Thursday, April 18, 2002

Bring the House Lights Up

Washington Post columnist Jim Hoagland gets dramatic today. He writes a stage monologue for Arafat:

"At Camp David, Clinton wanted to make me the George Washington of Palestine. But I would have had to sell out my people, in the miserable camps of Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, to become emir of the West Bank. Remember, that was the deal on offer. The money underneath the table was already pretty good -- not as good as what Saddam offers, but more secure.

"Those Israeli hacks say I could have achieved my strategic goals without bloodshed with that deal. But they miss the point. Bloodshed is the point. I had to seize, not passively receive. The Israelis now give me total credit for this intifada. History will remember me as warrior, resister, struggler.

"I am not a turncoat. Armed struggle has always been my way, my meaning, my religion. The borders of Palestine will be traced in blood, as a great nation's should be. The frontiers will be demarcated and protected by international troops, not by a groveling peace treaty. That is and was my plan. When Israel elected Sharon, to prove to us that brute force could make Israelis secure, it fell into place: We had to show them they were wrong.

"These fools in Washington and Europe chase their own tails by debating whether I am a terrorist or not. Did I ever shrink from murder when it was needed? They think if they come up with the right label, like 'Enduring Freedom' or 'homicide bombers,' then everything is fixed. And they say we Arabs are prisoners of rhetoric."

It has the ring of truth. The real Arafat has shown himself to be if not stranger, than at least more perverse than fiction.

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