The January elections in Iraq have awoken dormant aspirations for freedom all over the Middle East. From protests in Lebanon and the fall of Lebanon’s Syrian backed government, to promised elections in Egypt, a bright flame of hope has been kindled. Adding to the optimism, the recent death of Yasser Arafat paved the way for election of a new Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, upon whom the world has pinned high hopes for a peaceful resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
Since this conflict is said to be the epicenter of Middle Eastern turmoil, how realistic are hopes for its resolution? How much faith can we put in Mahmoud Abbas? To even begin to honestly evaluate these questions, we must first dispense with the myths and legends surrounding Yasser Arafat and make a full and honest disclosure of his record and the nature of the organization through whose ranks he rose. Such honesty has unfortunately been sorely lacking in public discourse over the past thirty years, but is essential if we are to accurately gauge Abbas’ prospects for success.
There was an outpouring of sympathy from leaders around the globe following Arafat’s death on November 11, 2004. Typical was the remark by French President Jacques Chirac, who called him “a man of courage and conviction who for 40 years incarnated the Palestinians' fight for recognition of their national rights.”
Without doubt Arafat is the person most often identified with the cause of Palestinian statehood. But this characterization, made popular by mainstream Western media, and reflected in remarks by leaders such as Chirac, is so far off the mark one wonders how they could have remained so uniformly deluded for so long.
So who and what was Yasser Arafat really?
What Yasser Arafat was not
Yasser Arafat was not a Palestinian.
He was an Egyptian. He was born in Cairo Egypt, as Mohammed Abdel-Raouf Arafat As Qudwa al-Hussaeini, of a merchant father from Gaza who shuttled back and forth between the two cities. His mother was from Jerusalem. Now you might conclude from his parentage that this could still make him a Palestinian by heritage if not birth. But in fact—and this may shock you—there is no cultural, racial, or national “Palestinian” identity except that invented by the PLO. Palestinians are simply Arabs who have lived for a time in the area generally regarded as “Palestine”.
Who could make such an audacious claim? Former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir did, for one. Perhaps however, it would be more credible coming from the PLO itself. Every now and then, such groups dispense with the propaganda and reveal what they are really up to. PLO executive committee member Zahir Muhsein made one such statement to a Dutch newspaper in 1977. He said:
The Palestinian people does not [sic.] exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct "Palestinian people" to oppose Zionism.
Going even further back, the PLO’s first leader, another Egyptian named Ahmed
Shukairy, said: “It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but Southern
According to Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily:
Palestine is no more real than Never-Never Land. The Romans first applied the name in 70 A.D. as an insult to the Jews, being derived from “Philistines”, a people conquered by the Jews centuries before. It was ruled alternately by Rome, by Islamic and Christian crusaders, by the Ottoman Empire and by the British after World War I, but there has never been a land known as Palestine governed by Palestinians. There is no identifiable Palestinian language or culture. Palestinians are Arabs, indistinguishable from Syrians, Lebanese, Jordanians Saudis and Iraqis.
Yasser Arafat was not a champion of Palestinian statehood.
His purpose was the elimination of Israel as part of the larger goal of eliminating western influence in the region and creating one unified Arab nation throughout the Middle East. In Article 15, The PLO charter clearly states:
The liberation of Palestine, from an Arab viewpoint, is a national (qawmi) duty and it attempts to repel the Zionist and imperialist aggression against the Arab homeland, and aims at the elimination of Zionism in Palestine.
It has been asserted that the correct translation for “elimination of Zionism” is “elimination of Israel.” “Imperialist aggression” as usual, refers to the Western powers, the U.S. in particular. Nothing in the PLO charter has changed, despite the many contradictory statements from Arafat and other PLO leaders suggesting they would settle for a “Palestinian State” coexisting side-by-side with Israel. A Palestinian state is not their goal, never has been.
The PLO sees Palestine and Palestinians as “an integral part of the Arab nation”, and that Palestinian “liberation” and “Arab unity” are complementary goals.
