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Left-wing Monsters: Arafat (Continued V) By: David Meir-Levi
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, September 23, 2005

Intifada II

With the failure of the Camp David negotiations, Barak knew his days as Prime Minister were numbered. The Oslo peace process had failed. Arafat had torpedoed it. 


The Israeli left had for years lionized Arafat and promised its followers that if only Israel were generous enough, if only Israel offered the right combination of concessions and withdrawals, if only Israel would dismantle settlements and cede the disputed territories, there would be a radical shift in the Arab world and among the Palestinian leaders. There would be a shift away from terror, used only as a last resort by Palestinians desperate for national self-determination and peace and left without hope by Israeli intransigence. With the rejection of Barak’s offer, this political argument pretty much imploded.


With Arafat’s refusal of the best offer imaginable, a terror-weary and disillusioned Israeli body politic concluded that the Israeli right was correct; there really was no one to talk to on the Palestinian side. The biggest, most generous olive branch conceivable had been torched.


Even though the Oslo Peace Accords were still formally in place, as soon as Arafat left Camp David he began laying plans for a second Intifada. We learned this from an inadvertent slip by Imad Faluji, a Palestinian National Authority cabinet minister, at a rally in Gaza in December, 2000: “A Palestinian Cabinet minister said Friday that the 5-month-old uprising against Israel was planned after peace failed in July, contradicting contentions it was a spontaneous outburst by Palestinians.  Communications Minister Imad Falouji said during a PLO rally that it was a mistake to think the uprising, in which more than 400 people have been killed, was sparked by Israeli Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon's visit to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in late September.”[1]


When Arafat returned from Camp David, he gave the order to start preparing for a great terror war that would, he believed, win for him on the field of battle what he could not get at the negotiating table: Palestine from the River to the Sea. He was waiting for a good excuse, a good patsy to set up so that blame, as always, could be placed on Israel.


That occasion was provided in September by Barak’s rival for the presidency, Ariel Sharon. To demonstrate to voters that he meant business when he said that as Prime Minister he would take no more guff from Arafat, Sharon ascended the Temple Mount on September 28, 2000. Flanked by hundreds of Israeli and Palestinian National Authority security guards, he did an attention-getting tour of the Mount. There were some scuffles and antagonistic demonstrations, but nothing serious.


It was only the next day, September 29, 2000, that massive riots broke out on the Temple Mount and elsewhere in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Dozens were killed, hundreds injured. Arafat declared it the Palestinian people’s “day of rage.”


Blame was laid squarely on Sharon for ascending the Mount and thus antagonizing the Palestinian people’s delicate religious sensibilities. But the Temple Mount (known as al-Haram esh-Sharif, the Noble Sanctuary, in Arabic) is sacred to all three major religions.  Two of these three, Judaism and Christianity, are willing to share it with the others. Islam is not. Moslem religious and political leadership since the early Middle Ages have insisted that the sacred precinct be off-limits to Jews (and often to Christians too), because non-Mosems allegedly pollute the sacred site.[2]


After the Six Day war, Israel was willing to accommodate this bit of Moslem religious apartheid in order to eliminate a potential source of friction with Moslems regarding the Israeli governance of the city. Sharon’s bold move was a clear political statement, a re-assertion of Jewish rights over Judaism’s single most sacred sanctuary.  But trying to be sure that he stayed on the right side of law and custom, Sharon got permission both from Barak and from the head of the El-Aqsa mosque’s waqf to enter the Temple Mount. His visit was authorized. Sharon did not realize that he was being set up by Arafat to take the blame for the Second Intifada.


Arafat originated, orchestrated, supported, funded, planned, and launched most of the terror attacks that followed. He coordinated others with Hamas (referring often in speeches to Hamas’ founder, Sheikh Akhmed Yassin – who was personally responsible more than three hundred murders of Israeli civilians -- as “our dear, dear, dear, dear friend”) working out details to prevent him from being implicated in the Hamas attacks.


