Thursday, November 11, 2004

Yasser Arafat Retrospective

Yasser Arafat Retrospective

From Â?A Good Career MoveÂ? by Daniel Pipes, Jerusalem Post, September 7, 1999: Â?On countless occasions, Yasir Arafat has regaled listeners about his Jerusalem birth and childhood. He fondly recalls his birthplace in a stone house abutting the Western Wall, then how he lived with his Uncle Sa'ud in Jerusalem. Like Said, Arafat presents himself as a victim of Zionism - someone who lost his wordly belongings and his place in the world due to Israel's coming into existence. But in fact, as two intrepid French biographers, Christophe Boltanski and Jihan El-Tahri revealed a few years, ago (in their 1997 book, Les sept vies de Yasser Arafat), "Mr. Palestine was born on the shores of the Nile." The French researchers tell an amusing story of discovery. They went to the University of Cairo and innocently asked for the registration of one Muhammad 'Abd ar-Ra'uf 'Arafat al-Qudwa al-Husayni at the School of Civil Engineering in 1956. This, Arafat's birth name, means nothing to the Egyptian clerk, who "sits down behind a rickety wooden table, almost completely hidden by the pile of dusty files bound in black leather" and "blows off a layer of grime in a most professional way," then hands over the records. In a blue ink faded by time, the researchers find that their man, living at 24A Baron Empain Street, Heliopolis, "was born on August 4, 1929, in Cairo." With this information in hand, they dash over to the State Registry and find Arafat's actual birth certificate, which confirms the date and place.

From Â?Is There an Alternative to Arafat's Leadership?Â?, by Barry Rubin, Jerusalem Issue Brief, December 23, 2003: Arafat is not a nationalist. If he was, he could have had a state in 1968, in 1979, at several points in the 1980s, and certainly in the year 2000. But he is not interested in the well-being of the Palestinian people, he's interested in the Palestinian cause. In many ways, one of the keys to understanding Arafat is that he is basically an old-fashioned Islamist, influenced by his early connections with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. He believes that victory is inevitable and that God will bring him victory. He believes it would be a sin to compromise, and that he has no right to give up anything between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. It is better to leave the battle to future generations than to make any political settlement that limits their ability to fight for total victory. Arafat is also a romantic revolutionary, the Middle Eastern counterpart of Che Guevara who glories in struggle and battling against the odds. He has no desire to become a statesman. He prefers to keep the revolution going. In each phase of his life - in Jordan (1967-1971), Lebanon (1971-1982), Tunis (1982-1994), and the West Bank and Gaza (1994 to the present) - Arafat has ended up destroying his own position because of the belief that violence always benefits his cause, the conviction that he doesn't have to implement his agreements, and the use of extremist front groups to commit violence for which he can disclaim responsibility. The bottom line is: Arafat will not make a deal. Therefore, either an alternative to Arafat is found or we will have to out-wait him, in order to achieve peace.

From Â?Promises But Never PeaceÂ? by Michael Kelly, April 3, 2002, The Washington Post: On July 1, 1994, Yasser Arafat entered Gaza to establish the Palestinian Autonomous Region -- betwixt-and-between creature of the Oslo peace process that was supposed to become, under the guiding light of the Oslo peace process, the physical base of another ambivalent notion, the Palestinian National Authority. I went as a reporter to Gaza a few hours before Arafat arrived, and I stayed there for about five weeks, observing the early days of life and governance under the Palestinian Authority. Arafat's entry into Gaza was an object lesson: a purposely uncaring display of brute power. He arrived from the Sinai in a long caravan of Chevrolet Blazers and Mercedes-Benzes and BMWs, 70 or 80 cars packed to the rooflines with men with guns. The caravan roared up the thronged roads and down the mobbed streets, with the overfed, leather-jacketed, sunglassed thugs of Arafat's bodyguard detail all the time screaming and shooting off their Kalashnikovs to make their beloved people scurry out of their beloved leader's way. This was the whole of the Palestinian Authority from the beginning, an ugly little cartoon of Middle East despotism. There was never any pretense of democracy, of rule of law, of a free press, of a working system of taxes or courts or hospitals. There was never any real government. No one ever bothered to build an economy or create jobs or even pick up the trash or pave the streets. There were only security forces -- many, many of these -- and villas by the sea for Arafat's cronies, and millions of dollars in foreign aid that seemed to always turn up missing, and prisons and propaganda. And in the middle of it all: "President" Arafat sitting in a room -- surrounded by waiting sycophants and toadies and respectful ladies and gentlemen of the press -- and complaining.

