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Bring Arafat to Justice

By Michael Freund. The Jerusalem Post, September 25, 2002

After two years of relentless Palestinian terror, there is something refreshingly ironic about Yasser Arafat's current plight.

Holed up in what remains of his Ramallah compound known as the Mukata, Arafat now finds himself surrounded by Jews in uniform, members of the very same people he has devoted his career to mercilessly killing and destroying.

With their rifles at the ready, these proud young defenders of the Jewish people stand prepared to bring the Palestinian leader to justice, if only Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will give the order. This is a moment we should all be relishing.

Indeed, not since May 1960, when Israeli agents apprehended German mastermind Adolf Eichmann outside his Buenos Aires home on Garibaldi Street, has a mass murderer of Jews been so close to being captured.

In his account of the operation, The House on Garibaldi Street, Mossad chief Isser Harel explained the reason behind his determination to bring Eichmann to justice: "In everything pertaining to the Jews, he was the paramount authority and his were the hands that pulled the strings controlling manhunt and massacre... this man was pointed to as the head butcher".

By now, it should be clear to all that those words offer an apt description of Yasser Arafat, too.

It is Arafat's hand that signed the checks to fund Palestinian terror attacks against Israel. And it is Arafat's voice that gave the green light to Hamas, Islamic Jihad and his own Fatah movement to launch suicide-bombing attacks against innocent men, women and children. And it is Arafat's mind that plotted and oversaw the present wave of Palestinian terror.

"His were the hands that pulled the strings..."

As a result, over 600 innocent Israelis have been murdered in the past two years by Palestinian terrorists. That is 600 compelling reasons to bring Arafat to justice. Which is not to mention the Munich Olympics massacre, the Achille Lauro hijacking or other various atrocities perpetrated over the years by the PLO.

The French are said to be "appalled", and the rest of Europe is hopping mad, that Israel now dares to turn up the heat on the leader of the Palestinian revolution.

Let them fume all they wish. They stood by silently as Eichmann's henchmen murdered Jews half a century ago, and they spoke out in protest only when Israel hunted him down and brought him to trial.

Then, as now, they do nothing to stop the killing of Jews, but everything to stop the State of Israel from seeking justice.

But, with Arafat in its crosshairs, Israel now has an opportunity to remind the world, and many Israelis too, about the meaning of Zionism and Jewish sovereignty: namely, that those who kill Jews can no longer do so with impunity.

It was a lesson that guided the state in its early years, giving rise to the daring operation that brought Eichmann to a courthouse in Jerusalem. But that lesson was largely brushed aside over much of the past decade, when the government chose to court Arafat rather than haul him before a court.

The point here, quite simply, is this: anyone who murders Jews, as Arafat has done, must be made to pay for his actions.

In his last address to his men before the end of the Second World War, Eichmann is reported by one of his close associates to have said these chilling words: "I shall leap into my grave laughing, because the feeling that I have the deaths of five million people on my conscience will be for me a source of extraordinary satisfaction."

Israel's task now is to ensure that Arafat knows no similar sense of contentment.

After pursuing him on and off over the past four decades for his lethal anti-Jewish terror, Israel now has Arafat in its sights, in the modern-day equivalent of the house on Garibaldi Street, in the heart of Ramallah.

Now is the time for Israel to finish the job. Now is the time to bring Arafat to justice once and for all.