November 29, 2004


Push for rule of law in West Bank: The return of noted reformer Nabil Amr to Palestinian politics comes at a crucial juncture. (Ben Lynfield, 11/30/04, CS Monitor)

If the gunmen who shot reformist Palestinian legislator Nabil Amr through the window of his house in July hoped to silence him, they are being disappointed.

Mr. Amr, a vocal critic of the late Yasser Arafat's monopoly on power, was warmly welcomed back to his village of Dura over the weekend after four months of treatment in a German hospital. He immediately lashed out at the Palestinian Authority's failure to arrest anyone in the shooting, and more generally, the absence of daily security for Palestinian citizens.

"I feel I am back to life again," says Amr, a former minister of information. "I'm back from the mouth of death to another stage in my life and I will continue my message and my position and my direction." He defines this as pushing for democracy, building viable institutions, and restructuring the unwieldy and often competing labyrinth of Palestinian security forces into one streamlined organization.

The question that the rapid pace of change in post-Arafat Palestine inevitably raises is why didn't we whack him years ago?

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 29, 2004 6:41 PM

It was Israel's job. And the Israeli government is criminally negligent, even malfeasant for not doing so. The day of fighting the terrorists is over. It is time to go after the leaders, whoever and wherever they may be.

Posted by: Bobby at November 29, 2004 10:19 PM

Of all the surprising things in the aftermath of 9/11, surely Arafat's continued survival tops the list.

Posted by: at November 30, 2004 3:03 AM

Arafat survived because the American political leadership decided to listen to the Arabists in the State Department, a group of advisers who have been consistently wrong for a century. Of course, if one were cynical, he could also claim that Petrodollars and traditional Jew-hatred had a lot to do with it.

Posted by: Bart at November 30, 2004 5:33 AM

Jesus Christ. Martin Luther King. John Kennedy. Robert Kennedy. Elvis. George Gip.

Sense a pattern? The Brothers and so many here are brilliant, but politicians you ain't.

Posted by: Seven Machos at November 30, 2004 10:16 AM


How much petromoney did the Israelis take in exchange for keeping him alive?

Posted by: oj at November 30, 2004 10:25 AM


No, what is it?

Posted by: oj at November 30, 2004 10:26 AM

America would have turned off the aid package, ended the MFN trade status, banned contributions by Americans to Israel and Israeli charities, taken Israeli companies off the NASDAQ, if Israel had offed that cockroach Arafat.

Posted by: Bart at November 30, 2004 10:40 AM

Terminal house arrest was absolutely the perfect political expedient for Israel. Had Yassar Arafat been assassinated, or had not otherwise died in a hospital of some disease at an old age, he would have become the greatest martyr in the last 2000 years. There would have been no possibility of peace. An inexhaustible amount of political capital would have been created for the Arab side premised on the idea that the killers of Arafat must be run out of the Middle East, even if it takes forever.

It would have been immensely gratifying to see the Israeli army kill Arafat, just as it must have been gratifying to certain sectors when Jesus was crucified, and just as it must have been gratifying to certain sectors when Martin Luther King was killed.

Finally, just to be clear: Jesus: good. MLK: good. Arafat: bad. But you simply cannot deny that Arafat was a hugely powerful symbol to Arabs. For them, Arafat: good. Just like with all the other martyrs, Arafat's untimely death would have produced disastrous results for his antagonists. The politically astute thing to do was to wait Arafat out, just as it would have been better to wait out all the other martyrs in history. States and ideas may be extinguished. People are always extinguished.

Posted by: Seven Machos at November 30, 2004 10:47 AM


We'd have scolded them for a minute and then blocked the UN resolution.

Posted by: oj at November 30, 2004 10:48 AM

Bart: What US government would have done any of those things except for maybe the aid package? Even then, there is a little thing called Congress that I think Jews have influence with.

Posted by: Bob at November 30, 2004 10:51 AM


You've lost me. There's one death on your list that mattered. How did MLK dying advance civil rights or JFK/RFK advance anything? Even their own brother couldn't get elected. Suppose a dead Arafat, what would the Palestinians have done, sent suicide bombers to Israel?

