What’s all this debate in Israel about expelling or not expelling Arafat? Have we all gone mad? How will expelling him solve the problem (him)? As I recall, Arafat was in ‘exile’ till 1993, where he was able to lead a terrorist organization and plan attacks on Jews, Israelis, and others, around the world and in Israel. Don't forget, he managed to ally himself with Syria in Lebanon, creating a 'state' with-in a state brutalizing Lebanese along the way. Oh yes, he also managed to hobnob with the rich, famous, and powerful, lobbying for a ‘Palestinian State’ in his spare time. Can someone tell me what expelling Arafat will accomplish other than turning him into a ‘victim’ again? A roll he plays so well.
The debate shouldn’t be about expelling or not expelling him, either way we’re still stuck with his ‘leadership’ of the Palestinians. The real debate that has yet to begin in earnest, in Israel, is over trying him for crimes against humanity, i.e. the Jewish People, Lebanese and others. The only decent question for decent people to debate, is whether he should receive life in prison, or the death penalty?
I believe an Eichmann-like War Crimes Trial would educate a generation here in Israel and abroad to his murderous criminal activities. It would teach the world how to deal lawfully with terrorism and how not to appease it. Some might say that Arafat, as head of state is immune to prosecution. Well, guess what? He’s not the head of any state yet. Besides, that didn’t seem to stop Belgium when they contemplated prosecuting Ariel Sharon.
Let us say that since 1993 as head of the Palestinian Authority he’s wanted peace with Israel, and he just hasn’t been able to stop those nasty Hamas, Islamic Jihad, PFLP, Tanzim, and Al-Aksa Brigade terrorists (for the last two groups he’s officially their leader as head of Fatah). Do you believe that? Well, if so, why should we negotiate with him? Either he’s in charge, in which case he is culpable for their crimes, or he’s not in charge in which case we should start discussing who is and talk to them. But if he’s not responsible for all those bombings and killings since returning in 1993, on what could we try him?
How about for starters, trying him for his involvement in the murder of Americans. For example, 2 US diplomats in Khartoum, Sudan (1973) and Leon Klinghoffer at high sea (1986), all killed by his henchmen. The world might not care about Israelis and Jews killed around the world from the 1960’s till 1993 (when his ‘immunity’ began), but Americans care about the murder of their citizens overseas. Add to that, the PLO's murderous activities in Lebanon. He should be tried for the massacres in Damour, Beit Mullat and elsewhere (see Mordechai Nissan's "The Palestinian Strategy for Destroying Lebanon and Israel" at FreeLebanon.org).
Let me tell you, we should care about those Jews and Israelis killed even if others don’t, and try him for those crimes as well. Bringing their murderer’s leader to justice would teach the world a moral lesson for years to come. In most democracies, there is no statute of limitations on the crime of murder, or accomplice to murder. Just recently, a Connecticut court found the nephew of the late Ethel Kennedy (RFK’s widow); guilty of a murder he committed in 1975 at the age of 15, and gave him 20 years-life in prison. Connections to the Kennedy family didn’t seem to help him escape justice. Why should Arafat, a serial murderer of the worst kind, be allowed to escape justice? Just because he’s become a ‘respectable politician’?
Many of you may now raise the issue of ‘world outcry’. Well, we seemed to deal with it during the Eichmann trial, the Demaniuk trial, and the cries of massacre at Jenin. One lesson to learn is no matter how much the world condemns us, in 2 weeks there’s new headlines. Israel only needs the political strength to stand up for itself. Ariel Sharon and others showed us a glimmer of that during Operation Defensive Shield in April, by resisting the UN desire to investigate the 'Jenin Massacre'. Besides, fighting terrorism is in, and a strong Israel leading the way, would return our image that others looked up to in the past. “We don’t compromise with terrorists,” was a phrase that previously earned us respect in many quarters. It also set an example that others followed. In contrast to the ‘cowboy-style’ of carpet bombing, that the United States used in Afghanistan (which has raised many muted complaints globally); Israel in the full light of day, through a legitimate judicial process, could try and execute a mass murderer of innocent men, women, children, and babies.
Although I don’t feel the Fourth Geneva Convention applies to Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, there is an interesting point to think about for those who prefer expelling Arafat. While Part 3, Section 3, Article 49 forbids individual or mass transfers from occupied territories (and is likely to raise many cries worldwide that we are violating International Law). Articles 64, 66, 67, and 68 (of Section 3), allow the Occupying Power to bring to trial and impose the death penalty on a person guilty of espionage, serious acts of sabotage against the military installations of the Occupying Power, or of intentional offences which have caused the death of one or more persons. Israel would be on firmer legal ground trying Arafat (and any others), than expelling him.
Which leads to the last issue many might bring up. What’s after Arafat? Won’t Hamas or who knows what take over? Well friends, with over 600 killed and 1,000’s injured since Arafat started the 'Oslo War' in September 2001, tell me how it could get worse. Either Arafat is in charge and encouraging the terror, or he’s in charge but not doing anything to stop the murder, or he’s not really in charge and can’t control the terrorist groups. Either way he’s politically irrelevant, as the Israeli government has declared. We just need to follow through with the next logical step. Try and execute him! As I said earlier, educationally, he’s a great opportunity waiting for us to take. What many need to begin to understand is that behind Arafat, the PA and its leaders are Sheikh Yassin, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the others. Maybe we should start thinking of negotiating with Sheikh Yassin already. Or, maybe we have other ways to deal with them also.
The real debate over what to do with Yasser Arafat hasn’t yet begun in Israel. The only decent question for decent people to debate is, whether he should receive life in prison, or the death penalty? If there’s a referendum, you know my vote.
© 2002/5763 Pasko