Slouching Toward Jerusalem

'Apparent' 'Wrong Turn' 'Signals' 'War'

Instead, editorialists ganged up to make Arafat the bogeyman. The Washington Post was diplomatic in its editorial of October 13, saying, "If [Sharon] hoped by means of his provocative visit to the Temple Mount to undermine [the peace process], he has succeeded. But he has succeeded only because Yasser Arafat made it so. Mr. Arafat did not simply refuse to call off . . . the riots; he actively and deliberately stoked them."

The Times October 13 editorial echoed the lesser-of-two-evils scenario. "As angry as he appeared yesterday," said the Times, "Mr. Barak seems prepared to do what he can to halt the bloodshed. Mr. Arafat has shown no such inclination in recent days, even though everyone knows that he can break the cycle of conflict."

One exception to the Arafat-bashing came from The Wall Street Journal, whose October 13 international page delivered a sharp analysis of Sharon, under the headline "An Old Soldier Who Isn't Fading Away." It noted that Sharon failed to prevent the massacre of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon in 1982.

But top honors go to CNN's Amanpour, who posed tough questions to Barak. Having pointed out that "there is no parity whatsoever" between the firepower of the Israeli army and the Palestinian civilians, she challenged the view that the Palestinians are solely responsible for the escalating violence. Barak responded with a classic denial: "We are not creating the provocation."

But it was another answer that resonated loudest, inviting viewers to draw their own conclusions. When Amanpour repeated Arafat's claim that Israel had declared war on the West Bank, Barak sputtered, "That's nonsense, bullshit, and propaganda."

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