“Our enemies never miss an opportunity
to miss an opportunity for peace.”
— Abba Eban
by Rod D. Martin
December 16, 2004
Substitute the words, “Yasir Arafat,” for “our enemies,” and engrave that sentence on Arafat’s tombstone.
That will be history’s verdict on the old terrorist from Egypt. It might also be the verdict on those who foolishly followed him to the brink of destruction.
Four decades ago, Arafat formed the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), whose stated goal was — and remains — the destruction of Israel.
What followed was a cowardly war on civilians, not just in Israel but in places like Beirut, Lebanon, which Arafat transformed from a cosmopolitan city widely known as “the Paris of the Middle East” to a war-torn slow-motion hell.
For a time, he was the darling of leftist intellectuals on both sides of the Atlantic.
But by the early 1990s, with his old Soviet patrons consigned to history’s ash heap, Arafat was about to become as irrelevant as they.
That is, until Bill Clinton rescued him from obliviion.
Suddenly, through the sham Oslo Accords, Arafat’s decades of violence were being rewarded with the de facto promise of a “Palestinian” state all-too-litterally of his own. All he had to do was stop acting like a terrorist and start behaving like a (future) head of state.
This he never managed to do. And in due course, at the turn of the millennium, the moment of truth finally came: Israel’s prime minister, Ehud Barak, offered Arafat almost 100% of what he wanted — virtually all of the disputed territories won by Israel in the Six-Day War of 1967, on virtually all of Arafat’s stated terms, with almost all of the tiny remnant left open to “future negotiations”.
Unwittingly, Barak had called Arafat’s bluff. Ever since Oslo, the terrorist leader had claimed to western audiences that he accepted Israel’s right to exist and only wanted her to give up those territories won in 1967. Here was Barak offering him precisely that, in return for peace.
His response? Arafat broke off talks, refused the deal, and launched a brutal terror war the likes of which no American or European has ever seen.
Clearly, Arafat did not want a Palestinian state alongside Israel, but a state to replace Israel, just as he’d said all along.
He had promised it from the beginning, and he never recanted: he wanted Israel’s destruction, the completion of the Holocaust his uncle’s mentor and hero had initiated, and the “pushing of the Zionist entity into the sea”.
After his rejection of that peace agreement — an almost total capitulation to his demands — Arafat spent the last four years of his life aiding, abetting and where possible leading the bloodiest reign of terror against Israel’s civilians since the Jewish state’s founding in 1948.
The result? The almost total destruction of normal life in the West Bank and Gaza. Businesses obliterated, investors scared off, and the death cult of the homicide bomber pervading village after village. Whatever progress there was after Oslo was completely undone.
Now that the terror chieftain is dead, there is talk of a new era of peace.
Don’t bet on it.
The late President Woodrow Wilson once said we should make the world safe for democracy.
To his credit, President Bush, unlike any prior president, has turned that sentence around: The world can be safe only through democracy. In other words, there can be no lasting peace anywhere, let alone the Middle East, without liberty.
So in return for a Palestinian state, the President is demanding not only that West Bank and Gaza denizens stop blowing up Israeli moms and toddlers on buses and in wedding halls, but that they democratize.
If by democratize, he means not merely holding elections, but also such things as the rule of law and individual rights, that’s not likely any time soon.
But even if it does happen, should there be a Palestinian state?
No. There already is a Palestinian state.
In 1922, the British took 80% of original Palestine and carved out a new state which they called Transjordan. That was to be the Arab state in Palestine. The 20% which was left of Palestine was to be a future Jewish state.
Somehow, the world has forgotten about this two-state solution forged 82 years ago. And yet the overwhelmingly Palestinian Jordan still remains.
So to call for a “Palestinian state” today is to call not for one, but two Arab states carved out of Palestine, all of which — historically speaking — was originally Jewish land.
If that’s not unjust, nothing is.
So the larger question — the one that few people are asking — is this:
Why have the Arab nations, which dwarf Israel in size, spent so much blood, time, and treasure, from before Israel’s independence down to this present day, trying to wipe out a barely visible speck on the map of the globe?
That’s the ultimate, twisted mystery of the Arab-Israel conflict — personified by Yasir Arafat, who will now have to answer that question before his Maker.