- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 20, 2004

“There have been suicide bombings, targeted assassinations, mortar attacks,” said PBS’ Gwen Ifill about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict when she hosted the vice-presidential debate, “all of this continuing at a time when the United States seems absent in the peace-making process.” Absent?

George W. Bush became the first American president to support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. He offered a “roadmap,” which depended upon so-called confidence measures — a euphemism for telling Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat to put a stop to terrorism against the Israelis. But the terrorism continued, and the White House quite properly allowed Ariel Sharon to take the necessary steps to defend his country.

Now, with Mr. Arafat’s death, the chorus demands the White House “seize the initiative” and “restart the peace process.” Peace process? The resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict depends upon the following premise — that the Palestinians accept Israel’s right to exist.

Mr. Arafat — despite public pronouncements to the contrary — sought Israel’s destruction. Yet former President Jimmy Carter called Mr. Arafat “a powerful human symbol and forceful advocate.” President Jacques Chirac called him “a man of courage and conviction.” A man of courage and conviction?

Former National Security Agency intelligence analyst James Welsh and I recently spoke about the legacy of Yasser Arafat. Mr. Welsh found Mr. Arafat’s fingerprints all over the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre. The NSA belatedly decoded a message from PLO terrorist group Abu Jihad to Mr. Arafat that the terrorists had left for Munich. Mr. Arafat’s liaison officer for Romania led the PLO team that seized and killed the Israeli athletes.

“Arafat was not only a terrorist against the Israelis and others,” says Mr. Welsh, “but against the United States.” On March 2, 1973, Black September operatives, under the direct command of Yasser Arafat, assassinated U.S. Ambassador Cleo Noel and his deputy, George Curtis Moore, in Khartoum, Sudan. Ion Mihai Pacapa, one of Mr. Arafat’s Kremlin controllers and head of communist Romania’s secret police before his 1978 defection, wrote in a Wall Street Journal article, “James Welsh… has told a number of U.S. journalists that the NSA had secretly intercepted the radio communications between Yasser Arafat and Abu Jihad during the PLO operation against the… embassy in Khartoum, including Arafat’s order to kill Ambassador Noel…. In May 1973, during a private dinner with [Romanian dictator] Ceausescu, Arafat excitedly bragged about his Khartoum operation.”

In 1974, Mr. Arafat’s PLO seized a school in the northern Israeli town of Ma’alot, killing 21 children and four adults. The early ‘70s murders were just the beginning. Mr. Arafat’s life consists of a long list of terrorist attacks. Mr. Arafat praised “martyrs” and assisted their families. According to Human Rights Watch, “The Palestinian Authority Ministry of Social Affairs says that it provides a small monthly sum to the family of any person killed or injured in confrontations with Israeli forces or settlers…. The PA makes no apparent effort to limit special payments by others to the families of suicide bombers who attack civilians.”

Mr. Arafat stole money from the Palestinians. Some Israelis estimate his “net worth” at $11 billion. Forbes calculates it at a mere $300 million. But last year, Israel’s chief of military intelligence listed Mr. Arafat’s personal assets at more than $1.3 billion. Whatever the amount, not bad pay for terrorism.

In 1996, Mr. Arafat said, “We plan to eliminate the State of Israel and establish a purely Palestinian state…. We Palestinians will take over everything, including all of Jerusalem.” And following his refusal to accept a deal in the waning days of the Clinton administration, Mr. Arafat launched the second Intifada, a terror war that, from Sept. 29, 2000, through Nov. 7, 2004, claimed 3,250 Palestinian and 942 Israeli lives. Relative to the size of the U.S. population, that is equivalent to 285,212 Palestinian and 44,715 Israeli deaths.

Mr. Arafat refused to share power. Under international pressure, Yasser Arafat named Mahmoud Abbas prime minister. Mr. Abbas resigned after four months when Mr. Arafat denied him any real power.

Mr. Arafat’s culture of hatred means Palestinians learn to hate Jews from the womb to the tomb. According to polls by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, 60 percent of Palestinians support “suicide attacks.” From an early age, Palestinian children learn from maps that omit Israel to hate Israelis and to seek destruction of the State of Israel.

Three years ago, The Washington Post’s columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote, “Arafat is embarked on a strategy of war — and has been ever since he signed the September 1993 Oslo ‘peace’ accords on the White House lawn. Don’t take it from me. Take it from the mouth of one of the leading Palestinian moderates, Faisal Husseini. Shortly before his fatal heart attack last year, he openly admitted that Oslo was ‘a Trojan Horse… just a temporary procedure… just a step toward something bigger.’ That something bigger is ‘Palestine from the river to the sea,’ Husseini said, i.e., from the Jordan to the Mediterranean. That means eradicating Israel. Oslo? Just a way of ‘ambushing the Israelis and cheating them.’ ”

So much for the “peace process.”

Larry Elder is a nationally syndicated columnist, a radio talk-show host and author of “Showdown: Confronting Bias, Lies, and the Special Interests That Divide America” (St. Martin’s Press, 2002).

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