(February 15) - In The New York Times of February 3, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat wrote of the "Palestinian vision of peace." What is the free world to make of Arafat's "vision," filled with the promise of peace and reconciliation?

Though there are leaders whose visions help us see beyond the often harsh reality we confront and point us toward a better future, there are also leaders who use the language of "peace," "justice" and "freedom" only as an ideological facade behind which they mask their true intentions.

Joseph Stalin was a perfect example of how a leader with Orwellian flair can employ a beautifully sounding "vision" to cloak the most horrific evil. While many in the free world believed in his promises of peace, freedom and justice in an age of universal brotherhood, Stalin was using communism to justify the murder of tens of millions of people.

Fortunately, history has taught us that we can judge a leader's vision before tragedy strikes by answering one simple question: Does the leader see human beings as merely instruments of power -- "cogs" as Stalin used to say - or as individuals whose lives are sacred in and of themselves? According to this criterion, Arafat's "vision of peace" is another attempt to hide evil behind a respectable veneer.

The contempt for human life that Arafat has shown demonstrates that he is firmly entrenched in the camp of evil and terror.

The contempt for human life that Arafat has shown over the last eight years clearly demonstrates that rather than being part of the fight for peace and justice, he is firmly entrenched in the camp of evil and terror.

Arafat has never had much respect for human life. In fact, one doesn't even have to turn to his past and present support of terror against Jewish and Arab civilians to prove it. Just look at how he has treated his own people. In 35 years, he has done nothing to improve their daily lives, preferring they remain in the squalor of refugee camps where they can be used as an ideological weapon against Israel.

In using the Palestinian people as pawns in the struggle against Israel, Arafat is joined by many Arab leaders.

Rather than asking why, after 54 years, the Palestinians have not been permitted to return to Israel, the world must ask why the leaders of Arab nations have made the Palestinians the only third generation refugees in the world by refusing to absorb their Arab brethren into their own countries.

When hundreds of thousands of Jews were thrown out of the Arab world after Israel's independence, the nascent Jewish state did not exploit the suffering of these refugees to serve ideological ends, but mobilized its limited resources to give them hope for a brighter future.

At Oslo, Arafat was given the opportunity to build a Palestinian Authority that could be used to better the lot of the Palestinian people. But rather than use his newfound powers to promote peace and bring about prosperity, Arafat again turned them into a battering ram against the Jewish state.

Money allocated to improve the Palestinians' standard of living was diverted to support a vast network of terror. Hundreds of millions of dollars earmarked for economic and social development were instead used to buy weapons with which to attack Israel. Broadcasting stations meant to promote democracy and freedom were used to foment incitement and justify terror. Schools meant to educate the next generation of Palestinians for peace with Israel have only inculcated hatred for Jews and their state.

While he writes in English of his vision of peace, Arafat sends a very different message in Arabic to his own people. He calls on them to become shaheeds in the struggle to liberate Jerusalem and preaches the virtues of martyrdom to Palestinian children through his state-controlled media.

The terrorist war he continues to wage against our civilians in cafes, discos and pizzerias has killed hundreds and devastated the lives of both Jews and Palestinians. We have spent the last eight years convincing ourselves that the key to peace was strengthening a dictator like Arafat, rather than the Palestinian people he continues to repress. The result has been that instead of paving the way toward an open and transparent Palestinian society that could serve as a shining example for the entire region, we have helped create a terrorist regime that endangers both Israelis and Palestinians.

A genuine vision for peace in our region is one where the free world stands firmly behind Israel's fight against terror and where it treats the Palestinian as equals, devoting its resources and energies to enable the Palestinian people to enjoy the same democratic freedoms that we so rightly cherish and not subjecting them to the rule of a terrorist tyrant.