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Editor’s note: Below is the latest profile of Frontpage’s new series, “Voices of Palestine,” which will illuminate the core beliefs, in their own words, of leading figures in the Palestinian death cult. The profile of terrorist godfather Yasser Arafat is so extensive, it will be presented in two parts. For Part II, click here. Click the following to view the profiles of Ahmad Bahr, Mahmoud al-Zahar, Ibrahim Mudayris, Yasser Ghalban, Haj Amin al-Husseini, Wafa al-Bis, Mahmoud Abbas and Ahlam Tamimi.
Yasser Arafat is the founding father of Palestinian nationalism. He is also the godfather of 20th century terrorism. The nationalist movement that he created ab ovo remains unique in history as the only one throughout the entire world whose defining paradigm is terrorism, and whose raison d’etre is the destruction of a sovereign state and the decimation of its Jewish population. Even after its leader’s death, still loyal to his legacy, the Palestinian Authority remains focused on the destruction of Israel rather than on a healthy nationalism and the building of an economically viable, Palestinian state.
Arafat not only legitimized, but actually romanticized the murder of innocent civilians, turning terrorism into a populist revolutionary tool. He put airplane hijacking on the political map. He legitimized terrorism, beginning with the moment that he was welcomed to the UN General Assembly on November 13, 1974, kaffiyah on his head and side-arm at his waist, and got a standing ovation from the delegates present. When the Nobel committee awarded him its Peace Prize in 1995, he fulfilled the Orwellian fantasy of reality turned upside down, and truth turned inside out. Evil had become good, wrong had become right, and a mass murderer drenched in the blood of thousands had become a national hero to millions.
Arafat was a protégé of the Communist bloc and succeeded in making his cause a cause of the international left that survived the collapse of the Communist system. The alliance between radical Islam and the secular left that ripened during the post-9/11 war on terror was forged in the battles that Arafat waged.
Arafat resuscitated Jew-hatred and made it the official policy of the UN when the Arab bloc leveraged the passage of a UN resolution equating Zionism with racism in 1975. By relentlessly portraying Israel as evil, Arafat revived the heinous stereotype of the malignant Jew to international respectability, eclipsing the effects of the horror of Nazism and proving correct Josef Goebbels’ lesson to Hitler that if you repeat the same lie often enough, people will believe it.
Arafat is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Palestinians and 95,000 Lebanese Arabs who were killed by his minions during his twelve-year reign of terror in that country. Nearly 500,000 Lebanese were made homeless in the same period. Arafat is also responsible for ruin and poverty that pervades the West Bank. From 1967-1994, under Israeli rule, the economy of the West Bank Palestinians prospered. GDP grew at an average rate of 13 percent per year, tourism sky-rocketed, seven universities were created, infant mortality plummeted, life expectancy increased, and the well-being of the Palestinian Arabs improved substantially by World Bank measures. At one point almost 300,000 Palestinians were working in the Israeli economy, with earnings well above their counterparts in neighboring Arab states. Spurred by this prosperity, the Arab population of the West Bank and Gaza Strip soared from about 950,000 in 1967 to over 3,000,000 in 1994.
But after the Oslo Accords transferred authority in the West Bank to Arafat in July 1994, the decline of its economy followed swiftly. Arafat plunged the West Bank and Gaza into a ten-year reign of terror, poverty, hunger, and malnutrition. After Oslo, billions of dollars in international aid flowed into the PA, from the EU, the US, and Arab countries. Yet the Palestinian people saw almost nothing of this bounty. Rather than using that aid to build his state, with schools, hospitals, roads, and social services, Arafat created a massive kleptocracy of cronies and loyalists who siphoned off vast fortunes to personal accounts in Switzerland and elsewhere. The rest he squandered on his terror war against Israel.
Although hundreds of tons of humanitarian supplies entered the West Bank and Gaza regularly, almost none reached Palestinians, because Arafat created a monopoly on the transfer of food to Arab cities in the West Bank with supplies going only to designated PA officials who then sold them to favored merchants. Thus Arafat and his cronies grew rich by intensifying food shortages at the expense of his own starving people.
Instead of building his state and using its assets for the benefit of his people, Arafat created a terrorist army, waged a terror war, and brought the Palestinians nothing but death, destruction, poverty, humiliation and grief.
As head of the Palestinian Authority, he transformed the schools of the West Bank and Gaza into centers of Jew-hatred. After Hitler, Arafat is the first national leader in history to set up a school system whose purpose was to teach the nation’s children to hate another ethnic group and to instill in them the ambition to murder as many as they could.
Arafat maintained a state of permanent warfare in the Middle East, rejecting one peace proposal after another, culminating in his refusal of the Clinton-Barak offer in 2000 which would have given Palestinians a state on 97 percent of the territory they had asked for. Throughout his career, Arafat’s greed, his hunger for power, and his compulsion to push the Jews into the sea subordinated all other considerations. No matter how many died, no matter how much suffering he caused, no matter how catastrophic his one-man rule, he stubbornly pursued his destructive course to the end.
