Political and Moral Corruption

I didn’t know what to think about Israel’s recent threat to kill Arafat. I wish they had done it years ago, but I wasn’t sure it would do much good now. Nonetheless the Israeli government did make the threat. And I agree with David Warren that, having made the threat but not followed through with it after the most recent terror bombing, Israel now is in a worse position than if it had never raised the issue.

It’s easy to blame the U.S. for Israel’s failure. However, as Warren points out, Israel probably would have gotten away with getting rid of Arafat. (What would we have done?) If Israel had killed him a month or two ago the matter would likely be behind them by now, and Arafat’s replacement — whoever he might be — would probably be most careful not to do anything that might lead to his own arafatization. That would have been progress.

I blame Israel’s failure on the moral confusion of its leaders, and of the people who elected them, and on the corruption of its political system by billions of dollars of U.S. aid. The Israelis behave like Chicago residents in the days of Dan Rostenkowski: they vote for leaders who will bring home the subsidies. Now they are getting what they voted for. Their political class puts Israel’s relationship with the United States over its own country’s security. This situation will continue until Israelis decide that their national interest in self-preservation comes before the illusory security of being on the dole.

11 thoughts on “Political and Moral Corruption”

  1. The only problem with killing Arafat is that it makes the man a martyr and keeps the same gang of murderous bastards back in charge in the short term, with a popular mandate for all-out terrorism. In other words, you can’t go ahead without being ready to take very intense short-term heat and high civilian and military casualties. Which will make the decision look very bad initially, at a huge political cost for the Israeli government.

    Of course, the outside world will screem bloody murder; never mind the old bastard spent his life murdering innocents, fine job for which he got a Nobel Peace Prize. Let’s face it : when it comes to the Middle East in general, and Israel and the US in particular, the critics at all level will denounce anything short of a perfect miracle as a failure. Systematically. Israel would lose big diplomatically. Of course, Israel needs to care about French or German opinion even less than the US but there would be consequences, and costs to bear. And it’s not clear to me the old guy is worth the trouble at this point.

    I guess I’m not sure the short-term cost is worth the long term benefits, given his age and health. I know I’ll celebrate when he dies, regardless how.

  2. The old guy is definitely not worth the trouble. The buzz is that he is dying – Drudge says its stomach cancer, others say he recently suffered a heart attack, he himself, apparently, thought he was being poisoned. Either way, its just a matter of time now.

  3. On the other hand, the Israelis will be blamed for it no matter how Arafat dies – the “poisoning” rumors are already circulating, natch. Don’t get the satisfaction of killing him, and get blamed for it anyway. Sigh.

  4. There needs to be a winner and a loser. Getting rid of Arafat will do nothing to further security… Israel should continue to target terrorists, wherever they are, and defeat them.

  5. Why give the French and American press something to editiorialize about. The Israelis should continue to go after middle management. Arafat probably does not directly contribute to the terrorism. Go after the operational leaders. No one in the West will even notice.

    Jim English
    Chicago, IL

  6. I wanted to add that when Arafat finally does die of natural causes, the Israelis should take full credit for his death. “Yeah, we poisoned him. We can get anybody if need be.” The Mossad has a mystique for this sort of thing. “Getting” Arafat would only add to this mystique.

  7. I realize that my last to posts seem to contradict each other. Please allow me to clarify. I do not think the Israelis should overtly attempt to kill Arafat. A military assualt that includes collateral damage and the death of innocents would be a PR disaster. Particularly if it failed to hit its target. But a “leak” to the intelligence community after his death from natural causes would make people think. It could never be proven or effectively disproven and would put the PLO in the position of having to deny Israeli involvement in order not to enhance Mossad’s mystique.

  8. Right, making a threat and then not carrying it out is a mistake, but probably not serious. Killing Arafat would solve nothing, but make some right wing Israelis feel good.

    You imply that Israeli restraint is based in fear of offending the US and risking loss of considerable aid, and seem to counsel standing up to the US. Well, yeah, an Israeli politician could feel good for a couple of minutes for being so brave as to piss off the US. No doubt there is a lot of tension in the relationship of always having to toe the US line or risk losing the subsidy; but, c’mon get real. This is about (1) the interest of every person of good will in the US or anywhere in the world of supporting the survival of a democracy, however flawed, in a part of the world where millions are ruled by thugs and fanatics who seem to have convinced their “constituents” that elimination of Israel itself and not just any particular Israeli politician will solve all of their problems, and (2) the interest that Israeli politicians should have in the survival and prosperity of their constituents, and for the time being that interest is best expressed through alliance with the US.

    This is not a situation where politicians can indulge in the sorts of feel-good activities that provide so much fun when they are undertaken by French, German, Belgian, and Canadian politicians living in peaceful democracies surrounded by like-minded neighbors.

  9. Well, the one good thing about the current French government, is that if they are apopleptic about the US or Israel doing something, it is a validation, a sure sign it should be done.

  10. Leaving aside the question of whether to ‘retire’ the World’s Oldest Terrorist, there is merit in Jonathan’s wider point about Israeli dependence on the USA. While there is unquestionable benefit to Israel in its alliance with the USA it is dangerous for Israelis to assume as a given that their interests will always be co-terminous.

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