A FESTIVAL OF NATIONS : New York Mayor Ejects Arafat From Concert
Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani came under criticism Tuesday for ordering the expulsion of Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat from a U.N. anniversary concert at Lincoln Center.
Arafat, who shared the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, was ushered out of a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony on Monday night on Giuliani’s personal order.
The mayor had pointedly not invited Arafat, who was among the more than 180 world leaders who addressed the U.N. General Assembly during the three-day celebration of the United Nations’ 50th anniversary, to the concert. When Arafat arrived with tickets from another U.N. delegation, Giuliani had his chief of staff, Randy Mastro, evict the Palestinian leader.
“We don’t think this is right,” State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said of the mayor’s action. “He [Arafat] is the leader of the Palestinian people. He should be given the respect the Palestinian people deserve.”
Phil Baum, executive director of the American Jewish Congress, on Tuesday said Giuliani’s decision to evict Arafat from the concert was not in keeping with the wishes of the Jewish community.
“He didn’t ask us and we didn’t tell him,” Baum said. “It was his determination. . . . Many people in the Jewish community have met with Arafat, and they met as recently as today.”
Nasser Kidwa, the PLO’s permanent observer to the United Nations, accused Giuliani of playing politics and “trying to get votes of some fanatics.”
He said Arafat left the concert not because of the mayor’s order but because the concert started late and he had to go to another appointment. Kidwa said the U.N. host committee had provided the concert tickets.
At a City Hall news conference, Giuliani, a former federal prosecutor in New York, defended his action.
“Yasser Arafat was on a list of people who were not invited,” the mayor said. “We recognized the nations that are recognized by the United States, and the PLO is neither a nation nor recognized by the United States . . . so he was not invited.”
“Somehow, someone gave him a ticket,” Giuliani added. “I would not invite Yasser Arafat to anything, anywhere any time, any place.”
The mayor said Mastro told Arafat’s advisers that the Palestinian leader was not welcome at the event, which was sponsored by the city’s host committee for the U.N. celebrations.
“He told him he wasn’t invited and that he should leave,” Giuliani said. “He stayed for a while and then he left.”
The mayor charged that the PLO had been implicated in the murders of “dozens of American citizens abroad.” While he was U.S. attorney in Manhattan, Giuliani said, he had recommended against Arafat’s entry into the country to attend the U.N. General Assembly.
“I took the position [that] I would have him arrested and held as a material witness,” Giuliani said.
Arafat was not the only visiting leader pointedly excluded from Giuliani’s guest list. Also uninvited were Cuban President Fidel Castro and representatives from Iran, Iraq, Somalia, North Korea, Libya and the rump Yugoslavia.
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