TAKING OFF THE GLOVES
By Boris Shusteff
"Many years ago, during Israel's War of Independence, David Ben-Gurion faced a similar choice. Should the IDF be allowed to enter the areas allocated to the Palestinians under the UN partition plan? Had he ordered the IDF to refrain from occupying any such areas that war might have continued to this very day." (Moshe Arens, "Haaretz," 5/15/01)
After the May 18 suicide bombing in Netanya that killed 6 and wounded more than 70 Israelis, Dan Meridor, head of the Knesset's Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee, said, "There is only one address where the responsibility lies, Mr. Arafat, all the gang around him." It is regrettable that it has taken Israel so long to understand this simple truth. Yasser Arafat was, is, and always will be a terrorist. It was not Arafat, who relabeled himself as a "peace partner." Israel did everything with her own hands.
Speaking on May 4, 1998 in Washington at the Middle East Insight Symposium James Baker said:
"When I was Secretary of States Arafat was perceived to be a terrorist. We branded him as a terrorist, we would not deal with him, that was the position of Israeli government. But then the Israeli government itself chose Yasser Arafat as its negotiating partner and having done so, they certainly legitimized him in my eyes and in the eyes, I think of most Americans."
That means that the first step that Israel must take in order to defeat Arafat is to admit to this terrible blunder. Israel chose the arch-terrorist as a negotiating partner, and Israel must admit that she was terribly wrong. The whole Oslo process was a sham, intended to lure Israel into a deadly trap. Every day more and more Israelis are beginning to realize that their dream of a "peaceful Middle East" is disappearing - not because they did not embrace Arafat warmly enough, but because he has not changed in the least since the day he became the leader of the PLO.
Uzi Benziman wrote an article in Ha'aretz on May 18 entitled "Begin was right about Arafat from the first day." He enumerated several well-known episodes of Arafat's behavior after he signed the Oslo agreement, which clearly indicated that he had not changed his design for Israel. He recalled how in a speech in Johannesburg, Arafat invoked the famous analogy between the Oslo accord and the deceptive agreement that the Prophet Mohammed made with the Quraysh tribe. Benziman wrote, that "in the wake of this [speech], the legal adviser to the Foreign Ministry, Yoel Singer, said that the basis for the accords was null and void, but no one in the Israeli establishment took heed of his warning."
A mere six months after its signing, the Oslo accord was null and void. Israel had a chance to prevent disaster, but preferred to be deceived. Benziman noted that Benny Begin warned that "both Military Intelligence and the Shin Bet security service were duped by the mistaken conception." This misconception, according to which Arafat was ready to accept Israel's existence, puts the Jewish state in mortal danger, as another misconception did in 1973, on the eve of the Yom Kippur War.
It is hard to believe that the Israeli intelligence community completely missed the information that appeared in 1987 in the book Red Horizons, written by the former head of Romanian intelligence, Lieutenant General Ion Micai Pacepa. Although for the most part it describes the Romanian dictator's crimes, lifestyle and corruption, a substantial part of the book is devoted to the relationship between Ceausescu's regime and Yasser Arafat and his PLO.
Pacepa candidly demonstrates how the concept of a "peaceful" Arafat was born in Ceausescu's mind, since he wanted to receive a Nobel Peace Prize by bringing Arafat into the "peace process." Pacepa describes one of the meetings between Arafat and Ceausescu. "Congratulations," said Ceausescu. "How about pretending to break with terrorism? The West would love it." "Just pretending, like with your independence?" "Exactly. But pretending over and over. Political influence, like dialectical materialism, is built on the same basis tenet that quantitative accumulation generates qualitative transformation." "A snort of pacifist Arafat day after day?" "Exactly, Brother Yasser. The West may even become addicted to you and your PLO" [(1) p. 25].
Pacepa writes of how Ceausescu tried to convince Arafat to establish a government-in-exile, since "it would be much easier to persuade the West to negotiate with a government-in-exile than with a terrorist organization. I am not talking about important change, only a fireworks display. And you will remain a revolutionary. The only thing I want to change is the nameplate on your door" [(1) p. 28].