In Articles 13 and 14, the charter states:
13. Arab unity and the liberation of Palestine are two complementary objectives, the attainment of either of which facilitates the attainment of the other. Thus, Arab unity leads to the liberation of Palestine, the liberation of Palestine leads to Arab unity; and work toward the realization of one objective proceeds side by side with work toward the realization of the other.
14. The destiny of the Arab nation, and indeed Arab existence itself, depend upon the destiny of the Palestine cause. From this interdependence springs the Arab nation's pursuit of, and striving for, the liberation of Palestine. The people of Palestine play the role of the vanguard in the realization of this sacred (qawmi) goal.
To see this clearly one must understand what they mean by “Arab unity”. As I have asserted in earlier essays, it is another phrase for the “single Arab nation” idea pursued by the Ba’athists of Iraq and Syria, which in turn is a twist on the familiar “unification” demands of communist movements all over the world as justification for aggression, including but not limited to Vietnam (“One Vietnam”), Korea (Unification), and Red China (Taiwan is a “breakaway” province which needs to be reunified with the mainland).
It is not surprising therefore that Yasser Arafat’s Fatah organization, and all the other Palestinian revolutionary movements for that matter, have received much of their support from Syria and (until Operation Iraqi Freedom), Iraq. For unlike the other nations of the Middle East, who would rather maintain national autonomy thank you very much, the Ba’athists support the idea of a “Common Arab Homeland” (unified under the Ba’athist banner, of course).
This is not surprising either, given the fact that both the PLO and the Ba’athist movement were originally creations of the Soviet Union–the PLO is a Soviet inspired Communist movement.
This is evidenced in the Charter’s frequent use of familiar terms like “Imperialist and Imperialism” which are KGB coined invectives for the United States, and others like “Vanguard, and Progressive” which are familiar Soviet terms applied to communists and communist movements.
But you need not decipher words in the charter to reach that conclusion. Former CIA Deputy Director Ray Cline provided ample proof in his book Terrorism, The Soviet Connection.
And there’s more. Ion Pacepa, acting chief of Romanian foreign intelligence, was the highest-ranking intelligence officer to ever defect from the Soviet Bloc. His group was tasked with training PLO leaders. In a recent interview with FrontPageMagazine.com, he stated:
The PLO was dreamt up by the KGB, which had a penchant for ‘liberation’ organizations. In 1964 the first PLO council, consisting of 422 Palestinian representatives handpicked by the KGB, approved the Palestinian National Charter-–a document that had been drafted in Moscow.
The most damning evidence against Arafat’s claimed aspirations for Palestinian statehood however, is his own words. In his FrontPage interview, Pacepa describes an exchange Arafat had with late Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in 1978. Ceausescu had just informed him that Moscow wanted him to pretend that the PLO was willing to renounce terrorism in hopes of becoming a Palestinian state. Breznev thought that then President Carter would buy it:
“But we are a revolution,” Arafat exploded...”We were born as a revolution and we should remain an unfettered revolution.” Arafat expostulated that the Palestinians lacked the tradition, unity and discipline to become a formal state [emph. mine]...and he was not willing to put any laws or other obstacles in the way of the Palestinian struggle to eradicate the state of Israel.
But Ceausescu prevailed on Arafat:
Ceausescu...told [Arafat] that, if he would transform the PLO into a government-in-exile and would pretend to break with terrorism, the West would shower him with money and glory. ‘But you have to keep on pretending, over and over’...in the shadow of your government-in-exile you can keep as many terrorist groups as you want, as long as they are not publicly connected with your name.
Arafat was granted the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 for renouncing terrorism and promising to change the PLO charter’s goal of eliminating Israel. None of these promises have been kept, despite Arafat’s solemn oaths, made “over and over” as Ceausescu suggested.
On September 13, 1993, the same day Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin signed the “Declaration of Principles” embodying those ideals for which he would later get the Nobel Prize, he explained his motives on Lebanese TV:
Since we cannot defeat Israel in war, we do this in stages. We take any and every territory that we can of Palestine, and establish sovereignty there, and we use it as a springboard to take more. When the time comes, we can get the Arab nations to join us for the final blow against Israel.
