The World's Most Popular Terrorist



The popularity of Yassir Arafat and the Palestinians around the world is an extraordinary thing to behold. The reverence for which they are held is revelatory of many things. It may be fair to say that never have a leader and a movement with so deplorable a record of murder and mayhem been so beloved, and the reasonable question to ask is why?

From the beginning the Palestinians have succeeded in casting themselves as victims and the Israelis as aggressors. Their "movement" came of age at precisely the time when national liberation movements of all stripes were occurring and generally perceived as something just short of sacred, to be supported regardless of "minor" inconveniences such as cold blooded murder or brutal repression. In particular, Europe, with its history of colonialism only recently shed, sought to absolve itself of its often abusive imperialist past. Still, Israel represented something of a national liberation movement itself, perhaps, save for the US, the world's best example of such a movement devoted to liberty and democracy. Here was a brand new nation with a diverse population, liberal democratic governance, and a vibrant economy. And the Jewish people were, of course, no strangers to oppression. Yet Israel received no succor from liberationists. There have been other legitimate claimants to statehood, other oppressed peoples that receive little of the world's attention. The Kurds and Shiites of Iraq. The Tibetans. The Sudanese Christians (more than one million killed). The 100,000 victims of the Algerian civil war. Or, for that matter, the Palestinians living under Syrian occupation in Lebanon, or the quarter of a million Palestinians ethnically cleansed by Kuwait after the first Gulf War. But for the world there is nothing quite like the suffering of the Palestinians at the hands of the Israelis. They who regularly recruit, indoctrinate, and train little boys and girls to become suicide bombers. They who glorify violence and murder. They who cheered when the Twin Towers fell. For them, the world has no end of tears it is willing to shed; no end of compassion, and political and financial aid it is willing to give. And no other leader of so dubious a movement, with so nasty a record of corruption and terror, has had so many otherwise credible leaders flocking to him, funding him, embracing and kissing him, as the sainted Yasser Arafat.

Arafat was not born in Palestine but in Cairo, Egypt in 1929. He received a degree in civil engineering from Cairo University in 1956, and established the PLO in 1964. From the beginning he embraced terrorism and hatred of Israel. He was thrown out of the West Bank after the six day War in 1967. He was expelled from Syria in 1968, Jordan in 1970, and Lebanon in 1982. In 1993 he was rehabilitated by an incredibly optimistic Israeli leadership, under the now defunct Oslo Accords, which reinstated Arafat and his thugs in the West Bank and Gaza. In exchange for limited autonomy, Arafat would renounce violence and accept Israel's right to exist. Instead, he funded terrorist groups, stockpiled tens of thousands of illegal weapons, supported the creation of bomb factories, and refused to extradite or incarcerate known terrorists. He glorified suicide bombers as martyrs. He created a culture of vile anti-Jewish hatred through the official media, schools, summer camps, PA appointed clergy, and his own statements. He also became one of the wealthiest dictators in the world. He paid off his supporters, ruthlessly suppressed opposition, and siphoned off millions into personal accounts. This while many of the long suffering Palestinians we hear so much of go without basic necessities. In the summer of 2000, he was offered his own state with a capitol in Jerusalem. Arafat launched a war. His actions brought the inevitable crackdown by Israel. Curfews, checkpoints, a ravaged economy, and loss of life.

History will be hard pressed to come up with a figure as repugnant as Arafat. And yet, not withstanding current efforts to sideline him, he remains very much revered. World leaders and dignitaries still line up to huddle with the old terrorist in his little bunker in Ramallah. Why such adulation for a known terrorist? Why such veneration for someone who has brought so much suffering to his people? And why the world's obsession with the Palestinians to the exclusion of other worthy causes? The answer is two fold. First, terrorism works. Second, it helps when Jews are your enemy. The ancient contagion is alive and well. It is anti-Semitism gift wrapped as anti-Zionism.



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