Why Did Arafat Declare Attrition War Against Israel?
by Gad Nahshon
Three days following his visit to Barak's house in Kochar - Yasser Arafat decided to expose his concepts of launching a total frontal "attrition war" against Israel. In the Israeli press some experts tried to explain Arafat's new policy which dismantled his past pretension to look for a real peace with Israel. One must define Arafat's character: he is a pathological liar, a sophisticated manipulator, a shark with strong jaws, a crocodile who smells blood, a and a vulture who preys on any sign of weakness.
Arafat is a master of politics both within the Middles East and internationally. His life as an underground terrorist demonstrate these characteristics, it is in his nature. The fact that his Arab or Muslim enemies did not murder him demonstrates his sense of survival. But we, always, while discussing an event, must relate to the issue of timing. Until now Arafat was successful in using his own sense of timing to push Israel or Ehud Barak's government into a defensive position. He managed to entrap Israel by using Arik Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount as an excuse for retaliation. He decided to give the "green light" to his idea of the "attrition war" against Israel.
But why did he choose this specific time of the holidays for the Jews in Israel? One can only speculate: Arafat is very sick, he is afraid to die without the celebration of the establishment of a Palestinian state. Additionally, Arafat needed to turn the focus of his people away from his domestic failures. He failed to build a solid infrastructure of a state economy. His government as a result became very corrupted. Millions of dollars disappeared. Arafat expresses that he is losing his power and authority within the Palestinian community. He was forced to become more extreme in his political sentiment with regard to Israel because Hamas had gained power.
When Arafat went to Camp David, he brought with him his lack of faith; he pushed Barak to accept his demands through extortion. He dismantled two Israeli historical taboos: the fate of Jerusalem and the put the "Palestinian Law of Return" on the agenda. It should be noted that David Ben-Gurion was the creator of the second taboo. He could have signed peace agreements had he been willing to compromise!
For many years Israel refused to allow the residents of the Arab villages Ikrit and Biram to re-settle over there because of the fear of establishing a dangerous precedent. So Arafat dismantled our sacred norm by bringing the issue of Palestinian return once again to the forefront. The violence of the Israeli-Arabs who define themselves as Palestinians demonstrate what can happen if Israel will absorb refugees or around a million Palestinians. The outcome would be crystal clear: there would be an Arab majority in Israel by the year 2020 or 2050. Even worse, the death of Israel! Nonetheless Arafat used this meeting at Camp David as a vehicle for winning a psychological victory. He demonstrated his strength to the world by blackmailing the United States and Israel alike.
Arafat also reinforced the undeclared civil war within Israel between the Hawks and Doves. He knew that Barak's response or reaction would antagonize, at least, half of Israel's citizens. He knowingly prompted discord among Israelis themselves. Yasser Arafat knows that Barak is a weak leader and will not be able to force Israel to accept the possible agreement with Arafat. As a result, when the battle within Israel erupted, the Israeli battle regarding the unity of Jerusalem, Arafat, the sneak, stormed out of Camp David.
Arafat has been biding his time until the new election, he prefers George Bush, Jr., as the lesser of two evils. He believes that corporate America and oil interests as represented by George Bush, Jr. and Papa Bush will be more neutral than Bill Clinton or Al Gore. Therefore, Arafat has taken a wait and see approach. However, he must not be idle, because after all he did promise a Palestinian state to his people. Arafat gave birth to expectations; the outcome was his willingness to give the go to the "attrition war."
Arafat is a victim of a high degree of expectations: he has mobilized the international community, the European union, the French and Russian. He produces the violence, in turn the above condemn Israel. He enjoys the UN's almost automatic full support. Therefore, his PLO delegation in the UN never re-models its attack on Israel, never have they considered the fact that a peace process took place in the Middle East! Arafat intends to isolate Israel and even the United States, at least, until the moment in which he can judge the newly elected President of the United States' policies in relation to the Middle East.
Arafat calls for an international investigation committee, his plan to put on trial Israelis portraying them as war criminals. He is even ready to hand over Jerusalem to a UN government.
The timing of his attrition war also stems from his perception that the Israeli Arabs are his new soldiers in a great battle. They are his trump card; in his eyes, they can destabilize the state from within using its democratic regime. The Israeli Arabs can declare their wish to unite with their counter-parts in the impending PLO State.
These Arabs do not have to transfer themselves since they believe that their lands are historically integrated into part of their "Great Palestine". Their spokesman, Dr.Hanan Ashrawi declared on Niteline, recently, that in 1948 the Palestinians made a gesture to the Jews and let them establish their state, of course, on Palestinian lands. Indeed, Palestinians tend to rewrite history so that they are the victims of their Israeli enemy.
