Saturday, November 13, 2004

The Legacy of Arafat: Don't Close Your Eyes

Warning! This entry contains graphic pictures of violence and death.

Arafat, the man and the myth, the rebel and the terrorist, the father and the fuehr. Looking back through history, there are many images of Yassir Arafat and none of them seem to be THE picture of Arafat.

It seems, through out history, Arafat can be best referred to as an opportunist and a demogogue.

The rebel Posted by Hello

Go on to the inner sanctum to view the legacy of Arafat.

I think he represented a toned down version of Hitler. He certainly has the connections and the exposure to the philosophies of Hitler having spent much time in his youth following around his father with the Grand Mufti al-Husseini, best known for being "kept" by the Nazis who tried to assist him several times during WWII in overthrowing the British in Palestine as well as Iraq. Like Hitler, Arafat came to power through circumstance and opportunity. After the war for Israeli independence, the Palestinian people were caught between their Arab brother nations and Israel. Enter Yassir Arafat. In the same manner of Hitler, he maneuvered his way to power by gloming on to the Palestinian cause. Something that had been languishing as an Arab/Israeli conflict and largely ignored by the world in general, he was able to turn in to a "cause du jour".

The legacy of Arafat Posted by Hello

He became the Palestinian cause much in the way that Hitler became Germany. And, I don't think it's unfair to say that Arafat, in his imperfection, has suceeded in creating a militarized society in Palestine, complete with idolotarizing pictures of the Fuehrer, snappy uniforms, anti-zionist sentiment, pretty propaganda and slogans. Let us not forget the new Nazi youth, who are not sheltered from death or pain, but are inundated with it along with the slogans of their older brothers and sisters who tell them that death is acceptable and they should celebrate it.

The new Nazi youth Posted by Hello

I think there are a few differences between Hitler and Arafat, but more similarities than not. Hitler was able to coop most of the paramilitary groups of Germany into one fighting force. An intergrated army. Arafat was never quite able to control all of the paramilitary groups in Palestine. If he had, Israel might not exist today. Hitler believed that he represented Germany and, if Germany could not exist as he dreamt, it should be utterly destroyed and he with it. Arafat, on the other hand, had a deep and abiding sense of self preservation. He became the master of brinkmanship for almost 40 years. Retaining his position as well as his idolizing followers, though a few dropped off over the years as they recognized his intent. While Hitler amassed wealth and art for his own pleasure, he believed it was for the State of Germany first and foremost. Yassir was only for Yassir.

Arafat has not been about Palestine or the Palestinians for over 30 years. Even in the beginning, his association with the cause was more about him than about Palestine. The romantic rebel and future leader had reality handed to him very quickly. By the mid-70's when he was chased through Lebanon and unceremoniously rescued by the west after being hung out to dry by his Arab brothers, the realist, the pragmatist, the greedy and the selfish Arafat took over. Since then, he has made the world pay for the loss of his grand dream, particularly the Arabs surrounding him. Every Arab country and their people have paid guilt money for their abandonment of the "Palestinian" people and their cause.

From this position in history, it doesn't take much to understand that, had the Palestinians and the entire Arab world actually cared about the existance of Palestine or cared about wiping out the "jews", they would have easily done so on a number of occassions. But Palestine and Israel were not their cause. Their cause was their own pride, ego and self preservation as has been the cause of Arafat these many years. With little or no care, they have presided over the deaths of over a hundred thousand Jews, Arabs and Palestinians.

The children pay Posted by Hello

It may have been, once again, in his ailing and elderly years that be began to think about the future, his legacy when he was gone. The 2000 peace talks seemed to be moving towards the establishment of the state of Palestine. The realization of dreams of millions. But, it was not meant to be. I think that Arafat must have wondered, must have thought, what would become of him? Palestine would no longer need her fearless rebel and better to die the fearless rebel, even if it was in his bed, than to be known as the man who might have sold part of Palestine for peace.

And that is exactly what he did. In Palestine, he was loved by many, but I would hazard a guess there were many who equally hated his guts. He was seen as the benefactor of Palestinians, yet he was corrupt, greedy and bereft of integrity.

Some say that he was a complicated man. I believe them to be wrong. There was nothing complicated about Arafat. Arafat was about Arafat. The Palestinian's served his purposes, not the other way around. And he has left a legacy that is unprecedented in history. Fifty years of destruction of his own people and the deaths of countless Israelis for not other than his cult, mein kempf.

