The Mystery of Arafat

The Mystery of Arafat

The Mystery of Arafat

The Mystery of Arafat

Synopsis

How has it happened that this man who is mistrusted by other Arab leaders and disliked by many of his own Palestinian colleagues has managed to stay in place as leader of a national movement for nearly twenty years? The enigma that is Arafat is explored in this probing exploration by one of Israel's finest journalists about whose previous book on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Edward Said wrote "a rare Israeli attempt at sympathetic understanding of the Palestinian tragedy.

Excerpt

For the last 28 years, I have written the name Yasser Arafat almost every day. I am an Israeli journalist, and have been writing on Arab and Palestinian affairs since 1967. I have met Yasser Arafat on a number of occasions; in 1993, at the time of the then-secret Israeli-PLO negotiations, we met in Tunis and engaged in a conversation which lasted several hours. I have read a vast amount of material about him: books, works of research, documents, and current press reports. Over the course of years I have held or heard innumerable conversations on the subject of Arafat and I have imagined that I knew him well.

It is doubtful, though, whether anyone can make that claim. In my meetings with Palestinians, when his name invariably comes up, I hear again and again that they, his own people, are baffled in their attempts to analyze his character, interpret his actions, and prophesy his behavior. Some profess boundless admiration for him, others are confounded by his shallowness and ignorance. I hear people gossip about him, joke at his expense, denigrate him, and of course praise and glorify his name. In many of my meetings with Israelis, Arabs, Americans, and others, serious efforts are made to understand the man and his character. While some speak of him with disgust and others with appreciation, most are above all perplexed over this strange phenomenon called Yasser Arafat.

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