Arafat just can't get no respect. And it isn't only the Israelis and their international
amen corner who hate him. Check out this leftist
diatribe in the [UK] Guardian aimed at the President of the Palestinian
"T. E. Lawrence
wrote of the Arab revolt of 1918 against Ottoman rule: 'I
had preached to Feisal [King of Hejaz, in Arabia] from the
beginning that freedom
was taken, not given.' Someone should preach that to Arafat.
For seven years after the Oslo agreement of 1993, Arafat
debased himself. He arrested Palestinians whom he or Israel
suspected of resisting military occupation. He received as
honored guests Israelis who had advocated building new settlements
and maintaining an army to protect them, within the borders
of the statelet he desired to govern. He must have noticed
the settler population double under his tenure to 400,000.
For seven years, until Palestinians rose against occupation
and the Oslo accords, he acted like a 'good Indian' to Americans
we are told, is "the Palestinian Petain"
this, after the man endured weeks cooped up in his Ramallah
office, surrounded by Israeli tanks and snipers, with a death
threat dangling over him. The Germans, to be sure, never surrounded
Petain's office, except, perhaps, to protect it from the French
resistance. But to Guardian-style fans of Hamas suicide
bombers, the point is not to learn from history, but to manipulate
it to certain ends. In this, they have much
in common with their ostensible opposite numbers in the
far-right faction of the Likud
remember that the Israeli Prime Minister, thug that he is, openly
regretted not killing Arafat when he had the chance but Ariel Sharon's would-be
successor vowed not to make that mistake. In a speech to the Likud conference
where the party voted against ever allowing a Palestinian state, Benjamin Netanyahu outlined
his vision of Arafat's fate:
must completely and totally eradicate Arafat's regime and remove him from the
his exclamation point. "Bibi" is perfectly
aware of what a demagogue he is and means to underscore it:
is because Arafat is the engine that drives the terror, restoring and reestablishing
it each time anew. He is responsible for poisoning the hearts and minds of an
entire generation of Palestinian children with boundless hatred for Israel and
poisoning of those young minds naturally has nothing to do with these kids seeing
their parents, along with themselves, humiliated on a daily basis; it has nothing
to do with growing up in jail, with seeing family and friends murdered, mutilated
physically and spiritually, by the Israeli occupiers. Boundless hatred? What did
Netanyahu expect gratitude? Understanding? Whimpers of masochistic pleasure?
Perhaps only the latter would satisfy him.
regret at not having offed his old antagonist is eerily echoed by a commentary
in Al Watan, a Kuwait daily newspaper (as
translated by MEMRI):
question is: Why doesn't Arafat come out in public and in front of the world's
TV cameras to, at the very least, announce his resignation? If he is serious in
his struggle to place the Jews in a quandary and [to] have the world sympathize
with him more and more, and to distance his people from the calamities of destruction
which have befallen them because of his [Arafat's] agreements and concessions...,
why does he not carry the weapon to fulfill his [declared] wish... to die as a
I simply transcribe the hyperbolic punctuation, and let columnist Zayd bin Ghayam
speak for himself:
does he not draw lessons from history? He would discover that one American Indian
chief, having failed to challenge the white 'Americans' when they invaded his
land, swallowed poison and died to preserve his dignity and, at the same time,
to protect his people from total destruction."
and Sharon would no doubt agree, along with Arafat-haters George Will, Bill Kristol,
Charles Krauthammer, and the American Likudnik faction of the Republican party.
Gee, I didn't know they had neocons in Kuwait, of all places: those guys
sure get around!
have to give Arafat credit: he survived. He slipped through the hands of the Israelis
and also those of his Arab enemies, notably the Syrians "the Harry Houdini
of Palestine," as the Guardian piece calls him. But the British lefties
fail to understand that this bourgeois individualism on Arafat's part, far from
being shameful, embodies a political will that of the Palestinian resistance.
The longevity and continuity of Arafat's leadership confers legitimacy on the
Palestinian cause: his personage is iconic. He is thus the universal target
excoriated by all, not only by the Guardian but also the Bush administration,
even as they insist the Israelis accept him as a negotiating partner.
important point about Arafat is that all the really bad guys in the Middle East
hate him: Netanyahu, Hamas, the Syrian dictator, Noam
Federman, and every fanatic splinter group that subsumes the Palestinian cause
to a sectarian agenda.
the good guys the pro-American elements in the US State Department have refuted
the Israeli propaganda "dossier" that Sharon had clutched in
his hot little hands during his aborted trip to Washington the other week.
The point of this "dossier" was to somehow directly link Arafat to the
planning of the suicide bombings: it was a crude, oddly counterintuitive propaganda
ploy, directed not at US policymakers but at American public opinion. As Barry Schweid, AP's diplomatic
U.S. State Department has informed Congress there was 'no clear evidence' Yasser
Arafat or other senior officials of the Palestine Liberation Organization planned
or approved of terror attacks on Israel between mid-June and mid-December of last
so maybe they did little to rein in freelancers and Hamas sympathizers, and maybe
the PLO isn't exactly the Palestinian equivalent of the Boy Scouts, but the Israeli
accusations are clearly off the reservation. Indeed, the US has such confidence
in Arafat that the CIA is bringing
PLO security experts to Washington to meet with their Israeli counterparts.
The American call to "reform"
the PLO, and Arafat's pledge to do so even to conduct elections
is in itself a vote of confidence. It is also a measure of how far American
and Israeli interests have diverged. In the Israeli view, you may as well try
to reform Osama bin Laden. The American view, as we have seen, is quite different.
their enemies shall ye know them this is often a reliable
rule of thumb when judging controversial public figures. Arafat,
having acquired all the right enemies the Norman Podhoretz
Right, the reflexively anti-American Euro-Left has me rooting
for him. As the Harry
Houdini of Palestine evades the well-laid traps of his
numerous opponents, and, by his sheer sense of self-preservation,
manages to bounce back after every defeat, no matter how humiliating
and "final," he becomes a legend, a kind of Palestinian
seek him here, they seek him there,
Israelis seek him everywhere.
he in heaven, or is he in hell?
damned elusive Pimpernel!
doubt Arafat will continue to elude his enemies, if only by the skin of his prominent
nose: pragmatic, vainglorious, and cunning, he is, in short, a born politician
and nation-builder. Is he a terrorist? No more than David Ben-Gurion
and the other founders of the state of Israel, all of whom were leaders of groups
branded as "terrorist"
by the West and subsequently recognized by these very
powers as statesmen. Like them, Arafat is no doubt fated to go down in history
as the father of his country.
520 S. Murphy Avenue, #202
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
or Contribute Via
our Secure Server
Credit Card Donation Form
are now tax-deductible