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New York Times Gushes Over Arafat


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New York Times

gushes over Arafat

Long tribute blames Israel for terrorism, calls dead leader 'enigmatic statesman'

In a tribute to the late PLO leader Yasser Arafat, the New York Times yesterday featured a glowing obituary that blames Israel for Palestinian terrorism, ignores major violent incidents, contradicts historical accounts of certain events, whitewashes viscious propaganda on Palestinian TV, and hails Arafat as a "statesman" and the only Palestinian leader who could make "painful compromises for peace."

In the 5,265 word obituary by writer Judith Miller, readers are introduced to Arafat only as "the wily and enigmatic father of Palestinian nationalism who for almost 40 years symbolized his people's longing for a distinct political identity and independent state ... No other individual so embodied the Palestinians' plight: their dispersal, their statelessness, their hunger for a return to a homeland lost to Israel."

In the most direct reference to Arafat's terrorism, which has involved the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, the 1973 murders of two US diplomats in Khartoum, the 1986 murder of an American on the Achille Lauro cruise ship, killings of hundreds of Israelis in homicide bombings, and murders and assassinations of Palestinians seen as threats to his leadership or collaborators with Israel, Miller, citing no specific examples, calls Arafat's "violence" the "air piracy and innovative forms of mayhem staged for maximum propaganda value."

"Mr. Arafat," Miller gushes, "assumed many poses. But the image that endures – and the one he clearly relished – was that of the Arab fighter, the grizzled, scruffy-bearded guerrilla in olive-green military fatigues and his trademark checkered head scarf, carefully folded in the elongated diamond shape of what was once Palestine."

While she recalls that "in 2000, [Arafat] walked away from a proffered settlement based on the Oslo accords proposed by Prime Minister Ehud Barak – the biggest compromises Israel had ever offered," she says Arafat was just "holding out for more."

Rejecting the published accounts of President Clinton, Prime Minister Barak, and the many other delegates present at the negotiations, Miller hypothesizes that perhaps "despite being pushed into negotiations before they were ready," Arafat "had nonetheless responded with counterproposals but that the Barak offers kept shifting and ultimately fell short of [the Palestinian's] needs."

The Barak offer was a Palestinian State in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, and compromise over the Palestinian "Right of Return."

Even though the Palestinians themselves openly admit they planned the current intifadah before Camp David and have publicly proclaimed Ariel Sharon's famed visit to the Temple Mount was just an excuse to start the terrorism – and an enormous amount of intelligence has been made public to corroborate this admission – Miller rehashes the now discredited Palestinian propaganda: "After the talks collapsed in 2000, Ariel Sharon, then in the opposition in Israel, visited the Jerusalem plaza outside Al Aksa Mosque in late September. Palestinians erupted in violent protest, igniting what came to be called the second intifada."

Most agree Arafat used terrorism to get attention, and that if Arafat had not been a terrorist, he would not have made it to the United Nations podium with a pistol on his belt in 1973, to Gaza from Tunis 10 years ago, or the White House lawn in 1993 for the signing of the Oslo Accords.

But Miller attributes the rise of the Palestinian cause to Arafat's being "a master of public relations, he made the world aware of Palestine as a distinct entity." She doesn't delve any further into Arafat's public relations tactics or how he made the world "aware" of the Palestinian cause.

Later, Miller again refers to Arafat's ability to get good publicity when she mentions "his genius for attracting media attention" that "became evident in the spring of 1968, when he made his first appearance on the cover of Time magazine." But once more, Miller doesn't list any tactics Arafat used, or state that the Time article was an account of Arafat's terrorism.

Miller says Arafat began to be despised by Arabs because of Israel. "Critics noted that while 'President Arafat' toured the globe being welcomed by world leaders, Israel doubled the size of its settlements on what was envisioned as soil for a future Palestinian State."

Miller next offers a nearly 3,000 word biographical sketch of Arafat's childhood and rise to power, telling readers, "Many Palestinians compared [Arafat] to David Ben-Gurion, Israel's founder and first leader, seeing Mr. Arafat as an Arab pioneer who struggled to lead his people back to their promised land."

She outlines Arafat's early years in Egypt, the growth of the PLO in Jordan, expulsion to Tunis, and venture back to Lebanon in 1983.

Despite overwhelming historic evidence to the contrary, Miller claims the first Palestinian intifadah, "erupted without the P.L.O.'s approval or encouragement in the Israeli-occupied territories in late 1987" and helped to push "Mr. Arafat toward greater pragmatism, if not moderation" that ultimately resulted in Arafat's "recognition of Israel" and signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993.

But the 1995 assassination of Arafat's "partner" Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Miller claims, "was a personal and political blow to Mr. Arafat," one from which he partly recovered after holding "one of the freest elections ever held among Arabs."

Even though Arafat ran against a virtually unknown woman and there are many reports of election coercion, violence and threats by his Force 17, Miller says Arafat's election by an overwhelming majority turned Arafat into the "undisputed leader of his people – no longer dismissible by Israelis as a terrorist who derived his authority from the gun."

Although it's well known Arafat used his own security guards to terrorize opponents, and later used Palestinian media to cultivated a population brought up on the "right of return," on the notion that every Israeli city is a legitimate target, and on the idea that Israel exists entirely on "stolen Palestinian land," Miller boasts that "Mr. Arafat presided over an autonomous Palestinian sector that was, relative to most Arab states, tolerant and politically freewheeling."

But Miller says this upbeat assessment of Palestinian society "was challenged in Israeli and American eyes by the collapse of the Oslo talks at Camp David in July 2000 and a last ditch round of negotiations that continued despite growing violence until January 2001."

The end to Arafat's reign, Miller says, came with the election in Israel of Ariel Sharon, "the candidate of the conservative Likud Party and a figure hated by Palestinians for his invasion of Lebanon, his settlements policy and his September 2000 visit to the Jerusalem plaza outside Al Aksa Mosque, an act intended to demonstrate Israeli sovereignty over what Jews call the Temple Mount and Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary."

Sharon, Miller claims, convinced a newly elected President Bush to refuse to "broker a serious peace effort." As a result of Sharon and Bush's policies, Miller writes, "Mr. Arafat and others who ostensibly favored a diplomatic option lacked the political leverage they required," and thus Arafat had no other choice but to allow the intifadah to begin.

Bush then "looked on with indifference as Prime Minister Sharon took unilateral steps to protect Israelis that infuriated the Palestinians, including building walls to cut Israel off from suicide bombers and ordinary Palestinians, dividing up the West Bank into supposedly temporary zones of security and more permanent zones of settlement."

Arafat, trapped by Sharon in his Ramallah compound, eventually became sick and died.

Miller finally concludes, "For many, until the end, Mr. Arafat remained the symbol of Palestinian aspiration to a state, the only man who could have sold the painful compromises for peace to his people had he chosen to do so."



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Exactly what PEACE did this Egyptian ever bring to Israel or the region ? Why is no one ever asking that question?

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Arafat's goal was to have a Palestinian nation next to Israel so they would be closer to fight and bomb. So that one day there would be no Israel.

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