Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Arafat Persists in Brutality, Terror

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Arafat Persists in Brutality, Terror

Article excerpt

Yasser Arafat, the man credulous Westerners would like to imagine as the George Washington of the Middle East, is confounding his admirers.

Recently, the world learned of executions carried out by agents of Arafat against Palestinians who sold land to Israelis. Now reports of widespread torture are surfacing. According to The Washington Post, Bassam Eid, a Palestinian human rights activist who spent years documenting human rights abuses by Israel, has now turned his attention to the Palestinian Authority. He accuses the authority of responsibility for 42 known cases of torture (14 of which resulted in death) in 1996 and 1997, and he alleges that Arafat's secret services - there are between seven and 10 - routinely use death threats, false imprisonment and brutality.

Eid's report mentions two cases where victims were tortured into confessing to crimes they could not possibly have committed. One man was beaten until he confessed to a murder that took place in 1993 - though he had been imprisoned in Israel at the time. Another man was whipped and beaten until he confessed to the murder of his friend - who was being tortured in the next room. Dissent of any kind is ruthlessly crushed within the territories Arafat controls. A Palestinian American, Daoud Kuttab, sat until recently in a Palestinian prison, unable to receive visits from the American consulate or his family for the crime of attempting to broadcast speeches critical of Arafat. These uncomfortable realities are being resolutely resisted in the United States and even by many in Israel, so eager is the "peace party" to believe that accommodation is possible and that Arafat has truly changed. Rather than confront the brutality and implacable hostility of the Palestinians toward Israel, it is far easier for the peace party to fancy that the problem lies within Israel. And so we have the endless second-guessing of each and every move taken by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Did he provoke the Palestinians by opening the tunnel near the Islamic holy sites? Isn't he putting his thumb in their eye by building apartments in Jerusalem? The tunnel, of course, was nowhere near the Islamic holy places. …

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