As I mentioned earlier, a Palestinian state is not the PLO’s goal, never has been. Once you accept this, it is easy to understand why he rebuffed former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s extremely generous offer of statehood for Palestine.
Yasser Arafat was not a Moslem.
He was fully indoctrinated in the culture and ideology of radical communist revolutionaries and enjoyed the support and full backing of the Soviet Bloc. He was a Communist.
Pacepa flatly stated Arafat was a “devoted Marxist-Leninist.” This is not really news, any movement dreamt up by the KGB would, by definition, have to be communist at its core. Arafat’s professed belief in Islam, right down to TV shots of him bowing on a prayer mat in traditional Moslem fashion, is pure political theater, nothing more. So Arafat’s al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, while professing allegiance to Allah, are simply stooges carrying out the terrorist policies of the atheistic PLO.
What Yasser Arafat Was
Yasser Arafat was the father of modern terrorism.
Arafat’s PLO pioneered in the use of terror tactics and has been both an inspiration and source of support for many of the terrorist groups that came afterward. He is responsible for countless acts of terrorism not only against Israel but also the United States, including:
· The murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. This watershed event ushered in the age of modern terrorism.
· The murder in May 1973 of American Ambassador to Sudan, Cleo A. Noel, Jr., his deputy, George Curtis, and Belgian charge d’affaires Guy Eid. The State Department by the way, has apparently tried to cover this up.
· The 1974 killing of 26 mostly 15 year-old girls taken hostage at school in Ma’alot, Israel.
· The 1985 hijacking of Italian cruise liner Achille Lauro and murder of U.S. citizen Leon Klinghofer, a wheelchair-bound tourist who was shot then pushed overboard in front of his wife.
· Popularizing the hijacking of airliners.
· Recruiting and training Imad Mughniyah, today one of the most notorious international terrorists. Through his membership in Hezbollah, Mughniyah helped bring Iran into the terrorism business and is believed to be responsible for the 1982-83 Beirut Embassy and Marine barracks bombings. His meeting with Osama Bin Laden in the mid 1990s paved the way for a working relationship between Hezbollah and al Qaeda and assisted al Qaeda in improving their bomb-making capability.
· Since the signing of the Declaration of Principles (Oslo accords) in 1993, over 300 attacks against the Israeli population, including deliberate targeting of children, in which more than 1,300 Israelis were killed.
Yasser Arafat was a thief.
By all accounts Arafat has stolen billions of dollars in aid money meant for the Palestinian people. While the areas under PLO control have deteriorated precipitously, Arafat stashed away most, if not all, of the monetary aid intended for them.
· Almost one billion dollars collected in taxes from the Palestinian people was retained in investment accounts under Arafat’s name.
· Astonishingly, in the Oslo accords, Israel agreed to pay Arafat the sales taxes collected from Palestinians in Israel, about $1 billion to date. This too went into Arafat’s personal accounts.
· According to the PLO’s own finance minister, Salam Fayyad, Arafat gave commodity monopolies to his friends, who in turn diluted their products and jacked up prices on the Palestinians. For example, the General Petroleum Corporation took fuel purchased from Israel and watered it down with kerosene. In addition to ripping off Palestinian drivers, the poor quality fuel ruined their cars’ engines. Arafat got kickbacks.
· Arafat received many gifts from the KGB, Saudi Arabia and others. Saddam allegedly gave him $50 million for his support in Gulf War I.
Yasser Arafat was a ruthless oppressor of the Palestinian people.
Arafat established a Stalinist enclave among the Palestinians, a police state with the highest number of security forces per capita of any country in the world. Per Capita income has been cut approximately in half since the Palestinian Authority took power following the Oslo accords. The authority rules with an iron hand. Death sentences have been issued, for example, to Palestinians who willingly sell their own land to Israelis. The Palestinians have also suffered greatly as the result of being drawn into a war with Israel not of their own making and not intended for their benefit but rather for Arafat’s own regional ambitions.
Yasser Arafat was an alleged pederast.
It is widely believed that he was homosexual. Among other evidence, the Romanians claim they took surveillance videos of Arafat engaged in orgies with his male bodyguards.