As part of their Palestinian Propaganda, the Israeli Arabs have enslaved themselves to dangerous myths and illusions. So Arafat manipulates and capitalizes on their sentiment and uses them to aid in his attrition war by all means necessary.
Yasser Arafat's perception also stems from the belief that the Israeli army and security forces lost their vitality and sense of improvisation and creativity. There were many stories about the low level of motivation. He, also, viewed Israel's South-Lebanon evacuation as a sign of weakness. For him it was proof that the Israeli soldiers lost their motivation. Of course, the Hizbullah fighters turned out to be heroes. It was they who showed that Israel lost its military superiority. Arafat, also believes that Israel is managing a kind of policy of defeatism or a defensive mentality. You give your enemy the ability to dictate the character, place and timing of the confrontation.
Arafat perceived the Israeli entity as an American one: the idea of good time and good life and parties and the wish to obtain luxurious assets, the rising of a "consumer society," all these tendencies according to his assessment reduced Israel's will to survive as one nation.
Yasser Arafat cultivated the Israeli camp of "Peace Now." He told the Israeli Doves that the obstacle for peace is Bibi Netanyahu or the Israeli racists or even Nazis, as he called them. He managed to create terrible chasm inside the heart of Israeli society. He is the master of illusions. Arafat almost caused a civil war after the late Itzhak Rabin was assassinated (November 1995) in Tel-Aviv. Do you remember how he kissed the widow of Lea Rabin? He was never looking for peace or a true compromise!
He, systematically, engineered Israel's undoing from within by any means possible. He marketed the peace only as a way to gain time, to gain profits, to gain support. Arafat used peace as a way in which to pacify many and then once he did so he brought forth one more demand. Yasser Arafat is always two steps ahead of the United States. You can never fulfill his wishes. He manipulated Israel's camp of peace, people with hope and those pessimists who said, "we do see some light at the end of the Middle East tunnel." He betrayed them all and even laughed in their face telling Ehud Barak to "Go to hell!" in a press conference. It is the same Barak that hosted him in his home a few days before Rosh Hashanah, before Sharon's visit.
Arafat's assessment also was based on the crisis of the Israeli politics, the crisis of the Israeli fragile coalition government. He tries to enjoy the Israeli near political anarchy caused by bad basic laws and a terrible election system which has produced disunity, too many parties and factions, a legislative branch which does not produce a stable nor effective executive branch of government. Arafat also was encouraged by the high degree of confrontation between religious and secular Israelis and those between Ashkenazim and Sepharadim. These terrible domestic crises probably inflated Arafat's illusions or wishful thinking.
He was aware of the attempt of the Israeli ultra-orthodox camp to de-legitimize Israel's secular-democratic essence claiming that Israel, the real one should be a "Jewish State", indeed a Torah and Halacha State. They even questioned the authority of Israel's Supreme Court. These non-stop domestic shameful confrontations dismantle our national consensus and have shrunk our national energies. They have contributed to the various dangerous expressions of hate between brothers. Furthermore, these conflicts have caused a reduction in prestige of the Israeli Knesset.
Arafat concluded that all this shameful developments are the epitome of a nation that has replaced its unity with a process of disintegration. Israel's will to survive has become weaker. Arafat entertains this conclusion in his mind. Perhaps he thinks he is the winner of the intensive "psychological war" which he has launched for many years against Israel together with the Arab Muslim world and other anti-Israeli forces just because the Israeli post-Zionist historians promoted the guilt complex claiming that Israel was born in 1948, in sin, and the Israelis were the ones who committed crimes against the quiet peace loving Palestinians. We the Jews should be blamed for all the existing evil in this world. They, the post-Zionists manage to 'revise' in their conclusions the history textbooks in the Israeli public schools.
Arafat just enjoys the new wave of quiet inside the Israeli society. The Zionist idea became just a member of the "kingdom of evil." The torch of justice was handed to Arafat to the P.L.O. Israel became the unjust entity. He further enjoys this new intellectual discussion in Israel. It contributed to his decision to launch the new war of attrition. He and his PLO leaders or propaganda experts such as Dr.Hanan Ashrawi do not say even one word of thanks to the Israeli camp of peace. They do no care about its fate and frustration.
The various Palestinian leaders used these Israelis who indeed believe in peace and compromise, Israelis who had to fight with those who knew from the beginning that Arafat is a liar, they fought with those who argued that the Oslo Accords were a mistake. And then one day Arafat betrayed them. He does not recognize them anymore. He wants to destroy Israel by using all means necessary period.
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