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 exercising it.
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 empirical evidence?
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 and duplicity. The price is Elba. No, St. Helena.
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