Why isn't Yasir Arafat arrested or exiled?

We must take it into consideration… for what?

When judging them, fool.

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David B, SDMB Great Debates Moderator

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Niobium said:

And then explained this needed to be taken into account

My question: Why? We have to judge them according to their views? So then we should judge that human sacrifice, deemed acceptable in certain religions, must be okay because they have different views than we do?

No. Just because some people think it’s okay to target innocents doesn’t mean we shouldn’t judge them for doing so. Or else, again, you are justifying the attacks on the WTC.

The refusal of some to recognize the difference between blowing up civilian families as the target, and targetting those who you believe intend on bombing you tomorrow (and unavoidably hitting some others) is hard to understand to say the least. Certainly it is not worth debating.

The reason that Arafat is left alive is that there is a small chance that he actually can control the violent elements if he was so inclined (if not, why bother talking to him at all?) and that he actually has the long term interests of the so-called Palestinian people in mind. If so, then the least unlikely road to both Israeli security and to some kind of Palestinian state that is at all worth living in passes through him.

Both are apparently very small chances. He probably cannot control the violence any more, it has spun out of his control. He can tacitly condone it, or have a civil war among his own groups, which he’d probably lose. And if he had his people’s long-term interests in mind, he’d have taken the deal from Barak: it was the best he’d ever get and was the road to an economically viable Palestinian homeland.

So what are the options left? Unilateral Israeli ceasefire? Tried. Terror attacks continued. Israel removing all settlers and giving up half of Jerusulam? Even that would not stop those intent on destroying Israel, who believe that all of the land is Arab by rights. Even that would not guarentee Israeli security. Forced removal of all Arabs from all Israeli controlled areas? Wouldn’t go over too well internationally. I fear that it is currently insoluable.

A few things to add here.

Israel won’t go around killing Arafat because he represents the head of the Palestinian people. Western governments (since the 1960s and before Sept. 11th) don’t go around killing heads of state. Things may have changed, but Israel would never take out such a visible figure of Palestinian nationalism for fear of world reaction. I mean, after all, he did win a Nobel Peace Prize.

Also, Arafat is very popular amongst Palestinians, and can unite Palestinians far more than any of his underlings. Like any good dictator, Arafat has completely decimated opposition such that a power vacuum will exist once Arafat goes away. Arafat is popular in Gaza and the West Bank, where his associates like Dahlan or Rajoub are only popular in one or the other.

If Arafat is killed, not only will Israel have to deal with a power vacuum, but it will have to deal with the inevitable violent uprising, without calls for peace, and without any type of security. The only way to control that will be full invasion of the territories and possibly violent repression, far more so than we are seeing now.

Like it or not, Arafat is the strongest person in the territories, and it will have to be him who pushes through any unpopular negotiated peace. The Israelis realize this, and are trying any which way to turn the thumbscrews which may coerce him into actually negotiating.

A note to Niobium Knight. A would be interested to see your opinion on columns such as this one by Thomas Friedman in the New York Times.

I don’t agree with all of it, but basically, he reminds us that lots of groups have been oppressed. Lots of groups have been occupied, some of whom in far more violent fashion than the Palestinians. In the past 100 years, there have been lots of nationalism movements. Violent uprisings against military occupiers, nonviolent protests, and political negotiations have all yielded homelands.

IMHO if the Palestinians put down the guns and unstrapped the plastique, the occupation would be over in a few months. If the Palestinians went to nonviolent protest, it would be over. There is nothing innate about the occupation that causes Palestinians to target Israeli civilians. There is nothing innate about the repression of Palestinian statehood that precludes nonviolent protest rather than killing children eating dinner. Do not try to justify suicide bombing and terrorism by explaining it as a requisite outcome to a harsh oppression. You ignore virtually every single other nationalist movement in the past 100 years.

The reason Arafat is alive doesn’t really have much to do with Israel’s belief that he will be an asset in helping stop the terror.

Arafat is kept alive because, like it or not, he is the spokeman for his people. He’s the closest thing to a head of state the Palestinians have, and in the eyes of the Arab world he IS head of a legitimate state. The rules of warfare generally preclude targeting the legitimate head of a state. You can arrest and try him, but you can’t target him.

All sides have generally held to that standard, for a long, long time. When the U.S. cornered Noriega, they didn’t just drop a daisy cutter on him - they smoked him out with bad rock music. The biggest weapon they had in inventory was the devastating Celine Dione repeating crap launcher.

Slobodan Milosovic is in custody, not rotting in an unmarked grave somewhere. The U.S. government spared the lives of the Japanese Emperor and other officials. That’s just the way it goes.

Not to mention-kill Arafat and you’ve just created a martyr.

BAD idea.

Very bad.

Actually, since I have studied this conflict, I have found that Israel is LESS heavy handed than most especially in the last ten years. I don’t know too many countries that get attacked on a regular basis by terrorists and do pretty much nothing about it for almost a year and a half.

Edwino brings up a good point about nationalist movements. Gandhi got the British out of India and he didn’t have to touch dynamite to do it. The Israelis now would be ecstatic to give away lot’s of stuff if someone like Gandhi took over Arafat’s position. That would possibly even grant Palestinians the right of return.

Erek