Arafat Squanders a Golden Opportunity



In the last two months Israel has been taking full advantage of the world’s distraction with the terrorist assaults against New York and the Pentagon to intensify the regime of repression in the West Bank and Gaza. Amnesty International has just issued a report detailing the murder of an additional 150 Palestinians by the IDF since 911.  Sharon, ever the war criminal, has continued his killing spree despite a fictional ‘truce’ negotiated with the incompetent ‘Yes, Sir’ Arafat. As per usual, the State Department continues to issue warnings to the Palestinians to ‘stop the violence.’ Apparently the wizards in Washington believe that Palestinians are deliberately intercepting Israeli bullets with their brain tissues. In the eyes of our State Department, this constitutes violence by Palestinians against Israeli bullets.

The lack of concern for Palestinian lives is a state of mind that is part and parcel of State Department ethics. One has to assume that this is a result of  intensive State Department training, since these ‘ethics’  go against the decent nature of the average American.  It must be that they use some kind of ‘human value scale depending on ethnic origin.’  No doubt they purchased these scales from the Yiddish supremacists at wholesale prices.  If 150 Israelis had been killed in the last two months, one can be assured that we would be hearing some blistering attacks against the Palestinian people from the Israel Firsters and the Bush administration.  Just for the record, as many Palestinians were slaughtered in the last two months as all the Israelis who have been killed during the last year.  Yet, the word from State is that the Palestinians have to do more about ‘Israeli security.’  Palestinian security is never an issue.

All the talk about the Bush administration’s belated endorsement of a Palestinian State is just hot air to cool down hot tempers on the ‘Arab Street’ as   the hunt for Bin Laden continues. When one looks into the substance of the “New American Initiative” they still don’t amount to even a half hearted effort for peace or justice or even giving a damn. Powell and Bush continue to recommend some indefinite ‘process’ before the Palestinians can be set free from Israeli occupation.  While this administration continues to cozy up to the butcher of Qibya and Sabra and Shatila, the President made a point of not meeting Arafat during his visit to New York.

Of course, Bush does have an excuse for rebuffing Arafat.  A visit with Arafat can bore a man to tears and possibly cause a severe case of ennui.  If ever there was a less inspiring leader of a people’s struggle for liberty, it is chairman ‘Yes, Sir’.  While the Palestinian people continue to display their daily courage in confronting the brutality of the Israeli occupation army, Arafat can’t even be bothered to think up a new slogan or write a new speech.  He rants on about the ‘peace of the brave’ and the need for more negotiations to get to the Tenent Plan which might lead to the Mitchell plan which might lead to another Oslo and ultimately to the ridiculous Israeli offer of a Palestinian State in part of Gaza.  He did not have the imagination to ask for an immediate Israeli withdrawal or to appeal for his people’s freedom and liberty.  The whole world was ready for him to ask, but he simply lacks the imagination to do more than deliver one of his stale old speeches about ‘international legitimacy’  and United Nations resolutions. The senile old man is just too addicted to negotiations to bother with asking for immediate relief for his people.  The most dangerous thing about Arafat’s ‘diplomacy’ is that it leaves the world with the illusion that Sharon is actually a potential ‘peace partner.’  Anyone who has payed attention to his career realizes that Sharon is nothing but a thug who has an insatiable appetite for spilling innocent Palestinian blood.  If Arafat is addicted to negotiations, Sharon’s habits always compell him to escalate to a more intense level of violence.

Watching Sharon and Arafat play Russian roulette with Palestinian lives; watching the future of three million Palestinians  being bartered over by another Israeli butcher and a Palestinian leadership that has capitulated to extremist Likudnik real estate fantasies; watching the State department conduct itself  with the same old Machiavellian indifference to Palestinian suffering; watching the Yiddish supremacist mass media tycoons marketing “Israeli pragmatism” and Palestinian “violence”; makes one realize that the world isn’t going to change much after 911.

The world will be the same old stage, with the same ‘cover your ass’ uninspired mediocre leadership. Politicians will continue to think of their career paths and personal fortunes before they consider the future of their people.  In America,  ‘Public Diplomacy’ will be seen as a fit substitute for a rational foreign policy. The world will pretend Sharon is not a war criminal and that Arafat is worthy to speak on behalf of the Palestinians.  Sure, we will smoke out terrorists like Osama Bin Laden and despots like Mullah Omar, but only to make room for criminals like Dostum of the Northern Alliance.

In the last few weeks the media titans have been slimming down again with their ‘international’ coverage.  Slobodan Milosovic finally gets indicted for his war crimes in Bosnia adding more genocide charges to earlier indictments for crimes against humanity in Kosovo and Croatia.  The old murderous slob’s indictment barely gets a mention in a mass media that was a virtual accomplice in his 1000 day killing binge in Sarajevo.  Putin’s war crimes in Chechnya are cast to the wind as he is given red carpet treatment and a trip to the President’s ranch.  All kinds of nasty things are happening in Algeria and Nigeria.  But the big boys have decided, yet again, that these are things Americans have no interest in. And, on that score, our media lords might be right. But they might be wrong. Anyhow, the media monopolies don’t want to print a story and take a chance that Americans would not bother to read it. These elitist corporations are convinced that they know exactly how Americans like their news filtered. See, its not like they want to sell you a point of view.  Most of the times, they would rather you didn’t have a clue.  They do this out of concern for America’s intellectual ‘health’.

For the sake of future generations, Americans instinctively understand that they must pay attention to events around the world.  When they tune in and get the same old song and dance routine from a mass media machine that is shamelessly deceptive, they compartmentalize all the ‘infotainment’ into annoying background music and turn to the sports page. That is, if they even bother to read the paper or watch the comedians on CNN and FOX.

Which brings me back to the golden opportunity that Arafat had in front of the General Assembly of the United Nations.  Those of you who thought the English translation was stale must be advised that his Arabic delivery was even less inspiring.  As the C-span camera drifted around the Assembly, one could see even Arab delegates nodding off.  It was a remarkable speech precisely because it was so unremarkable.  The world was ready to hear an eloquent plea for Palestinian freedom and all it heard was this sick tired dispassionate old man who just wanted to waltz over to the next caviar tray or hop the next plane to Paris for yet another meeting with Chirac.

I have terrible news for Chairman ‘Yes, Sir’.   This time around, millions of Americans of good will were ready to lend an ear to hear the Palestinian narrative. And Arafat didn’t have a clue that this audience of Americans would not stay put in their seats for a next time. It was an American audience who wanted to make sense of what happened on 911.  Many Americans who had ignored the Palestinian uprising were now ready to pay attention. It was a rare opportunity to refute the canards that are marketed by the Israel Firsters who dominate all coverage of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Someone needs to tell Arafat to give his people a chance to be heard. His voice no longer carries. He should step down and allow someone else to speak for the Palestinians.

Mr. Ahmed Amr is Editor of in Seattle and a regular contributor to Media Monitors Network (MMN).