Arafat’s Failures Led to Mideast Deadlock
Re “Prisoners of Their Pasts: Arafat, Sharon Battle On,” Dec. 11: Tracy Wilkinson’s analysis of the current Palestinian/Israeli conflict misses the point by laying equal blame for the violence on Ariel Sharon and Yasser Arafat. Wilkinson neglects to mention that the current crisis arose in September 2000 after Arafat inexplicably rejected Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s serious and good-faith offer of a Palestinian state. Arafat failed his people again by not even making a counteroffer. Instead, he turned to violence to improve his bargaining position and to demonize Israel. As a result of Arafat’s terror tactics, Israel elected Sharon.
Comparing Arafat and Sharon is unfair. Arafat does nothing to stop his people from killing innocent Israelis and even continues to incite such acts, while Sharon goes out of his way to avoid Palestinian civilian deaths and to target terrorists and murderers. If Sharon is not interested in peace, as Wilkinson charges, Arafat should call his bluff and have seven days with no suicide bombings, no mortar attacks and no shootings at Israeli civilians. If the Palestinians halt all violence, Sharon will sit down and talk peace. The Palestinians must find a way to finally say yes to peace and no to violence.
Re “The Post-Arafat Question,” editorial, Dec. 10: Arafat had a deal in the palm of his hand at Camp David, again at Sharm el Sheikh and again at Taba. He chose the gun over continuing negotiations. Arafat has nobody but Arafat to blame for the advent of the Sharon government. Well over 70% of the Israeli electorate were in favor of a negotiated settlement with Arafat 15 months ago. Today the same number are opposed.
Arafat single-handedly managed to do what no Likud government has ever been able to do--eradicate the Israeli left--the people who led the way to Oslo, Arafat’s closest “partners in peace,” the single most important constituency in Israel that he had for peace. That is the real tragedy of the latest intifada, and Arafat bears the responsibility. President Bush has abjured the politically correct but vacuous doctrine of moral equivalency in favor of objective reality: One man’s terrorist is . . . well . . . another man’s terrorist. That too is Arafat’s work.
Re “Arab Nations Are Turning Up the Heat on Arafat,” Dec. 9: Arab rhetoric has reached a new level of absurdity illustrated by the comments of Nabil Osman, the Egyptian government’s chief spokesman. He stated that the irony of the current Middle East crisis is that Israel, with “technological and security gadgets,” is unable to protect itself and therefore needs Arafat to defend it from incidents happening inside Israel proper. He goes on to state, “The security failure here is an Israeli one. They are unable to protect their own terrain, and they are asking Arafat to do the job for them.” His comments are an affront to any rational mind and serve to demonstrate the perverse logic of the so-called Arab negotiators.
Some people will never learn. Yossi Melman (“Achieving Peace May Take War,” Opinion, Dec. 9) doesn’t seem capable of ever learning that the Arabs hate the Jews; they want to kill them. Giving them half of Haifa and Tel Aviv won’t change that. However, he and The Times can help push Israel to more suicidal negotiations.
I am not Palestinian but I was absolutely stunned by Michael Ramirez’s cartoon of Dec. 8. The depiction Ramirez used reminds me of the editorial cartoons of years gone by about Pol Pot. Arafat is certainly not faultless but he is certainly not a Pol Pot. I’m a huge advocate of the 1st Amendment, so I will defend Ramirez’s and The Times’ right to express their opinion, but Ramirez has lost all sense of perspective.