Monday, November 15, 2010

(BLOG) Yasser Arafat: Why Many Palestinians Don't Miss Him

"By Khaled Abu Toameh: Six years have passed since the death of Yasser Arafat and it does not seem that many Palestinians really miss the man.

The number of Palestinians who show up at public rallies to commemorate Arafat has actually been declining year after year.

Arafat, as far as disillusioned Palestinian are concerned, should be remembered as a leader who led his people from one disaster to another.

He died in November 2004, leaving behind scorched earth and tremendous suffering and pain.

Even some of his former confidants admit that he was a ruthless man who did not hesitate to kill anyone who dared to challenge him or draw a cartoon making fun of him.

In Jordan, Arafat brought disaster on his people when he tried to create a state-within-a-state, forcing the Jordanians to massacre thousands of Palestinians in what is known as Black September.

Arafat and his supporters then went to Lebanon, where this time he did succeed in creating a state-within-a-state and played a major role in the Lebanese civil war, which resulted in the death of tens of thousands of Lebanese and Palestinians.

Most Arab countries refused to receive Arafat and the PLO after they were forced by Israel to leave Lebanon in 1982. Tunis was the only country that agreed to temporarily host the PLO leadership.

Another disaster that befell the Palestinians during Arafat's era was the mass expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from the Gulf countries in the early 1990s -- an expulsion for which Arafat was directly and personally responsible. His public support for Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait had turned most of the Arab countries against the 'ungrateful' Palestinians.

After the signing of the Oslo Accords, Arafat established in the West Bank and Gaza Strip a corrupt regime that repressed Palestinians and deprived them of international aid.

Arafat also brought with him to the West Bank and Gaza Strip anarchy and lawlessness. Under his authority, dozens of armed militias and gangs emerged, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which flourished under him.

Arafat's bad governance and financial corruption radicalized Palestinians and drove them into the open arms of Hamas. His incitement against Israel also drove Palestinians toward radicalism.

The second intifada, which erupted in September 2000 with Arafat's blessing -- and in which thousands of Israelis and Palestinians were killed and wounded -- is now being described by many Palestinians as a 'strategic mistake.'

Since the death of Arafat, Palestinians have been working hard to pick up the pieces and start a new and better life. With the help of the international community, the Palestinians, in the West Bank at least, are once again busy building government institutions and strengthening their economy.

In light of all this, it is sad to see that the Palestinian leadership has invested millions of dollars in building a mausoleum for Arafat in Ramallah. The money could have been used to establish a center that promotes tolerance and coexistence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip." (source)

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