From Â?The Arafat I KnewÂ?, by Ion Mihai Pacepa, January 12, 2002, After a couple of hours we learned they had seized the participants at a diplomatic reception organized by the Saudi Embassy in Khartoum and were asking for Sirhan's release. On March 2, 1973, after President Nixon refused the terrorists' demand, the PLO commandos executed three of their hostages: American Ambassador Cleo A. Noel Jr., his deputy, George Curtis Moore, and Belgian charge d'affaires Guy Eid. In May 1973, during a private dinner with Ceausescu, Arafat excitedly bragged about his Khartoum operation. "Be careful," Ion Gheorghe Maurer, a Western-educated lawyer who had just retired as Romanian prime minister, told him. "No matter how high up you are, you can still be convicted for killing and stealing."
"Who, me? I never had anything to do with that operation," Arafat said, winking mischievously.

From Â?Arafat's WarÂ? by Fouad Ajami, March 30, 2002, "If I go to Beirut I will be king, if I stay among my people I shall be emperor," the megalomaniacal Mr. Arafat proclaimed as the crowd hung on his utterances. He shows no mercy for his own, he offers them an old, failed history, a harvest of sorrow, but in a peculiar demonstration of the limits of reason in human history, his people rally to him. "With our blood and our souls, we redeem you, oh Arafat," the crowd chants, granting him an exemption from any calculus of gains and ruin. He was offered statehood some 18 months ago. He walked away from it and unleashed a phantom of incalculable power: the Right of Return, a claim not on the West Bank and Gaza, but on Jaffa and Haifa and Galilee, a way, insinuating and understood by his people and by Arabs beyond, of contesting Israel's very existence and statehood.

From Â?ArafatÂ?s Grand StrategyÂ? by Ephraim Karsh, August 4, 2004, Front Page Magazine: It is the tragedy of the Palestinians that the two leaders who determined their national development during the twentieth centuryÂ?Haj Amin Husseini, mufti of Jerusalem, who led them from the early 1920s to the late 1940s, and Yasir Arafat, who has dominated Palestinian politics since the mid-1960sÂ?were megalomaniac extremists obsessed with violence and blinded by anti-Jewish hatred. Had the mufti led his people to peace and reconciliation with their Jewish neighbors, as he promised the British officials who appointed him to his high rank, the Palestinians would have had their independent state in a substantial part of Mandatory Palestine by 1948. They thus would have been spared the traumatic experience of dispersion and exile. Had Arafat been genuinely interested in peace, a Palestinian state could have been established in the early 1980s as a corollary to the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty of 1979, or by May 1999, as a part of the Oslo process.
But then, for all his rhetoric about Palestinian independence, Arafat has never been as interested in the attainment of statehood as in the violence attending its pursuit. As far back as 1978, he told his close friend and collaborator, the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, that the Palestinians lacked the tradition, unity, and discipline to become a formal state, and that a Palestinian state would be a failure from the first day. The past decade has seen this bleak prognosis turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy, driving Israelis and Palestinians in their bloodiest and most destructive confrontation in half a century.

