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Jewish World Review Dec. 10, 2001/ 25 Kislev 5762

Suzanne Fields

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Arafat at Auschwitz -- NAZI analogies must be carefully chosen, because Nazi evil is, fortunately, rare. But Nazi evil, alas, is not unique.

Osama bin Laden and his Taliban terrorists are frequently compared to Hitler and his Nazi thugs. It's an analogy that works. These are irrational and ruthless fanatics who stop at nothing to destroy what they hate.

Both the Nazis and the Taliban managed to creep into power before the international radar picked up the danger they posed to human life. Hitler finally killed himself in his bunker beneath Berlin as the Third Reich was pounded into a pile of rubble. Osama bin Laden furrows deep into his cave in the Afghan wilderness as his acolytes are picked off one by one.

Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian extremists who support him have escaped similar comparisons with the Nazis because, we're told, Arafat is a weak leader and his strength derives from his weakness. But anyone who follows the ruthless brutality of the Palestinian terrorists, who are certainly "enabled'' if not encouraged by Arafat, find the analogy to the Nazis credible.

Arafat and his fanatics believe, as Hitler and the Nazis before them, that they are right and eager to kill infinite numbers of civilian innocents to make their point. While decent men and women everywhere are outraged because the targeted victims of the suicide bombers are civilians, the terrorists see them, as the Nazis did, as merely Jews.

After every terrorist attack the credulous leap to defend Arafat and the Palestinians as a necessary evil, that if Arafat were disposed of something worse would succeed him.

Tell that to the children who were killed celebrating the birthday of their 15-year old friend in a Jerusalem mall last week. These were not children at the wrong place at the wrong time, victims of bombs dropped from the sky in wartime, but targets of men trained by Hamas to wear bombs on their bellies, to explode them amidst men, women and children enjoying ordinary, innocent pleasures.

Terrorism against Israelis, incredibly, has in the past provoked blame for (begin ital) both (end ital) parties engaged in the "peace process.'' Even Israeli doves, in the wake of the Oslo accords, described innocent targets of terrorism as "victims of peace.'' But not this time.

When Ariel Sharon declared war on terrorism, few voices were raised against him. The Bush administration has made clear distinctions as well, describing the terrorist killing of children as "despicable'' and "cowardly.'' The president acted aggressively in freezing the financial assets of the U.S.-based charity called the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, which has funneled millions of dollars to Hamas.

The Europeans are as usual less reliable in their reaction. After World War II, the Europeans generally supported the new state of Israel, attempting to work off anti-Semitic guilt that led to the Holocaust. They perceived the Jews as having been lambs led to slaughter through their own passivity.

As underdogs adrift in a hostile Middle East, the Israelis were at first seen as deserving of hard-earned compensation for suffering. But short memories, a growing appetite for oil, machinations in the Cold War and Israeli toughness have led many Europeans and their governments to turn against Israel.

Will the rest of the world finally come to realize that only one side in the "peace process,'' so called, takes its frustrations out on women and children? Will the civilized world finally see that the terrorists regard Jews as no more human than the Nazis did? These terrorists grew up, like German children raised in the Third Reich, learning from their textbooks that Jews are "vermin'' and "cockroaches.''

Hamas, fortunately, does not have the technology the Nazis had, nor the ability to drive Jews to an Auschwitz or a Bergen-Belsen. But the anti-Semitism that drives Palestinian hatred is no less real, no less virulent.

The admiration for Hitler by the Arab fanatics dates from the 1930s, and is well documented. One of Arafat's personal heroes, the Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, visited Auschwitz and reproached the Germans for not being more determined in exterminating the Jews. In 1985, Arafat paid the mufti homage, saying he was "proud no end'' to be walking in his footsteps.

It shouldn't surprise anyone that such admiration endures, or that Yasser Arafat continues to "limit'' his control over the forces of terror in the Middle East.

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© 2001, Suzanne Fields. TMS