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Natalia Zawidowski: The True Arafat

The True Arafat

By Natalia Zawidowski

Is Arafat a terrorist or simply a powerless politician who has no control over the 9 Palestinian terrorist groups on an international list of 17 terrorist organizations? If indeed he has no power to reign in suicide killers, why keep a powerless leader who has no control over his own people and whos election term ended 3 years ago? According to the western press, he is a man who is seriously interested in peace, in Arabic though he says different things and acts differently.

For example on Jan. 27, when Yasser Arafat declared on Israeli television, “My hand is outstretched in peace.” But earlier that same day he had called for “jihad” (holy war) on a Palestinian women’s march. And within hours the first female suicide bomber blew herself up on a busy Jerusalem street.

A week later: Arafat wrote “I condemn the attacks carried out by terrorist groups against Israeli civilians.”(Sunday New York Times) But, to his own people in Ramallah, he declared, “Into Jerusalem we shall go as millions of martyrs as need be.” That night a terrorist murdered three Jewish settlers, including a mother and child. Palestinian radio (which Arafat controls) called the terrorist a hero. While Arafat told his followers, “We will make the lives of the infidels hell.”

As we know we can’t trust conflicting statements such as these I suggest we drop the questions and start thorough research on this mysterious man with two faces.

Mohammed Abdel-Raouf Arafat As Qudwa al-Hussaeini, who later changed his name to Yaser Arafat, was born on 24 August 1929 in Cairo. Though Arafat himself has tried to make out in the past that he was born in Jerusalem, evidence has long been found proving once and for all that he was Egyptian by birth. His parents had emigrated from Palestine and contrary to common belief they were not "refugees or "exiles". They had simply moved to Egypt in the 1920s - more than twenty years before the State of Israel came into existence.

Arafat’s family background is interesting and very revealing as his uncle, the great mufti of Egypt in the 1920s and -30s had been a long time ally to Hitler , condemning Jews and denying their claim on Jerusalem. He was also the first person to conclude that Mohammed ascended to heaven from the Temple Mount. It seems likely that his influence over young Arafat was great. His nephew readily adopted his opinions, saying himself later in life "Let it be known, the Wailing Wall is not a holy site of the Jews, but an integral part of the mosque grounds."

In Cairo, at the age of only sixteen, Arafat was already engaged in illegal activities, smuggling arms to Palestine to be used against the British and the Jews.

He and his friends founded Al-Fatah, an underground network of secret cells in 1958, which a year later began to publish a magazine advocating armed struggle against Israel. At the end of 1964 Arafat left Kuwait to become a full-time revolutionary in Jordan, organizing illegal Fatah raids into Israel.

In 1964 the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was established, an organization of which Arafat was made Chairman in 1969 after the Arab defeat in the Six-Day-War. The PLO was largely funded through illegal terrorist actions, one of the most famous being a bank robbery in Lebanon.

After the war September 1969 in Jordan the Palestinians who had tried to overthrow the King’s regime were thrown out of the country.

After the PLO was expelled from Jordan by King Hussein in 1970, many of its cadres went to Lebanon. The PLO not only seized whole areas of the country and usurped Lebanese government authority; they also brutalized the Lebanese population frequently.

On October 14, 1976, Lebanese Ambassador Edward Ghorra told the UN General Assembly the PLO was bringing ruin upon his country: "Palestinian elements belonging tovarious...organizations resorted to kidnapping Lebanese-and sometimes foreigners-holding them prisoner, questioning them, torturing them and sometimes killing them" (New York Times, October 15,1976).

New York Times correspondent David Shipler wrote that the PLO had turned the town into a military base, "using its churches as strongholds and armories" (New York Times, June 21, 1982).

Later the PLO was mainly busy committing terrorist attacks on Israelis. But this was by no means their only ties to terrorism. They were the most important member of a global terrorist network which provided money, training, weaponry and intelligence for terrorist movements all over the world. (Ireland, Spain, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Africa, Asia and Latin America.)

Even if one does not necessarily want to hold Arafat, as the PLO's Chairman, directly accountable for its crimes there is more than enough evidence proving that Arafat was also personally involved in various other incidents.

It is no longer a secret for example, that Arafat was directly responsible for the execution of two American diplomats.