From Â?Arafat's Condolences to Dolphinarium Bomber's FamilyÂ? Special Dispatch Series, July 8, 2001, Middle East Media Research Institute: To the brothers, the family of Al-Hotary and the Noble People of Qalqilya, With hearts that believe in Allah's will and predetermination, we have received the news about the martyrdom of the martyrÂ?. Al-Hotary, the son of Palestine, whose noble soul ascended toÂ? in order to rest in Allah's Kingdom, together with the Prophets, the men of virtue, and the martyrs. The heroic martyrdom operation Â? who turned his body into bombs Â? the model of manhood and sacrifice for the sake of Allah and the homelandÂ? that the martyr beÂ? in Allah's mercy and willÂ? Allah's grace and satisfactionÂ? will inspire all members of his familyÂ? The best of condolences. To Allah we belong and to him we return back [Koran]
Yasser Arafat, the President of the State of Palestine
Chairman of the Executive Committee of the PLO
Chairman of the Palestinian National Authority

From Â?Ship of TruthÂ? by Charles Krauthammer, January 11, 2002, The Washington Post: What does it take for the world to acknowledge the obvious truth that Yasser Arafat has no intention of making real peace? How much incontrovertible evidence is required before one admits that the Oslo "peace" was a fraud and a deception? Are 50 tons of smuggled weaponry insufficient to demonstrate that the truce the United States is seeking to establish would be nothing more than a breathing space for Arafat and the terrorists he supports to rearm, regroup and prepare for the next, more explosive phase of the war he began on Sept. 28, 2000?
The weapons were on the ship Israel intercepted en route from Iran to Gaza. The ship's captain has been a member of Arafat's Fatah for 25 years. He is an officer in the Palestinian navy. His ship was purchased by the Palestinian Authority. His instructions came from Arafat's arms paymaster. Arafat is shocked -- shocked! -- by these revelations. Comically, he has ordered an investigation. This will rival Hitler's investigation of the Reichstag fire. Palestine is a nasty police state where, if you make a sideways crack about Arafat in the men's room of the local cafe, you find yourself arrested within hours by one of Arafat's eight separate security forces. To believe that a $100 million arms shipment could have been made on anything less than Arafat's orders is to know nothing about the Palestinian revolution.

From Â?Investing In Yasser ArafatÂ?, by Michael Kelly, December 2, 1998, The Washington Post: There was a wonderful moment in the annals of diplomacy this week. Yasser Arafat, the president of the Palestinian Authority, had come to town to attend an international conference convened by the White House to raise a new pile of money to give to President Arafat. And the conference had gone splendidly. Everyone had behaved perfectly fine; no one had so much as mentioned the inconvenient London Sunday Times story the day before, which said that the Palestinian Authority had swiped $20 million in British aid intended to build housing for the poor of Gaza, using the money instead to build luxury flats for Arafat's military and bureaucratic elite. After a day of pleasantries, representatives of 43 nations had pledged $3 billion in new aid to the Palestinian Authority, including an extra $400 million from the U.S. president. Arafat saw that it was good. "I am satisfied with the reality of this conference," he pronounced.

From Â?Beyond ArafatÂ?, by Jim Hoagland, November 7, 2004, The Washington Post: You owe me. Pay up. Or else.
That was the underlying message in Yasser Arafat's many speeches to the United Nations, interviews with Western and Arab journalists and official meetings with international civil servants at the height of his career as a money-grubbing revolutionary. That essential message was usually cloaked in verbal camouflage. But at times, the man the Palestinians call Abu Ammar said it aloud, according to several foreign officials who described their experiences in detail in return for anonymity. "He asked me if I had brought the money in cash when I came to discuss several million dollars of technical aid promised to the Palestinian Authority," one international banker said. "He said he needed the money, right now, for his own needs. I said it did not work that way for us." It is bad enough that a shakedown artist came to be the recognized leader of a people abused by history and subjugated over the centuries by Arab, Turkish, British and Israeli occupiers. That in the grief and fury of dispossession the Palestinians internalized the Arafatist "pay up" view of world politics is even more tragic and self-defeating.

Posted by SoccerDad at November 11, 2004 02:22 AM | TrackBack

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