While watching news from the Middle East on television, have you ever wondered why PLO chairman Yasser Arafat is always surrounded by men in military uniform?

Has it struck you as odd that a man who heads an ostensibly civilian administration still wears khaki garb?

Standing before the microphones, flanked by his generals, brigadiers and colonels, Arafat looks like just another Middle East military dictator. Indeed, that is exactly what the world community in its wisdom has foisted on the region: another trigger-happy and despotic regime-in-the-making.

By focusing on the Palestinian army in this month's issue of the Digest, we hope to bring our readers' attention to the fact that, even as the US, UN, European Union, Arab League, Commonwealth, Non Aligned Movement, Organisation of African Unity (have we left anyone out?) railed against Israel over the past month, they continue to ignore a PLO violation which could prove highly risky to Israel's security in the future.

Also almost completely ignored by the community of nations are the many abuses perpetrated by some of Arafat's troops on the inhabitants of the areas he controls.

Human rights groups working at their peril in the autonomous zone have been trying to draw attention to arbitrary arrests, detentions without trial, torture and murders by men armed in terms of the Oslo Accords, and financed largely by the European nations.

Yet the crimes continue, while august world bodies bash Israel for supposed violations of signed agreements.

The underlying sentiment behind this seems to be: "What else can you expect from Arabs? Let's not impose our civilised, Western norms on them."

And they call the Israelis racist?

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