With the Second Intifada, Arafat escalated the terrorism from a “Low Intensity Conflict” into a full-scale war. At the height of the violence, Palestinian terrorists launched up to 24 attacks per day. The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) was able to stop most of them before they reached their targets, but the carnage was still devastating.  Suicide bombers, road-side bombs, fire-bombs, sniper attacks, drive-by shootings, car bombs, truck bombs, knifings, kidnappings took the lives of hundreds, and injured thousands. From September 9, 1993, the day that Arafat signed on the dotted line that he put terrorism behind him and committed himself and his followers to peace with Israel, there have been almost 28,000 attacks, with 1,700 dead, almost 7,000 injured or maimed for life, and most of these occurred during the Second Intifada. (The equivalent in U.S. terms would be 83,000 killed and 343,000 injured.)  Almost half of these attacks were perpetrated by el-Fatah (Arafat’s own group); the rest by Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the el-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade (a sub-group of el-Fatah), the Tanzim (“committee”), Force 17 (Arafat’s private praetorian guard), the PFLP, the DFLP, the PFLP-GC, Sayyif el-Jihad (Sword of Jihad), Jayyish Allah (Allah’s Army), and Hezbollah (the political party of Allah).


Partly as a result of the hate-education described above, young women emerged late in the Second Intifada as suicide bombers. Arafat called them his “army of roses.” Not suspecting danger from young women, and sensitive to Moslem modestly, IDF soldiers at first allowed young Palestinian women to pass through check points with less difficulty than their male counterparts. Hamas and el-Fatah seized upon this chink in Israel’s defensive mechanisms, and recruited a total of eight (so far) young women. In their late teens or twenties when recruited, these women had experienced ten years of Arafat’s hate-education, and were primed to the recruitment techniques of the terror gangs. The propaganda coup that Arafat garnered from their actions focused on the false assertions that these poor women were driven to such action by the extremes of Israeli oppression. But a recent study of six of these eight cases demonstrates quite the opposite. The women were selected by their terrorist recruiters because they showed external signs of depression, were rejected by their families because of one sort or another of non-compliance to family demands, or (in one case) had been caught in an adulterous affair and chose death as a “martyr” over being murdered by a male member of her husband’s family (at least that way her death brought honor to all Moslems.) (See Victor.)


At the very end of his term as President, and in a last ditch attempt to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and bring peace to the Middle East, Clinton convened a second conference on December 23 of 2000. All hope of a Nobel Prize rested upon this last best hope of reaching an agreement with Arafat and Barak. At this meeting, Clinton proposed not only Barak’s massive territorial concessions of the Camp David fiasco; but also the creation of a bridge, supported on towering pylons, that spanned the area between the Gaza Strip at its north-easternmost point and the West Bank at its south-westernmost point. Thus Arafat would have territorial contiguity without splitting Israel in half. We will never know if Israel would have accepted this rather imaginative and far-reaching plan. Arafat refused. 


With money pouring into his coffers from the European Union, UN, private donors, and numerous Arab countries, Arafat was pretty much immune to pressure from the United States, and scoffed at Israeli opprobrium. Arafat reveled in his ability to snub his nose at Clinton and drive Barak to a sure defeat at the polls. But now two new players entered the game.


Bush Takes Command


On January 20, 2005, George Bush was inaugurated as the 43rd President of the United States. Nine months later al-Qaeda terrorists struck New York, and launched a global Islamic jihad with roots in the Palestinian movement and organizational allies in Hamas and Palestine Islamic Jihad. Both events would soon undermine Arafat’s authority as the sole, supreme leader of the Palestinian cause.


