Put Arafat on Trial
By Alan M. Dershowitz
The rule of law requires that murderers
be brought to justice. Yasser Arafat is a cold-blooded, premeditated
murderer. It would seem to follow that he should be brought to trial.
The incontrovertible evidence of Arafat's complicity in murder goes back
1973, when Palestinian terrorists invaded a diplomatic reception at the
Saudi Arabian Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan and kidnapped two American
diplomats and a Belgian diplomat.
The U.S. National Security Agency intercepted a communication between
Yasser Arafat in Beirut and Khalil al-Wazir in the Khartoum office of
Fatah. According to James Welch, an American security agent who
the intercept, Arafat was directly involved in the operation, which was
code-named Nahr al-Bard, or Cold River.
The U.S. government has hard evidence that when the Americans refused
demands of the Palestinian terrorists - to free Sirhan Sirhan, the
of Robert Kennedy - Yasser Arafat personally ordered the murder of the
three diplomats, one of whom was then the highest ranking
in the foreign service. The diplomats were taken to the basement of the
embassy and tortured to death so brutally that "authorities couldn't
which was black and which was white."
Arafat took credit for these murders during a private dinner with
dictator Nicolae Ceausescu two months later. The dinner was attended by
General Ion Mihai Pacepa, a high-ranking Romanian intelligence officer
later defected to the United States. Pacepa wrote an article for the
Street Journal earlier this year in which he stated that "Arafat
bragged about his Khartoum operation." According to General Pacepa,
also claimed credit for the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972
These are just some of the thousands of victims - American, Israeli, and
others - of the godfather of Palestinian terrorism. Arafat, like Osama
Laden, has also targeted Jews, just because they are Jews. These targets
have included people at prayer in synagogues throughout Europe as well
children in nurseries and school buses. His killing continues up to the
present time, as do his false denials.
One can only imagine how many innocent civilians would have been killed
the boatload of Iranian arms captured by the Israelis earlier this year.
General Pacepa wrote in the Wall Street Journal: "Yasser Arafat remains
same bloody terrorist I knew so well during my years at the top of
Romania's Foreign Intelligence Service." This conclusion has been
by many documents discovered by the Israel Defense Forces during
Any experienced prosecutor, given access to the evidence - some of which
currently secreted in American, Israeli, and European intelligence files
could present an open-and-shut first-degree murder case against Yasser
Arafat. In considering the various options available to Israel - exile
Arafat, continued negotiation with him, and even targeted assassination
scant consideration has been given to the most obvious legal option:
arresting Arafat for murder and placing him on trial in a public
with lawyers and witnesses of his choice.
The reason this option has not been seriously considered is the
fear that a trial of Arafat would cause more terrorism and more
hostage-taking by Palestinians determined to free him. In addition,
him on trial could make him a martyr among Palestinians, and perhaps
among some Europeans.
In the end, the Israeli government must make the tough decision whether
not to bring Arafat to trial, weighing the claims of public
against the practical difficulties of achieving justice. Were I an
I would recommend a public trial, despite the risks. The world should
the hard evidence that terrorism has become the tactic of choice for the
Palestinian Authority and that Yasser Arafat is personally responsible
the mass murder of innocent civilians. This is especially important
when so many Europeans and American academics seem unwilling to see
as a racist murderer.
Whether or not Israel chooses this option, one conclusion remains
clear: a fair and open trial of Yasser Arafat on charges of first-degree
murder would definitely produce a verdict of guilty.
from the November 2002 Edition of the Jewish Magazine