A Terrorist by Any Other Name
May God give me the honor of martyrdom in my steadfastness for Jerusalem.” Like the terrorist that he truly is, Yasser Arafat bellows from behind the walls of his compound in Ramallah. His aging body belies the youthful vigor he has for terror.
Under former President Bill Clinton, Americans seemed to have forgotten that Arafat is a terrorist. But the events of September 11, 2001, brought back into our collective national conscious a renewed awareness that there is evil in the world and some people are, in the words of President George W. Bush, “evildoers.”
Working in the Washington, D.C., area, I have been given the unique opportunity to watch the issue of the security of Israel and the protection of Jerusalem become increasingly more important to both our current president and members of Congress.
One of the most brilliant speeches I have ever heard was given by former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before a U.S. House committee that asked him to address the question, “How do we wage a war on terrorism?”
Netanyahu eloquently reminded us all that there is now a collective “we.” It is composed of Israel and the United States, two countries joined together by the common goals of liberty, freedom, and democracy, and now both hated by those who recognize the connectedness of the Judeo-Christian worldview. “They hate us,” he said, “not for what we’ve done, but rather for who we are.”
The fact that the former prime minister would even be called to testify is clear evidence that something is happening in Washington regarding America’s relationship with Israel. For far too long, we have been made to listen to the mindless mantra of “land for peace” as the equation for the successful termination of conflict in Israel. Nothing in history bears out this fuzzy-headed thinking. I remember hearing Netanyahu give a speech in which he said, in effect, if you take the phrase land for peace and drop it in the context of application, what most of the apologists of that opinion really mean is “give Israel away one piece at a time.”
But September 11 did something to remove Arafat’s mask. Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, a man who once viewed Arafat as someone with whom he could partner in peace, has now had a kind of “Damascus Road” experience. Blinded by the light of harsh reality, he now says, “Yasser Arafat happens to behave like a terrorist, he looks like one, he walks like one, he quacks like one, so maybe he really is a terrorist.”
In a meeting with National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Barak also said, “It is about time we tell the truth . . . about his behavior to be able to draw some conclusions.” Not bad for someone who once dug in with Arafat at Camp David for two weeks in July 2000 and hoped to emerge a partner in peace. Problem is, the other partner has to want peace. The real issue with Arafat is that he doesn’t.
On Capitol Hill, new leaders are emerging who are not afraid to tell the truth when it comes to terrorists. Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) is one of them. He has introduced two pieces of legislation that send a clear message to Arafat that his hatred will not be tolerated. If these bills become law, they will hit Arafat where he will feel it the most—in his pocketbook.
The Temple Mount Preservation Act (H.R. 2566) that Congressman Cantor introduced would cut off funding to the Palestinian Authority (PA) if it continues destroying the Temple Mount. Har ha-Bayit, as it is known in Hebrew, is significant for both its history and antiquities.
In 1967 Jerusalem became a united city under Israel’s sovereignty. Since then, Israel has been legally responsible for the Temple Mount and viewed it as a place of importance for Jews, Christians, and Muslims.
Congressman Cantor’s legislation states the following:
In the aftermath of the 1993 Oslo Accords, Yassir Arafat’s Palestinian Authority asserted preeminence on the Temple Mount through the subversion of the Waqf (Religious Council) and by coercing the Jordan-affiliated officials and clergymen off the Temple Mount. Arafat personally nominated the virulently anti-Semitic and anti-American Mufti Ikrima Sabri as the Imam of al-Aqsa Mosque. In May 1998, Sabri declared that the Jews have no right to the Temple Mount.
Imagine a piece of legislation that tells the real history behind the repeated attempts to destroy Har ha-Bayit. No revisionist interpretations here—just the facts and the clout of Congress to back it up.
The legislation acknowledged that massive excavation and unsupervised destruction of artifacts discovered within the Temple Mount threaten to eliminate all historical evidence of Jewish activity on the Temple Mount and are attempts to “discredit Israeli claims of sovereignty over the Temple Mount.”
If enacted into law, the legislation will prevent any U.S. funds from assisting the Palestinian Authority if evidence shows that excavation is being done on the Temple Mount by anyone other than those authorized by the Israeli Antiquities Authority.
The second piece of legislation is called the Peace With Security Act. This bill is designed to stop the practice of sending American taxpayer dollars overseas to Yasser Arafat and his band of terrorists. The act declares the following:
Chairman Arafat’s Fatah group has claimed responsibility for numerous terrorist attacks on innocent Israeli civilians, including the November 29, 2001, bus bomb killing three people and wounding nine people.
The findings continue: “The Palestinian Authority was responsible for the voyage of the Karine A freighter, captured by Israel in the Red Sea on January 3, 2002, carrying 50 tons of weapons.”
Congressman Cantor pointed out that the United States sends an average of $75 million every year to the PA, administered through the United States Agency for International Development. Last year an additional $125 million of American taxpayer money was delivered to the PA as part of a $400-million, three-year aid package appropriated by Congress in 2000. If this important piece of legislation is enacted into law, it will put a stop to the funding of the PA and all its agencies with American taxpayer money.
Something seems to be happening in Washington. The tenure of a president who courted terrorists at the White House is gone. We now have a president who has “zero tolerance” for terrorism and sponsors of terrorism. He has stated, “Mr. Arafat has to show the world that he is willing to join our fight against terror.” Don’t hold your breath.
Arafat talks peace out of one side of his mouth and gives the orders to kill out of the other. Washington appears to have had enough. Democrats and Republicans alike are calling for moves to isolate Arafat, including closing the PLO Mission in Washington and preventing Palestinian officials from coming into the United States.
Those of us who love Israel and pray for her continued safety must take heart. A crisp wind of reason is blowing through the nation’s capital. We have seen and felt the effects of terror on our own soil. The days of uttering messages of “reasoned response” are no more. Now we choose sides. The nation must decide if it is for freedom and democracy or for terror and evildoers.
September 11, 2001, changed the heart of America forever. Conversations about terrorism are no longer simply relegated to the State Department or college political science classes. Terrorism has a face and a name—and it must be dealt with. Washington has been issued a wake-up call that has aroused the sleeping giant.