The Irrelevant Man

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
You know it's bad when both the NYT and the WSJ come out aginst Arafat. Why is this terrorist not rotting in the Hag waiting for a trial? Or better yet an Israeli jail?





<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2001/12/17/opinion/17SAFI.html"; target="_blank">The Irrelevant Man</a>



By WILLIAM SAFIRE



[quote]WASHINGTON -- Three days after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel declared him "irrelevant," Yasir Arafat hastened to try to recapture leadership of a coalition dominated by terrorists. After a spate of phony "crackdowns" on killers he then quickly released to murder again, Arafat insisted yesterday that next time would be different



But the inescapable fact is that the suicide-murders of Jewish civilians are organized and carried out not only by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah, but also by Arafat's Force 17, his large police force and his personal Tanzim militia. They comprise a terror coalition, supplying one another with arms, money and suicidal killers. The notion that Palestinian bombers have been opposed by Arafat "moderates" is propaganda that not even Israel's enemies any longer believe.



Why is Arafat loudly proclaiming his new abhorrence of the murder of civilians? Not because of international pressure; on the contrary, the U.N. Security Council last week wanted to send observers to "protect" terrorists from Israel. Only a forceful veto ordered by President Bush, who has been a stalwart ally, stopped that hypocrisy cold.



The real reason for the latest Arafat oration "declaring illegal" the campaign he launched: his terrorists, having triggered open warfare, are losing that war. The Israeli military is now making the arrests and executing the killers, acts that an authoritative Palestinian Authority should have been doing.



Following Arafat's latest call for "immediate cessation of hostilities," I phoned Jerusalem to get a reaction from a prominent Middle East analyst.



"We are fed up with false promises and lies," Prime Minister Sharon said. "What is important is not declarations but deeds. Your General Zinni - a serious professional we hope to see again - provided to Arafat a list of terrorists we knew were plotting attacks. No steps were taken. Soon after, two of the names on that list bombed a bus killing 10 of our people. Therefore, because our government cannot trust Arafat, we will have no more contact with him. That is how he made himself irrelevant."



What is it about the concept of "relevance" that the Israelis emphasize and that so rattles Arafat? I figure it's his ability to deliver international backing. But when he double-crossed the would-be peacemakers Bill Clinton and Ehud Barak - and then joined with overtly terrorist groups to break Israel's spirit - Arafat lost his ability to deliver either the Israeli left or the American superpower. Result: personal irrelevance born of profound mistrust, at a moment when Palestinians whose practical goal is viable statehood most need a leader trusted by others.



Sharon's point that Arafat no longer counts seems to be hitting home. To regain relevance - to become a player again - the man who in the past has been the embodiment of Palestinian hopes must first turn against members of the terror coalition he formed. That is the significance of Arafat's newsworthy line in yesterday's speech: "We will not accept more than one authority on this land."



Is this his declaration of civil war against the groups in his alliance that have grown more powerful than he planned? Such decisiveness would be un-Arafatlike; if true to form, he will patch things up as soon as outsiders intercede to take the heat off. But internecine strife is inevitable someday between the amalgam of terror groups (Hamas, Iran's Hezbollah, Arafat's presidential guard, his Tanzim, etc.) and the future Palestinian Authority headed by Arafat or his successor.



That's why, I surmise, Sharon does not challenge the legitimacy of the authority, to which Israel has transferred many powers over everyday Arab life. "We are not causing harm to Arafat physically. We are not escalating and we are not acting against the Palestinian Authority."



