To hear French President Jacques Chirac tell it, Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat was a genuine humanitarian and competent leader who spent much of his life fighting for justice and the betterment of his people.
Like all other Arafat apologists, Chirac and Co. would never publicly discuss Arafat’s real legacy: One of terrorism, murder and mayhem.
Why so many Western leaders, as well as like-minded soul mates in the United States, have so resolutely allied themselves with Arafat and his terrorist ways is a mystery. But now that the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization [PLO] has died, it is appropriate to examine this “leader’s” so-called accomplishments on behalf of Palestinians and the cause he embodied.
Born Mohammed Yasser Abdul-Ra’ouf Qudwa Al-Husseini in Cairo on Aug. 29, 1929, he moved on to attend King Fuad University in Egypt, where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Architectural Engineering in 1951.
In 1958 he left Egypt and moved to Kuwait, where he worked as an engineer. During this period, he met with Khalil El-Wazir [a.k.a. Abu Jihad; 1935-1988], where the two founded “Al- Fatah,” or the Palestine National Liberation Movement, a terrorist organization dedicated to the eradication of Israel.
To shore up support for this new movement, Arafat returned to “Palestine,” where he met with Palestinian activists. Eventually he founded the Fatah Movement — formally the PLO — Jan. 1, 1965, staying in Jerusalem until 1967, when he moved to Jordan.
“The Palestine Liberation Organization is undoubtedly one of the best known terrorist organizations in the world. Accordingly, the organization is led by perhaps the best known individual in the modern history of international terrorism,” says a description by the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise.
The U.S. government also formally considered the PLO, under Arafat, a terrorist group, but that changed in September 1993. Then, Arafat — in letters to Israeli Prime Minister Rabin and Norwegian Foreign Minister Holst — committed the PLO to cease all violence and terrorism. On Sept. 13, 1993, a Declaration of Principles between Israelis and Palestinians was signed, supposedly ending violence between the two.
It didn’t really turn out that way, but that is less Israel’s fault and more because of Arafat’s persona; throughout much of his adult life, he has never behaved as though Israel had a right to exist.
After emerging as leader of the PLO around 1969, the group’s first notable act of terrorism was to kidnap 11 Israeli athletes at the Olympic Games in Munich, Germany, in 1972. When that act of terrorism was all over, all 11 Israelis were killed, along with five of the Palestinian terrorists and a pair of German police officers.
Throughout the 1970s, a number of terrorist organizations associated with the PLO carried out attacks around the world.
“By the mid-1970s, under international pressure, the PLO claimed it would restrict attacks to Israel and the occupied territories,” reports GlobalSecurity.org. “Several terrorist attacks were later carried out by groups affiliated with the PLO/Fatah, including the Hawari Group, the Palestine Liberation Front, and Force 17, against targets inside and outside Israel.”
From Israel to Jordan, Lebanon to Germany, the Sudan to Greece, the attacks and the murders by PLO-connected factions continued. But by 1988, perhaps sensing the need for a change in tactics, Arafat did something unexpected: He publicly renounced terrorism as a means to achieving a Palestinian state.
Was it the end of the reign of terror? Hardly. Arafat’s proclamation was little more than a public relations stunt. Terrorism and murder continued, especially against Israelis. In most cases, these attacks could be traced back to Arafat and his various militant PLO factions.
And, over the years, Arafat made a number of similar “agreements” with other governments — Jordan in the 1970s, the U.S. and Israel in the 1980s and 1990s — that he never intended to honor, and didn’t.
One particularly ominous example comes from author Said K. Aburish. In his 1998 book, “Arafat,” he writes the PLO leader even turned down an offer to co-govern Jordan with the late King Hussein.
After establishing a Palestinian state within the state of Jordan — through violence and intimidation — in a bid to bring about peace, Hussein made the offer.
“An amazed, almost speechless Arafat turned him down because he had no plan for Jordan, or for incorporating the PLO into a functioning nation state with or without Hussein,” writes Aburish. “With this refusal Arafat, who survives on improvisation and constantly turns turmoil to personal advantage, was left with no option but to continue to contribute to the existing untenable chaotic state of affairs.”
Instead, says Arnaud de Borchgrave, editor at large for United Press International and The Washington Times and a NewsMax.com board member, Arafat’s PLO incited a civil war in Jordan.
“In 1970, the PLO had gradually taken over Amman,” he told NewsMax. “They were even checking people at the airport and directing traffic. The [Royal Jordanian] army was out.”
He said Jordan’s King Hussein and Arafat had agreed the city would be demilitarized, but Arafat ostensibly broke that agreement when his factions took over the capital, leading to armed conflict with Hussein’s army when it moved back into Amman to regain control.
De Borchgrave, who was caught in the crossfire of PLO-Jordanian forces in a hotel with dozens of other journalists, was a first-hand witness to the carnage.
Eight days after the fighting began, he said, Hussein’s army prevailed, and “Arafat — disguised as a woman — escaped. He had taken refuge at the Algerian Embassy. The PLO was then forced into exile in Lebanon,” where Arafat began the same process all over again, creating a “state within a state.”
By the early 1980s, Lebanon was embroiled in another Arafat orchestrated civil war.
One of Arafat’s lifetime goals was the creation of a Palestinian state. Interestingly, Jordan’s population is estimated to be anywhere from 60 percent to 80 percent Palestinian, which would have represented the best chance so far of Arafat being able to govern a “Palestinian state.”
