Yasser Arafat

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 13, 2004 | Go to article overview

Yasser Arafat


Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The death of Yasser Arafat leaves the future uncertain for Palestinians. To maintain his near-absolute hold on power in the Palestinian Authority, Mr. Arafat refrained from creating a clear line of secession, increasing the likelihood that his passing would be followed by internecine conflict, up to and including a civil war in the West Bank and Gaza. Whatever happens, it is abundantly clear what Mr. Arafat's most enduring legacy to the Palestinian people will be: misery and suffering.

But no one would ever know by the press coverage of Mr. Arafat's death. In the United States, the major networks cut short their coverage of Veterans Day ceremonies to show the corpse being carried by a military honor guard in Cairo. Although the newspapers and networks occasionally noted Mr. Arafat's record of violence, this was frequently "balanced" with dubious references to his supposed efforts as a peacemaker and his fight for freedom for the Palestinian people. With their failure to carefully examine the catastrophes Mr. Arafat visited upon Arabs and Israelis alike, the empty suits and skirts in the U.S. media seem to have lost their moral compasses and their judgment.

Few have played as large a role as Mr. Arafat in creating the modern infrastructure of international terrorism. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, he molded the Palestine Liberation Organization into the model for a generation of international terrorist organizations. Long before Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda perfected the art of suicide terrorist attacks, Mr. Arafat and the PLO specialized in hijacking airplanes, executing diplomats, attacking "military" targets like apartment buildings, schools and hotels and murdering Olympic athletes.

After Mr. Arafat and the PLO triggered a civil war in Jordan, they were expelled from that country in the early 1970s. So Mr. Arafat and his comrades relocated to Lebanon, where they triggered a civil war in 1975 and provoked an Israeli invasion of that country in 1982, which resulted in the expulsion of Mr. Arafat and his fellow terrorists.

Following the defeat of his top patron, the Soviet Union, in the Cold War, and the defeat of his replacement top patron, Saddam Hussein, in the Gulf War, then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and then-President Clinton tried to rescue Mr. …

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