Arafat Still Has Power to Bring about Just Peace

Article excerpt

Byline: Ray Hanania

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CORRECTION/date 07-19-2003: A sentence in Ray Hanania's column Friday should have read: "Israel must dismantle all the settlements and return the vast majority of the land it occupied in 1967, including the non-Jewish sections of Arab East Jerusalem."

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When I was growing up, Yasser Arafat was a larger-than-life hero. While the world insisted the Palestinians didn't exist, Arafat proved them all wrong against all odds and from a Diaspora desert. We do exist! And we have rights!

President Bush, Ariel Sharon and many Christian evangelists don't agree, calling him a "terrorist." That ignorance can be explained.

What little President Bush knows of Middle East history comes from the FOX cable news network and is barely enough to pass a third-grade multiple-choice quiz.

Sharon says Arafat has "bloodied hands," but Sharon's hands are even bloodier.

Arafat's fault is he can lead a revolution but not a government.

But Americans who cite his "corruption" shouldn't throw stones from glass houses built on tech-stock rip-offs and endless Enron- like scandals.

After the Arab world demonstrated its ineffectiveness in 1967, Arafat took control of the Palestinian revolution. He forced Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir to eat her words when she arrogantly declared, "the Palestinians, they don't exist."

The initial goal of the "revolution" was to restore Palestine to its pre-1948 existence. It was Arafat, not Israel, who made the first substantive move in 1988 to accept peace based on compromise, not conquest.

After embracing Arafat's compromise offer, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was murdered by a killer Rabin's widow noted was driven to fanaticism by the hateful rhetoric of the Likud Party that Sharon leads. …