AUGUST 20, 2001
No sir, Yasser
© 2001

Yassar Arafat is as useless as mammary glands on a bull to the whole-cloth fiction of Mideast "peace talks."

The back and forth itching and moaning in the Mideast melodrama defies reason. Therefore reason, rationality and objectivity cannot and should not be determinate factors.

To the outside observer not tainted with the visceral ethnic antipathies that exacerbate this theater of the absurd, the back and forth "incidents" and whiney petulance routinely exhibited by both sides is like adolescent bickering, although intellect acknowledges it is more complex.

To those of us not steeped in the minutiae of diplomacy and not "enlightened," the Israeli-Palestinian feud resembles the Hatfields and the McCoys, or maybe the Earps and the OK Corral.

I can't fathom why, in the wake of all that has and has not happened, any State Department wonk is even wasting time on Arafat. He is a political eunuch. He is powerless. And he has proven himself to be a disingenuous, duplicitous liar. Maybe that's why he and former President Clinton had a simpatico?

The reality is if (and that is one big honking "if") Arafat was inclined to end the violence the Palestinians precipitated in September of last year and continues to run the body count up, the stark reality is he cannot or will not bridle the terrorists.

Regardless of whatever Arafat "tries" to do to comply with either the Oslo accord or the recent fantasy of the Mitchell Plan, anything he says is worthless. Arafat cannot or will not control the convenient radicals presumably under his umbrella. Islamic Jihad, Hamas and Hezbollah will continue to conduct terrorism against civilian targets as long and as violently as they can.

It is absurd that the Palestinians complain and posture over any and all Israeli retaliation to atrocities. Hey, if Arabs kill Jews they should expect Jews will respond in kind. The cruel reality check will occur when Israel lifts a scene out of "The Untouchables" and start employing "Chicago Rules": one of theirs pulls a knife, you pull a gun; they put one of yours in the hospital, you put one of theirs in the morgue.

Palestinians are not targeting military Israel targets. They are conducting a campaign of terror. Five children and an American woman were killed along with 10 others in the recent lunchtime suicide bombing. Israel responded by sending jets to destroy a Palestinian police building in the West Bank. In June a Tel Aviv disco was the target of a suicide bomber that killed 21. The Israeli reaction was similar.

All the would-be peace seekers are calling on Arafat to end the violence and arrest those responsible. Yassar cannot do that. If (and again we have another big honking "if") he actually wanted to end the violence and corral the terrorists (and there is ample evidence to suggest he doesn't), he would probably be killed himself. Arafat's only long-term goal is personally to survive, remain the presumed power and win "something" palatable or saleable to solidify his political prominence.

Oddly, Arafat's most significant ally to his power positioning may well be Ariel Sharon.

I'm not especially jazzed about the Mitchell peace deal. However Sharon agreed to it under heavy pressure recognizing part of his job description would be to eat excrement and not acquire a taste for it.

The first step in the three-step Mitchell Plan calls for a total cessation of violence and incitement. The second involves the so-called confidence-building measures. The third calls for a resumption of negotiations.

Arafat cannot or will not implement step one. However, Sharon can, and I suspect will -- albeit with extreme prejudice.

Before the Aug. 9 bombing of the Jerusalem pizzeria in Jerusalem, Arafat was tipped off and asked to arrest the plotters. Israel and the Palestinians don't talk to each other but both sides do talk to the U.S. Apparently the Israelis gave the CIA detailed information about the Hamas outfit thought to be orchestrating the bombing. The CIA passed that to Yasser and asked the bad men be collared. Arafat didn't do anything and another suicide bomber killed a bunch of innocents in search of paradise.

According to a U.S. government official, "Israel said it had obtained clear warnings of a suicide bombing about to take place in Jerusalem."

Israeli Cabinet Secretary Gideon Saar said that for several weeks Israel had been providing the Palestinians (through the CIA conduit) with the names of people involved in that group, but the Palestinians had done nothing.

Arafat frankly can't do Jack-spit to stop the terrorists from doing what the terrorists intend to do. I don't think he really wants to, but even if he did, for some territorial political rationale, he is helpless to do what the U.S. and Mitchell Plan dreamers want.

Reportedly the Israelis have a list of 453 militants targeted for elimination. "They've been pretty busy working on the list." And that strategic tactic of targeted attrition of identified bad guys is what I suspect will work.

In a perverse, amoral, Machiavellian way, Israel's systematic elimination of Islamic Jihad, Hamas and Hezbollah will actually benefit Arafat, who can't control them and can't appear to oppose them. His chastisements must all be mitigated with a sub rosa "wink,wink; nod, nod."

However, Israel can and will control them, by killing them. The State Department condemns Israel's policy of "targeted killings" but much like Arafat's "righteous indignation" at the terrorism of suicide bombings, I suspect certain elements within the U.S. administration would extend their own "wink,wink; nod, nod" as Israel ignores the U.S. rebuke.

UPI reported Arafat received an urgent phone call the weekend after the bombing from U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, urging the PA chairman to arrest the cell members. Arafat allegedly complied, putting into "protective custody" four Hamas members including Abdallah al-Barghouti and Bilal al-Barghouti.

Former CIA anti-terrorist official Vincent Cannistraro said, "The Israeli policy of targeted killings has simply legitimized extremism. ... The result is that Arafat has less and less influence to exert as the Islamic terrorists gain more and more prestige. And they are gaining it." The unintended consequence of that added "prestige" is inclusion on an Israel hit list. The terrorists don't want to talk. They don't want to negotiate. They function like most classic bullies. They are cowards picking on innocent victims. They are the scorpion asking the frog for a ride. The only and best solution is to put a drop of chlorine in the gene pool and kill them. Arafat can't, the U.S. won't, but the Israelis can and will -- you damnbetcha!

By the way, Israel's Aman, or Directorate of Military Intelligence, has routinely and incorrectly claimed that Arafat is behind the bombing. They know that is not true, but it helps "their" political positioning to paint for the world one villain. The reality is, in many ways Arafat is as much a victim as Israel of the troika of his extremist cousins he cannot or will not control.

Israel should spend less time trying to "cook the books when it comes to intelligence" and abandon propaganda for direct action. They have their lists of terrorists and terrorist supporters. They should find them and kill them. The terrorists are a direct and very real threat.

Speaking of unintended consequences, if or when Israel kills those players who won't talk or drives them into hiding, Yasser Arafat can again step forward as the primary representative and spokesman for the Palestinians and the tragically flawed Mitchell Plan could then be implemented -- until that too fails.