The moment and place of Arafat’s birth are uncertain and still debated. His birth certificate and documents from Cairo University indicate that he was born in Cairo, Egypt, on August 4th or 24th, 1929. His name was Mohammed Abd el-Rahman Abd el-Raouf Arafat el-Qudua el-Husseini, the 7th or the 4th child of a middle-class merchant. But he and many supporters insist that he was born in Jerusalem, British Mandatory Palestine; and that his detractors forged the documentation of his Cairene origins.
His childhood was difficult and unhappy. His mother died when he was only four. He did not get along with his father or his step-mother and was sent from his home in Cairo to relatives in Palestine at an early age. He claims to have worked for the infamous Hajj Amin el-Husseini during the 1948 war, leading troops into battle (although he was only 18) and even destroying an Israeli tank in an act of great personal bravery. Historians point out that Israel had no tanks in 1948, so this account of derring-do is obviously fictional. But apparently his involvement in that war was active enough for him to witness the atrocities that the Egyptians committed against the Arabs of southern Palestine. His authorized biography includes his eye-witness account of how the Egyptian army drove Palestinians in the south from their homes and forced them at gun-point into what he describes as ‘concentration camps’ in the Gaza Strip. No doubt inadvertently, his biography tells the world that the Egyptians, and not the Jews, were responsible for at least 40 percent of the Palestinian refugees.
After the war he returned to Egypt and studied engineering at King Fu’ad University in Cairo, but did not complete his degree. There he rose quickly to leadership in the Union of Palestinian Students, even though his Egyptian accent was so thick that many Palestinian students refused to believe that he could be trusted as a proponent of the Palestinian cause.
How he came to adopt the Palestinian cause as his life’s mission is not clear. His early but short-lived membership in el-Akhwan el-Muslemeen (the Moslem Brotherhood) may have impelled him in that direction, since the Brotherhood – mentor to Osama bin Laden and forerunner of al-Qaeda — sought to create a renaissance of the “pure” Moslem culture of the Caliphate, by waging guerrilla warfare against errant or secular Moslem states, and against Israel and the West. In his own words, he claimed to be a “man of destiny,” and was moved even in his twenties, to fulfill that destiny at great personal sacrifice. He postponed marriage until his 60’s, maintained on the surface an austere, almost ascetic, lifestyle, and projected his self-made image to the world: the freedom fighter who would do anything for his cause.
In 1957 he went to Kuwait where he got a job with the Ministry of Public Works. He claims to have started his own engineering company at that time, and amassed great wealth which he spent on the creation and development of his organization dedicated to the liberation of “Palestine.” However, there is no record to authenticate his claims. He petitioned the Emir of Kuwait who gave him $13,000,000, which he used to publish his movement’s newspaper, Falastinunu (Our Palestine), create and staff an office, and develop a para-military training program for his followers. In Falastinunu he promulgated the ideology of Palestinian redemption by violent means. There too he laid the groundwork for what would later become the Palestinian revisionist faux-history with its claims of a Palestinian antiquity in the Holy Land, the late-comer Zionist invasion and attempted genocide of the indigenous “native Palestinians,” and the concept of the Palestinians as a separate and defined national group.
On October 10, 1959, while still in Kuwait, he officially founded his terror organization, called “Haraqat at-Tahrir al-Watani al-Falastini” (the Organization for the Liberation of the Palestinian Nation). He used its reverse acronym, FaTaH, to generate the name el-Fatah (the break-through, the victory) by which his group would become known world-wide (interestingly, the acronym HaTaF has a negative implication in Arabic, meaning sudden or unexpected death).
Since the Arab states had failed to eradicate Israel in traditional warfare, he chose terrorism as his tactic of choice. After several years of recruitment and training, el-Fatah was ready. Along with his followers, he relocated to Lebanon, and on January 1, 1965, he launched his first attack from across the Lebanese border: the destruction of some equipment in an Israeli pumping station, with a hand-made bomb. Laughably ineffective, it became in the eyes of the Arabs a major victory, simply because this short, chubby, scruffy looking unkempt young man had the courage to strike at Israel. Spin and hype in a receptive Arab press turned what was little more than vandalism into a military assault, catapulting Arafat into the same league as Izz-ad-Din el-Qassam and other Arab terrorists of the previous era. Suddenly he was a hero to rank-and-file Arabs, but an embarrassment to the Arab leaders whose military efforts against Israel had failed.
From his new position of popularity he sought and obtained the support of the Syrian dictatorship (although he was imprisoned briefly in Syria due to some internecine rivalries). Within a few years, with a growing number of ‘victories’ to burnish his reputation, he became a serious threat to established Arab leaders, and especially the Egyptian dictator Gamal Abd el-Nasser.