Burning flags and martyrs Posted by Hello

Many blame the Israelis for ousting the "Palestinian" Arabs. There is truth and there are distortions about that. Probably somewhere in between. After the Arab revolt against Britain in 1936-1939, backed by the Nazis and attempting to install Arab Nazi (National Socialist Party) government in the area, the continued persecution of their brethern and the holocaust brought on by those Nazi backers in Europe, the continued existence of the Nazi backed Grand Mufti of Jeruselem, al-Husseini who continued to push the "final solution" even after the fall of Germany. Having escaped to Eqypt with several Nazi high command and then continued to use members of the SS for espionage and training in terror techniques and finally, the enability for Britain to control it's mandate and protect them from these people, I really, really do not blame them for declaring themselves an independent state with a majority of Jews. From their perspective, there must have been very few people to trust and they only trusted themselves with their future.

On the other hand, the "Palestinians" have been badly led, bled and largely forgotten by their Arab brethern who are comfortable mouthing platitudes, but do not or cannot offer anything beyond that and money. Money that has done little to ease their suffering or change their circumstances, but has built the cult of death that will take many generations or the near annhilation of their population, as it was in Germany, to wipe out from the face of this earth.

The suffering of Palestine Posted by Hello

That is the legacy of Arafat. Don't close your eyes. We must see what we have allowed to be created.


21st Century Timeline of Palestinian Terror: BBC

voices of the middle east conflict

Arafat Time Line

Arafat Life in Pictures

Israel's War on Terror

Israeli Terrorists

Foreign Policy Institute


David said...

Excellent post.

The hardest thing to understand is *why* so many people in the West have made excuses for this man, even lionized and romanticized him. Without support from the West--particularly among journalists, university professors, entertainers, and European governments--I doubt that Arafat would have succeeded in achieving terror on the scale that he did.

His crimes weren't even hidden, as were (to some extent) the Nazi death camps--they were out in the open, for all to see. The "we didn't know" excuse can't be used here.

What drives an American/European writer or university professor to sympathize with a murderer of children? It is a key question of our times.

Peter said...

Good piece on Arafat.
At Arafat's funeral there was ONE leading statesman from the West that attended the funeral service in Cairo. All other countries in Europe and of course the US were represented by lesser administrators or politicians. The Prime Minister of Sweden chose to go himself. This is the same man who some months earlier - declined to attend the memorial service for the many unfortunate victims of the terrorist attack on a train in Spain. All other European countries were represented by their leading statesmen. Sweden sent an undersecretary of finance. Sweden's prime minister didn't have the time, he said. He had an important meeting with a farmer who was going to show him a little about what it's like to run a farm in Sweden.

The "glorification" of Arafat by media and establishment is a puzzle. Common criminals of rank run the gauntlet for months in the press, while the crimes of a person like Arafat are soon forgotten, excused and mollified. Why?

Cigarette Smoking Man from the X-Files said...

When one believes fanatically enough in a cause, one becomes increasingly willing to excuse crimes in defense of anybody who seems aligned with it and powerful enough to move that cause forward. Even a baby-murderer like Arafat. The majority of European Socialists and American liberals alike are fanatical in their zeal and alignment with the cause of "Palestinian Liberation" which also amounts to the dissolution of Israel as a state and a renewal of the pre-1946 status of Jewish Diaspora. In their fanaticism and in their zeal, Arafat can either do no wrong, or they describe him as having a "mixed legacy" with "human foibles". To deliberately murder a child with pre-meditation, directly targeting the child and not as an accidental death collateral to conventional military fighting, that is now a "human foible" to the "sophisticated" journalist.

I personally can see the value and plausibility in the cause of Palestinian liberation, even to the point of demanding a dissolution of Israel as a state and a return to the status quo ante of 1946, so to that extent I do find myself aligned with the European Socialists and American liberals. Where I part company with them is that I see a horrible criminal like Arafat as being the worst possible representative of such a cause, and the methods of homicide-bombing such targets as pizza parlours, unacceptable. If they can do it by conventional or even guerilla military-on-military means, so be it. If by diplomatic means (such as offering some prime benefits to relocating Israelis as a bargaining chip for them leaving the middle east--perhaps Sweden will donate these benefits?), so much the better. But if it's by means of killing all children, all the time, then Palestinians will have become unworthy of their land and of their status as living humans, and fit only to be crushed under the treads of Merkhaba tanks, as we pat Israelis on the back for doing so.

Perfection is a path, not a destination.

Kat said...

