- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 22, 2001

Noble: Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, for finally realizing that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is utterly irrelevant to the peace process in the Middle East.
Perhaps it was another siren racing to the site of another suicide bombing after another known terrorist had again brought mayhem to another street corner, another shopping center or another crowded restaurant. Perhaps it was another false claim by Mr. Arafat that he was doing everything in his power to prevent such things from ever happening again.
Yet, like a Hamas version of Groundhog Day, suicide attacks continued to replay over and over across Israel. Mr. Sharon finally realized that the only way to end this insane cycle of violence was to find a new partner in the peace process, one who actually had a chance of keeping his word.
It's about time. The best foundation of a peacemaking process is mutual trust. Since Mr. Arafat is clearly incapable, or unwilling, to reciprocate in that respect, it is time that the old warrior, Mr. Sharon, turns to a new partner one who may give peace a chance.

Knave: Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, for making war under the pretense of being a peacemaker.
True peacemakers probably run second to only prophets at being unwelcome in their own homelands. Some peacemakers were powerless, or even delusional at the outset, but no one held it against them. Sometimes their well-intentioned plans simply didn't work, or were thrown amuck by angry or ambitious rivals.
However, it's quite another thing to promise the plowshare, but to bring instead the sword or even worse, the suicide bomber.
Tragically, that's what Mr. Arafat has practiced, practically since he became a leader in the peace process. Time and again he has been offered concessions. Time and again he has refused.
No one has suffered worse than Israelis, and some of his charges who have been living in refugee camps for decades. With Palestinians' temporal outlook so tragic, is it such a wonder that so many turn, at Mr. Arafat's encouragement, to eternal escape as suicide bombers?
A ruler's obligation, one of his highest duties, is the maintenance and furtherance of the fundamental rights of his charges. Mr. Arafat has exploited that trust. He has encouraged his people to destroy others and themselves. Under the veneer of a peacemaker, he has concealed the sneer of a terrorist. That cover has permitted him to destroy thousands of innocents Israelis and Palestinians.
About 2,000 years ago, another kind of peacemaker was born in the Middle East and he had no illusions about human nature. In his spirit, Nobles and Knaves wishes its readers a peaceful Christmas.



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