What about a time after Arafat - will the next Palestinian leader defeat the terrorists? "We do not interfere in others' decisions," says Sharon carefully. "Some Palestinian leaders understand that Arafat has brought them to disaster, and they know we do not respect him as a partner. Maybe one day somebody will rise up, and there is already heavy criticism of him from Palestinians. But before they can take responsible steps, it has to be widely understood that Arafat - by being responsible for creating this coalition of terror - has made himself irrelevant."<hr></blockquote>



<a href="http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=95001609"; target="_blank">Who Needs Arafat? The world could hardly be worse without the PLO chairman.</a>



BY CAROLINE B. GLICK

Monday, December 17, 2001 12:01 a.m. EST



[quote]TEL AVIV--Last week, in the wake of yet another massacre of Israeli civilians by Palestinian terrorists, the Israeli security cabinet announced it was severing relations with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat. Although it has been obvious for some time that Mr. Arafat is an obstacle, not a means, to peace in the Middle East, most policy makers have been loath to voice this simple truth. The main concern is that while Mr. Arafat is clearly a source of instability, his replacement could be even worse. Many argue that the Palestinian Islamic terrorist group Hamas, which overtly rejects Israel's right to exist, is the most likely successor to Mr. Arafat's leadership.



Given the Palestinian Authority's public complacency and private cooperation with Hamas in its attacks against Israel, a growing number of Israelis now greet the possibility of a Hamas takeover with the unblinking response of "so what?" As retired Israeli general and terrorism expert Meir Dagan explained to me some months ago: "In a way it would be better if the Hamas takes over. Then there would be no ambiguity. Today, Arafat conducts a terrorist war against us and still enjoys international legitimacy as a peace partner. If the Hamas takes over, our goal will be clear--to defeat them. No one will argue that we have to negotiate with these people."



Yet while the prospect of a Hamas-led regime may have the positive feature of clarity, it is also highly unlikely. Although Palestinian support for Hamas has risen over the past 15 months, this public backing is due mainly to increased hatred for Israel rather than a swelling of support for Hamas's political or ideological agenda. A source from Israeli military intelligence explains the seeming contradiction: "Hamas is now supported by 30% of Palestinians in contrast to 9% of Palestinians who declared support for Hamas before the outbreak of violence in September 2000. However, it is very unlikely that in the event of Arafat's removal, this support will be translated into political backing of a Hamas regime. Palestinians are far from interested in establishing an Islamic state."



If not Hamas, then who can replace the chairman? Mr. Arafat, who has personally symbolized Palestinian nationalist aspirations for over a generation, has no single replacement. When Mr. Arafat goes, he--like Stalin--will be replaced by a junta. Israeli experts concur that the most likely successor regime will be a quadripartite coalition comprised of two political leaders and two military commanders who together possess the necessary resources to assume the helm.



The two political leaders, Mahmud Abbas, Mr. Arafat's No. 2 in the PLO, and Ahmed Queria, the speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, have risen to international prominence in their roles as lead negotiators with Israel over the past eight years. Mr. Abbas (a.k.a Abu Mazzan) is viewed as a statesman by Palestinians and Westerners alike. Last summer Mr. Abbas ran into trouble with Mr. Arafat when the Palestinian media reported that during meetings in Washington with Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice he discussed prospects for a successor regime to Mr. Arafat. After a few months in Mr. Arafat's doghouse, senior Palestinians prevailed upon their chief to bring his deputy back into the leadership fold. While acceptable politically to the Palestinians, Mr. Abbas lacks Mr. Arafat's charisma, and commands no military forces of his own.



Mr. Queria, who goes by the nom de guerre Abu Ala, rose to international prominence as the chief Palestinian negotiator with Israel--a position he has held off and on since 1993. In this post, he cultivated good relations with the State Department and the European Union and built up the international bona fides to consolidate his position next to Mr. Abbas. More important for his future in a post-Arafat coalition is Mr. Queria's economic power. He has controlled and managed the PLO's finances for the past 20 years and has the economic muscle to ensure his place at the table.



The military commanders who will stand beside Messrs. Abbas and Queria are Jibril Rajoub and Mohamed Dahlan--the heads of the Palestinian preventive security forces in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. While Mr. Arafat has 13 separate security forces, the preventive security forces in both areas are the undisputed masters of their realms. Whereas all the other militias are comprised of officers and troops who came into the region with Mr. Arafat in 1994, the preventive security forces consist chiefly of locals. This distinction is crucial, for the main bone of contention between the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza and Mr. Arafat's PA has been the feeling among the majority of Palestinians that they replaced one foreign occupier--Israel--with another foreign occupier--Mr. Arafat's forces and cadres from abroad. Mr. Rajoub and Mr. Dahlan's men--the best trained and most disciplined forces in the PA--are the only ones considered to be "of the people."



