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Yes, Blame Arafat

Yes, Blame Arafat

The new revisionist view of last summer's Camp David Mideast summit— perhaps best described as a "don't blame Arafat" campaign - is morally and historically false.


Courtesy of The Jewish Week.

The new revisionist view of last summer's Camp David Mideast summit — perhaps best described as a "don't blame Arafat" campaign — is upon us with a vengeance, literally. But the logic of the Arab public relations effort is deeply flawed, the "facts" don't hold up and the attempt to vindicate the Palestinian leadership at the expense of Israeli officials is morally and historically false.

One need not deconstruct the thousands of words in Deborah Sontag's analysis in The New York Times ("Quest For Mideast Peace: How and Why It Failed; Many Now Agree That All the Parties, Not Just Arafat Were to Blame," July 26) to see that the front-page post-mortem makes the same fatal mistake as the Mitchell Report (on the cause of the renewed intifada), the new touchstone of Mideast peace efforts. Both accounts try so hard to be fair to all parties that they equalize unequal truths, invoke symmetry when there is none, and refuse to cast proportional blame. The result is not only to make a mockery of reality but to distort history in dangerous ways.

The Sontag report and a Times editorial three days later ("Looking Back At Camp David"), which asserts the summit "fell short because of insufficient preparation and a lack of trust and chemistry between the two leaders," are partial truths that add up to a misleading conclusion.

It may well be that Ehud Barak was less than congenial in dealing with Yasir Arafat or that the U.S. pressured the Palestinian leader to come to the summit, but those matters hardly compare to the fact that Arafat rejected Barak's generous offer to create a Palestinian state on more than 90 percent of the contested land, including Jerusalem. What is more, even Sontag acknowledges that the Palestinians never wavered from their refusal to accept any territorial compromise and made no counter offers. (As Daily News columnist Zev Chafets put it this week, "in other words, all Israel needed to do to save the summit, and make the peace, was to give the Palestinians 100 percent of what they wanted — and then drop dead.")

What Sontag does not mention is that the Palestinians violated the most basic premise of the Oslo accords from Day One, eight years ago, by resorting to violence after pledging to solve all differences through negotiations. That, and praising the Palestinian killers, as well as ignoring Oslo's insistence on ending vicious anti-Semitism in textbooks, the media and public talks, are not mentioned in the analysis of what doomed the peace effort.

Perhaps most disturbing, the Times report lends credence to the notion that the renewed intifada began last fall after Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount; the Mitchell Report disputes this and a number of high-ranking Palestinian officials have since acknowledged that the violence was planned, and indeed had begun, before the visit.

The Sontag "special report," which never supports its contention that Arafat did not turn down 97 percent of the West Bank, is being viewed by some in the context of a new attempt on the part of the Palestinian camp to counter what it calls "the myth" of Camp David.

Until recently, the Palestinians did not aggressively challenge the American and Israeli versions of what sabotaged the summit last July — namely, Yasir Arafat's complete rejection of Barak's generous offer and the Palestinians' decision to use violence as a means of achieving their goals.

In recent weeks, though, the Palestinians struck back on several fronts. With the help of Edward Abington, a Washington-based former U.S. Mideast diplomat who is now a consultant to the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinians issued a slick document on Capitol Hill asserting Arafat did not reject Israel's offer, which wasn't all that generous.

Robert Malley, a member of the U.S. Mideast peace team at Camp David, published an op-ed piece in the Times several weeks ago (based on a longer piece in the New York Review of Books), making similar claims, and noting that Arafat was forced into the summit showdown and was faced with a "take it or leave it" offer from Barak.

The Palestinian goal has been and remains to destroy the Jewish state, not make peace with it.

Just last week, Ahmed Queria, a top Palestinian negotiator at Camp David known as Abu Ala, gave a rare press conference in which he asserted that the U.S. and Israeli accounts of what transpired at Camp David are a lie.

But none of these efforts disprove the tragic but overwhelming evidence that the Palestinian goal has been and remains to destroy the Jewish state, not make peace with it. Only that awareness and acknowledgment accounts for the ongoing effort to deny any Jewish historical ties to the land, the preaching of anti-Semitic hate in the schools and media, the insistence on a law of return that would make Jews a minority in Israel, the glorification of suicide bombers as martyrs, the persistent call for "the liberation of all of Palestine," and the daily attacks on Israeli civilians.