Nasser recognized the potential popularity and power of a terrorist guerrilla force that could strike at Israel with relative impunity and then fade away into the obscuring fog of statelessness. However militarily ineffectual those strikes might be, the mere fact that some Arab leader was killing Jews in Israel generated popularity and support in the Arab world. Under the tutelage of the Soviet dictatorship, Nasser founded the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in May, 1964, with Ahmed Shuqeiri at its head. Nasser’s goal was to have the PLO displace el-Fatah in the Arab popular mind as the new strike-force against the “Zionist enemy”.
The Six Day War between Israel and the Arab dictatorships changed things dramatically. Again the massive Arab armies, thoroughly outfitted with the best equipment that Communist Russia could provide, were humiliated by tiny Israel’s pre-emptive strike. Shuqeiri was indecisive, but Arafat seized the opportunity and forged an alliance with Nasser. From September to December, 1967, Nasser supported Arafat in his attempt to infiltrate the West Bank and to develop a grass-roots foundation for a major terror war against Israel. These efforts were unsuccessful because local West Bank Palestinians cooperated with Israel and aided them in their pursuit of him and his el-Fatah operatives.
Ironically, Arafat described this era in his authorized biography as a time of his greatest diplomacy. When word of Israel’s peace offers reached him, he and his adjutants understood at once that if there were peace between Israel and Jordan, there would be no hope for a Palestinian state. So he set off on a grueling shuttle-stop tour of major Arab countries, preaching the need to reject unconditionally any peace agreement with the Jewish State. Arafat claims credit for the results of the Khartoum Conference in which all the Arab dictators and the PLO unanimously voted to reject Israel’s offer to return much of the land it had occupied as a result of the war in exchange for peace. With this admission, Arafat inadvertently takes the responsibility for Israel’s prolonged sovereignty over the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Had he not intervened, Israel could have made peace with Jordan, and the West Bank would have reverted to Jordanian sovereignty in 1967.
Perhaps because of this, his efforts found no support among the Arabs of the West Bank. So he established a base for his fledgling terror army in the city of Salt which is in southwestern Jordan. From there he executed some raids across the Jordan River and began to establish clandestine contacts with Palestinian officers in the Jordan Legion, almost half of whose officers were Palestinians.
Arafat’s fortunes began to look up after the Israeli army under the direction of Moshe Dayan launched a limited invasion of Jordan in March, 1968. The invasion was a response to Arafat’s raids and its objective was the village of Karama, near the Jordan River, where most of Arafat’s men were encamped. The raid took a terrible toll of terrorist fighters. When Jordanian artillery forces, under the command of Palestinians, unexpectedly opened fire on the Israeli force, the Israeli force retreated, not wishing to escalate the raid into a confrontation with Jordan.
Now Arafat’s brilliance as a propagandist came to the fore. Organizing his defeated force into a cavalcade, he marched into Salt with guns firing in the air, to cheers of victory and success, as though he had forced the Israeli retreat. He played upon the fact that Karama means “dignity” in Palestinian Arabic, and claimed that he had liberated Palestinian Karama in liberating Jordanian Karama, and at last had restored the dignity of the Arab people by smashing the Israeli force and driving it, fleeing in shame and disarray, across the Jordan. It was pure fiction, but the Arabs believed it. Soon money and recruits were pouring in, and he was able to reconstitute and equip his el-Fatah force into a formidable terror army.
With the West Bank and Gaza Strip now under Israeli control, Arafat needed to make some hasty changes in the PLO covenant. Since the PLO’s original 1964 Covenant explicitly recognized Judea, Samaria, and the eastern portion of Jerusalem, and Gaza as belonging to Jordan and Egypt, the only homeland it sought to liberate was the State of Israel. However, when Jordan and Egypt lost control of the West Bank and Gaza because of their defeat in the Six Day War, Arafat had the PLO revise the Covenant on July 17, 1968, to change its operative language and assert a claim of sovereignty over the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Leveraging his Karama “victory” and his newly won prominence, he displaced Shuqeiri as head of the PLO in February of 1969. While the PLO and el-Fatah remained distinct entities, they were unified beneath the umbrella of Arafat’s leadership. Nasser was not happy; but Shuqeiri was no match for Arafat, and after the failure of several assassination attempts (which may have been initiated by Nasser), Arafat emerged as the unchallenged leader of the Arab terrorist war against Israel.
At this point Soviet involvement became critical. Probably under Russian tutelage, Arafat signed the “Cairo Agreement” (November 3, 1969), which allowed him, with overt Egyptian and Syrian backing and covert Russian support, to move a large part of his terror army into south Lebanon. There his forces set up centers of operation and prepared for terror attacks against Israel’s northern border, while Arafat and the rest of his forces remained in Jordan.
The three years of Arafat’s sojourn in Jordan were not without internal problems. El-Fatah terrorists routinely clashed with Jordanian soldiers (more than 900 armed encounters between 1967 and 1970). Arafat’s men used cookie-cutter Mafia tactics to smuggle cigarettes, drugs, and alcohol, extort money from local Jordanians, set up road blocks to exact tolls, and kidnap notables for ransom to finance “the revolution.” When Jordanian forces tried to keep order, el-Fatah and the PLO shot them.
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