Both Mr. Rajoub and Mr. Dahlan are charismatic local commanders who joined Mr. Arafat in Tunis after Israel deported them in 1988 for their leadership roles in the Palestinian uprising. Both have cultivated relations with the U.S., the EU and the Israeli military, and neither has assumed a direct role in the attacks against Israel over the past 15 months. Mr. Rajoub has prohibited his men from participating in terrorism and Mr. Dahlan has charged his deputy, Rashid Abu-Shabah, with taking command of the terrorist attacks his forces carry out in order to maintain a semblance of plausible deniability before the Israeli and U.S. governments.



These four men--and not Hamas--are the likely face of the Palestinian leadership in a post-Arafat era. Will they have more of an interest in ending the violence than Mr. Arafat?



The sense among the experts is that the four will be motivated to end the violence against Israel. One well-placed Israeli military source explains: "These four are going to need quiet from Israel and the United States to consolidate their power. To achieve this quiet they will have to put an end to the fighting."



Boaz Ganor, director of the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Israel, believes that even if the four are unable to end the violence, the situation under their leadership will be no worse than the current one under Mr. Arafat. In his view, "Even if Arafat is assassinated, the violence will not worsen. Today the Palestinians are hitting Israel with everything they have. Arafat's departure will not impact their capabilities so even if their motivation to attack Israel rises, their ability to do so will remain constant."



Although Mr. Arafat's removal will not be a panacea to the region's woes, and while the unabated Palestinian terrorist attacks of the past 15 months make it difficult to look to the future with optimism, a future without Mr. Arafat will scarcely be worse that the present with him. And, with the proper management, it could be far better.



Ms. Glick, chief diplomatic commentator for Makor Rishon newspaper in Israel, served as assistant foreign policy adviser to Prime Minister Netanyahu in 1997-98 and was a member of the Israeli negotiating team with the Palestinians from 1994-96.<hr></blockquote>
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 61
    newnew Posts: 3,244member
    Man, you just don't give up do you...

    These are political comments and can hardly be considered as facts. The first is mainly and interview with especially this last one written by the former "assistant foreign policy adviser to Prime Minister Netanyahu".



    Let's just look at a quote here:



    "Why is Arafat loudly proclaiming his new abhorrence of the murder of civilians? Not because of international pressure; on the contrary, the U.N. Security Council last week wanted to send observers to "protect" terrorists from Israel. Only a forceful veto ordered by President Bush, who has been a stalwart ally, stopped that hypocrisy cold."



    How is an international observer (not armed) gonna protect a terrorist!?!

    *irony*:

    Gee! good thing your proud president put a stop to that! One of those observers could have caused some serious harm... You know they actually try to OBSERVE what's happening... the horror of that. We don't need any more observations do we now... (hehe, we already know everything we need to know...)

    */irony*



    Just for your information... Arafat is still the "officially elected" palestinian authority, and the removal of him by Israel would be a violation of international law.



    btw: I can really understand why you don't like arafat, but why (with your anti-terror attitude) do you like Sharon this much, are you aware of other opinions inside the Israel leadership, for instance the views of foreign minster Shimon Peres? Here's some more reading from the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2001/12/16/international/middleeast/16MIDE.html"; target="_blank">NYT</a>...
  • Reply 2 of 61
    ac2cac2c Posts: 60member
    Gee, isn't propaganda posted as "news" wonderful. And just think - all sides get to use it.
  • Reply 3 of 61
    noahjnoahj Posts: 4,501member
    [quote]Originally posted by New:

    <strong>Just for your information... Arafat is still the "officially elected" palestinian authority, and the removal of him by Israel would be a violation of international law.</strong><hr></blockquote>



    Israel has stated that they are not going to touch Arafat on many occasions. But they are placing blame where it needs to be placed, on those in command. So the Palestinians can now know for what reason they are under attack from Israel and who the blame sits on for the continuation of those attacks.



