OPINION

Double siege

In recent history, only two states have said in public that they aspire to the physical extermination of another country’s leader: the United States and Israel. Israel behaves like a little America. It violates previous agreements, snubs United Nations resolutions and public sentiment, and, finally, treats war as the fundamental manifestation of politics. One of the main reasons why the Israelis endorse this policy is, of course, that US protection allows them to act unchecked. A second reason is that the anti-war movement in the country, fervent as it may be, has been overshadowed by religious and nationalist extremists and, hence, falls short of convincing zealots that «a tooth for a tooth» is not a solution, either for their compatriots or for the Palestinians – even less so when it is «a head for a tooth.» US Secretary of State Colin Powell opposes the confinement of Yasser Arafat and the proposals to assassinate the Palestinian leader – but this is unlikely to have any effect on Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who is well aware that Powell’s objections have been fruitless in the past. Hence, Israel appears set to continue its siege, the aim being Arafat’s moral, political – and potentially physical – elimination. At the same time, although Israel has left him no room to maneuver, it will keep accusing him of failing to keep a rein on Palestinian suicide bombers. If Arafat is «part of the problem, not part of the solution,» as Israel claims, then Sharon, a man with a bloody history, is most certainly also part of the problem – and a bigger one indeed. As for the shameful wall that the Israelis are building to isolate the Palestinians, this will eventually isolate them from the rest of the world, leaving them besieged by their own violence.