When President George W. Bush took office in January, 2001, he publicly relegated Middle East matters to secondary importance, a priority that changed on 9/11.  Six months later, it came into far clearer focus when, on March 27, 2002, Palestinian terrorists attacked a Passover Service killing 36 and severely wounding more than 100 attendees. On March 28, Prime Minister Sharon received a green light from the White House to take counter-terror measures and on March 29, Operation Defensive Shield began. The Israeli Defense Forces re-occupied the West Bank, which they had evacuated after the Oslo Accords and turned over to Arafat’s rule. The Israeli forces killed hundreds of terrorists, and destroyed terrorist training camps, bomb manufacturing plants, arsenals, offices, warehouses, and personnel centers. 


At the siege of the Jenin refugee camp where hundreds of terrorists had established a base and were hiding behind the human shields of their own civilians, the Israelis went house to house, flushing out terrorists with a minimum of Palestinian civilian loss of life. Twenty-five Israeli soldiers were killed, having risked and lost their lives to protect Palestinian civilians. Fifty-nine Palestinians, most of them terrorists were killed.


Having been schooled in the Big Lie by Arafat himself, the Palestinian Authority cried “massacre” after Jenin, a completely false claim that was echoed in the world’s anti-Israel (and anti-Semitic) press. Sa’eb Erekat the Palestinian’s “chief peace negotiator” and a Palestinian Authority official claimed that “thousands had died….well, no…actually  five hundred…well, no, but certainly hundreds….well at least scores.”  To support the false accusations of a massacre, PLO operatives actually exhumed months-old corpses and brought them, decomposed and rotting, to the hospitals to show to Red Cross officials.  They filmed a fake funeral, which was caught on tape by an Israeli aerial camera  -- complete with the ‘corpse’ falling off the bier, getting up, and getting back on again.  Terji Rhodes-Larsen, a UN official acting as an observer, was deeply frustrated by the fact that he could find no evidence of a massacre; so, in a characteristic anti-Israel rant, he screamed into the microphones of EU cameramen:  “with all of this destruction, there must be some evidence of massive human rights violations somewhere!” When the smoke cleared and the Red Cross made its report, there were 59 dead Palestinians, all but a few were armed terrorists.


Israeli forces could have bombed the camp from the air, or leveled it with an artillery barrage. Thousands of innocent Palestinians would have died along with hundreds of terrorists. Instead, the IDF sacrificed 25 of its brightest and best in order to keep the civilian losses to only a few -- and these were due mostly to the craven terrorists using their own people for human shields.


As was the case in Jordan (1970) and in Lebanon (1982), Arafat was an abysmal failure as a military leader in the campaigns of 2002 and a transparent coward. Totally unprepared for Israel’s onslaught, Arafat called for a “million martyrs” to march on Jerusalem, while he himself holed up in his compound in Ramallah and left his field officers without guidance. With no coordination and with an ineffectual leader paralyzed by fear, they melted before the Israeli Defense Forces. By early April, Arafat’s compound was surrounded by Israeli tanks. The buildings of the compound were systematically destroyed, survivors taken prisoner, and computers taken from the offices. By the time Operation Defensive Shield was over, Arafat was left with a bathroom, a bedroom, a conference room and a kitchen. As in 1970 and 1982, he had also misjudged the responses of his allies in the Arab world. While many harsh words were spoken against Israel in the media and UN, not one Arab leader took any overt action, military or political, to aid him.


At this time, the CIA informed Israel that Arafat had AIDS (which was not surprising, given his sexual preferences and orgiastic life style). Therefore they urged Israel not to kill him, which they feared would give him martyr status and only exacerbate the intensity of the Palestinian terror war. The Israeli government agreed. He was put under house arrest, and given a cell phone with spare batteries. The IDF indicated that he could leave the compound only if he called his chief of security in Gaza, Mohammed Dahlan, and told him that it was time to use those 40,000 police (whom he had, until this point, kept out of the fighting) to finally put a lid on Hamas, a request he ignored. 


