An Obscene Comparison

It has become fashionable for the media to portray the current conflict between Israel and the Palestinians as a personal battle between two aging antagonists whose hatred for each other and intransigence is the obstacle to peace. This effort to equate Yasser Arafat and Ariel Sharon is obscene. Other than their ages (Arafat is 72 and Sharon is 74), the two men have little in common.

Sharon was born in Kfar Malal in Israel while most biographers say Arafat was born in Egypt.

Sharon is a farmer whose greatest passion is to return to work the land. Arafat has never had any connection to the land. He worked briefly as an engineer before becoming a full-time terrorist.

As a farmer, Sharon worked side by side with Israeli Arabs, who were employees on the farm, and who were treated equally with the Jewish employees. Arafat has never worked with Jews and his experience with them is almost exclusively in the political realm.

Sharon respects the rights of Arab citizens of Israel and was the first Israeli prime minister to appoint an Arab to his cabinet. Arafat wants to make the West Bank and Gaza Strip judenrein.

Sharon has spent a lifetime fighting for his people in the hope of achieving peace with the Arabs while Arafat has spent a lifetime fighting for his people with the goal of destroying Israel.

Sharon has been a combat soldier who has fought enemy soldiers in life or death battles. Arafat has never fought against an enemy soldier.

Sharon became one of Israel’s most respected generals because of his daring, his strategic thinking, and his ability to lead others in battles against military targets. Arafat gained his standing primarily by ordering others to carry out terrorist attacks against civilians.

Sharon has helped bring his nation great victories. Arafat has brought his people nothing but misery.

Sharon is the democratically elected prime minister of a nation that shares American values. Arafat is a dictator of a corrupt authoritarian regime that rejects American values, andwhose leadership is based on bullets rather than ballots.

Sharon has laid out a vision of peace with the Palestinians that will result in a Palestinian state beside Israel. Arafat remains committed to his vision of a Palestinian state that replaces Israel.

These are two men who have virtually nothing in common. Arafat doesn’t belong in the same universe with Sharon and the current conflict has nothing whatsoever to do with their mutual antipathy. Those who suggest otherwise simply choose to ignore history and present reality.

The media notion that both sides need to change leadership to bring about peace is absurd. Only one party has repeatedly rejected all offers of compromise. Only one “leader” has remained committed to the destruction of the other side. And only one man has led a nearly four decade long campaign of terror. That man is Yasser Arafat. And it is only when he is replaced that the prospects for peace will brighten, because a new Palestinian leader who proves in word and deed the desire to coexist with Israel will find an able and willing partner in Ariel Sharon.