- The Washington Times - Monday, December 17, 2001

RAMALLAH, West Bank In the Ali Baba cafe, middle-aged men and youngsters alike stopped chattering, playing cards or smoking their "hubbly bubbly" water pipes as Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat appeared on the television yesterday.
As he delivered his declaration that the 15-month Intifada is over, Mr. Arafat's bespectacled, head-dressed face appeared superimposed in front of the Dome of the Rock mosque symbolic of Palestinian aspirations to control Jerusalem.
His message and his carefully crafted television image left the youngsters in this cafe far from impressed.
"Whatever he says, the Intifada or the jihad was good for us, and I don't think it will stop," said Fahdi, 17. "We must finish getting the land back from the occupiers."
Ahmed Hassan, 15, agreed sort of: "It's sure that Arafat wants to prevent them from killing us, but, really, he has to say this stuff in front of the world. Things on the street won't change."
Ahmed spends most of his summers with his father, who owns a mini-market store in Bridgeport, Conn., but he lives in Ramallah for the rest of the year with his mother, two brothers and one of his three sisters.
"We'll live in peace with the Jews when they give us back our land and that means all our land," he said.
"Yes," chimed in Sameer Abu Shusha, 16, along with Fahdi, citing a familiar slogan here, "From River to Sea," a reference to the territory from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea, which includes all of pre-1967 Israel. "The Jews can go back to America, Europe or wherever they came from."
It's not just youthful bravado these boys already expose themselves to the daily ritual of violence and are likely soon to graduate to firing more lethal objects.
Eagerly parading their superficial war wounds, the three boys call over a fourth, who displays a bent finger hit by a rubber-coated metal bullet, as he used his slingshot to launch rocks and stones at Israeli troops.
At another table, 40-year old Shawki "Chuck" Daho, lightly bearded, balding and draped in a Palestinian red-and-white checkered kaffiyeh, has no appetite for battle.
"We cannot go on like this," he said. "Those shopkeepers across the street are losing 60 to 70 percent of their income every month compared with two years back. In two or three years, all those shops will have closed. And half the people here are now unemployed. If we stop the Intifada, we can have good business trading with Israel, and Israel's economy will also benefit."
Mr. Daho says he believes Mr. Arafat will have little trouble in curbing not only young hotheads but also the radical Islamic movements Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
"I'm sure Arafat has the power to enforce his will," he said. "He was elected by us, and he has 75 percent of the people with him. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have no choice but to listen to his orders. He has been clever in arranging his security services so he can control the territory, and he knows how to crack down when he wants to."
At a muddy, sandbagged checkpoint alongside two armored bulldozers, Israeli soldiers reacted cautiously to Mr. Arafat's declaration.
"I wish I could believe it, but I can't," said Sgt. David "Dudu" Ben-Shmuel, 23. "What Arafat says and what he does are two different things just like the so-called arrests of militants that don't really happen. Deep inside, though, I have hopes we'll have a peaceful life and I can go home."

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