On April 14, 2002, Arafat used his cell phone to call in a 90-minute speech to a PLO radio station in Lebanon, which broadcast it across the Arab world. In his speech he chastised the Arab world for not coming to his aid. Did they not realize, he adjured them, that a “Palestinian entity”[3] would be the most effective launching pad for the great final jihad? Hamstrung and defeated, Arafat still envisioned the glorious day when he would enter Jerusalem as the conquering hero, leading his people in fire and blood to their ‘homeland’ extending from the Jordan to the sea and obliterating Israel in the process.


An instructive pattern emerged over the months from April to September, 2002. The IDF would occupy a village or town, clamp down a security curfew, lock-down, road blocks, house-to-house searches, arrests and sometimes targeted killings of terrorists. While the IDF controlled the village, there was no terrorism. When the IDF retreated from that village, usually at the behest of Sharon who was responding to pressure from Bush, the terrorism would spike within 48 hours, often with literally a dozen or more attacks in one day. The IDF would re-enter the village to stop the attacks. Finally, on September 19 a second re-occupation was launched, with results pretty much the same as the first; and Arafat still under house-arrest in his destroyed compound.


This well-documented phenomenon, plus the contents of the dozens of computers that were taken from Arafat’s compound, were exactly what President Bush needed in order to make up his mind about what to do in regard to the Mid-East conflict. In early June, 2002, Mossad officials and Israeli government representatives showed President Bush more than 24,000 documents, most with Arafat’s signature, many written in his handwriting. Hundreds were translated into English, and they proved beyond all rational doubt that Arafat himself had engineered the entire terror war.


Bush’s response was heartening. “That xx@@##XX lied to me” (anonymous Israeli source). Apparently at that point, President Bush understood what Israeli spokespersons had been saying for years: Arafat is committed to only one thing, the destruction of Israel. As Arafat himself had said to his own people on numerous occasions, all treaties were just the means to temporize. All speeches to the West were dissimulation. All agreements were “hudna” (a fake truce, first documented in Mohammed’s time, meant to lull the enemy into a false sense of security, so that the Moslem leader could later spring a surprise attack with a greater chance of victory). 


After viewing the evidence presented to him by Israel, President Bush made an historic speech on June 25, 2002, in which he promised the Palestinian people that if they stopped the terrorism, and elected leaders untainted by terrorism, they would get their state. Never in US history had any American president ever declared unequivocally and unambiguously that there would be a state of “Palestine,” or that the Palestinians needed to reject their terrorist leadership. The message was crystal clear. The single most powerful person in the entire world, the leader of the free world, had promised the Palestinians their state, if they renounced their war to destroy Israel. But once again the Palestinian leaders rejected the offer.


The End Is In Sight


In hindsight, it is clear that by the end of 2002, Arafat’s control over his terror groups was on the wane. Hamas and other terrorist gangs had begun to operate independently of him and with no attempt to coordinate politically. IDF intelligence sources indicated that there was competition among the terror groups to demonstrate who could do the most damage to Israel,  because the winners stood the best chance of getting funding from abroad. Arafat was no longer the sole funnel of money from Arab sources for the Intifada.  El-Fatah and the el-Aqsa Martrys’ Brigade undertook operations that were easily connected to the PLO and Arafat, embarrassing him and demonstrating his lack of control over them. Under pressure from the US, the European Union began to demand transparency in the use of its tens of millions of dollars given to Arafat for alleviating the suffering of his people. Pressure from the USA and Israel forced him to re-organize his cabinet, and he was reduced to using a variety of adroit manipulations to maintain in positions of political power the cronies who he knew were loyal to him.


By March, 2003, under pressure from the Palestinian National Council and the United States and Israel, he was forced to appoint Mahmud Abbas as Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority. The intent was to force Arafat to share power and create greater transparency in his governance. But friction between Arafat and Abbas developed quickly and by late April, Abbas stepped down over disagreements about whom Abbas could appoint and the degree of control that Abbas would have over the 13 separate security forces that Arafat had created. 


