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Let´s make believe (ISRAEL INSIDER COMMENTARY) By Jonathan S. Tobin Originally published in The Jewish Exponent 12/02/03)Source: http://web.israelinsider.com/bin/en.jsp?enPage=ViewsPage&enDisplay=view&enDispWhat=object&enDispWho=Article%5El3033&enZone=Views&enVersion=0& ISRAEL INSIDER ISRAEL INSIDER Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Throughout the period of post-Oslo euphoria, the consistent theme sounded by Israel´s left and their cheering section abroad was that "you make peace with your enemies, not your friends."

There was a certain logic to that; obviously, violent conflicts are not conducted by allies. The correct rejoinder was to state that one made peace with former enemies, not those still engaged in the business of war. But that point rarely made the same impact as the original slogan.

The intervening decade of Palestinian terrorism and broken promises took most of the air out of the peace-camp balloon. But the human capacity for holding on to hope, as well as for self-deception, should never be underestimated.

After three years of a bloody intifada, many on the left are back to their old tricks - we´re hearing more and more about how Israel must make more concessions to achieve that elusive final peace with the Palestinians.

A so-called "Geneva Initiative" was recently reached by a few failed Israeli politicians with some of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat´s underlings. This ploy, paid for and promoted by the Swiss and other Europeans who are hostile to Israel, added on to the concessions offered by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak in 2000. Even Barak has been quoted as saying that the thing is insane.

Another initiative is a petition promoted by Ami Ayalon, a former Israeli intelligence chief.

Both these efforts have gained the applause of the world and been relentlessly promoted by the Western news media.

Death, taxes and Arafat

The problem is, they are doomed to fail, just as the Oslo accords and all those plans put forward before and since were similarly doomed. If there is anything in this life that is certain, other than death and taxes, it´s that Arafat and the empire of terror, corruption and hate he created will thwart all efforts for peace. All the goodwill in the world will not change this.

Despite the hot air expended promoting the various plans, most people in the United States don´t seem to understand the Palestinian leader too well.

That makes the new biography of Arafat by think-tank scholar Barry Rubin and his wife, journalist Judith Colp Rubin, Yasir Arafat: A Political Biography, essential reading for anyone hoping to comprehend the situation.

The couple, who has been studying their subject for decades, assert that the rejection of Barak´s peace offer at Camp David in July 2000 is the key to their thesis about Arafat. Had his primary goal been to establish a Palestinian state and improve the situation of his people, then he would have said yes to that offer, or to the even better deal offered several months later at Taba, Egypt. But his refusal left them with no alternative but to conclude that he was primarily a "romantic revolutionary."

His career has been, they assert, a remarkable paradox. He has been the unchallenged leader of the Palestinians for decades; he also created the paradigm for modern terrorism, and managed the incredible feat of simultaneously carrying out mass murder while garnering sympathy from the Western press.

But his brethren have gotten little from this. The authors write that the "ultimate irony" of Arafat´s life is that "the man who did more than anyone else to champion and advance the Palestinian cause also inflicted years of unnecessary suffering on his people, delaying any beneficial redress of their grievances or solutions to their problems."

The book shows that Arafat has repeated the same pattern in every chapter of his life. His goal is to give the other side the impression that just one more concession is all that´s needed to achieve peace. After he receives that concession, he asks for more. He is a great negotiator, able to wear down his opponents. But the man doesn´t know how to say yes, and has let every chance for a deal go by the wayside.

Part of this is his well-established habit of using front groups - which he pretends are radical dissident factions - to do the dirty work for him. That makes Arafat look "moderate," and literally allows him to get away with murder.

The most famous example of this was the so-called "Black September" terrorist group that carried out the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre. That pattern was repeated in the last three years with the establishment of the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade to carry out terrorism against Israelis. Reputable news organizations still carry Arafat´s condemnations of their atrocities without noting that he is the paymaster and ultimate commander of the group.

Despite the siege imposed on him by Israel, he has maintained his mafia-like control over virtually every aspect of Palestinian life. Those who imagine that an alternative leadership might emerge while he´s alive are kidding themselves.

An immovable obstacle

And that´s where the latest talk about peace runs straight into a brick wall. As the couple´s scholarship illustrates, Arafat is obsessed not with founding a nation, but by the fear that history will portray him as the man who "sold Palestine to the Jews." By that, he means legitimizing the Jewish presence in any part of the country, including Israel in its pre-1967 borders.

He is, therefore, the primary and immovable obstacle to any chance of peace. That means that the Bush administration policy seeking to eliminate him from the peace process is quite right. But given the fact that all proposed alternatives to him are mere feints, the administration´s push for Israeli concessions to encourage such alternatives are as wrong-headed as their conclusions about Arafat are correct.

Someday, Arafat will die, and that may change things. It is possible that his successors will be better. But given the dynamic of hate for Israel and Jews that has governed Palestinian life - especially education - under Arafat, there is little reason for optimism. Arafat´s legacy of rejectionism may well doom peace efforts for the foreseeable future and beyond.

That is not a comforting thought, and I don´t doubt that many will continue chipping away at Israel´s bargaining position to reach an objective that simply cannot be achieved. Such persons will accuse the realists of dooming the Jewish people to endless conflict. But the truth is, that choice has already been made by the other side. (© 2001-2003 Koret Communications Ltd. 12/02/03)


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