Yasser Arafat, whose given name was Muhammad Abdel-Raouf Qudwa al-Husseini, aka Abu Amar, is dead. He died in Paris of an undisclosed illness. Arafat was born on Aug. 24, 1929 in Cairo, Egypt.
Arafat, always great at rewriting history, referred to Bethlehem as the Muslim town where the “first Palestinian Christian,” Jesus Christ, was born, when it was turned over to him by Israel as part of the Camp David Accords. I debated Palestinian spokeswoman Hanan Ashrawi over this myth at the 1991 Middle East Peace Conference in Madrid and even she – an educated woman – insisted it was a myth that Jesus was born a Jew.
Arafat came on the world scene as a full-fledged terrorist in 1958, when he founded the terrorist organization Fatah. Six years later, the Arab League founded the Palestine Liberation Organization, bringing together a number of Palestinian terrorist organizations. At the fifth meeting of the Palestine National Council in February 1969, Fatah gained control of the majority of seats and has remained in control.
It was after the Arab attack of and disastrous defeat by Israel once again in 1967, that a document called the Palestine National Covenant was drawn. Despite U.S. insistence, the PLO Covenant still does not recognize Israel’s right to exist.
Arafat made a dramatic appearance at the United Nations in 1974, addressing the General Assembly – wearing his familiar military-style uniform, carrying an olive branch and a pistol on his hip – and proclaiming: “Don’t let this olive branch drop to the ground.”
Arafat attempted to address the United Nations again in 1988, but then-President Ronald Reagan denied him a visa. Never failing to accommodate terrorists bent on the destruction of Israel, the United Nations convened a special session in Geneva for Arafat. It was there that Arafat tried to achieve legitimacy, promising to renounce terrorism in exchange for the support of the United States.
But during a specially convened press conference where I challenged Arafat to renounce the PLO Covenant’s negation of Israel, he again failed to do so. To this day, Arafat has forbidden schoolbooks issued by the Palestinian Authority to contain a map of Israel – the territory is referred to as “Palestine.”
Arafat always considered himself a “freedom fighter,” not a terrorist, despite the fact that the people attacked and murdered over the past several decades by the PLO were innocent Jewish civilians, many of them children. Although he liked to portray himself as a kind of “Palestinian George Washington,” he was actually the inspiration for Osama bin Laden, who was 12 years old when Arafat took over the PLO.
Without question, Arafat is the godfather of world terrorism, from the first airplane hijackings he inspired in the 1960s to the hundreds of suicide bombings his agents have carried out in Israel to this day. Many believe that Osama bin Laden developed his terrorist network, al-Qaida (“The Base”), by patterning it after Arafat’s Fatah cells, which have been murdering people throughout the world for 40 years. The PLO has perfected the art of terror as a political tool.
Arafat, a life-long anti-Semite, wished to be buried in Jerusalem, the city he sought as the capital of an independent state. Arafat wished to be laid to rest on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, the third holiest site in the world to Muslims, but the holiest site to Jews. Israeli Justice Minister Yosef Lapid told the Associated Press: “Jerusalem is the city where Jewish kings are buried, not Arab terrorists.”
Even though Arafat succeeded to terrorize the world during his lifetime, he must not be allowed to do so in death.
In response to the news about Arafat, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said: “We have a new opportunity before us to move forward on the Roadmap and get to the two-state vision that the president outlined. We will remain actively engaged working with the parties to accomplish that goal.”