When Arafat condemned terrorism

I seem to recall that back in December, Arafat went on TV and condemned violence against civilians, using the word “terrorism” for the first time. There followed a three-week period of relative “calm”, during which hardly any Israelis were killed (but falling short of the week of “absolute quiet” that Sharon was insisting on at the time).

It seems Arafat used his influence, and he was listened to.

However, during this period Israel continued to kill Palestinians, including targetted killings. So the period of relative calm ended, and violence against Israeli civilians resumed. If anything, it was more vicious than before.

Sharon has been quoted as saying, [in paraphrase] “We dropped our demand for a week of quiet, and we were paid with more suicide bombers. Every time we made a concession, we were paid with violence.”

Well, couldn’t an analogous argument be made on Arafat’s side? He did what he was supposed to do, and it worked, and Sharon paid the Palestinians with more violence.

So, what good would it do for Arafat to do what Bush and Powell want, and unequivocally condemn terrorism (again)? What makes them think the Palestinian militants would obey him again, considering what happened the first time?

This war has been a tragicomedy of errors and lost opportunities, on both sides.

The only hope I see for ending this is for the international peace activists to teach sit-in tactics to the Palestinians. If and when the war ends, we can thank Adam Shapiro and Rabbis for Human Rights.


Cite? I remember at some point Arafat did claim to condemn “terrorism”, but so what? I don’t know if the Palestinians kept up the suicide bombings, and I don’t know if the Israeli offensive continued, which is why I ask for a cite.

It has happened many times before that Arafat claimed to do something in advancement of peace, only to do an about-face days later (e.g. “imprisoning” Hamas terrorists by putting them in one of his revolving-door jails for six months). In any case, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades have consistently kept up suicide bombings for the past six months or so; we know they are a part of Fatah, which is Arafat’s own organization. Read: the suicide bombers report to Arafat. Clearly, Arafat is not a reliable force against terrorism, and one particular condemnation, once in his career of murder, means extremely little.

If Charles Manson went on TV tomorrow and renounced murder, would you think he should be set free from prison?

Here ya go. From a pro-Israel source. Please note the complete lack of terrorist attacks on civilians from December 12 to January 17.

This chronology is consistent with the chronologies of December 2001 and January 2002 maintained by the UK Guardian. On December 16, Arafat made his statement. Hamas even declared a unilateral cease-fire that lasted from December 21 to January 9, despite the fact that one of its leaders had been killed by the Israelis the day after Arafat’s speech. During this period, Israel continued to pursue aggressive military actions, making pre-dawn raids, killing a Jordanian soldier and demolishing homes. Hamas broke the truce on January 9 by killing some soldiers, and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade broke the truce on January 15 after one of its leaders was killed in a targetted assassination. Israel was the only party that never observed any truce during this season.

Note also how the casualties of December and January compare, numerically, with the carnage of February, March and April.

Shame on Sharon for wasting his people’s lives by squandering this opportunity.