

However, Yasser Arafat and his confreres in terror did meet with some success. They succeeded in galvanizing the Israeli people, in elevating their archenemy Ariel Sharon to power and in muting the voices of Israel’s doves.

They also succeeded in speeding up construction of Israel’s separation barrier, aborting the so-called “road map” and raining abject misery down upon their own people.

As for Israel, the economy is reviving. Aliyah is up. Terror strikes are way down (thanks to the barrier and to beefed up vigilance), and tourists have returned. The cafes are full, and even Madonna came to pray at the Western Wall.

But the Palestinian leaders, as usual, are loath to admit their grave tactical error. The most circumspect comment came from Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia, which reads in part, “This anniversary should make us all … reconsider the past four years, where we went wrong and where we went right.”

It’s hard to see where they went right. The Israeli occupation has only intensified. Infrastructure in the territories is in utter shambles. West Bank settlement activity has increased, and Israel’s scheduled Gaza withdrawal has thrown Palestinian society there into chaos.

This is progress?

According to a poll from Al Najah University in Nablus, the intifada, intended as a popular resistance movement, is no longer popular with the average Palestinian. A vast majority now supports a negotiated settlement with Israel.

That’s good news. Maybe the mafiacracy that runs Palestinian society will get the message.

Our own message on this day is simple: Any armed conflict that deliberately targets innocent civilians is doomed to fail. War or terror cannot defeat Israel. The Jews of the world will stand with Israel everlastingly.

Finally, the people of the region deserve peace. If their voices are ever heard, they may someday have it.