- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 7, 2002

JERUSALEM.—Writing in Sunday's New York Times, Yasser Arafat said terrorists do not represent Palestinians' "legitimate aspirations" and pledged "to put an end to their activities." To date, he has fought their activities with a green light and revolving door.

Some readers doubtless were impressed by Arafat's agitprop. They might feel differently, if like me they had seen his handiwork up close and personal.

On Jan. 27, I was on Jerusalem's Jaffa Road just after a suicide bomber blew herself up, killing an elderly Israeli and wounding scores of others. It was like a scene from the London Blitz the devastated shell of what had been a shoe store, the front windows of every shop on the street shattered, police and soldiers desperately trying to deal with the chaos.

Around the corner on King George Street is the Sbarro pizzeria hit by a suicide bomber last June (15 dead, 130 injured). Further up Jaffa Road, on Jan. 22, a Palestinian opened fire with an M-16, killing two women and injuring 40 passersby. Across the street from my Tel Aviv hotel stands the ruins of the Dolphinarium disco, scene of a June suicide bombing where 21 Israelis, mostly teen-agers, died.

The torrent of terrorism is numbing. But the pain can still be felt in the voices of survivors and grieving families.

I had breakfast at a Jerusalem hotel with two men touched by tragedy. Rabbi Seth Mandell's 14-year-old son Koby was one of two boys taken to a cave and stoned to death by individuals who, Mr. Arafat assures us, do not represent the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people.

Dov Kalmanovitz's car was firebombed during the 1988 Intifada. The accountant sustained third-degree burns over 75 percent of his body and lost part of each finger on his right hand. He presents a brave, if disfigured, face to the world. "We must show the Arabs that we will live," Mr. Kalmanovitz told me.

At the Hadassah Hospital, I saw Sharon Mamon, a victim of the Dec. 1 Ben Yehuda Street bombing. With shrapnel in his brain, the 21-year-old sits in a chair, staring blankly. His reaction to everyone is the same. The doctors don't know if he'll ever improve. His family hopes for a miracle.

Among other materiel on the Karine A, Mr. Arafat's illegal arms ship seized in the Red Sea, was 2,200 pounds of a powerful plastic explosive, enough for 220 suicide bombs a Dolphinarium a day for the next seven months.

To Americans, Mr. Arafat says he is determined to root out terrorism. To Palestinians, he recently declared, "Would that God grant me the merit of being one of the martyrs for Jerusalem." Like his constant calls for jihad, the message isn't lost on his followers.

Attacks like the Jan. 22 shootings and the massacre at a bat mitzvah celebration are the work of the al Aqsa Brigades part of Mr. Arafat's own Fatah Party. Dore Gold, formerly Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, says there's an umbrella organization that coordinates the operations of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Arafat's gang.

"From mid-October 2000, we've had nine announced cease-fires," Mr. Gold told me. "Should we go for 10, 11 or 12? How long before we make the inevitable decision to give Arafat a one-way ticket back to Tunis?"

Dr. Boaz Ganor, director of the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism, puts the problem into perspective: Last year, roughly 230 Israelis were killed by terrorists. At the same time, 500 to 600 died in traffic accidents.

Statistically, terrorism is manageable unless, of course, it's your child, father or husband.

Terrorists' objective isn't to rack up body counts, but to affect the living, to get them to personalize attacks ("My God, what if it had been me."), to disrupt their lives and make them so desperate for an end to suicide bombings that they will grasp at suicidal concessions.

Like the "martyrs" with their 70 virgin brides, Mr. Arafat is wedded to terrorism. He may have decided to tack his course for the time being. Eventually, he will revert to form.

On Jaffa Road, I picked up some shards of glass grim reminders of the Arab kristallnacht. A Palestinian storm trooper may detonate the bomb or pull the trigger. But ultimate responsibility lies with the Palestinian Hitler who incited him, as another step toward his Final Solution for the Jewish state.

Don Feder is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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