Yasser Arafat, thought by many to be the father of modern-day terrorism, has died in a Paris hospital at the age of 75. He leaves behind a wife, a daughter, and a destitute and demoralized Palestinian population.
The official announcement came from his senior aide. “The Palestinian leadership mourns Yasser Arafat … who died at 4:30 this morning,” said Tayeb Abdel Rahim, near tears, according to Reuters.
The Palestinian leader, who has been described as a statesman, autocrat, and peacemaker as well as terrorist spent his final days in a coma.
He had been flown to France Oct. 29 for medical treatment after spending nearly three years in his West Bank headquarters. Arafat’s health initially improved, but then rapidly deteriorated as rumors spread about his illness, which was reported to be liver disease.
Ordinary Palestinians prayed for his well being, but expressed deep frustration over his failure to improve their lives.
Arafat’s refusal to groom any successor complicated his passing, and may raise the danger of factional conflict among Palestinians.
To many, Arafat’s legacy is written in blood. Israel holds the PLO leader responsible for the deaths hundreds of Jews and many more Palestinians. Still, Arafat will be mourned today by millions of Arabs and Europeans, and many newspaper editors, as not just a charismatic leader but a nation-builder, the man who created Palestinian nationalism and put that nation’s statelessness on the agenda of the world.
But by defining Palestinian nationalism in terms of one goal – Israel’s destruction – Arafat, more than any other leader, may have denied his own people a state. Arafat turned down in 2000 an offer by then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak of a Palestinian State on most of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, with some accommodations for the Palestinian’s stated “Right of Return.”
In addition to being the father of the “Palestinian cause,” Arafat invented something much more universal: modern terrorism, and he proved that terrorism could be used to gain legitimacy. Many agree that if Arafat had not been a terrorist, he would not have made it to the United Nations podium with a pistol on his belt in 1973, to Gaza from Tunis 10 years ago, or the White House lawn in 1993 for the signing of the Oslo Accords.
Arafat’s final years of “legitimacy” were largely achieved by a promise to end and combat terrorism, a promise Arafat never kept. Turning down Camp David 2000 without offering a counterproposal, Arafat launched a terrorist war against Israel that continues today.
Arafat is also believed responsible for the murders of American diplomats. As WorldNetDaily first reported, the FBI recently opened an investigation into the involvement of Arafat in the murders of two U.S. diplomats in Sudan in 1973.
FBI agents have been gathering evidence about Arafat’s culpability in a March 1, 1973, operation in which eight members of the Black September terrorist organization, part of Arafat’s Fatah faction of the PLO, stormed the Saudi embassy in Khartoum, reportedly on Arafat’s orders, taking U.S. Ambassador Cleo Noel, diplomat Charge d’Affaires George Curtis Moore and others hostage, and one day later, killing Noel, Moore and Belgian diplomat Guy Eid.
Arafat leaves yet another legacy: He has created the first society to have glorified suicide-murders on a national scale, starting from grade school, where children attend jihad camp, watch kids’ television programming that encourages “martyrdom,” and play on soccer teams named after suicide bombers.
Arafat has cultivated a population brought up on the fantasy of “return,” on the notion that every Israeli city is a legitimate target, and on the idea that Israel exists entirely on “stolen Palestinian land,” making it difficult for even a sincere Palestinian leadership to bring the Palestinians to agree to a peace settlement with Israel.
A survivor of war with Israel, assassination attempts and even a plane crash, Arafat was born Rahman Abdel-Raouf Arafat Al-Qudwa on Aug. 4, 1929, in Egypt, the fifth of seven children.
Educated as an engineer in Cairo, Arafat served in the Egyptian army and then started a contracting firm in Kuwait. It was there that he founded the Fatah movement, which became the core of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Palestinian officials said Arafat’s body would lie in state at Cairo Airport today where the main funeral services would be held. His body will then be flown to Ramallah and interred in a newly constructed mausoleum to be built in the battered Mukata “presidential” compound, where he spent most of the past three years.
Discussing the future of the Palestinian cause after Arafat’s death, Arafat deputy and chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat told WorldNetDaily last week: “As far as the Palestinians are concerned, we’re not idiots who will not exist without Arafat. We’ve reached a 97 percent literacy rate, as we announced last week. We have institutions, basic law, we will have presidential elections. So we will get by.”
Reaction among some religious leaders in Israel was one of utter joy.
A statement, signed by Rabbis Yosef Gerlitzky, Yaakov Yosef, and David M. Drukman said:
“[That] disease of the human race, that Amalekite, and that Hitler of our generation, none other than Yasser Arafat, may his name and memory be erased – his carcass is about to be thrown into a grave; and we will fulfill ‘at the death of the wicked, there is joyful song.'”
Senior Sharon spokesperson Raanan Gissin told WorldNetDaily he hopes Arafat’s death will be the end of an era.
“Arafat has taken the Palestinians from one pitfall to the other, and has avoided and disgraced the road to peace. So the Palestinians will now have an opportunity to change course and so will the region,” said Gissin.