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View Diary: Without Arafat, Whither Palestine? (264 comments)

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    Had Arafat taken what was on the table, the Palestinians would have been put in check. The agreement Arafat was expected to sign was unconscionable. It guaranteed the Palestinians a state in name only. It forced them to renounce permanently their right to return, and it gave the Israelis most of what they wanted to begin with. Few of the settlements would have to be dismantled. The most valuable land in Palestine in terms of potential for cultivation, and strategic location, were to remain in the hands of the Israelis. To say nothing of the myriad of legal and strategic limitations put on the Palestinian state even before it was born, while requiring Israel to concede nothing that didn't belong to them in the first place.

    If Arafat had accepted that deal, the future manuevering you speak of would have been closed to the Palestinians. The whole purpose of that deal to begin with was to get the Palestinians to agree to something on paper, and when they came back to ask for the rest of it, the Israelis would scream, "we told you they'd never be satisfied", then we'd hear "the Arabs can't be trusted to abide by their agreements", then the Israelis and their American enablers would say "if  the Palestinians felt this way before, why did they accept the initial offer? Too late now, too bad." In the end, the Palestinians would be painted as villains, they'd have nothing to negotiate with in the future because what they did have as leverage would have already been signed away. One of the prime conditions of the agreement was that the Palestinians would renounce all of the international sanctions that had been levied against Israel over the years for squating on Palestinian land.

    As for Arafat the man, he's less repugnant then three of Israel's prime ministers: Yitzhak Shamir, Menachem Begin, and Ariel Sharon. The first two were certifiable terrorists of the highest order. Shamir was the leader of the Stern Gang, a pre-independence Zionist terror organization every bit as ruthless as the PLO in their
    prime, and Begin was a leader of the Irgun, the Stern's identical twin. They had a record of violence the PLO could not match in fifty-years. Shamir and Begin were involved in plotting, or executing everything from the hanging of British soldiers by piano wire, to the largest bombing of a civilian target in the history of pre-or post-independence Israel: The King David Hotel, an operation that killed 85-civilians. The Irgun can be linked to the murder of at least 40 Jews who were supposedly helping the British. There is an official history of the Irgun in Hebrew that lists the operations they took credit for, it's a grocery list of hundreds of killings. Shamir may have been present during the assassination of a UN mediator, Count Foulke Bernadotte. When the British government handed down the White Paper limiting Jewish immigration into Palestine, these barbarians executed 52-Arabs in a month.

    Shamir once said "Neither Jewish ethics nor Jewish tradition can disqualify terrorism as a means of combat." (Hehazit, 1943, a kind of manifesto for the Stern Gang.) These are the words of a man who ascended to the highest office in the state of Israel, a man revered by half the state, a man who is considered a statesmen, but Arafat a terrorist (he's also the guy that sent Jonathon Pollard's goody bag to the KGB as a goodwill present, apparently an unnecessary gift since the Soviets had so many moles in the Israeli government they knew of almost everything Pollard gave the Israelis in real time.) And lest I forget the current prime minister, Ariel Sharon, the Israeli equivalent of Klaus Barbie, responsible as Sharon was, for the massacre at Qibya, an operation he commanded at the tactical level. He probably killed many of the innocent civilians himself. It's unimaginable that commanding such a small unit he could not have perpetrated dozens of the killings himself. If Arafat has no standing on account of his personal history, then Sharon and some of his predecessors should be held to the same standard. Sharon of course, has not been held to the same standard because the U.S. actually returns his phone calls, he's allowed in the United States, at the very worst Sharon is forced to endure some nasty comments by members of the Peace Now movement, or a small element within the Jewish-American community. If a majority of Israelis do not approve of his sordid history, a history that includes responsibility for the disgrace at Sabra and Shatilla, why then has he been returned to office? Any Israeli prime minister is capable of bombing Palestinians after all, why tolerate a messianic fanatic, and war criminal to do the deed? No one to my knowledge has advocated sitting Sharon in his office and surroudning him with Palestinian tanks. Calls for him to be shackled to Milosevic aren't taken too seriously I'm afraid.

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