By William Safire, June 4, 2001
WASHINGTON – In launching a war to drive the Jews from his Palestine, the
Arabs’ Arafat has come up with an impressive array of weaponry.
It goes beyond the rifles and grenades that too-trusting Israeli governments
permitted, which helped transform a police force into an army spoiling for a
fight. Now it includes mortars built in Gaza factories and rockets
smuggled in from headquarters in Syria. These are fired into Israel from sites
near Muslim mosques, hospitals and schools so that when Israel retaliates
Europeans watching CNN and the BBC will be shocked.
But the pride and joy of Arafat’s arsenal is a weapon of
mass terror that has no known defense: the human missile.
The latest in a series of these, carried by a brainwashed suicide bomber, ripped
apart a score of young Israelis last week. These were mainly Russian immigrant
women of child-bearing age, a high-priority target for those in Baghdad,
Damascus and Jericho who dream of militarily or demographically
overwhelming the Jews.
Because the human missile that massacred Tel Aviv teenagers so satisfied the
lust for casualties, and because the incredible restraint of Ariel Sharon was
about to snap, Arafat “condemned” this attack and told a visiting German
diplomat he would join Sharon’s self-imposed cease-fire “unconditionally.”
That means only that Arafat will not insist on the latest reward for violence
recommended by the Mitchell commission, Bill Clinton’s final vehicle for
appeasement: cessation of construction in and around already-existing
Sharon had already pledged to build no new settlements, a concession not
offered by Rabin or Barak, for which he got no credit. An unnatural “freeze” on
the natural growth of existing Israeli settlements would be fair only with an
equivalent restriction on the expansion of Arab villages in the disputed
territories. Not in the cards.
Arafat’s guilty promise of a cease- fire may stay Israel’s avenging hand if he
finally takes the steps necessary to stop his war. His word is worthless because
he has long specialized in what the poet Milton called “a certain clandestine
Hostility covered over with the name of Peace.”
Arafat knows where the bomb factories are in Gaza because he ordered them
set up. He knows what new and deadlier weapons of war are being smuggled
in from Damascus because he pays for them. He knows who the most fanatic
Muslim terrorists are because he released them from jail to prey on Jews.
And he knows where the human missiles are being programmed and armed.
Such fanatic indoctrination takes time and isolation; it takes teachers of terror
skilled in evoking visions of a martyrdom and requires recruits from vulnerably
infuriated families who are known to other cells.
The brainwashing is reinforced with official broadcasts of films of a
dead boy beckoning potential suicide killers to join him in paradise.
Does anybody still believe that Yasir Arafat is out of the loop in all this? For
years, doves have bought the illusion that he was a peacenik at heart who had
to bring along the extremists of the “Arab street.”
Yet, when the moment of decision came at Camp David, he was the
man in the street, demanding all or nothing. When nothing was what he got, he
became a hero by launching a war.
Because his terrorists are ecstatic at their famous victory over the
Russian immigrant youths in Tel Aviv, and because his European allies are a
little embarrassed by his bloodletting, Arafat will lower
the level of violence – for a while.
After setting protections of Israelis in place, the surprisingly patient Sharon will
ultimately offer half of the Barak-Clinton deal. Then the European Union and the
U.N. will turn up the economic heat on Israel.
Colin Powell will hear the pleas of Dennis Ross, Martin Indyck and the
other architects of the current disaster to “get involved and make peace.”
When such pressure fails to deliver the whole West Bank and divide
Jerusalem, Arafat’s way is to open his jails and launch his human missiles
And at that point we may just hear from the Israeli “street.”
With doves turned to realists and pressure from Bibi Netanyahu to
defend the nation, and with Israelis unwilling to further expose their children to
lives of terror, Sharon will let Sharon be Sharon.