Re “Palestinian Leader Arafat Dies,” Nov. 11: The outpouring of sympathy by world leaders over the death of Yasser Arafat is disgusting and troubling. America and the civilized world are presently engaged in a massive war against terrorism. Arafat, perhaps more than any other person, invented terror directed at civilians as a political weapon of choice. No one could have ever imagined choosing children as targets of political terror; credit Arafat with inventing that strategy.
Hopefully, Arafat’s death will serve as a positive turning point in Middle East history. He should be remembered, however, for his vicious and brutal legacy, and not buried as a hero.
In his Nov. 11 commentary, “How Arafat Got Away With It,” Max Boot called Arafat, the de facto and elected leader of the Palestinian people, a “thug.” He has the audacity to blame Arafat for the suffering of the Palestinian people. Well, the biggest “thug” since Germany’s Hitler is Ariel Sharon. In the last three years, Sharon has killed more civilians, destroyed whole villages, razed more than 40,000 homes, uprooted 200,000 trees in the West Bank and Gaza.
Sharon is the prime minister of Israel, considered the best-armed country after the U.S. He has been using the power of the American-supplied tools of destruction against people throwing stones at tanks. The creation of the state of Israel is the cause of Palestinian misery. The Palestinian people have been and are still occupied by Israeli forces.
I almost wrote an approval of Boot’s commentary (I rarely agree with his politics) until he mentioned George Bush’s “courage to stop dealing with the Palestinian thug-in-chief.”
Obviously, since the speech in June 2002, Bush did little to nothing to broker any move to bring Israel and the Palestinians to a conference table and was allowed, by his silence, to “get away with it.” Will Bush now have the common sense to reach out to a successor?
Arafat’s dead. Born in Cairo, not Jerusalem, he was responsible for the death and maiming of thousands of Israeli civilians, nearly as many Arabs and over 100 U.S. citizens. He invented airplane hijacking, the Arab use of Nazi anti-Jewish libels and brainwashing teenagers into suicide bombing. Forbes reports his personal wealth to be at least $300 million, and maybe five times that, embezzled from his poverty-stricken people.
Arafat, having rejected Palestinian statehood, ceded the (undeserved) moral high ground for the slime of suicide terrorism, and finally, too self-centered and paranoid to groom a successor, leaves his people in the worst shape they’ve ever been in.
With the passing of Arafat it is time to face the real situation. Everyone likes to call the Mideast a “complicated” part of the world. The only issue is the repatriation of Palestinians to Israeli-occupied lands. Only when that issue is resolved will the area live in peace.
There must be a way to get to that solution. Maybe President Bush could use some of his “political capital” to create a useful medium. It may be helpful to send a senior representative to Arafat’s memorial.
Arafat’s legacy will be that he duped his people into false hopes and ultimately incited them to violence directed at civilians. Yet the media lavished fawning attention on him in his dying days. Will Osama bin Laden receive the same?
Arafat’s accommodating Oslo approach got the Palestinian people nothing but more illegal Israeli settlements. More militant, southern Lebanese-type leadership is needed to overcome Israeli and U.S. rejection of the U.N. resolutions.
President Bush made a typical eloquent statement with no substance on Arafat’s death. Here’s what he should have said: “Arafat’s dead. He was a terrorist whose organizations killed people. We remember Beirut 1983. He didn’t deserve the Nobel Peace Prize. We won’t miss him. Goodbye, and good riddance.”
Let the rest of the world mourn his death ... we’ll mourn our dead instead.