Monday, June 17, 2002
"The Palestinians are fighting with human suicide bombers, that's all they have. The Israelis ... they've got one of the most powerful military machines in the world. The Palestinians have nothing. So who are the terrorists? I would make a case that both sides are involved in terrorism."
Turner has not yet accused the FBI and the Atlanta police of terrorizing Eric Robert Rudolph, the man accused of bombing the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and two other sites in Atlanta, killing at least two people and wounded others. But presumably a Ted Turner defense of Rudolph is just around the corner: "Rudolph fought with bombs, which is all he had. He was up against one of the most powerful law enforcement organizations in the world. How else was he to express his disaffection?"
Since the Palestinian Authority launched a war of terror against Israel nearly two years ago, many observers have grown increasingly skeptical of the ability of its chairman, Yasser Arafat, to lead Palestinian Arabs to a peaceful resolution of their long and bitter conflict with the Jewish state.... Nonetheless, it is turning out to be no simple matter for Americans and other well-intentioned mediators to arrive at a conclusion similar to the one reached regarding undesirable leaders in places such as Serbia, Afghanistan, and Iraq: That Arafat has become harmful enough to warrant being replaced. Secretary of State Colin Powell has declared repeatedly in recent months that the United States will continue to work with Arafat, in spite of everything, because he has the "mantle of leadership given to him by the Palestinian people," and because he "represents all the Palestinian people...."
But is it true? To take statements such as [these] seriously is to argue that while some national rulers are best viewed as illegitimate usurpers, Yasser Arafat is more like the leaders of democratic countries, who come to power through a fair expression of the popular will-and that as such, he cannot reasonably be replaced. Such a conclusion, however, would have to stand on more than the observation that an election was held in the West Bank and Gaza in January 1996 in which Arafat received nearly 90 percent of the votes. After all, plenty of dictators do that well in elections aimed principally at reinforcing their rule, and this phenomenon is particularly widespread in the Middle East.
The article then presents, in meticulous detail using original sources, a chilling description of how Arafat and his cronies used immoral and illegal tactics to deny the Palestinians any viable alternative to the PLO.
Notably, this article is written by Daniel Polisar, who can not easily be dismissed as a hard-line Israeli:
I will rely heavily on material my staff and I collected when I was the head of Peace Watch, an independent monitoring organization that was the only Israeli group officially accredited by the Palestinian Authority as an observer of its January 1996 elections. This position permitted me to see firsthand how these once-democratic institutions-which represented the best hope for creating true pluralism within Palestinian society-were beaten into submission. It also permitted me to witness certain rare cases of true heroism, in which these institutions and the individuals committed to them attempted to swim against the rising tide of dictatorship.
Go read it now!