However, internationally famous Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci, who has interviewed many foreign leaders including Arafat, revealed with evident disgust in a 1981 Playboy interview, that Arafat had a marked preference for young boys. Perhaps this is the blackmail Arafat’s horrid wife, Sufa, with whom he hadn’t lived for years, has used to garner herself a multi-million dollar annual “death benefit.” The proceeds of course, flow from his billions in ill-gotten gains.
Many speculate that the cause of his death was AIDS. Arafat’s symptoms included blotchy skin, dementia, a depressed immune system and massive weight loss. The only other disease indicated by these symptoms, Leukemia, was ruled out. The only ones who can release Arafat’s medical records are his family, and they aren’t talking.
The official line went from the ludicrous “he was poisoned by the Israelis” to the absurd: “A poor diet and gastrointestinal complications due to his long confinement in PLO headquarters imposed by the Israelis caused his health to deteriorate.” Of course, it was the Israelis fault, one way or the other.
I vote AIDS.
Terrorists from Syria to Iran to the wilds of Afghanistan widely championed Arafat and his cause as another front on the fight against the decadent and immoral “Great Satan”. It is indeed ironic that one of their most celebrated champions should succumb to a disease caused by activities they claim are symbolic of the decadent West: homosexuality.
Yasser Arafat was despised by Middle Eastern leaders.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak referred to him once as “a son of a dog.” A Syrian defense minister called him the “son of 60,000 whores.” Even his Soviet Bloc handlers found him repulsive: “I’ve never before seen so much cleverness, blood and filth all together in one man” Romanian General Constantin Munteaunu was reputed to have said. Ion Pacepa added: “I felt a compulsion to take a shower whenever I had been kissed by Arafat or even just shaken his hand.”
Yasser Arafat was leader of a murderous terrorist organization whose goals have not changed.
As should be obvious from this analysis, the PLO leadership has long been committed to one goal: the obliteration of Israel. The poor Palestinians have been and remain nothing more than useful dupes for this grand scheme. I don’t understand why Western leaders even talk about Palestinian statehood.
It would be nice to hope that Mahmoud Abbas, Arafat’s successor, may make a genuine attempt to secure a lasting peace. I doubt it. Abbas is a smooth talker and has the appearance of a kindly grandfather. In this regard he is indeed different from Arafat. But the ideological swamp from which both he and Arafat came is a toxic environment incapable of supporting sound mental health. As an early member of the PLO, Abbas has survived in this sewer a long time. You do not rise to the top by secretly harboring ambitions to betray such an organization’s goals. You get there by being the cleverest among many vile brutes.
Furthermore, it’s hard to penetrate the logic of his hopeful supporters. Other terrorist organizations in PLO areas, like Hamas, Islamic Jihad, or Hezbollah for example, which was implicated in the February 25 nightclub bombing, are characterized as being outside the PLO’s sphere of influence. If this is the case, how can any agreement with the PLO guarantee peace? If it is not the case, then why do the attacks continue despite Abbas’ repeated promises?
Expect more of the same, except with polished excuses and apologies.
The PLO was originally created as one front on a multi-front war to wrest the Middle East from Western control and turn it into a Soviet-inspired socialist paradise. This idea has been temporarily shelved due to rejection of Ba’athist/communist ideology throughout much of the Middle East and now the U.S. led war in Iraq. Whether the rise of radical Islam is yet another proxy in this war remains to be seen. There are some indications that may be the case, but it is beyond the breadth of this article to analyze such a question.
In any event, dictatorial regimes have long planning horizons. As Yasser Arafat said in his interview with Oriana Fallaci:
"We don't want peace! We want war, victory. Peace for us means the destruction of Israel and nothing else. That which you call peace, is peace for Israel and the imperialists. For us it is injustice and shame. We will fight until we achieve victory. Decades if necessary, generations."
For now they are biding their time. For the long term, rest assured the PLO is every bit as determined to wipe Israel off the face of the map as they were the day eleven Israeli athletes were murdered in Munich. They don’t care about much else—never did.