    If a military leader in the US ran an operation independant of the Presidents knowledge and masacred an enemy while breaking international law, who would be responsible ultimately? The President, as he is the acknowledged leader of the Armed Forces (Commander In Chief). The same standards apply to Arafat (assuming he is truly not in the loop on these terrorist attacks, which I doubt).
  • Reply 4 of 61
    moogsmoogs Posts: 4,296member
    The leadership of both countries are a joke. Neither wants real peace, they just want to get the upper hand in whatever ultimate negotiations take place so as to have the upper hand in doling out the territory. I say stop all militay aid to Israel (their arsenal is already 10x that of the Palestinians') and let em fight. Call it a war, draw the battle lines and see who comes out on top. End of conflict.



    Or, they could just kill each other 15 and 20 at a time for the next 10 years. Either way the death toll will be the same. I say get it over with. These bastards don't trust each other, don't like each other and don't want to be anywhere near each other. Too much bad blood and bad history. Thinking we're going to diplomaticaly put a stop to their fueding is like thinking we're going to stop the Croatians and Serbians from hating each other. Yeah right.



    [ 12-17-2001: Message edited by: Moogs ? ]</p>
  • Reply 5 of 61
    newnew Posts: 3,244member
    To noahj:



    Sure, I agree.

    But I would speculated that what you use as an example has already happend several times, without the president of the US taking the blame... (like vietnam/cambodia/chile etc.)



    another point:

    Lets say this person was (for the sake of argument) an elected official of Panama or some other US controlled foreign area? What then? could he be held responsible for anti-US guerillas operating in panama...?



    Moogs: there is one difference the serbs and croats are not killing each other like they used to... why is that?
  • Reply 6 of 61
    [quote]Originally posted by New:

    <strong>

    Just for your information... Arafat is still the "officially elected" palestinian authority, and the removal of him by Israel would be a violation of international law.</strong><hr></blockquote>



    News to me. Elected by who?
  • Reply 7 of 61
    brussellbrussell Posts: 9,812member
    [quote]Originally posted by roger_ramjet:

    <strong>News to me. Elected by who?</strong><hr></blockquote>He was elected by the Palestinians as President of the Palestinian National Authority (?) a few years back.
  • Reply 8 of 61
    moogsmoogs Posts: 4,296member
    [quote]Originally posted by New:

    <strong>

    Moogs: there is one difference the serbs and croats are not killing each other like they used to... why is that?</strong><hr></blockquote>



    Give it time, friend. We didn't solve anything other than getting Milosevic in front of a war crimes tribunal. Those people have been fueding for hundreds of years, won't take much to spark the next one.



    Goes to the whole concept of whether or not we should be the world's police force. In cases like that we had to because of the genocidal nature of what was going on...had there been no mass graves, there would still be fighting. That won't happen in the West Bank, Gaza, etc.



    Let 'em fight. That's what they really want, despite whatever lame sound-bites you hear on the news. They want victory over a hated enemy, not peace. How many times have we brought them over here and broked reasonable peace settlements? 3? 5? I've lost count, frankly. It doesn't work when you're dealing with two parties such as Israel and Palestine.



    They should just have at it and one of two things will happen. Someone will "win" the war and take over the territories in question. Or they will realize after a time that no one will win and they'll stop and figure something out. Either way we shouldn't supply Israel with another penny's worth of equipement. They already have enough of an arsenal vs. what the Palestinians have. The less visible our support for Israel, the fewer enemies we make during this crisis.



    [ 12-17-2001: Message edited by: Moogs ? ]</p>
  • Reply 9 of 61
    [quote]Originally posted by ac2c:

    <strong>Gee, isn't propaganda posted as "news" wonderful. And just think - all sides get to use it. </strong><hr></blockquote>



    It's from the op ed pages you dolt.
  • Reply 10 of 61
    [quote]Originally posted by roger_ramjet:

    <strong>



    News to me. Elected by who?</strong><hr></blockquote>



    Remember, Arafat has TWO roles.... Chairman of the PLO, and President of the Palestinian Authority.



