Israel Report

June 2001         

Now We Must Respond

By Ron Dermer
June, 03 2001

- In 1993, the Israel government crossed a psychological Rubicon by recognizing the PLO. As a result, PLO leader Yasser Arafat, a man personally responsible for the murder of hundreds of Israelis, including women and children, received international legitimacy and won a Nobel Peace Prize.

Today, we must cross back and once again recognize the Palestinian leader as the terrorist he has always been.

Responsibility for Friday night's massacre in the heart of Tel Aviv, the worst carnage that Israel has suffered in five years, rests squarely on Arafat's shoulders. Though Islamic Jihad took credit for the suicide bombing, the Palestinian dictator must be held accountable for it.

The deal at Oslo was simple: Arafat would permanently renounce violence, fight terrorists and root out the infrastructure that supports their actions. In return, he would get territory and legitimacy, and assume the reins of an emerging Palestinian state.

Yet over the last eight months, Arafat has not only given a green light for terror, his own security forces have also been proudly caught red handed. Force 17, his personal security apparatus, and his own Fatah organization, have perpetrated a slew of terrorist incidents over the last few months.

Moreover, whereas Israel's previous peace partners - Anwar Sadat and King Hussein - preached a message of peace and reconciliation to their own peoples, Arafat's PA controlled television, radio and newspapers have incited an entire generation of Palestinians against the Jews and their State. Every day, children dressed as suicide bombers call on their Palestinian brothers to sacrifice themselves for a holy war to liberate Jerusalem and all of Palestine - from the Jordan to the Mediterranean.

The suggestion that Arafat may not be able to actually stop the terror is utter nonsense. He was provided with tens of thousands of armed policemen to do just that. Though such action would inevitably extract a political price at home, Arafat's cowardice is not Israel's problem. Israel's foremost responsibility, like that of any government, is to defend the lives of its citizens. If the 'peace of the brave' is too demanding for the PLO Chairman, then he had best book a flight for Baghdad.

In order to restore national deterrence and personal security to the people of Israel, the government of Israel must now do three things: First, it must switch the conceptual framework under which it has been operating for the last eight years and treat Arafat as the terrorist that he has always been. The illusion of returning to the negotiating table with this 'moderate' man be shattered once and for all. Arafat must be expelled from this country and his terrorist regime destroyed.

Second, we must show the Palestinians and our enemies throughout the world that we remain the most powerful country in the Middle East - and that we intend to use that power if threatened. We must prove to them that we will not capitulate to terror and that we will not live our lives in fear.

Friday night's massacre must not go unanswered because we have already allowed too many red lines to be be crossed. We let a soldier bleed to death and we didn't respond. We watched three of our soldiers be kidnapped and we didn't respond. Mortars were fired at our cities and we didn't respond.Ê Now we must respond.

Those who believe that more forceful action will escalate the conflict and increase the chances of regional war are dead wrong. It will have the opposite effect. The policy of appeasement and restraint that Israel has shown over the last eight months has resulted in this war of attrition which threatens to plunge Israel into a dangerous regional conflict.

Third, we must explain why Israel has been forced to take these measures. We must use all the information at our disposal to convince our friends around the world that the leopard has never changed his spots - Arafat was, remains and always will remain a terrorist. We must warn them that we are on the front lines in the international fight against terror and that failure to win that fight in Israel will have dire consequences for the rest of the free world.

Most importantly, we must remind the world of something that the Oslo process had allowed them to forget: That the core of our conflict remains what it has always been - the refusal of the Palestinians to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish State.

©2001 - Jerusalem Post

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