Re “Who Is This Man, and Who Comes Next?” Commentary, Nov. 4: Writer David Grossman’s treacly paean to Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat is a pathetic attempt to whitewash this figure, whom Ariel Sharon describes as the man who has more civilian blood on his hands than anyone since Hitler. He is also inaccurate in describing Arafat as being devoted to creating a Palestinian state to live side by side with Israel. It is well known from Arafat’s statements, his rejection of the Oslo accords, Palestinian school books and official Palestinian maps in which Israel is missing that his goal was the destruction of Israel, not a Palestinian state to coexist with it.
Except for a brief reference that Grossman puts down as an Israeli suspicion, he said nothing about documentation that proved that Arafat’s siphoned millions of dinars earmarked for the Palestinian people into Swiss bank accounts. It would be insensitive to criticize someone unable to respond, but let’s be clear about one thing: Arafat was no hero.
Though the news that Israel is prepared to pay each settler family about $300,000 to leave its home in Gaza and a few isolated areas on the West Bank is heartening (Nov. 4), no mention is made of the 2,500 Palestinian homes that have been destroyed by the Israeli military during the last four years. The majority of these destructions have taken place in the Rafah refugee camp along the Israeli/Egyptian border, supposedly in an effort to eliminate smuggling of arms.
According to a Human Rights Watch report, 16,000 Palestinians have been displaced and much agricultural land has been razed. This report also recommends that the Israeli government pay reparations to these displaced families and address their emergency needs. Surely the time has come for Israel to show some charity to these people who have lived in what is essentially a giant slum for the last 50 years.