Yasser Arafat is a terrorist
The Bush Doctrine states that if one harbors, supports, finances, or
aids terrorists, then that person is a terrorist and will be treated as
such. Sadly, the Bush administration has skirted the issue in regards
to Yasser Arafat.
As the leader of Palestine, Arafat has been given an impressive police
force armed by Israel. Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered all the
concessions that Israel could possibly have offered, while still maintaining
the integrity of an Israeli state, in the Camp David meetings of 2000.
However, Arafat turned it down and began the current Intifadah, which
has resulted in the death and injury of thousands.
Now, two paths of thought exist in regards to Arafat. If we want to be
generous, we can simply say that he is unable to control suicide bombings-even
though some of the groups claiming responsibility are closely linked to
Al-Fatah, the military wing of the PLO (founded by Arafat). However, I
find this hard to believe, especially since Arafat's cry to end the targeted
attacks on civilians at weddings, bar mitzvahs, and pizza diners has been
less than enthusiastic.
But if we were to accept his inability to stop the bombings, then why should Israel or the United States waste time talking to him at all? If he cannot provide the one thing that Israel wants from him-a cessation of the terrorism-then what use is he? At one point, as a precondition for peace talks, Israel said that Arafat had to maintain one week without bombings.
Keep in mind that Israel didn't call for a total ceasefire, but merely
seven days without a suicide attack. Only seven days, and Arafat couldn't
But why would Arafat be in favor of suicide bombings? For starters, he
lives in a violent society. On a daily basis, he associates with people
who plan terrorist attacks for a living. To a degree, he is dependent
upon their support for his life. Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak
Rabin was assassinated by an Israeli who was unhappy with his land secession
policies, and it doesn't require a stretch of the imagination to think
that Arafat would have been assassinated if he had accepted Barak's offer
in 2000. Live by the sword, die by the sword.
There is also the possibility that, while Arafat claims to respect Israel's
right to exist, he wouldn't lose much sleep if it were wiped out of existence.
Other Arab states have been less than helpful in this regard. Saudi Arabia,
Syria, Egypt, and Iraq, all claim to believe in the Palestinian cause,
yet none has ever offered land to the Palestinians. In fact, the rest
of the Arab world would have problems with a successful, democratic Palestinian
state, as it would cast a bright light on their own failures. It is in
their best interests to use the Palestinians as leverage against the Israelis.
The other side of the equation is Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon,
no sterling character himself. But those who claim one is as bad as the
other are fooling themselves.
As the Israeli leader, Sharon does not target civilians. Arafat and his
murderous gang do. They specifically send Palestinian youths to blow themselves
up in well-populated public places. Cafés, pizzerias, weddings,
and bar mitzvahs are all legitimate targets in their warped world.
The U.S. policy is not to make deals with terrorists, but to oppose and
destroy them. Making deals with these groups legitimizes the targeted
killing of innocent people as a political tool and thereby encourages
it further. If Israel were to acquiesce and withdraw to the 1967 borders,
the suicide bombings could be considered successful-and more could be
expected-until Israel is forced to submit to new demands, perhaps withdrawing
to the 1948 borders. This can be followed to a logical conclusion, given
the destruction of the Jewish state.
This is not to say that the Palestinian people do not have legitimate
grievances, but sadly, they will never be heard, understood, or taken
seriously when their spokesmen make their points with C4.
Israel is the only democracy in the region and stands as a beacon to liberal democratic values in a region plagued by oppression. It is a close military ally to the United States, and an ideological friend. The process of solving the conflict between Israel and Palestine is neither easy nor pretty, and may not be possible at all. However, the first step should be for the U.S. to refuse negotiations with those who use terror as a political tool and who are willing to target innocent civilians to make a statement. Yasser Arafat is one such man, and he needs to be treated as such.