On March1st, 1973 in Khartoum a part of Arafat's Fatah organization stormed the Saudi Embassy in Khartoum. US Ambassador Cleo Noel, diplomat Charge d'Affaires George Curtis Moore and others were taken hostage. A day later, on March 2, 1973, Noel, Moore and Belgian Guy Eid were executed with machine guns. Mr.Welsh (who formerly served as the National Security Agency's Palestinian analyst) claims this happened on the direct orders of Arafat and blamed the U.S government for covering up the truth for more than two decades.

Indeed all evidence, including a tape from the Israeli Secret Service was ignored and kept secret for 28 years.

Even though the Sudanese Vice President Mohammed Bakirhad questioned the six Palestinian terrorists and later declared the men had “relied on radio messages from Beirut Fatah headquarters, both for the order to kill the three diplomats and for their own surrender Sunday morning."

The truth remained secret even though an article in Arafat's official newspaper, Al Hayat Al Jadidah, written by the newspaper's editor, Hafez al-Barghouti, praised the Arab terrorist who carried out the Beirut attack as "a holy martyr who suckled from his mother's bosom the pure jihad tradition." (November 23, 1997).

But all evidence, including a tape from the Israeli Secret Service was ignored and kept hidden for 28 years.

Different crimes and terrorist attacks in the past were also wide spread and have readily been forgotten by the world when declaring Arafat a "Partner for peace".

During the 1970s and 1980s, Arafat's Fatah group and other member-organizations of Arafat's PLO carried out numerous hijackings, bombings, and other attacks in which dozens of American citizens were killed and many more injured. Thus Arafat became known as the father of terrorism and the inventor of airplane hijackings.

But the PLO was no less dangerous than their leader himself.

Amin el-Hindi who would later rise to the position of “Chief of Paelstinian General Intelligence” and another longtime senior PLO official, Abu Daoud, masterminded an attack on the 1972 Munich Olympics in which 12 people were killed.

Israel's Deputy Education Minister also said that Israeli intelligence has evidence Arafat took part in the discussions by terrorist leaders planning the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City, in which six people were killed and over 100 injured. (Jerusalem Post, June 20, 1997)

But people change and it is not entirely impossible Arafat might have altered his tune over the years and is now trying to embrace the path of peace.

So let's go back to more recent times and examine incidents which occurred only a couple of months ago, like the Karine A weapons ship affair.

On January 6th 2002 a ship bearing 50 tons of weapons, bound for the Palestinian Authority was captured by Israel Defense Force naval commandos in a raid. Among the weapons found on the Karine A freighter were long-range rockets and missiles capable of reaching major Israeli cities from Palestinian territory which could have dramatically changed Israel's security.

Sharon said "the type and character of the weapons and ammunition discovered on the ship prove once again that the Palestinian Authority has been focusing all its efforts on terrorism and preparing the operational infrastructure for the next waves of terror." He added that the PA was "a major player in the network of international terrorism, spearheaded by Iran and aimed at sowing death and destruction throughout the entire world."

Not only did Arafat, after originally denying these accusations , finally confess to the Israeli account, he went further still, by sending a letter to the American secretary of state from which it could be interpreted that he took direct responsibility for this incident.

But voices are trying to reason reminding us that the Palestinian leader was after all elected democratically…or not?

No. All evidence dismisses this. Former CIA director Jim Woolsey even said that "Arafat was essentially elected the same way Stalin was, but not nearly as democratically as Hitler, who at least had actual opponents."

Peace Watch wasn’t the only group to notice that shortly before the elections Arafat and his helpers were intimidating political activists, arrested some political opponents, bribing some to exit races and even arresting political opponents.

Strangely there was only one person to oppose Arafat on the ballot. A 72-year-old social worker, her name was Samiha Khalil. How she ever managed to finish with a “surprisingly high number of votes”(New York Times), a total of 9.3 percent of the vote was a mystery. When Arafat got more than nine hours a week of speaking time on television Samiha Khalil was never even mentioned. She was only finally granted 47 minutes of speaking time (at 11.00pm) when international journalists started criticizing.

For everyone who is still convinced that Arafat has good intentions please remember that most terrorist attacks in Israel since September 2000 were perpetrated by his own Fatah Movement (which includes the Al-Aqsa Martyr Brigade).

This is another violation of the Oslo Accords, as it clearly states that Fatah should refrain from the use of terrorism.

Personally, I have seen too many pictures of terrorist attacks following and preceding Arafat’s halfhearted “condemnations” of terror to still believe there could be any way of making peace with him.

“…every baby, every kid, every man, every woman and every old person and all the young people, we will all sacrifice ourselves…” Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat (Speech at a rally in Ramallah, December 18, 2001)


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