By Charles Krauthammer, April 5, 2002
The suicide bombing that killed 26 Israelis at a Passover Seder last week, the
worst slaughter of the 18-month-old intifada, has entered the lexicon of the
Arab-Israeli conflict as the Passover Massacre. It is more than that. It was the
beginning of the Passover Pogrom: seven days of Passover, seven suicide
bombings, dozens of innocent Jews murdered, hundreds maimed.
This is Kristallnacht transposed to Israel. Like Kristallnacht, the Passover
Pogrom takes the murder of Jews to a new level of fury and national purpose,
in this case Palestinian national purpose: making “death to the Jews” not just a
slogan but a strategy, a campaign to make Israeli life intolerable and to force
Israel’s surrender and ultimate abolition. It was also Israel’s Sept. 11, a time
when sporadic terrorism reaches a critical mass of malevolence such that war is
the only possible response. And as with the American attack on Afghanistan,
Israel is going into Palestinian territory to destroy the terrorists and the regime
that sponsors them.
American critics, beginning with the secretary of state, object to this goal of
destroying Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority. As The Washington Post
explained in an editorial, we need the continued presence of “the leadership of
the Palestinian Authority as well as its principal security services,” because they
have been “the only available instruments for stopping Palestinian terrorism.”
Good God. Instruments for stopping terrorism? They are instruments for aiding
and abetting, equipping and financing, supporting and glorifying terrorism,
which they call “martyrdom operations.” The question of capabilities is
irrelevant. Of course they have the capability. But they have no intention of
This is like arguing at the beginning of the Afghan war that we should not
attack the Taliban because they were the only instrument in Afghanistan
available for bringing al Qaeda to heel. Sure. But they were allied with al Qaeda,
commingled with al Qaeda and shared al Qaeda’s objectives. They had no
intention of ever stopping al Qaeda.
That situation is precisely the same in Palestine. The premise of the Oslo
accords was that Israel would gradually withdraw from the West Bank and
Gaza, and allow Arafat to build security services so that, as he made peace
with Israel, he would have the capability to stop the terrorists. It was a
monumental swindle. Instead, he spent 8 1/2 years building a cult of death and
a killing machine.
The majority of current suicide bombings are carried out by the al-Aqsa Martyrs
Brigades, a wing of Arafat’s own Fatah movement. At Palestinian Authority
headquarters in Ramallah, Israel found an invoice (in shekels — a nice touch)
from the terrorists to the Palestinian Authority for five to nine bombs a week.
At what point do Western observers allow their Oslo illusions to yield to
What to do with Arafat? Isolating Arafat is no answer, because the isolation
must end at some point. Killing Arafat is no answer, because that will make him
a martyr. The important thing is to make him irrelevant by expelling him.
Let us not hear any more ridiculous talk about Arafat’s being the only
man who can make peace. Can? He had 8 1/2 years to make peace. He has no
intention of making peace. He was offered his peace, his Palestine, in July
2000 by Israel and then by the president of the United States. Like the
Palestinian leadership of 1947, also offered their own state side-by-side with
Israel, Arafat rejected the offer and started a war.
“What Arafat really wants is the destruction of the Israeli state,” says the
preeminent Arab-Israeli peacemaker Henry Kissinger. “He may be willing to
make some sort of an interim agreement, which he will consider probably as a
stage to the ultimate destruction of the Israeli state.”
Why expel him? Because as long as he rules, the Palestinian answer to any
offer of peace that genuinely accepts Israel is “No.” And there will be no one in
Palestine who will dare say “Yes.” (If he does, he dies.)
The only hope for any kind of peace is a Palestinian leadership, whether
national or local, ready to say yes. And that can only become possible when
Arafat has been banished and his rejectionist police state dismantled.
There are reports that Morocco would accept him. Good choice. It is west of
Tunisia and thus farther from Palestine. The symbolism will be apposite. He was
rescued from his last exile in Tunisia by an Israel offering him the olive branch
of Oslo. He then chose war instead.
President Bush yesterday offered Arafat yet another olive branch, yet another
rescue. This will achieve nothing. This will only postpone the reckoning. If this
fighting is ever to end, it must be shown that there is a price for violence, terror
The price is Elba. No, St. Helena.