June 11, 2002

EVEN ROBERT SCHEER is writing off Arafat:

Arafat has failed the ultimate test of a revolutionary leader, which is to take his people past the stage of violence to that of self-governance. He has lacked the integrity to challenge the desperation and temporary effectiveness of suicide bombings–tactics that are ultimately suicidal not only for the individual but for the cause of Palestinian statehood. He has failed to encourage the committed and talented youth of Palestine to become honest administrators, tough negotiators and brave truth-tellers, and instead has sent them off to die as mute bomb-bearers.

Facing such a dominant army, those who are stateless can only win by proving their case in the court of world opinion. By embracing the self-immolation of his own people as their most reliable weapon, Arafat has failed miserably to do this. By surrendering to the agenda of the religious fanatics who have long opposed him, as well as the more secular crazies within his own political coalition, Arafat has sabotaged the hopes of moderate Israelis and Palestinians and those who support them abroad.

Rebellion has a long, proud history, in our country and elsewhere, when fueled by the desire of regular citizens to pursue a normal life without abuse and threat.

A rebellion that feeds on the allure of martyrdom and the sacrifice of children, however, can find its end only in more pain and darkness.

It’s Scheer, of course, so he still manages to blame the Israeli electorate for having “turned its back” on Barak, and to blame Bush for having “long ignored” (I guess that would be 8 months “long”) the plight of Palestinians. But such blame doesn’t mean much, given that Barak had the poor judgment to trust a man who no longer enjoys the support even of Robert Scheer. If Scheer wants to blame Bush, he should blame him for still taking Arafat seriously, when even the Robert Scheers of the world know better now.

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