Slate's Benjamin Soskis notes that the so-called "peace activists" who "marched into Yasser Arafat's besieged Ramallah compound to volunteer their services as human shields" were in fact openly partisan supporters of a renowned terrorist leader. Somewhat naively, he asks, "What did these demonstrators do to deserve the peace imprimatur?"
In fact, they did what "peace activists" have always done, agitating for democratic societies to appease a brutally violent dictator. In 1938, it was Adolf Hitler; in 1983, Yuri Andropov. In 1991, they sought to protect Saddam Hussein; in 1999, Slobodan Milosevic; in 2001, Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden. The peace activists of 2002 are now defending none other than Yasser Arafat.
Pacifists protest all violence equally; their moral views are certainly open to argument, but they are at least consistently non-partisan. Neutral mediators believe that all conflict is resolvable through "meet-in-the-middle" compromise. They, too, can be criticized for their lack of moral distinctions, but like pacifists, they have the virtue of consistency--and occasionally their efforts even bear fruit.
But "peace" is a good that never needs defending and never lacks advocates. Thus those who march under its vacuous banner are invariably using it as mere cover for their real cause, which is not peace but rather capitulation to evil. The foreign volunteers who have thrown their bodies into the physical defense of Yasser Arafat, shielding him from an entire nation of his victims, are embracing a very long and deeply shameful heritage.