President Bush is right about Yasser Arafat. The Palestinian dictator is a lifelong terrorist and must be replaced before peace can be obtained. Mr. Arafat’s reign of terror includes last month’s Palestinian suicide bomber murdering 20 people, most of them schoolchildren on a Jerusalem bus, and the recent rash of bombings and shootings of Israeli innocents in retaliation for the killing of one his henchmen by the Israeli military. Since September 2000, Mr. Arafat’s terrorist network has murdered at least 560 Israelis and wounded thousands more, and last week murdered five Americans. These innocents are small change to the Palestinian dictator. Since he was a teen-ager in the 1940s, the co-winner of the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize has ordered the murder of thousands of civilians while waging war against the Jews.
Mr. Arafat’s mentor, Haj Amin Al Husseini, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, indoctrinated him with hatred toward Israel. The grand mufti led Palestinian Arabs from 1920 until Mr. Arafat succeeded him in 1967. The mufti encouraged Arab terrorism against Jewish immigrants to Palestine between the two world wars, and like Mr. Arafat today, the mufti piously disclaimed any responsibility for terrorist acts committed by his followers. In 1929 and 1936, the mufti personally led large-scale riots against Jewish settlers. During World War II, the mufti journeyed to Nazi Germany where he personally begged Adolf Hitler to invade British-ruled Palestine and rid it of Jews. The mufti received sympathy, but no help, from Hitler. Nevertheless, he broadcast radio tirades approving Hitler’s “final solution” of the Jewish problem.
The mufti barely escaped trial for treason by fleeing to Egypt in 1946. There he made young Yasser Arafat, then living in Cairo, his protege. The mufti secretly imported a former Nazi commando officer into Egypt to teach Mr. Arafat and other teenage recruits the fine points of guerrilla warfare. Mr. Arafat learned his lessons well; the mufti was so proud of him he even pretended the two of them were blood relations.
Mr. Arafat first shed Jewish blood during terrorist raids in 1947 and has kept it up ever since. He also became a leader in Palestinian politics and was the first Palestinian nationalist to declare, “Violence is the only solution,” that “Liberating Palestine could only take place through the barrel of a gun.” During the 1950s, Mr. Arafat lived and worked as an engineer in Kuwait. There, he recruited followers for Fatah, his Palestinian guerrilla group. Mr. Arafat also raised funds from rich Persian Gulf oil and construction millionaires in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. These Persian Gulf millionaires remain Mr. Arafat’s main financial backers a half-century later. They also comprise the al Qaeda terror network’s primary source of funding.
Mr. Arafat’s Fatah terror network began conducting murder raids into Israel from Syrian bases in 1964. Mr. Arafat’s raids triggered the 1967 Six Day War between Israel and its hostile Arab neighbors. Despite causing this disastrous defeat for the Arabs, which lost them strategic territory in Egypt, Syria and Jordan, Mr. Arafat emerged as a hero. The “Arab street” lauded Mr. Arafat for the purity of his hatred for Israel; they could have cared less that his actions resulted in military disaster. Mr. Arafat used his popularity to merge Fatah with the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1968. Since then Mr. Arafat has been on a mission, a man wholly dedicated to destroying Israel in order to replace it with a Palestinian state.
While Mr. Arafat’s anti-Israel terrorism is popular with Arab peoples, it is less beloved by their Arab rulers. Cheering for PLO terrorists who murder Israelis is much easier than controlling its murderous, undisciplined thugs. Mr. Arafat and his ruthless PLO terrorists were violently expelled from three different host countries: Syria in 1968; Jordan in 1971; and Lebanon in 1982. From 1982 to 1994, Mr. Arafat and the PLO resided in Tunisia. Mr. Arafat returned to world attention when he supported Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein during the 1990-91 Gulf War. This foolish move temporarily turned his Persian Gulf financial supporters against him. Mr. Arafat now seemed discredited.
The Palestinian Intifada uprising against Israeli rule beginning in 1987 rescued Mr. Arafat’s career. At first Mr. Arafat tried to stop the Intifada since it threatened his dictatorial control over the Palestinians. Mr. Arafat, a control freak, pays only lip service to democracy. PLO elections are always rigged. But the uprising in the Palestinian occupied territories continued, so Mr. Arafat began lending it military assistance. Israel tried everything to quell the Intifada, but nothing worked, so Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and his foreign minister, Shimon Peres, cut a deal with Mr. Arafat in 1993. In return for limited autonomy by a Palestinian National Authority ruled by him, Mr. Arafat promised to renounce terrorism and accept Israel’s right to exist.
Mr. Arafat soon broke his promise to the Israelis. Palestinian terrorist bombings murdered 256 Israelis between September 1993 and September 2000. Mr. Arafat oversaw the assassinations of any Palestinian opposed to his one-man rule. Bill Clinton, vainly seeking a legacy for his disgraced presidency, assisted Mr. Arafat’s terror strategy. He convened an Israeli-Palestinian peace conference during the summer of 2000. Mr. Clinton’s bullying of Israel encouraged Mr. Arafat to step up terrorism.
Mr. Arafat is 72 now, an old man in a hurry. He is using American pressure on Israel to undermine the Jewish state in favor of a Palestinian state. We must beware of his past lies and broken promises. As President Bush says, Mr. Arafat must be replaced with a democratic Palestinian leader committed to peaceful coexistence with Israel.
David N. Bossie is president of the Citizens United Foundation and former chief investigator for the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight. This article is excerpted from his latest investigative report, “Yasser Arafat, Architect of Terror.”
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