Arafat was stubbornly against the idea, explaining that "he could not put any laws or other obstacles in the way of the Palestinian struggle against Israel" [(1) p .28]. The Romanian dictator continued to unravel his plan, "There is no doubt in my mind," Ceausescu said sympathetically, "that a war of terror is your only realistic weapon. In the shadow of your government-in-exile you can keep as many operational groups as you want, as long as they are not publicly connected with your name. They could mount endless operations all around the world, while your name and your 'government' would remain pristine and unspoiled, ready for negotiations and further recognition" [(1) p. 28].
After reading these excerpts one must admit that Arafat has brilliantly brought Ceausescu's ideas to life. He has even enhanced them. Hamas, Hizballah, Tanzim, Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups mount endless operations against Israel, while Arafat's Palestinian Authority remains pristine and unspoiled, ready for "peace" negotiations. Israel and the West are hypnotized by this "terrorist-reborn-political-leader" who keeps telling them that he strives for the "peace of the brave."
It seems they are unaware that General Munteanu, chief Romanian Middle East expert, who spent countless hours in conversations with Arafat, said of him that "Arafat tells a lie in every sentence" [(1) p. 93]. There is only one exception to this - only one case in which he tells the truth. This happens when he speaks about Israel. As General Munteanu noticed, "His hatred of Israel is literally in his blood" [(1) p. 96]. Arafat himself never really tries to hide it. Pacepa writes that attempts to convince Arafat to compromise on the issue of the government-in-exile were in vain. During one of the meetings Arafat exploded,
"I'll never compromise. I cannot and I will not. I am a revolutionary. I have dedicated my whole life to the Palestine cause and the destruction of Israel. I will not change or compromise. I will not agree with anything that recognizes Israel as a state. Never. Nobody, neither friend nor foe, can force me to compromise" [(1) p. 92].
The Jewish state has learned through the so-called "peace process" that Arafat told Pacepa the truth. While Israeli leaders continued to hope that they could come up with some kind of formula that would allow them to "give something" to Arafat and to "keep something" for themselves, Arafat rejected all compromises and unleashed the hounds of terror against them.
It is ironic that another President, this time American President Bill Clinton, also wanted to become a Nobel Peace Prize winner by bringing Arafat and Israel together. His obsession with this idea dramatically endangered the Jewish state's already precarious position. Benjamin Netanyahu admitted on May 10 in an interview with Russian radio "Sedmoy kanal" that the Clinton administration pressured him terribly for compromises, without understanding that the word "compromise" does not exist in the Arab dictionary.
On May 3, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Bureau had issued the following statement, "The current attacks are the result of a strategic decision by Arafat. The organizations subject to Arafat - including Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hizballah - understand that they have a 'green light' to continue attacks against Israel."
On May 16 Israeli Public Security Minister Uzi Landau told Reuters Television in New York, "You have a clear decision by the Palestinian Authority to step up terrorist activities until by violent means they will be able to push us around and extract concessions that we are not prepared to do."
Ze'ev Schiff wrote on May 8 in "Ha'aretz" that:
"Despite the American statement, which was critical of Israel's actions, Bush knows for a fact that Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat is the individual who is primarily responsible for the violence and that he is actually the initiator of that violence. Arafat's standing in the eyes of both the Washington administration and Congress is extremely low.
All this put together means that Israel has no more excuses for inaction. After seven and a half years of constant concessions, after Palestinian Arab terror activity that has killed almost 600 Jews and maimed several thousands, Israel must act. The truth must be spoken to the world. Arafat is a terrorist. The PLO is a terrorist gang. They must be eradicated. This can be done only through military force. The sooner, the better. 05/18/01
1. Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa, "Red Horizons," Regnery Gateway, Washington D.C., 1987.
Boris Shusteff is an engineer. He is also a research associate with the Freeman Center for Strategic Studies.