When I look back at the era of the 60's and 70's and see the "great intellectual" revolution, I am more than convinced that something went terribly wrong in people's psyche's and it continues to trickle down today. In the revolution, other revolutionaries were embraced, were romantacized, such as Che Guevera, Fidel Castro and Yassir Arafat. They were seen as David against the Goliath of modern nations. They gave firey speeches about over throwing these governments and it appealed to the people of the time, who must have read all of the great romantic literature of the French revolution and seemingly super imposed that romance on these men.

Looking at all of these men, however they may have wished to start out, however they may have styled themselves "champions of the people" they all turned out to be more like Robespierre implementing the reign of terror with the guillotine, selfish, insular and seemingly sociopathic, which is why I likened Arafat to Hitler. All three of them became more about themselves than about the people and they were willing to do terrible things to retain that power.

The superimposed image of romantic rebels seems to have hidden these aspects of these men from some of our friends. It would also seem that "moral relativism" rears it's ugly head: Israeli's do this and have tanks, the Palestinian's have no tanks, therefore, it is acceptable for them to do more terrible acts against the Israeli civilian population since they cannot take on the military directly.

One does wonder how somebody sleeps at night after making such a decision. Not, as Ciggy points out, accidental death of a civilian during war time, but to deliberately decide to bomb a school bus or a day care, or a sniper shooting a woman and her child in a car, or a group of teenage boys being convinced to beat two other boys to death for simply being "different".

Maybe if I lived there, I would have a different perspective and it is easy to judge so far away?

But, I do judge and I see an ugly thing that has been created. Generations of haters and killers with no place left, nothing left to do, but go on killing because that is what their entire life has been geared to.

As for foreign states, France did a very interesting thiing, by taking Arafat in and then giving him a near "state" funeral, they have put themselves forward as a champion of the Palestinians. Let us hope this means that they have some influence with them. On the other hand, France does not look kindly on the Israelis. I recall that France and Italy were (and possibly still are) the favorite "middle ground" of the mossad and hamas/hezbollah terrorist/counter terrorist activities.

My perspective, I don't blame the Israelis for claiming independence in 1948. It wasn't just the Nazis, but the whole tenor of the era in which them might have found themselves over ran and decimated. Then we would be sitting here talking about the plight of the Jews and sympathizing with them. We do like to sympathize with the under dog. And, if I had my pick, I still sympathize with Israel. To me, they are still the underdogs and this is still an Israeli/Arab war with the Palestinians caught in between. I can't imagine tiny Israel having the whole of the Arab world's money and influence being brought to bare on them and yet continuing to exist for 56 years.

For that alone, I would continue to support them. However, I think the main issues here are:

1) Israel has existed for 56 years, why should they give that up peacefully?
2) Whatever the reason for the Palestinian departure from areas now called "Israel" they now number appx 4.5 million (not including those that were given citizenship to another country). Even if Israel and Palestine were one country, it could not survive the influx of people based on land mass and resources. It is instant humanitarian tragedy.
3) This is no simple war against occupation of lands. It has distinct over tones of extreme hatred, not just based on actions of the Israelis, but religious, fanatical hatred. should Israel be over ran, the terrorist behavior we've seen to date will be as nothing compared to the whole sale slaughter that would occur and, as I said, then we'd be sitting here talking about the poor Israeli/Jew and not the plight of the Palestinian.
4) Palestinians have made incredibly bad choices for leadership. Arafat might have been a good leader for their uprising in the 60's and 70's as far as rallying the troops and getting recognition, but he was not the leader they needed in the 90's nor the 21st century. They need a statesman not a guerilla.

I believe that Palestine and Israel can exist as separate states and even become economic partners in the future. I believe that Israel made a big mistake when they approved additional settlements in the occupied territory and I believe that they should dismantle them and return the areas to the Palestinians and withdraw. I believe that Jeruselem can be held by either party as long as that party recognizes a religious "free zone" as it was for many years for many sects of religion. Whoever is in control must be able to offer security for all. From this perspective, I don't see the Palestinians able to do so because their security forces are over run with zealots, so, it may need to be either a split city or solely controlled by the Israelis. This must be about security and not about who is religiously or spacially entitled to the area.

It would be grand if it could be an international city state of it's own like the Vatican, but I don't see that happening.

In the end, Israel will withdraw and then the Palestinians will be left to figure out what they are to do with themselves once the great cause of "occupation" has been resolved. I lay odds that it will not stop the terrorist activities, but they may slowly disipate over a few decades. I don't thinkit will go away because the PLO has done too good of a job indoctrinating their people with hate and militant behavior.

In short, no solution will instantaneously resolve israel and Palestine, but it may be de-escalated.