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Matthew Rojansky

Matthew Rojansky is a graduate student in law and international affairs at Stanford University and has studied and worked in the Middle East.

Don’t Eulogize the Tsar of Modern Terrorism
Arafat's bloody legacy...
[Matthew Rojansky] 11/15/04

In death, Yasser Arafat has become a figure “larger than life” in the Western press.  The New York Times recently referred to him as “a symbol of suffering and steadfastness” and “the guerrilla fighter and Nobel Prize winner who has symbolized the Palestinian struggle for statehood for the last four decades.”  Such willing promulgation by Western journalists of Arafat’s father-of-a-nation image among Palestinians, coupled with a systematic de-emphasis of his appalling criminal past, runs the risk of rewriting history and whitewashing the record of one of the cruelest terrorists of all time.  Yasser Arafat not only does not deserve the formulaic eulogy due departed heads of state, he deserves to be accorded in death the moral condemnation warranted by a lifetime of theft, deceit, and murder.

Arafat was a pioneer in the field of human suffering.  In 1959, he founded the Fatah movement, which was expressly dedicated to the destruction of the State of Israel, and which emerged in the mid-1960’s as the dominant faction in the PLO.  After realizing that the Jewish population of Israel could not be destroyed through conventional military attack by Arab armies, Arafat led the PLO in a terror campaign against civilians, including the ambush-murders of Israeli schoolchildren in 1968, the slaughter of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, and the torture-killing of American diplomats taken hostage in Khartoum.  For these and other atrocities, Arafat was awarded the honor in 1974 of addressing the UN General Assembly, which duly distinguished him as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, and granted his terrorist syndicate special observer status at the UN.

Rather than live up to the “freedom fighter” image he successfully cultivated in the Muslim world and parts of the West, Arafat continued to rely on terror as a political tool for the next three decades.  He committed the PLO to a “phased plan” for the destruction of the Jewish state, and utterly rejected the “just and lasting peace” called for by Security Council Resolution 242 after the Six Day War.  Throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s, Arafat masterminded the hijacking of dozens of civilian aircraft and exercised direct operational control in hundreds of other dramatic terror attacks.  One of the cruelest was the 1985 murder of an elderly disabled American, Leon Klinghofer, who was shot aboard the hijacked Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro and thrown overboard in his wheelchair.

While the PLO head continued to authorize murders of civilians, he saw an opportunity to advance the “phased plan” for Israel’s destruction by entering into secret negotiations for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the early 1990’s.  The ensuing “peace process” opened the flood gates of foreign aid, at least $1.3 billion of which was siphoned offshore to Arafat’s personal accounts, while millions more went for weapons and ammunition that would be used by terror groups under Arafat’s direct and indirect command, even as peace talks proceeded throughout the decade.  The “peace process” was the ideal cover for Arafat’s 1996 commitment to “jihad, jihad, jihad,” and his promise in 1998 to “intensify the blessed intifada,” a strategy that came to fruition with his rejection of peace in exchange for Palestinian statehood in July 2000, and his public call for a new wave of terror against Israel two months later.

Despite a top aide’s comparison of the PLO leader to Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela—who he said would also have become terrorists under “Israeli occupation”—Yasser Arafat’s acceptance in 1994 of the Nobel Prize for Peace made a mockery of the very word.  A medal that has memorialized the work of true humanitarians like Nelson Mandela, Elie Wiesel, and Martin Luther King, belonged nowhere near the blood-stained hands of the founding father of international terrorism. 

Though Arafat will be eulogized by his followers as a Nobel laureate and a patriot, he must also be remembered as a serial murderer, a deceiver, and the chief architect of his own people’s suffering.  The only fitting end for the Palestinian arch terrorist would have been to seize his assets and distribute them to families of terror victims, prohibit broadcasting of his memorial ceremony in Cairo, and inscribe in large letters above his tomb, “here lies Yasser Arafat, billionaire, murderer, and betrayer of peace.” CRO

The author is a graduate student in law and international affairs at Stanford University and has studied and worked in the Middle East.






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