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Sunday, April 14, 2002
This time, he really means it
Under intense pressure from the United States, Yasser Arafat vigorously denounced terrorism. Well, he kinda, sorta disagreed with terrorism. Actually, he didn't say anything; instead, he issued a press release. An eleven paragraph press release, of which one mentions yesterday's homicide bombing. Even then, it was carefully worded:
On this basis, we strongly condemn the violent operations that target Israeli civilians, especially the recent operation in Jerusalem.
The catch here is, many Palestinians do not view Israelis living in the West Bank or Gaza as "civilians," regardless of their jobs. Arafat was careful not to spell that out, though. He went on to spend most of his statement condemning Israel, as if anybody needed a reminder of his opinions on that subject.

But what was extremely conspicuous by its absence was anything stronger than a "condemnation." For instance, an order to his forces not to engage in terrorism. Or, heaven forbid, an order to his forces to arrest others engaging in terrorism. Not that even the most starry-eyed optimist expected that. Still, Colin Powell, desperate to pretend that diplomacy still has relevance here, seized on this statement as sufficient to justify a meeting on Sunday.

At this meeting, Yasser can pretend that he's really truly sorry and won't do it anymore, and Powell can pretend to believe him, and then Bush can pretend to be hopeful, and Sharon can pretend he cares, and then Arafat can get back to the business of terrorism and Europeans can get back to deploring the "cycle of violence" and condemning Israel, and Saddam Hussein can get back to encouraging attacks on Israel to distract Bush from attacking him.

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