    The latter role, which only came about fairly recently, IS the result of an election by Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.
  • Reply 11 of 61
    groveratgroverat Posts: 10,872member
    If Israel is targetting terrorist their guns should be turned on their own murderous Prime Minister. <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Story/0,2763,426809,00.html"; target="_blank">Sharon is a scumbag</a>



    Israel *says* they aren't targetting Arafat but that was after rocket attacks took out his main office and one of his homes. I guess they were after his terrorist pets.



    By refusing to recognize and listen to Arafat (although it won't last, this is a bullshit tactic they've pulled before), Sharon is basically admitting he wants war. That's what got him elected, he's a goddam warhawk and everyone knew it when they voted for him.



    Israel needs to get the settlers out of Palestinian territory. There needs to be movement on the U.S. proposal of a Palestinian state.



    And this all needs to happen yesterday.
  • Reply 12 of 61
    eugeneeugene Posts: 8,254member
    I really don't consider Arafat a terrorist. And idiot, yes, but not a terrorist. He has no power. His people don't believe in him. I think he should just step down and let the Palestinian hardliners run their hopes into the ground. Arafat *is* irrelevent, but that's how it has been for some time.



    I think Ehud Barak tried very hard to settle with Arafat back when he was Prime Minister of Israel, and while the deal probably sounded sweet to Arafat, there are enough people who are far more ambitious than Arafat that could have swatted Arafat right out of his leadership position.



    I'll tell you, Arafat is better than those that would replace him, but since Israel has already given up, it's time for Arafat to give up. Every single time he calls for the violence to stop, it just gets worse. It's time for Arafat to give up on his people too. Let the hardliners wage war they'll never win. In 10 years, if Arafat lives that long, he'll get to say I told you so to what is left of the Palestinian people.
  • Reply 13 of 61
    [quote]Originally posted by groverat:

    <strong>If Israel is targetting terrorist their guns should be turned on their own murderous Prime Minister. <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Story/0,2763,426809,00.html"; target="_blank">Sharon is a scumbag</a>



    Israel *says* they aren't targetting Arafat but that was after rocket attacks took out his main office and one of his homes. I guess they were after his terrorist pets.



    By refusing to recognize and listen to Arafat (although it won't last, this is a bullshit tactic they've pulled before), Sharon is basically admitting he wants war. That's what got him elected, he's a goddam warhawk and everyone knew it when they voted for him.



    Israel needs to get the settlers out of Palestinian territory. There needs to be movement on the U.S. proposal of a Palestinian state.



    And this all needs to happen yesterday.</strong><hr></blockquote>





    You did a great job taking one side there. Must have foggent all those peace talks Israel went to with Terroristfat. Then Terroristfat called for his "infatada". So it's all Israel's fault. Yea
  • Reply 14 of 61
    groveratgroverat Posts: 10,872member
    When did I say it was all Israel's fault?



    We are talking about a specific issue here, Scott H., and I'm surprised you lost touch with it so quickly considering you started the thread.



    Even one side, as if you take more than one side. As if you even scrape objectivity.



    Do you disagree or have a problem with anything I actually said or is it just a reaction thing?
  • Reply 15 of 61
    [quote]Originally posted by groverat:

    <strong>When did I say it was all Israel's fault?



    We are talking about a specific issue here, Scott H., and I'm surprised you lost touch with it so quickly considering you started the thread.



    Even one side, as if you take more than one side. As if you even scrape objectivity.



    Do you disagree or have a problem with anything I actually said or is it just a reaction thing?</strong><hr></blockquote>





    You just strike me as one sided.
  • Reply 16 of 61
    A Safire column doesn't mean the NYT has "come out against Arafat." Safire writes an op-ed column for the NYT (and has for years), but he doesn't write any of the NYT's editorials.



    Op-ed column: Newspaper hires columnist; columnist then says pretty much whatever he wants. It's the columnist's opinion.



    Editorial: Usually unsigned, it represents the opinion of the newspaper's editorial board. The newspaper's "official stance."



