The cult of violence that has typified the Palestinian movement for much of its history has been tolerated and often celebrated by the international community. If Palestinians now think they can advance their domestic interests by violence, nobody should be surprised: The way of the gun has been paying dividends for 40 years.
In 1972 Palestinian terrorists murdered Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. Yet only two years later Arafat addressed the UN General Assembly – the first non-government official so honored. In 1970 Arafat attempted to overthrow Jordan’s King Hussein and tried to do the same a few years later in Lebanon. Yet in 1980, the European Community, in its Venice Declaration, recognized Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization as a legitimate negotiating partner.
In 1993, Arafat was welcomed in the White House for the signing of the Oslo Accords with Israel. That same year, the British National Criminal Intelligence Service reported that the PLO made its money from “extortion, payoffs, illegal arms-dealing, drug trafficking, money laundering and fraud.”
In 2000, Arafat rejected an Israeli offer of statehood midwifed by President Clinton and instead initiated the bloody intifada that left 1,000 Israelis and 3,000 Palestinians dead.
Pressure will surely mount on Israel and the U.S. to accept Hamas’ ascendancy and begin negotiations with its leaders. But is it wise to negotiate with a group that kills its fellow Palestinians almost as freely as it does Israelis? And what would there be to negotiate about? A suspension of hostilities in exchange for renewed international funding would simply give Hamas time and money to consolidate its rule and rebuild an arsenal for future terror assaults.
A society that has spent the last decade celebrating suicide bombing has inevitably become a victim of its own nihilistic impulses. It is the bitter fruit of the decades of dictatorship and terrorism as statecraft that Yasser Arafat instilled among Palestinians.
And I might add, it was also a method of operation that the Muslim palestinians accepted with open-arms. No one forced them to put on their waist-laden TNT belts.