Not Arafat, Sharon or the UN

Posted: Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Mary Noble scoffs at Ariel Sharon being called a "man of peace" by George W. Bush. I agree: Sharon is a career soldier whose past actions have, among other things, helped save Israel from "peaceful" Arab armies.

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Not Arafat, Sharon or the UN

I don't agree with his present policies, but Ms. Noble leaves some important things out of her vivid description. The Israeli government found Sharon "indirectly responsible" for the terrible massacres at Sabra and Chatila refugee camps in that he allowed Lebanese Arab Christian militia to enter the camps and go berserk in what was originally an attempt to clean out PLO soldiers hiding amidst the civilian population. He was criminally, unforgivably negligent, but he did not order the massacre nor was it committed by Israeli forces, as Ms. Noble implies by her omissions.

As to him being guilty of genocide, Ms. Noble should consult a dictionary, not the U.N. General Assembly or Palestinian propaganda emissions. Genocide is an attempt to annihilate an entire people, and the events at Sabra and Chatila, while tragic and horrible, were not part of any Israeli plan, which is what the word "genocide" implies. Arab and anti-Semitic propagandists use the word "genocide" as a way of vilifying the Israelis and belittling the systematic massacre of 6 million Jews in World War II.

As to Mr. Hekker's letter suggesting the U.N. should unilaterally declare a Palestinian state within the pre-1967 borders, here's why not:

1) It rewards Arafat's strategy of halting negotiations and turning extremism to get a better deal. When the moderate Israeli leader Ehud Barak offered to return to roughly the pre-1967 borders, dismantle the settlements, make a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem and compensate all refugees who had not yet been compensated, Arafat's response was to free Palestinian terrorists and launch the Intifada. Israel's response was Ariel Sharon.

2) The Saudi's offer of peace for a return to pre-1967 borders has to be taken with a grain of salt. Israel was within its pre-1967 borders when the Saudis and other Arab states tried to exterminate it in the Six Day war.

3) Mr. Hekker ignores a key element of the Saudi plan: the Right of Return. By Arafat's calculation, some 5 million people living outside Israel have the right to return to Israel as citizens. This is 3-6 times the original number of refugees and would mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state and refuge. This is the peace offered by Arafat and the Saudis. Until this key issue is resolved at a negotiating table, any "peace" will only be a strategic restructuring for the next round of demands.

Perhaps peace can be achieved in Israel, but not by Arafat, Sharon or the United Nations.

Stuart Cohen


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