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Jewish World Review April 2, 2002/ 20 Nisan, 5762

Don Feder

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Alice and the White Rabbit lead Israel to ruin | One definition of insanity is doing the same pointless thing over and over, and expecting different results. On that basis, both the Bush administration and the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon belong on a psychiatrist's couch.

Responding to the Passover bloodbath on Friday, Israeli tanks shelled Arafat's Ramallah headquarters. (The army denies firing directly at the chairman's office -- wouldn't want to risk harming the dear soul.) Been there, done that.

Sharon says the suicide bombing in Netanya -- 20 dead and 350 injured -- is definitely the last straw. Deja vu all over again.

"This callous, this cold-blooded killing, it must stop," President George W. Bush sternly intoned. Many a knee went weak when those words were heard on the West Bank.

"I call upon Mr. Arafat and the Palestinian Authority to do everything in their power to stop the terrorist killings," the president urged. Everything? How about anything?

The administration's response to Palestinian terrorism is a cowardly evasion of reality.

Mr. Arafat shouts, "Jihad, jihad, jihad." Mr. Arafat's Voice of Palestine radio praises suicide bombers as "heroic martyrs." Mr. Arafat releases known terrorists from his jails, like the two responsible for turning a Passover seder into a slaughterhouse.

Mr. Arafat's Tanzim militia competes with Hamas in murdering Jews. In January, Mr. Arafat tried to smuggle 50 tons of heavy armaments and explosives into his terrorist mini-state. Do you think maybe the lord high executioner of the Palestinians hasn't done ( all in his power to stop the carnage?

The Bush administration continues to tacitly condone Arafat's evil, then professes to be shocked over the murder of 20 Passover celebrants. It pressed Sharon to let the man who carries the stench of death about him attend the Arab summit in Beirut. It pressures Israel not to do in its backyard what we did on another continent.

It makes cooing sounds over the Saudi peace plan -- a neutron bomb that would claim victims from the Golan to the Negev.

Israel's leader pursues his own illusions. After the Netanya outrage, Sharon spokesman Rannan Girsin warned, "We will kick back hard."

And based on past experience (which schizophrenics never use as a guide), what will that accomplish? For the past year, Sharon has been shadowboxing with butchers -- blowing up police stations and heliports in Gaza, launching air strikes and briefly occupying West Bank cities. Does he really expect one more shelling of Arafat's compound to succeed where all of the other half-measures have failed?

After an emergency cabinet meeting last week, the prime minister declared Arafat "an enemy." What was he before -- a potential ally?

"We have no interest in conquering or staying in the territories," the general assures the White House. Instead of cleaning out the terrorist nest known as the Palestinian Authority, he'll agitate it a bit, then withdraw so the suicide bombers can get back to work.

Sharon has said for months that he "doesn't want to start a war." His defense minister says Israel has no intention of harming Arafat. Imagine, at the outset of World War II, Churchill and Roosevelt announcing that Hitler wasn't a target and the allies weren't interested in toppling the Third Reich.

Bush periodically sulks about Arafat's non-cooperation, then sends General Anthony Zinni scurrying back to the Middle East to engage him, or offers a meeting with Vice President Dick Cheney, if Arafat will only show "a 100 percent effort."

After Sept. 11, we gave the Taliban less than a month to turn over bin Laden and oust Al Qaeda. Then, we bombed. Now, there's a new sheriff in Kabul.

For the past 18 months, Arafat has been sitting back smiling while his henchmen fill body bags. How much longer will Bush and Sharon continue to treat a malignant tumor like a case of the sniffles?

The protagonist of "A Beautiful Mind" saw things that weren't there and talked to people who didn't exist. The Arafat that America continues to court as a possible peacemaker isn't real. The Palestinians Sharon thinks he can intimidate with a hard kick exist only in his imagination. Alice occupies the Oval Office, and Gen. White Rabbit leads the Jewish state.

JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest books are Who is afraid of the Religious Right? ($15.95) and A Jewish conservative looks at pagan America ($9.95). To receive an autographed copy, send a check or money order to: Don Feder, The Boston Herald, 1 Herald Sq., Boston, Mass. 02106. Doing so will help fund JWR, if so noted. He is also available as a guest speaker. To comment on this column please click here.

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© 2002, Creators Syndicate