Sunday, November 14, 2004

Before we officially deify him

Elan Journo of has a powerful insight regarding the West's attitude towards Arafat. Inspite of being the world's foremost terrorist, who targeted not only Jews but Americans and other Westerners as well, he was somehow never SEEN as the massmurdering criminal that he was.
Arafat specialized in high-profile attacks targeting civilians, in order to inflict the severest psychological devastation. The slaughter of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics; the assassination of American diplomats in Sudan; the massacre of school children in Maalot, Israel (a model for the recent mass murder at a high school in Beslan, Russia); the hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro, in which wheelchair-bound American Leon Klinghoffer was tossed overboard--Arafat was responsible for these and hundreds of other kidnappings, car-bombings, hijackings, and brutal murders. Also, during the 1970s he fomented bloody civil wars in Jordan and Lebanon.
After 1993, the world could be momentarily forgiven for thinking the terrorist had changed his way. But it became very clear very quickly that the only thing changed was his approach to the 'Jewish problem'. Suicide bombings, uncounted 'security forces' that work hand-in-glove with the terrorists or are an integral part of them, the only thing that changed was the facade. And to the people that stupidly chose an Egyptian as their leader, he was everybit the cruel and corrupt despot that is the hallmark of all Arabic and most Muslim countries. And what did the West think of all that?
...far from condemning Arafat’s vicious rule, the European Union and America supported it with hundreds of millions of dollars in aid.

This extravagant tolerance of Arafat, given his blood-soaked record, is not due to ignorance on the part of our politicians. It comes from the precept that moral judgment is an obstacle to action. This is the view that moral principles are an impediment to achieving practical aims, such as peace. One should, on this view, remain morally neutral--even though one side may be clearly in the right--and try to engage both sides in gentlemanly negotiation--even though one side may be a murderous thug.
And then Journo comes with this eye-opener:
Because moral neutrality is such an obviously immoral policy, its perpetrators must blacken the good while whitewashing the evil. Hence, world leaders condemn Israel, the innocent victim who refuses to submit, and lionize Arafat, the ruthless killer.
This is so crucial, and true. All politics are to a degree inherently corrupt. And if people feel a need to deal with someone as evil as Arafat was, you have to be very corrupt indeed, or morally bankrupt. You are forced to create a false impression of moral equivalency: The Arabs aren't all that bad, and the Jews certainly aren't all that good. "The Arabs bomb buses, sure, but the Israeli's make them wait at checkpoints, causing humiliation". Journo closes better than I could:
Arafat's elevation to the dignity of a peace-seeking statesman is due to our politicians' moral corruption. Were he judged properly, Arafat would long ago have been dealt the punishment he deserved. By sustaining him and perpetuating the delusion that Arafat was really a well-meaning statesman, politicians committed treason to his innocent victims.
And I have no illusions they will deal any differently with whoever takes his place in the time to come.


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