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Jewish World Review Dec. 7, 2001/ 22 Kislev 5762

Richard Z. Chesnoff

Richard Z. Chesnoff
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Consumer Reports

In search of a peace partner --
IN the light of the latest series of suicide bombings in Israel and Yasser Arafat's nonreaction to them, it's time for the civilized world to face the truth about the Palestinian leader: He's not interested in peace. Quite the opposite, he is the head of a terrorist organization.

The only correct response: Stop dealing with him as a head of state, start dealing with him as a sponsor of terrorism. In short, dump Arafat.

There are rational Palestinians who could emerge as his replacement. Even if that takes time, Israel can protect itself while waiting out the power struggle. It should specify those areas of the West Bank essential to its security, withdraw from the rest, build a massive defensive system around the country, forbid Palestinians from working in Israel and leave them to their own self- destructive devices.

Am I being too harsh on Arafat? No, his own conduct condemns him. Faced with an American-brokered peace offer last year, he turned it down and launched a terrorist war instead.

His aim: to force world opinion to impose a pro- Palestinian solution in hopes of weakening and ultimately destroying Israel.

Sure, Arafat and his henchmen shed crocodile tears forthe victims of terrorism and call ad nauseam for renewed peace talks. But that is strictly for the benefit of an often-gullible international media. When they're speaking English and French, Arafat & Co. call for peace. But compare that with what they tell their own people in Arabic on Palestinian radio and TV and in the newspapers their corrupt dictatorship tightly controls.

There, you won't hear any talk of an end to violence. Nor will you hear Arafat tell his people that their only hope out of the misery he forces them into is true peace with their Israeli neighbors.

Instead, he continues to denounce Israel, Jews, America and the West, followed by the sanctification of the "martyrs" who give their lives to "liberate Jerusalem and glorify Islam."

It's time to apply the same answer that the U.S. is using in Afghanistan: When you face a dysfunctional leadership that coddles terrorists, you take the steps necessary to get rid of it.

What would follow? There are viable alternatives to Arafat. Within the Palestinian leadership exist a few brave souls who understand that decades of war against the Jews haven't brought much happiness to the Palestinian people.

I think, for example, of Sari Nusseibeh, the scion of one of the most important Palestinian families, a Western-educated academic who recently became Arafat's lead man in Jerusalem. Nusseibeh has not been afraid to speak out. I remember him best as one of the few Palestinian activists ready to talk with Israelis about peace long before the peace process began.

Whatever happens, there's no point in letting Arafat go through his routine of rounding up a few terrorists and then quietly releasing them. His continued presence only hurts the cause of peace. It's time to say it: Goodbye, Yasser.

JWR contributor and veteran journalist Richard Z. Chesnoff is a senior correspondent at US News And World Report, a columnist at the NY Daily News and a senior fellow at the Washington-based Foundation for the Defense of Demoracies. His latest book, recently updated, is Pack of Thieves: How Hitler & Europe Plundered the Jews and Committed the Greatest Theft in History.

Richard Z. Chesnoff Archives

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