    <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2001/12/14/opinion/14FRI1.html"; target="_blank">This</a> is what you're looking for: the NYT's most recent editorial on Arafat.



    When it comes to the Middle East, though, my man is <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2001/12/05/opinion/05FRIE.html"; target="_blank">Tom Friedman</a>. He tells it like it is.



    P.S. I like Safire, though ... I think he's one of the better conservative commentators.



    [ 12-18-2001: Message edited by: CaseCom ]</p>
  • Reply 17 of 61
    ac2cac2c Posts: 60member
    Propoganda is propoganda no matter the source. Truth mixed with half truth mixed with lies all to support a specific view and to persuade neutral or third parties to take your side. The spin doctors on both sides are working very hard to justify that which can't be justified. Both sides are right and both sides are wrong. The problem is that neither government is willing to do the necessary things internally to stop what is happening. Both sides can proclaim how they are victims and that it is the other sides fault and nothing will be accomplished to actually stop the killing. The only end to this is if one side or the other "wins" which would mean another large number of years of warfare and terrorisim or that a third party steps in and flat tells both sides to stop "or else". There is nothing like a third party for both sides to hate to draw those two sides togeather.
  • Reply 18 of 61
    zozo Posts: 3,115member
    Admittedly Arafat is no angel.



    I honestly think he should step aside... its been something like 40 years he has been at this. No one has had the intensity and passion as he has, and I cannot think of the Palestinians without thinking of Arafat... I would have no idea who could replace him.



    The problem is that if you get rid of him, there will surely be a power vacuum. He also knows everything inn such detail and intimacy that Palestinian future is basically dependent on him. Possible everything could collapse and get worse if he were to leave.



    But there is the problem that he is definetly getting old and maybe not exactly coherent all the time. He may have taken some things TOO personally and not being objective anymore. Like a few years ago, he could have conceeded some very minor points and have better peace now, but some Palestinian critics were saying that he was getting WEAK and giving Palestine away, ble bla bla. Media didn't help when they started rubbing the point that his ego was probably getting hurt and was worried about HOW he would be remembered in history.



    From what it seems, he has been taking decisions these past few years more based on how they will reflect upon [b]himself[/] in the future rather than concretely help out the situation.



    This is what I have been gathering from the past few years and from talking sometimes with people of the area... and is in no way an official view.



    PS. Sharon is much more dangerous to everyone that Arafat.
  • Reply 19 of 61
    moogsmoogs Posts: 4,296member
    I think you folks are missing a key point. Can you think of *any* political solution, speech, apology (or anything else) that will stop the average young Israeli man or young Palestinian man from wanting the other dead because each of them has lost a neighbor a friend or even a brother in the last year? It's too late for diplomacy with these people. And I agree with Groverat in the sense that the people in power in Israel right now are indeed warhawks. They may talk a big game, but what they want is any excuse they can get to pound the crap out of their enemy.



    These people want to fight, not meet and shake hands. Sometimes that's just the way it is. At this point, I wager the quickest way to a lasting peace is to let them fight it out in earnest, rather than continue endlessly with these car bombings, police actions and rocket attacks. Let them do their worst to one another and either they'll figure out in a hurry they need to find another way, or they'll fight until one side surrenders.



    Not trying to be insensitive. I don't like watching civilians (of any nation) die anymore than the rest of you, but it's my belief these people want war. There is so much tension and hatred built up that politicians covering it up with halk-baked peace agreements won't solve a damn thing.
  • Reply 20 of 61
    ac2cac2c Posts: 60member
    Unfortunately one side has an army and the atom bomb and the other side has bombs attached to terrorists. Hmm, it looks to me that a war is impractical from one side and terrorist attacks impractical from the other side. Not only do they not have a mutual ground to talk about peace, they don't have a common military/terrorist field of battle to fight on. How about a third party step in and take all the leaders into the middle of the Sinai, surround them, give them each a baseball bat and let them go at it. When it gets down to the last remaining leader - shoot him. Then maybe they can go back to the peace table. If not, repeat with the new leaders and as often as necessary.
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