In the year 375, an assembly of Turko-Mongolian horse tribes invaded the lands of the Germanic Goths, setting off a great wave of tumultuous migrations which finally ended in 568.
The Visigoths ended in Spain, while their eastern neighbors headed south for Italy. The Burgundians, originally from northern Germany, settled in France, while the Vandals, from present-day Poland, sacked Rome on their way to establishing an African kingdom based in Carthage. The Angles retreated west to a large island which presently bears their name, while the Lombards finally ended the long process with their conquest of the Ostrogoths in the region of northern Italy now known as Lombardia.
This was not the last wave of great migrations, as anyone living in the United States should be able to attest. It is clear, then, that the current plight of the Palestinian people is nothing new, nor is it something that has not been experienced at one time or another by most cultures.
What is different in this situation is the Palestinian leadership’s inability to recognize that they have been defeated in a war of territorial conquest, not once, but several times. Moreover, they were defeated by a people who have demonstrated an unprecedented determination in returning victoriously to the lands from which they were expelled 1,932 years ago. The Jews will not leave Israel again.
But it is not only the Palestinian leadership which has a problem recognizing reality. The Israeli peace camp, the European heads of state, the Bush administration, and now Israel’s national unity government have all demonstrated that they do not know how to deal satisfactorily with Yasser Arafat. It is obvious to all but the most obstinately blind that Mr. Arafat is a murderer and a terrorist, but few seem to recognize that he is first and foremost a tireless warrior.
Give the man his due. Yasser Arafat has persisted despite setbacks that would have caused a lesser man to despair. Adolph Hitler committed suicide when his dreams of a pagan Teutonic empire began to collapse around him. Were Arafat made of such fiber he would have been buried long ago. He will never give up the fight, not of his own accord. Unfortunately, he is also incapable of understanding forbearance, or that a failure to wield power is anything but a failure of the will.
The Jewish people have long been cursed by the inability of their leaders to recognize men of implacable ill-will. One of the sadly ironic tragedies of the Holocaust is the participation of Jews such as Mordechai Rumkowski and Jacob Gens in the administration of the Nazi’s murderous bureaucracy.
Like Shimon Peres and Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, “they believed in the bargaining process … in the vain hope of thereby protecting and saving those who remained.” But both men – along with the vast majority of the hundreds of thousands of Jews in their charge – were murdered by the bureaucratic machine they so unwisely chose to serve.
Warriors such as Yasser Arafat recognize only power and violence. But the strident reactions of his spokesmen to the recent invasion of Ramallah demonstrate that he knows when he is in real danger. Because he is both rational and intelligent, I believe that the only way to force Arafat to end his war is to force him to choose between surrender and merciless brutality.
The Israeli government must announce to the world a unilateral ceasefire, balanced by the deadly promise that for every Israeli soldier killed, 25 Palestinian police will die. For every civilian, 100 non-combatant Palestinian adults will be slain, and for every child, 1000 adults.
Furthermore, if another Jewish child is murdered, Mr. Arafat will be the first to pay the price. Only Palestinian children will be considered off-limits for these terrible reprisals. Whereas the historic 10-to-1 fatality ratio maintained a cold peace, the current 3-to-1 ratio foments a hot war. A 1,000-to-1 ratio will bring a permanent peace, one way or another.
In a fallen world, violence does solve some problems, and at times extreme violence is required. I do not wish for a single Israeli or Palestinian death, but a savage blow to end Yasser Arafat’s war is far, far better than allowing more innocents to die without an end in sight. The choice for peace or death is Mr. Arafat’s alone. And if he elects to die as he has lived, then remember that even the hydra had only nine heads.