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By Alan Caruba
I have been asked whether the death of Arafat will open the doors to peace between the so-called Palestinians and the Israelis. If the past is any indication, the answer is no. It is important to understand that Palestinians are Arabs. They have little or no experience with elections and, more importantly, the rule of law. Nothing protects Arabs from each other.
Who, I am asked, will be Arafat's successor? It hardly matters. Whoever is designated -- not elected -- the next prime minister will be more concerned with not being assassinated by his political enemies than with negotiating peace with the Israelis. Indeed, even the appearance of negotiating anything that might lead to a peaceful resolution will prove a hot ticket to Paradise.
It is well to remember that Jordan's King Abdullah, grandfather of King Hussein, was assassinated in 1951 and that, three months after Egypt's Anwar Sadat addressed the Israeli Knesset, one of his top advisors was assassinated in Cyprus. Sadat was later assassinated. The current leader of Pakistan has been targeted several times for assassination and the new President of Afghanistan survived at least one attempt of which we know. A deputy of the interim Iraqi government was recently assassinated. The very word "assassin" comes from an early Muslim era when this technique of leadership change was liberally applied between warring factions of Islam.
The real reason for the likelihood of bloodletting is that the dominant power in the Palestinian enclave of Gaza and the West Bank is Hamas. This organization of terrorists has been degraded of late by the Israeli policy of killing its leaders and fellow perpetrators of terrorism. So long as Hamas has funding, guns and bomb-making capabilities, they will call the tune to which Palestinians will dance. And dance they did on 9-11 and each time some child of theirs blows up some Israelis. The Palestinians were genuinely saddened by the capture of Saddam Hussein.
The transition period following Arafat's death is being led by former Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas as the chairman of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). This Arafat clone's greatest scholarly contribution was a book that refuted the murder of six million Jews by the Nazis during WWII. He concluded that "only" 890,000 died. Abbas looks good to Europeans and other anti-Semites because he has a law degree, acquired in Egypt and Syria, and a Ph.D. from Moscow Oriental College. As Irwin N. Graulich noted in March 2003, "His educational development was shaped by Nasser fascism, a Syrian totalitarianism, and a Communist Soviet Union. This is truly a foundation from hell."
This is, of course, not unknown to the Israelis and, whether he becomes Arafat's designated successor or not, his track record does not suggest an embrace of the very people who, as the founder of the terrorist Fatah movement, he has dedicated his life to destroying. The Israelis are, in his view, the "Zionist entity."
Even if the Palestinians come up with someone else to be their Prime Minister, it will be the fence the Israelis built that will most insure their defense against future bombers and not the death of Yasser Arafat.
The Palestinians still dream of "liberating the territories of 1948", not 1967, although they would be pleased to see the Israelis retreat to those borders. With this in mind, do not expect the departure of Arafat from this world to change very much in the near term. Only the destruction of Hamas will accomplish the first important step toward any semblance of peace.
Bury Arafat. Build the fence. Wait and see if the terror bombings cease.
The only Arabs who will continue to enjoy real freedom will be those who are citizens of Israel.
Alan Caruba writes a weekly commentary, "Warning Signs", posted on the website of The National Anxiety Center at www.anxietycenter.com. © Alan Caruba 2004
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