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Jewish World Review Dec. 19, 2001 / 3 Teves, 5762

Robert W. Tracinski

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Ending the "peace process war" -- WHEN Yasser Arafat unleashed his intifada against Israel last year, I named it the "Peace Process War." I wanted to capture the irony of mob violence and bombings as the culmination of seven years of an alleged "peace process." I did not realize, at the time, how complete the irony would become -- that the name "Peace Process War" would describe 14 months of killing whose course was directed, day by day, by the pattern of the "peace process" itself.

Consider the repeated cycle of the past year. First, Shimon Peres or an American envoy negotiates a new cease-fire, which Israel is pressured to accept for fear of abandoning the "peace process" and losing U.S. support. Within 24 hours, usually, the Associated Press posts an unintentionally comic headline like their June 14 zinger: "New Shooting Tests Mid-East Cease Fire." It is only in the never-never land of the "peace process" that new shooting doesn't break a cease-fire, but merely "tests" it.

The cease-fire is always breached by the Palestinians, by new shooting at Israeli settlements, or ambushes along Israeli roads, or suicide bombings in Israeli shopping malls. Yet the United States calls for both sides to "show restraint." Israel then engages in some minor operation to kill a terrorist leader or clear out a snipers' nest in Palestinian territory. Arafat does nothing to restrain his terrorists -- but complains bitterly that Israeli action is "undermining the peace process." Under pressure from the United States, Israel withdraws and is then talked into yet another cease-fire. The cycle of violence continues, perpetuated by the "peace process."

In this perverse process, the United States keeps advocating "restraint" -- but the only side that is ever actually restrained is the victim of terrorism: Israel.

Israel is finally taking its first step toward ending this cycle of violence -- by fighting a real war. The crucial step was Ariel Sharon's declaration that Yasser Arafat is now "irrelevant." Arafat has been the sacred idol of the "peace process," the one person to whom Israel must always return and negotiate. This unquestioned acceptance of a career terrorist as the leader and representative of the Palestinians has sent the message, both to Arafat and to his people, that terrorism will be tolerated and rewarded.

The first step toward ending the suicidal Peace Process War is the elimination of Yasser Arafat -- his elimination as a participant in peace negotiations; his elimination as the dictator of the Palestinian Authority; his elimination, period.

The conventional wisdom is that killing Arafat would unleash a wave of new terror attacks in retaliation. But letting Arafat live and prosper has already unleashed a wave of terror attacks -- in emulation. Or, it is asked, who will replace Arafat as leader of the Palestinian Authority and representative of the Palestinian cause? The answer is that any people who would accept a terrorist as their leader do not deserve to be represented or to have their wishes taken into account. They deserve to be occupied, suppressed, and then civilized, if that is possible.

We implicitly recognize all of this when we talk about Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. We do not fret that killing bin Laden will unleash Islamic fanatics; bin Laden is already the leader and symbol of the Islamic fanatics. We do not ask who Taliban or al-Qaeda supporters will rally behind next -- because we realize that any leader of these organizations is as bad as any other, that the Taliban and al-Qaeda must be wiped out of existence altogether.

And yet, in a glaring display of American hypocrisy, the main obstacle to the elimination of Arafat is the support of the United States. The United States is unjustly viewed as the supporter and sponsor of Israel. Our government deserves, instead, to be condemned as Arafat's chief sponsor and protector -- from 1983, when we pressured Israel to lift its siege of Beirut and allowed Arafat and the PLO to escape to Tunisia, to the past eight years, when we have insisted on his central position in the "peace process."

A friend asked me, the other day, when I would stop writing about the war. My answer: "When it starts" -- that is, when America finally gets serious about fighting terrorism. Ayn Rand once commented, during the Cold War, that you can't fight Communism in jungle villages while surrendering civilized countries. America will get serious about the war on terrorism when we realize that we cannot exterminate terrorists in the mountain villages of Afghanistan, while betraying the skyscrapers of Tel Aviv.

Comment on JWR contributor Robert W. Tracinski's column by clicking here.

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