As his grip on power weakened, maintaining control was getting more and more expensive for Arafat, more and more difficult. In hindsight, it seems clear that by this time he was succumbing to the effects of AIDS, possibly including dementia. Kaposi’s Sarcoma were evident on his face and arms, even in normal media photographs. There was little surprise when he died on November 11, 2004 in the French Hopital d'Instruction des Armees de Percy, known to have some of France's best HIV/AIDS doctors.

Conclusion: There Are No Leaders without Followers

For forty years Arafat was the symbol of Palestinian nationalism, and for forty years he wreaked havoc in the Middle East, most destructively against the people he claimed to serve, and at no time more destructively than when he ruled the West Bank as its tyrannical authority. Other societies suffering under despotic rulers have rejected and removed their oppressors. Why were millions of Palestinians, in Israel and the territories and abroad, willing to support and follow him? Why did those millions on the receiving end of his terrorist autocracy still cheer him, vote for him, run ululating into the streets to greet his motorcade, and sacrifice themselves and their children for what he defined as their cause? Why did they allow him to poison the minds of their children with ethnic hatred and the desire for martyrdom? Why did sixty-percent of Palestinians support suicide bombing against civilians – a barbaric tactic hitherto unknown -- and perpetrate daily carnage on innocent civilians? Why did they allow him to embezzle billions earmarked to alleviate their poverty and build their economic future, and why did they let him spend it on his terrorist minions? Why did they let him squander every opportunity to create their state by answering peace offers with anti-civilian terror?

The Palestinian people never did for themselves what the Ukrainians did when their election process was subverted by Russia, or what the Iraqis and Afghanis did when the United States gave them the opportunity. Or what the Lebanese did when they had the chance.

There are two possible answers: The first is that Arafat’s reign of terror over his own people – assassinating dissenters and potential rivals to his rule – was more thorough than that of any dictator since Stalin. The Palestinian people did not resist because they were terrorized into submission. But the problem with this answer is that Arafat had only, at best, a quasi-governmental authority over the West Bank. There were legal and political councils, lawyers unions, and a police force that could have stood up to him.

The second is terrible to suggest and deeply troubling, but also inescapable. The Palestinian people followed Arafat even as he led them to perdition and condemned them to a life of hopeless grinding poverty, because they wanted what he promised to deliver: the destruction of Israel and the creation of an Arab state from the Jordan to the Sea. They wanted Israel’s destruction more than they wanted their own state. They shared their leader’s vision, and therefore invited the fate that has befallen them.


[1] AP, March 2, 2001. "Palestinian Cabinet minister says Palestinian uprising was planned." What Faluji actually said was: "Whoever thinks that the Intifada broke out because of the despised Sharon's visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, is wrong, even if this visit was the straw that broke the back of the Palestinian people. This Intifada was planned in advance, ever since President Arafat's return from the Camp David negotiations, where he turned the table upside down on President Clinton... [Arafat] rejected the American terms and he did it in the heart of the U.S." MEMRI, Special Dispatch No. 194 - PA, March 9, 2001.

[2] Jerusalem is nowhere mentioned in the Qur’an, and the mosques on the site were built almost one hundred or more years after Mohammed for political purposes in the context of rival Caliphate capitols. Recognizing the importance of Jerusalem to the Christians and Jews from whom he was trying to win converts, Mohammed made Jerusalem Islam’s first "qibla" (place that determines the direction of prayer). But he received so much flack from his followers that he cancelled that idea and replaced it with Mecca, the pagan pre-Islamic Arab qibla. For more than a millennium, Jerusalem played at best a tertiary role in Moslem religious worship. But, phoenix-like, it sprang from obscurity and soared to great religious prominence after the 6-day war, when it came under Jewish sovereignty. Today Islam claims that Jerusalem is the Moslem world’s third holiest sight, after Mecca and Medina.

[3] Arafat refused to use the word ‘state’ when referring to Palestine as the West Bank and Gaza Strip. "State" meant only the greater Palestine from the River to the Sea.


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David Meir-Levi lectures in English, Hebrew, and Spanish and is a contributor to Frontpagemag.com.

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