Jewish World Review August 16, 2001 /27 Menachem-Av, 5761

Linda Chavez

Linda Chavez
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Proving your worth 'Palestinian' style -- YASSER ARAFAT doesn't want peace, he wants power. And he is willing to do anything to maintain it. With Hamas and Islamic Jihad gaining popularity among Palestinians on the West Bank -- in the wake of the slaughter of Jewish women and children in recent suicide bomb attacks -- Arafat has decided that the proper response is to welcome these killers to join him in a unity government for the Palestinian people. It's time the United States quits treating this thug and murderer like a legitimate political figure.

Two days before a powerful bomb exploded in a pizza restaurant in Jerusalem last week, Israeli officials asked Arafat to arrest the mastermind who ordered the bombing. Arafat refused. Because of Arafat's inaction, 15 people died, and 130 were injured. Five members of a single family were among the dead, both parents and three of their eight children were killed, with two others critically injured by the blast. In all, six children died in the attack.

Arafat's tepid criticism of this vile terrorist bombing was mere subterfuge. Other Palestinian officials were more open in stating their true views, placing blame for the deaths on the Israelis themselves. "(Israeli Prime Minister) Sharon has inflamed the Palestinian people with his terrorist, gangland-style assassinations," Palestinian Authority spokesman Yasser Abed Rabbo said, referring to Israel's recent targeted killing of known terrorists.

The Palestinians would like us to believe there is some moral equivalence between the terrorists and the Israeli government. Israel launches attacks against military and terrorist targets, in which, regrettably, sometimes innocent bystanders are hurt or killed, as happened when an 8-year-old Palestinian girl was caught in the crossfire between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian gunmen in Hebron earlier this week.

But this is not the same as what the Palestinian terrorists are doing when they specifically target family restaurants or popular discos, with the intent of killing and maiming as many innocent civilians as possible. The murder of women and children has been a specialty of Palestinian terrorists for decades. Their whole modus operandi is to paralyze the civilian population by wreaking horror on its most vulnerable members with the hopes of forcing political leaders to their knees.

It is difficult to imagine how a civilized people could applaud such policies. Yet support for the terrorists actually appears to be growing among the Palestinian people. When word of the attack on the Jerusalem pizzeria spread on the West Bank, crowds of men, women and children took to the streets to rejoice. In refugee camps in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon, Palestinians passed out candy to celebrate another bombing in a suburb of Haifa, although the only one killed in that failed attack was the bomber himself.

From the time they can walk, Palestinian children in the West Bank are taught to hate the Israelis -- indeed all Jews. They attend nursery schools run by Arafat's Palestinian Authority where they learn to chant "death to the Israelis" and to revere as martyrs those who sacrifice their lives in suicide attacks against innocent civilians. One popular children's program on Palestinian television called the "Children's Club" shows children chanting, "We will settle our claims with stones and bullets." In one episode, a child proclaims, "When I wander into Jerusalem I will become a suicide bomber." In May, NBC News aired a segment showing a Palestinian Authority commercial that urged children "to drop their toys, pick up rocks, and do battle with Israel."

President Bush rightly called the recent attacks "a continuing terrorist campaign." But the president must do more by holding Arafat and the Palestinian Authority accountable for failing to stop these attacks. The administration could begin by downgrading the status of the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington, D.C., barring all non-humanitarian aid to Gaza and the West Bank, and denying visas to Palestinian officials. So long as we treat Arafat and his murderous cohorts with kid gloves, there will be no peace in the Middle East.

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© 2000, Creators Syndicate