Saturday, March 30, 2002

It will be interesting to see if the Easter attack by the Israelis on Arafat will be regarded by future historians as the beginning of the end of the state of Israel. Since Arafat either can't or won't (or, most likely, a combination of can't and won't) control the suicide bombers, this attack will do nothing to deter them, and will probably just encourage them. It is almost certain that this attack is exactly what the instigators of the suicide bombings want. Israel can't possibly kill or chase away sufficient Palestinians to make a difference, and the obvious Israeli brutality has an effect both on world popular opinion and on internal Israeli politics. It also increases the suffering and feeling of hopelessness in the Palestinians, thus paradoxically creating more suicide bombers. The Israeli propaganda program to rid itself of Arafat and with him any need to negotiate with the Palestinians, and in particular to avoid having to fulfil the terms of the Oslo peace accords, has been planned for years. Sharon provoked the current intifada in order to create the need for security that allowed him to get power (showing how foolish it is to elect a psychopath if you're seeking security). Now the best conspiracy theory has Sharon and Hamas either explicitly or implicitly agreeing to a plan where the suicide bombings are increased to a point where Israel has an excuse to attack Arafat directly, and kill him. Thus removes Arafat, whose political flexibility infuriates both Hamas, who find him too conciliatory to Western politicians, and Sharon, who has always hated Arafat and finds his negotiating skills a barrier to the kind of brutality Sharon favours. The only problem with this theory is that Sharon has apparently promised Colin Powell that he won't kill Arafat (I guess the interesting point will be if they 'accidentally' kill him). If Arafat survives, he will be in an even stronger position with the Palestinians, who have always preferred Arafat the brave fighter to Arafat the politician. It also leaves the Israelis with no end game - unless the plan is to start a complete program of ethnic cleansing, which they would never get away with, all they will be able to do is either withdraw, or permanently stay. If they withdraw, they've accomplished nothing except improving Arafat's position with the Palestinians. If they stay, they begin the same set of mistakes which Sharon got into in the occupation of Lebanon.

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