But he wasn’t interested; apparently the fight against Israel was more important to him.
The current “intifada” being waged against the Jewish state — which has never fully been renounced by Arafat himself — is proof of his unwillingness to observe agreements which, ostensibly, could have led to peace.
Worse, along the way, he was lionized and legitimized by Western governments, including the United States.
A year after the 1973 Yom Kippur War, when Israel defeated the combined armies of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and more than a half-dozen other Arab nations, Arafat managed to weasel his way into an appearance at the United Nations, pistol strapped to his hip.
And, just 14 months later, a representative of the PLO was given a non-voting observer status in a meeting of the U.N. Security Council.
“For the achievement of such complicity by Western nations, accepted values of culture and civilization had to be thrown overboard,” says a description of Arafat and the PLO’s rise in Western circles by Joseph Katz, a Middle Eastern Political and Religious History Analyst in New York City. “The international institutions within the United Nations that were established to promote, to disseminate, and to perpetuate those values had to be subverted and prostituted, and even the formal regulations and norms protecting them in the Charter of the United Nations had to be abused and undermined. The Arab states, however, encountered little resistance.”
The process, writes Katz, was not sporadic but a well thought out plan to gain respect among the world community — despite a violent history — using propaganda and sympathizers within key governments abroad.
Arafat’s terrorism was further legitimized when, astonishingly, he was invited to visit the White House for “peace talks” by President Clinton on several occasions.
Clinton who, to his credit, put a lot of effort into forging a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, eventually had his efforts thrown back in his face when, following a November 2000 meeting at the White House, Arafat angrily denounced Israel.
“I am not the one who initiated the violence. I am not the one who is attacking Israelis. My tanks are not siegeing (sic) Israeli towns. I did not order my tanks, my air force, my artillery, my heavy weapons, my navy,” he said, interrupting his interpreter to make sure his words were being properly translated.
This, after Arafat scored a legitimization coup de grace in 1994, being named — ironically — as a co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres.
In that instance, one of the prize committee’s three members, Kare Kristiansen, so objected to the honor being given to the PLO leader, whom he described as “too tainted by violence, terror and torture,” that he quit in protest — the first such incidence of a board member resigning in protest of an award.
And the Future?
Under Arafat, there is no reason to believe he would ever formally make peace with Israel, nor stop his support of terrorism against the Jewish state. And he may have blown the best chance the Palestinians ever had for a homeland.
Yossef Bodansky, a researcher of the House Task Force for Counter-terrorism and author of the several books, the latest called, “The Secret History of the Iraq War,” tells NewsMax.com Arafat has never shown any inclination towards peace with Israel.
And, he says, there is at least one incidence of terrorism in which Arafat “personally ordered two U.S. diplomats killed.”
That incident occurred March 2, 1973, when Al-Fatah faction members kidnapped and murdered Cleo A. Noel, Jr., U.S. ambassador to Sudan, and George C. Moore, also a U.S. diplomat, at the American Embassy in Khartoum.
De Borchgrave says he doesn’t see a Palestinian state on the horizon, either—that the time for one has past.
“The so-called ‘roadmap’ [to peace] often spoken about is better described now as a ‘road with no map,'” he told NewsMax.com.
And he added that while it was improper to blame Arafat for every act of terror in the region and beyond, the future doesn’t bode well either.
De Borchgrave believes a more moderate Palestinian leader will emerge in Arafat’s shadow, but will be unable to control the hard-line Muslim extremist organizations like Hamas, Hizbollah and the Islamic Jihad.
Arafat’s trail of terror:
-His PLO attacked and killed 11 Israeli athletes and coaches during the 1972 Olympics in Munich
-A PLO faction hijacked the Achille Lauro, an Italian passenger liner, Oct. 7, 1985, and demanded the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israel. Before surrendering, they killed wheelchair-bound Jewish-American passenger Leon Klinghoffer, and dumped his body overboard. The man who commanded the operation, Mohammad Abbas, was eventually captured by U.S. military forces in Iraq. He died in U.S. custody March 4, 2004, but not before committing other acts of terrorism.
-Arafat provided funding for innumerable Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israel, resulting in, as one Israeli writer put it, Arafat’s becoming “a mass murderer of Jews.”
-Arafat gave the go-ahead for the current Intifida, now more than four years in duration, which has cost the lives of scores of Israelis.
-Arafat authorized attacks by terror groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the latter group responsible for bombings of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon in the early 1980s, which killed a number of U.S. Marines, CIA operatives and other U.S. officials.
-Served as the actual commander of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which has taken a leading role in shooting incidents and bombing attacks against Israeli civilians.
-Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Amnon Lipkin-Shahak told Israel Radio on March 23, 1997, “Organizations such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad have an understanding from the Palestinian Authority to carry out attacks.”
-In a memorandum captured in Operation Defensive Shield, the Secretary-General of the Fatah office in Tulkarm requested that Arafat provide $2,000 to each of 15 specifically named “Fighting Brethren” of the Tanzim military wing of Fatah. According to Israeli military sources, each of the “fighters” was involved in the planning or execution of suicide attacks, says Eli Kazhdan, a senior researcher at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
-As late as September 2003, Israeli intelligence said orders for terrorist attacks were still emanating from Arafat’s compound in Ramallah.