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Press ReleaseIsrael/Middle East
ADL Editorial Survey: U.S. Newspapers Send A Message To Arafat

New York, NY, December 11, 2001 ... In the aftermath of a series of deadly suicide attacks against Israel, U.S. newspapers issued a stern warning to Yasir Arafat that time is "running out" for him to renounce terrorism and crack down on extremists.
Previous Editorial Surveys Also Show Strong Support for Israel
   • June 25, 2001
   • December 2000
   • October 2000

In an informal survey of 50 large circulation U.S. newspapers, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) found that of the 40 newspapers commenting on the terrorism against Israel, more than half suggested that Arafat had reached a "defining moment" of his leadership. The survey, which looked at editorials appearing December 3-6, 2001, immediately following a wave of suicide attacks against Israel, was ADL's fourth gauge of editorial content on the Middle East since the conflict began in September 2000.

"The prevailing message to Arafat is that he must act against terrorism," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "A majority of U.S. newspapers are making the argument that the onus is on Arafat to renounce terrorism and crack down on Palestinian extremists if there is to be any future hope for peace and stability in the region."

Of the 40 editorials analyzed in the ADL survey:

  • 21 newspapers focused on Yasir Arafat's responsibility to end terrorism;
  • 13 newspapers, stated that while unreliable, Arafat should be given a chance to renounce terrorism and bring the parties back to negotiations;
  • 3 newspapers rejected Arafat as a peace partner;
  • 3 newspapers criticized the Israeli government and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, saying his decisions were not giving Arafat enough leeway to respond to terrorism.

Selected Excerpts:

A 'Decisive Moment'

Twenty-one newspapers agreed it was time for Arafat to choose between cracking down on Palestinian terrorism or being forced from the scene. Newspapers in this category included The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Chicago-Sun Times, USA Today, Boston Globe, Newark Star-Ledger, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Kansas City Star, Houston Chronicle, Rocky Mountain News, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, New Orleans Times-Picayune, Detroit Free Press, Miami Herald, St. Petersburg Times and The Buffalo News.

"A decisive moment is now at hand in which Mr. Arafat has to assert his authority with actions, not merely words. He must, as Washington demands, break up the terrorist organizations led by Hamas and Islamic Jihad by arresting leaders involved in planning violence and by seizing illegally held arms." - Rising Violence in the Mideast, The New York Times, 12/3/01.

"With the peace process in ruins, mostly because Arafat lacked the courage to make a deal, even Israeli moderates now see him as someone who never will negotiate in good faith. … Arafat must choose: crack down in hopes of defeating his terrorists or join them and be crushed by Israel." - With support shrinking, Arafat arrives at crossroads, USA Today, 12/4/01.

"(Arafat) has one last chance to rein in terrorists like the ones who spilled so much Israeli blood in recent days. … "It's showdown time for the Palestinian leader." - Showdown For Arafat , Los Angeles Times, 12/4/01.

"If Arafat wants to preserve the Palestinian Authority and any hope for resuming negotiations that may lead to peaceful coexistence between Israel and a truly viable Palestinian state, then he must drop all his past sophistry about opposing terrorism and take sustained actions to stop it. - Arafat's duty, Boston Globe, 12/3/01.

"The final moment has come for Arafat to choose: He can either break up Hamas and the Islamic Jihad and imprison their terrorist members, or he can face the end of his rule." - Arafat's choice: He must crack down or pack up, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 12/4/01.

Give Arafat A Chance

Thirteen newspapers suggested that Arafat was the only person who is in a position to fight Palestinian terrorists and to engage in peace negotiations with Israel. Many of these editorials suggested that any alternative would be a victory for the terrorists.

"… Mr. Arafat must be given a chance - if only because the alternatives are so much worse, both for the Palestinians and the Israelis." - Israel's Weekend of Terror, The Washington Post, 12/3/01.

"While Israel has a right to take defensive measures, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon must resist the pressure from hard-line associates who are calling on him to topple Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasir Arafat. Ending Mr. Arafat's rule would not end terrorist attacks. It would, more likely, cause bombings at restaurants, nightclubs and on buses." - Let Arafat stay, but he must fight terror, Philadelphia Inquirer, 12/4/01.

"Maybe the terrible events of the last 48 hours will make it clear to the White House and the world that the key to ending violence in the Mideast is not pressuring Israel or taking a so-called evenhanded approach to the dispute. The essential step is for Arafat to show that he will not use Palestinian terrorism against Israel as a tactic to improve his negotiating position." -More Terror: The key to Mideast peace isn't pressuring Israel, it's having Arafat put a stop to the violence, Newsday, 12/3/01.

Arafat Must Go

Three newspapers said Arafat was not a legitimate partner for peace and called for his ouster.

"Violence and murder have been an integral part of the Palestinian diplomatic strategy: Whenever Arafat can't get what he wants at the bargaining table, he tries to force concessions through mayhem, hoping to wear down the Israeli public and Western leaders. In short, Yasser Arafat is not a legitimate partner for peace." - Israel's War, and America's, New York Post, 12/3/01.

"Arafat created the horrors visited upon Israel. He appears neither willing nor able to dismantle the network of killers behind the continuing acts of terrorism. Any legitimacy he might have had is gone. Given that, it's time to move on without him." - More victims at Arafat's hands, New York Daily News, 12/3/01.

"Arafat's routine pledge to round up the usual Hamas suspects can hardly be trusted. These are the same people he promised to control as part of Oslo. Instead he released most of them from jail last year when he began the Second Intifada. … Expelling Arafat the way Jordan did in 1970 would … make sense." - One Man's Terrorist, The Wall Street Journal, 12/6/01.

Criticism of Israel

Three newspapers said that Israel should give Arafat time to act, and that Israel's military actions against Palestinian terrorists were aiding the terrorists.

"Mr. Bush was right to condemn the terrorist attacks and to demand that Mr. Arafat break up the groups that perpetrated them. However, he erred in not urging Mr. Sharon to exercise restraint … he should have urged Mr. Sharon to give Mr. Arafat more time to show his true face." - Mideast violence: Give Arafat time to show his true face, Dallas Morning News, 12/4/01.

"For Israel to take out the Palestinian Authority would be a victory for Hamas and other practitioners of permanent terrorism. … For Israel to close every door except the one to a true cease-fire would defeat terrorism." - Israel's war on terrorism - Sharon's Move: Maximum response is not the way to shut down the Palestinian violence, Baltimore Sun, 12/4/01.

"Sharon's focus on Arafat is misplaced. His tough speech to his nation … blamed Arafat for the terrorism, but Arafat has never had control over Palestinian intifadas, neither intifada 1 or the current intifada 2. Many observers say Arafat has lost control because he is seen as cooperating with Israelis, jailing extremists who want to show Sharon he is not the only tough guy on the block." - A futile fight, San Diego Union Tribune, 12/4/01.

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