Posted by: oj at November 30, 2004 10:51 AM


After the Suez Crisis, Eisenhower did bar contributions to organizations associated with Israel. MFN didn't exist then, and neither did the Israeli presence in high-tech startups.

Congress rolls over like a Corgi, waiting for some pepperoni pizza from the table, whenever the President has pushed for something harmful to Israel. Do you remember the AWACS votes? I don't recall seeing that embassy moved to Jerusalem, do you?

You may want to loosen the tinfoil.

Posted by: Bart at November 30, 2004 11:13 AM


You are looking at this the wrong way. Suppose a live Jesus. Would Christianity have become such a huge phenomenon? Suppose Kennedy served a second term? Would the left have been able to push through the Great Society as it was written? Suppose Martin Luther King had never been assassinated? Would he be as revered today? Here's another one for you: suppose Arch Duke Ferdinand was not assassinated by Serbian nationalists. Would WWI have happened?

It's simply wrong to say that killing Arafat would have had the same effect as letting him waste away. When you are a statesman, you are thinking long-run. In the long run, does it really matter WHEN Arafat died? Not so much. What really matters is that you are not responsible for his death.

Had Israel killed Arafat, it would have led to another war in the Middle East.

Posted by: at November 30, 2004 11:18 AM

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. (You really think WWI was about the Archduke?)

You're talking about mere triggers, not the epiphenomena that they released.

What war? Nonme of the Arab states cared enough about Arafat to fight over his death and the Palestinians just want their own state--they don't care who gives it to them.

Posted by: oj at November 30, 2004 11:48 AM

Not sure what Bart means by "You may want to loosen the tinfoil" regarding my comment. AWACS was a sale to Saudi Arabia, not a cut off of aid. Your other example is from 1956! Political facts have changed since then.

We disagree and I get an insult. Well, here is on for you: You might want to get back on your Prozac before you hurt yourself.

Posted by: Bob at November 30, 2004 12:44 PM


It starts with AWACs and the next thing you know....well, nothing really.

Posted by: oj at November 30, 2004 3:00 PM

The sale of AWACS to Saudi Arabia was a direct threat to Israel, at least that was the position of the Israeli government and its supporters in AIPAC, and pretty much every Jewish organization in the States.

There simply aren't many flashpoints between Israel and the US because too many Israeli politicians are willing to act like American viceroys, rather than as representatives of a sovereign nation. The decision not to kill Arafat in 1982 is one. The decision not to whack the Arab capitals in 1973 is another. The decision to refrain from an attack on Iran is a third.

The 'tinfoil hat' retort was to your reference to 'Jewish influence' in Congress.

Posted by: Bart at December 1, 2004 4:10 AM


Those who truckle in petrodollar conspiracies can't quibble with Jewish lobby conspiracies.

Posted by: oj at December 1, 2004 7:32 AM


Actually, I wallow in petrodollar conspiracies. The difference is the existence of actual evidence for my position, whereas there is little to none for the other.

Posted by: Bart at December 1, 2004 10:01 AM

We're pressuring the Sau'dis to change their society and letting Sharon do whatever he wants to do--objectively you'd have to say the Elders of Zion peddlers trump the petroloons.

Posted by: oj at December 1, 2004 10:17 AM

Bart: There are how many Jewish senators? 10 or so? Compared to 1 percent of the population. What percentage of the contributions to Congresspeople or the 2 parties come from Jews? I submit that to say that Jews have influence in Congress is not wallowing in Jewish lobby conspiracies but stating fact. The same to say that farmers have influence on agriculture policy or unions on labor policy.

By the way, I'm Jewish by choice. I can now wallow in any Jewish lobby conspiracies I want to.

Posted by: Bob at December 1, 2004 11:20 AM

The people I know who rant about AIPAC almost always seem motivated by jealousy. The people who rant about the Sauds seem to be motivated more by confusion.

Just an observation.

Posted by: jim hamlen at December 1, 2004 9:31 PM