Arafat’s Last Defenders

Dear HonestReporting Member,

As Israel’s civilians continue to fall prey to Palestinian terrorism, Arafat still has defenders in the press, who argue that Israel’s defensive actions against terrorists and their commanders hurt chances for peace.

Reuters reports the news like this:

“Security sources said Israeli retaliation was likely to take the form of fresh raids into Palestinian areas and stepped-up use of Israel’s internationally condemned policy of killing militants on its most-wanted list.”

Reuters’ matter-of-fact phrasing echoes the Palestinian rhetoric: “Israel’s internationally condemned policy of killing militants.” The policy may have been criticized months ago, but as world leaders learn of the deep Palestinian terror networks, opinion about Israeli policy has changed. The New York times (Jan. 24) reports:

“Israel’s targeted killings of Palestinian militants and invasions of Palestinian-controlled areas, operations that once drew strong protests from the Bush administration, now receive little comment.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/01/24/international/middleeast/24SHAR.html

Indeed, President Bush and senior administration members are now concluding that Yasser Arafat is the primary obstacle to peace. According to Bush, Arafat is “enhancing terror, and obviously we’re very disappointed in him.” White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said: “The president understands the reason that Israel has taken the action that it takes, and it is up to Chairman Arafat to demonstrate the leadership to combat terrorism.”

Comment to Reuters at:
editor@reuters.com

* * *

This week, Arafat told some 2,000 demonstrators at his Ramallah compound yesterday that his struggle against Israel is like George Washington’s against the British.

And this week, Salon.Com (the Internet’s leading news “zine”) lamented over Arafat’s “Crumbling Dreams of Statehood” (Jan. 25). According to Salon’s Jerusalem correspondent Ferry Biedermann, “Israel’s actions in the Palestinian territories this week… are destroying any remaining semblance of Palestinian sovereignty… [T]he Israeli assaults have brought the PA to the brink of extinction, destroying any hope that it would be able to control militants.”

Arafat’s defenders ignore the fact that his Fatah organization and organs of the Palestinian Authority are the very “militants” he is supposed to “control.”

Biedermann charges: “The Israelis move at will through areas that were supposedly handed over to the PA under the Oslo peace agreements. There they arrest or kill people on their wanted list, as they did in Nablus on Wednesday when four members of the militant Islamic group Hamas died when troops attacked a presumed bomb-making facility.”

“Presumed” bomb-making facility? Are the bombs blowing up Israeli civilians “presumed” bombs? No, they are very real, lethal, terror weapons. The bomb-makers are brutal terrorists who are supposed to be arrested by Arafat. Instead, they receive his support. In a speech on January 26, Arafat said the Palestinians were “facing a military crisis, but despite all this, no one has complained of the suffering. They have said, ‘God is great, and jihad, jihad, jihad’.”

And on January 27, in a new twist on the “revolving-door” policy, six Palestinians jailed in the West Bank city of Bethlehem escaped after their families attacked and took control of the prison, as Palestinian police looked on.

Israel has no choice but to act against Palestinian violence, and world leaders now understand that.

Sections of the Salon.com article are available online at:
http://salon.com/news/feature/2002/01/25/pa/index.html

You can comment on the Biedermann article at:
http://salon.com/about/letters/index.html

* * *

While Biedermann refers to the beleaguered Arafat as “Mr. Palestine,” an unlikely Palestinian source firmly rejects that appellation and presents a stiff indictment against Arafat and the PA. Said K. Aburish, a Palestinian-born writer, published “Confusing Arafat’s image with reality” in the Jan. 23 Beirut Daily Star online. According to Aburish:

“[Arafat] is so well-known very few people think the Palestinians can do without him. This is a sad verdict on our times… To the Palestinian people, surely the final arbiters of Arafat’s fate, the so-called Mr. Palestine has outlived his usefulness. It is difficult and dangerous for a fellow Palestinian to say it, but he’s got to go.”

Aburish does not spare Israel’s policymakers in his critique, but his criticism of Arafat is devastating:

“Arafat knew his people in the West Bank and Gaza loathed the behavior of his alien Beirut-bred, fun-lovingly corrupt entourage, but did nothing about it… For the Palestinian people, the Arafat game has taken a long time to be exposed. Is this the tragic end game of history, with a victory by a hawkish Israeli leader? Arafat has wriggled out of many tight corners before, but this time his own people rather than outside forces may be the ones to say that enough is enough.”

If you respond, the most effective method is to write a letter in your own words. Otherwise, use the sample letter below as a basis.

Thank you for your ongoing involvement in the battle against media bias.

HonestReporting.com

==== SAMPLE LETTER OF COMPLAINT ====

Dear Editor:

Yasser Arafat is today the main obstacle to Middle East peace. This unfortunate fact has been known by a majority of the besieged Israeli public for over a year. Today, it is also understood by President Bush and Arab leaders who are furious over Arafat’s duplicity.

Your publication’s attempt to protect Arafat and to view him as the last hope for peace in the region simply does not reflect reality. Arafat’s alliance with Iran, his smuggling of weapons of mass terror, and his failure to rein in his own Fatah gunmen and bomb-makers all lead to the inevitable conclusion that Arafat is playing a dangerous game. Pushing Arafat into the corner may indeed be the necessary step for the emergence of a more pragmatic Palestinian leader who cares more for his people than for his place in the annals of Islamic history.

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