In one of the reports about Yasser Arafat’s supposed poisoning, radioactive polonium was found in urine stains on his underwear.
Let that sink in. (Or perhaps I should say, “Let’s take a moment to absorb that.” And also, let’s leave aside the question of who was keeping watch over Arafat’s stained drawers for at least nine years. The mind boggles.)
The father of Palestinian nationalism, the leader of the Arab revolution, the symbol of the wretched of the earth rising up against their oppressors, the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for God’s sake, peed in his pants.
Friends have often reminded me that world leaders, great celebrities, icons of this or that, put on their pants one leg at a time. In other words, just like you and me.
But Arafat peed in his pants. I’m guessing that the panther of Palestine might have sprung a leak in Beirut, when the Israeli army was closing in on the PLO. Or perhaps in the Ramallah Mukata headquarters in 2002 when Israel finally fought back after Arafat unleashed the second intifada that killed over 1,200 Israelis and wounded over 8,000. Or perhaps when Arafat was sealed off in the Mukata and he could hear the ground shake from the Israeli bulldozers enforcing the siege.
I’m also thinking U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry got a whiff of Arafat’s urological reaction and decided to bring the fear factor into his Middle Eastern mission.
Kerry hit a new low when he threatened Israel with a third intifada, international isolation and delegitimization if we don’t hurry up and listen to what Uncle Sam wants us to do to reach an agreement with the Palestinians. He obviously believes we’d react the same way Arafat did if we felt the noose was tightening.
That’s not going to happen.
Kerry’s threats will not cow Israelis into accepting terms which they know are dangerous. He should also know — if he mobilizes his own intelligence instead of echoing his master’s voice — that his threats are empty.
The bulk of the Palestinian population is in no mood for another intifada, even though their unelected leadership may try to start one. They understand that they will lose all of what they have achieved over the last few years of fiscal semi-responsibility — and will gain nothing in return. Israel will not allow the violence to go unchecked for over a year, as it did in 2000.
Isolation and delegitimization are also a bluff. Countries choose their bilateral ties based on self-interest. Israel is today involved in more international projects and private commercial deals than ever before. This is because we have what to offer to countries of all levels of development around the globe — from the U.S., Canada, the European Union, Japan, India, China and Russia, to the less developed states of Africa and South America. Everytime some BDS crackpot succeeds in getting a local supermarket to ban Israeli humous, Israel signs a new multi-million (or is that multi-billion) dollar agreement in the area of communication, agriculture, computer software, bio-tech, or water conservation.
Instead of frightening us, all that Kerry’s dire warnings have done is bring U.S. diplomacy deeper in the latrine. The foreign policy of the U.S. today is going down in flames in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. (I don’t know about South America and Africa.) U.S. foreign policy is in the most incompetant hands since Jimmy Carter. In fact, there is no real policy, only ideology-based reactions which see American power as part of the problem rather than a potential force for good.
Once-solid allies like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, Jordan and Israel feel confused and betrayed. Adversaries like Russia, Iran and Syria are bouyed by America’s weakness, hesitancy and unreliability. Foes are coddled; friends are dismissed — and threatened!
So dear Mr. Secretary, please suck it in. There might be a few “trembling Israelites” around, most of whom identify with Israeli left-wing parties and organizations. But the rest of us know how to hold our urine. Don’t expect us to demonstrate symptoms of Arafat’s leaky leadership just because you get angry at us.