I have not come to praise Yasir Arafat but to bury him. Diplomacy states that one should say nice things about the dead, even if it isn’t true. As for Arafat, we were treated to eulogy as if he was the Palestinian version of George Washington. Arafat was not George Washington but a blood thirsty anti-Semite who ruled Palestine as Al Capone ruled Chicago in the 1920’s. He was nothing more than a Palestinian version of a Mafiosi.
In 2000, Bill Clinton offered Arafat a deal that would have given Arafat most of what he supposedly wanted- a home land on the West Bank. Arafat gave Clinton and the Israelis the middle finger and launched a wave of suicidal homicide. Arafat revealed his true identity as a terrorist thug whose only goal was the elimination of Israel and institute a second Jewish holocaust.
Now Israel have begun the process of instituting a de facto two state solution by building of a security fence. While the world objected, Israel has begun the long process of washing its hand of the Palestinians and essentially has told the Palestinians- we will protect our border from you and you can do what you damn please on the other side of the fence. When you are ready to talk and act like good neighbors then we will talk.
At his death, Arafat has left a people in ruin and nothing to show for but blood and hatred. He built nothing but stole much from his own people. From the very beginning of his career, Arafat extorted money from others and left nothing but table scrap for those he supposedly led.
A native born Egyptian, Arafat introduced terrorism to the world which included 1972 Munich massacre and the 1974 massacre at Ma’a lot. Those Palestinians who disagreed with Arafat often were treated with much of the same violence that greeted others. Critics were tortured or imprisoned when he took command at Ramallah.
The world turned a blind eye to all of this and pretended that Arafat was a peacemaker, even rewarding him with a Nobel Peace Prize. As for the Israelis, they agreed to recognize him at Oslo on the theory that he was the right thug to keep the Palestinians in line. The result in the end was the intifida. From 2000, Arafat showed his card and the Israelis found that he was not different from those they wished he could control. Hamas and Arafat were the same side of the same corn.
Arafat strung them along, more or less, until his bluff was called by the Israeli peace offer at Camp David in July 2000. Arafat had told an Arab audience in 1996, “We plan to eliminate the state of Israel and establish a purely Palestinian state. We will make life unbearable for Jews by psychological warfare and population explosion . . . . We Palestinians will take over everything, including all of Jerusalem.”
Now that Arafat is dead, what is left? The illusion has been shorn and the man behind the curtain exposed. For the Palestinians, they are left to pay the bills of a brutal man’s madness. While Arafat’s wife lives off millions, the average Palestinians are no closer to a country to call their own or a stable government to rule.
Now the door is open for peace but the real question, will the Palestinians repeat the same mistakes of the past? Just when the Israelis are ready to hand them a piece of real estate, will they finally accept what is in front of them and begin anew?
There are times when revolutionaries become statesmen. Our founding fathers founded a Republican that has stood the test of time and Nelson Mandela fathered a new Nation in South Africa. Then there are revolutionaries who merely continue their bloody path of violence once in charge. Arafat belonged to the latter. He had no desire for peace with Israel but its annihilation.
Once again, we hear about the peace process but fail to understand that the process can only succeed if both sides agree on some mutual objectives. Israel has already accepted in principle the idea of a Palestinian state and United States has now made it official policy. So what is left is for those Palestinians who are left in the post-Arafat era to decide if there is to be peace.
To praise Arafat is to demean the true meaning of peace. Arafat was not a man of peace but a thug who wanted nothing but destruction. He could not build but only destroy. On his shoulder laid the hope of a people and all he did was to betray them over and over again. The world treated him like a statesman when he should have been treated as a criminal. He has left the scene and world is better off without him. Let us bury him but not praise him. In the Shakespeare classic, Julius Caesar, Marc Antony sarcastically mocks Caesar murderer, Brutus, as “honorable man” in one of the great classic speech. May we sarcastically whisper, “Arafat was a honorable man” while knowing that the opposite is the truth?