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   FEBRUARY 2002 -  Issue #142    


Is Arafat Winning?

Herbert Zweibon

Is Yasir Arafat winning his war against Israel? To answer yes may sound absurd as the PA's little tyrant looks smaller and smaller, basically under house arrest in Ramallah, sharply criticized by President Bush, denied all but lip service from Arab leaders. But the fact is, with each passing day it becomes more obvious that Arafat is achieving his goals.

In agreeing to the Oslo accords, Arafat embarked upon the policy the PLO had adopted in 1974: eliminating Israel in stages rather than in a single great battle, the previous Arab scenario. And in Stockholm in January 1996 Arafat described his initial target at a closed meeting of Arab ambassadors (unexpectedly leaked by one of them to a Swedish paper): "to make life intolerable for Jews" so "they will give up their dwellings and leave for the least a million rich Jews will leave Israel."

Arafat has made great strides in making life miserable for Israelis. Tourism has sunk to a ten year low, the state's income from visitors halved in 2001 compared to the previous year. The number of jobless is now over 200,000 for the first time in the state's history, an increase of 13.2% over the last year.

Worst of all, of course, is the death toll. As the table in this issue shows (see p.8), in the eight years prior to Oslo 167 Israelis were killed; from September 1993 (when Oslo was signed) through 1999, 299 Israelis were murdered; and in the next two years 249 Israelis were killed. This does not count the much larger number wounded and maimed. The number of attacks and their deadliness increases geometrically. So much for the prattle that Oslo would lead to less terrorism with which Israeli leaders seduced the public. With each passing month, Israelis feel less secure, to the point where many are afraid to ride buses, to shop in malls, to dine out. Indulging such simple pleasures could make them the next statistic.

Precisely as he hoped, Arafat has also dealt a devastiating blow to Israel's national morale. A mood of defeatism is enveloping the land. Wearied by the conflict (and their government's indecisive response to it), many Israelis speak and behave as if this is their fate, from which there is no escape. People have become accustomed to the constant funerals. Los Angeles Times reporter Mary Curtius offers a telling report on the reaction to the suicide bombing attack in downtown Jerusalem on January 27. A man muttered: "They will kill us one by one, until they finish us all." An angry young women tried to obtain some response from the silent onlookers and asked why they did not at least cry "Death to the Arabs." A woman told Curtius: "Jerusalemites do not cry out anymore. They've just gotten used to walking the street and being blown up."

Still, if it is true that Arafat is winning, it is not true that he has already won. Victory can be Israel's--if the Sharon government would muster the courage to take the necessary political and military steps necessary to defeat Arafat. What they are is obvious and has been repeatedly stated in the pages of this publication.

1. Sharon should fire Peres. Symbolically this is extremely important. To keep the man more responsible than any other single individual for the unparalleled disaster confronting Israel as her Foreign Minister is indefensible. This would be the case even if Peres acknowledged his terrible errors. He is, of course, far from doing this and continues to function as chief spokesman, apologist and promoter of Arafat.

2. Sharon should restore full Israeli military control of Judea, Samaria and Gaza -- not for a day or a week -- but for good. The time is ripe, but if the opportunity is lost, may not recur.

If Sharon is unable or unwilling to do what needs to be done to prevent Arafat from winning the war, he should at least be honest with the public so that they can make their own informed decisions on that basis.

Herbert Zweibon is chairman of Americans For a Safe Israel.


The Terrorist Masquerade ...3

The Paper of Record--Unift to Print ...7

February 2002               - 1 -               Outpost


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