Maybe diplomats are trained to place hope above reality, but the rest of us cannot ignore the facts. It is true that in the end, the Israelis and Palestinians, fated to live side by side forever, will have to negotiate in good faith if there is ever to be an end to the violence. But the last 10 months have shown us all too vividly that one side is not ready to bury the sword.

Courtesy of The Jewish Week.

August 4, 2001

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Visitor Comments: 10

(10) Evert Eijeriks, August 29, 2001 12:00 AM

The issue of Yasir Arafat, the PLO is one filled with manipulation and lies.

Yasir Arafat is the one that speaks with a double tongue, and alterior motives. The only point in his agenda is to have the world condemn Yisrael for

its righteous self defence. Jewry around the world should remember that the Land of Yirael is given to the descendants of Abraham, the jewish people are in Yisrael now because G-d again has shown to His People, the Jews, Whom He choose for His Own, to give them a Nation from which they will never be uprooted again. The world saw this historical event take place in May 1948. Then during the 6 day war we saw Yerushalayim reunited with the rest of eretz Yisrael, only another bit of proof of G-d's favour and fullfilment of His Promises to His People. The only ones that are resisting this fact is the whole of the islamic and arabic world, with Yasir Arafat up front, as the snake that he is. The only way to have some sort of relative peace, is for the phillistines to accept that a G-d is the only Supreme One, to surrender to the Government of Yisrael, abide by its Laws. Then there will be a relative peace, then the parents of the phillistine people should teach their children not to hate which they embed into their offspring as from an early age, fanned by the immams and other religious islamic 'leaders'. It is amazing how to witness again, that as long there's little literacy among the phillistines there is all the more a frenzied rage whipped up by those in religious islamic positions. We have been witness to somthing similar in Europe in the preceedings to WW2, again the world knows and sees what is happening to the Jewish Nation and its People and again they do little or nothing, except condemn when Yisrael take action against the terrorism they are exposed to. The defence of the Nation Yisrael, and its People is righteous, and never to be stopped.

(If it was me in charge there would be no gaza strip where phillistines conduct their terror campaigns, and smuggle weapons in from Egypt. There would be no phillistine enclaves in the Land of Yirael, no proclamation of a state within a State, with the only aim to destroy the one legitimate State.)

G-d Bless you and keep you, People of Yisrael. I say, because Yisrael lives, G-d Lives, He will keep His Promises to you.

Shalom Shalom

(9) Raymond Padowitz, August 13, 2001 12:00 AM

Value of Jewish life

It is interesting that the citizens of the USA are more concerned about the life of embros in a Petrie dish than 15 innocent lives lost in a Jerusalem pizza parlor. Is that "prolife"?

(8) Anonymous, August 13, 2001 12:00 AM

retake land until there is peace

It is time to reoccupy the palestinian areas and start the whole negotiation process again. This time the palestinians must set up democratic institutions. When we see a peace now movement there it will be time to revisit concessions Israel might make.

(7) jamie lloyd, August 13, 2001 12:00 AM

Look at it from Arafats point of view

You guys shouldnt be so hard on Mr Arafat. He is in no place to sign a deal with Israel ever, if he did he would get shot. We've already seen what happened to the Egyptian President back in the 70s and more reciently Mr Rabim. There is just no way hes going to do that. Even if he got the west bank, gaza and the temple mount!, there would still be plenty of mad arabs more than happy to pop him of for betraying the cause. You should never ever have the false hope that a peace deal will get through with him there or any palestinian leader that values there own life, it just wont happen!!

(6) Ray Lawter, August 12, 2001 12:00 AM

Israel is a world leader excusing itself for not leading.

With all due respect to the military strategists and the actions taken by Israel, retaliation does justify the existence of Palestinians who plot and die (in honor according to their lights) for terror strikes against Israel. I'm saying the obvious when I point out that Israel has the brainpower and the obligation to lead the world in solving all the Palestinian "injustices." It requires a new mindset from those presently in charge. Security tools exist to stop or slow the onslaught of terror strikes. Providing a homeland for a people bent on being satisfied only with Israel's land should be a doable issue by any of several ways. Israel can lead the way.
Ray Lawter, Millersburg, OH

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