A new French citizen

Jean-Claude Gaudin, Mayor of the French city of Marseilles recently disclosed that “Palestinian First Lady Suha Arafat” received French citizenship. Perhaps Mrs. Arafat did that because, let’s be truthful, folks, “Palestine” is not a real country, no matter what propaganda and fabricated rhetoric comes out of Arab newspaper articles, like the one posted below, Arab radio stations, Arab satellite dish networks, mosques or imam’s mouths. So read the article below, and remember the source when you read the keyword Arab phrases like “occupied” and “first lady of Palestine”. The following is from www dot albawaba dot com:

Bon Jour, Mrs. Arafat…

22-01-2004, 12:23

From time to time, the name Suha Arafat resurfaces in various media reports – usually as part of some controversial story, aimed at discrediting Palestinian leader Arafat. Obviously, such reports largely emanate from either Israelis or Israel supporters, but at times, also from sources in the Arab world who don’t see eye to eye with Yasser Arafat’s policies on different issues.

Jean-Claude Gaudin, Mayor of the French city of Marseilles recently disclosed that Palestinian First Lady Suha Arafat received French citizenship.

During a recent visit to Israel, Gaudin, considered a supporter of Israel, said that when he served as minister in charge of immigration, he himself signed the approval to grant Suha French citizenship.

Suha, originally raised in a wealthy Christian home in the West Bank, educated by nuns and refined at the Sorbonne, currently lives in France with her daughter Zahwa.

Asked if Yasser Arafat is now entitled to French citizenship as spouse of a French national, Gaudin said that according to French law, the Palestinian president is not automatically entitled to such citizenship, but if he meets certain criteria, he theoretically can get a French passport, Israel’s mass-circulation Yediot Aharonot daily reported.

For years after they were secretly married in Tunis, Mrs. Arafat was dismissed as merely a “decoration” for the longtime bachelor, but was soon to show the entire world that through her humanitarian activities in the occupied territories and outspoken stance on the Palestinian struggle – she had much to offer.

President Arafat’s marriage to Suha Tawil, a Palestinian half his age, was kept secret for over a year. She had already begun significant humanitarian activities at home, especially for disabled children, but the prominent part she took in the public events in Oslo was a surprise for many.

“It was not easy to enter into their world,” Suha once said. “It is a man’s world, and very closed – like a family with a lot of intermarriages, and, well, you know the result of that.”

Throughout the years, and maybe perhaps due to the secrecy regarding Suha’s personal life, there have been continuous rumors circulating about Suha’s alleged shopping sprees abroad, spending fortunes on jewelry, clothing, handbags and other accessories.

Needless to say, elements that seek to harm Yasser Arafat’s image have also given a hand in slamming the life and conduct of Palestine’s First Lady.

Born in Jerusalem, Suha grew up in an affluent and political household, first in Nablus, then Ramallah. Her father was a banker, and her mother, Raymonda Tawil, a well-known journalist who was frequently placed under house arrest by Israeli authorities.

When Suha met the Palestinian leader, in the course of a trip to Jordan’s capital of Amman, the young lady was working as a freelance journalist based in Paris. Yasser Arafat hired her to do public relations for the PLO in Tunis, where she nominally converted to Islam before they wed.

I married a myth,” she said. “But the marriage helped him step down from his pedestal and become a human being.”

At the age of 32, Suha gave birth to the couple’s only child (till date) in the Paris suburb of Neuilly. Zahwa was named after Yasser Arafat’s mother, who died when he was five years old.

Asked by the French magazine Le Parisien why Zahwa was born in Paris instead of Palestinian territory, Suha Arafat explained, “Our child was conceived in Gaza, but sanitary conditions there are terrible.”

Last year, in yet another report targeted at slamming Arafats’ wife, the Israeli Ma’Ariv daily carried a story citing “sources” as saying a company, Al-Bahar, owned by Suha Arafat forged license plates for stolen cars. Israeli army sources, according to the report, had handed top government officials a document indicating that a company owned by Suha was forging license plates for cars stolen from Israelis.

Rumors of the 40-year-old Suha Arafat’s “over-spending” – and her 74-year-old husband’s use of public funds to pay her expenses have been circulating for years in the Arab world and beyond, and emerge from time to time.

Recently, reports said that Suha lives in Paris on $100,000 a month from Palestinian Authority funds. According to rumors, Suha Arafat’s mother, Raymonda, also lives extravagantly – apparently off international generosity and the Palestinian taxpayers.

“The last I heard, she was living in the Bristol Hotel, which is regarded as one of the premier hotels – if not the premier hotel – in Paris,” an Arab source told the New York Daily News last year. “It is not far from the Elysee Palace and the American Embassy and the fashionable shopping district, Rue St. Honor.

“I understand that she has a whole floor to herself and her entourage, and that she has been living there for over a year. Must be quite expensive, especially given the financial situation of the Palestinians. … And that does not include shopping and dining!”

However, the concierge at the Bristol, where a suite and 19 rooms cost $16,000 a night said no one listed under the last name Arafat was living at the hotel.

Arafat’s wife, who has been living away from her husband and out of the West Bank “for security reasons,” said she wishes to be with him during the siege imposed on him in the West Bank town of Ramallah. “I am prepared to return [to the Palestinian territories] the minute I am asked to,” she was quoted as saying.

However, it seems that as of now, harsh and fragile political conditions in the occupied territories may keep Suha apart from living with her husband. The first lady of Palestine may need to still live abroad till security circumstances enable the first family to reunite. (Albawaba.com)

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