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In the News
Last Updated: 11/16/2004Yasser Arafat: Around the World
The World debates Yasser Arafat’s Legacy and what his passing means for Middle East.
From http://news.bbc.co.uk/, http://www.aljazeera.com/, http://news.yahoo.com/, http://www.foreignpolicy.com/, http://nobelprize.org/index.html, http://www.democracynow.org/index.pl, http://www.nytimes.com/
The World debates Yasser Arafat’s Legacy and what his passing means for
From BBC News
Hamas seeks unified leadership
Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad have again called for a unified leadership to be set up following Yasser Arafat's death.
Their call came at a meeting in
The groups want to be part of a joint leadership until presidential elections scheduled for early January 2005.
For now, both groups are refusing to participate in the election.
They argue that the vote will only be used to install a leader associated with Mr Arafat's Fatah movement, which has always held the levers of Palestinian power.
The BBC's Alan Johnston in
He says the levers of Palestinian political power have always been firmly in the hands of the faction that Yasser Arafat founded and led - the Fatah party.
Powerful Islamic movement
But the powerful Islamist movement, Hamas, and its sister party, Islamic Jihad, say that they should now be drawn into the power structure.
After the meeting with Mr Abbas, a spokesman for Hamas said that there would be further talks on the issue.
"We are insisting on the need for legislative and municipal elections in addition to the presidential poll," said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zukhri.
"We are opposed to any monopoly on power."
From Al Jazeera
Can Barghouti Be the Palestinian Mandela?
Harrison, Arab News
to see Western-style democracy take root in the Arab region — to the extent of
Having ousted a president they determined as evil and threatening in Iraq, how will the US deal with a freely and democratically elected president — described as a terrorist — in jail in Israel?
argue that Barghouti should not be recognized because he has a history of
terrorism would be disingenuous in the extreme. The
Indeed, the world and the
Mandela’s time in jail did nothing to damage his standing. He was there as a result of what the state he lived in perceived as terrorism. The policy of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) — armed wing of the ANC of which Mandela was a prominent figure — was not to target civilians or white people. However, a report from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission says that whatever the intent, it happened. Between 1961 and 1963, before Mandela was jailed, about 190 attacks were recorded, undertaken mainly by regional operatives.
Barghouti is the leader of the Fatah movement in the
He first appeared in court August 2002 — charged with the killing of 26 Israelis and belonging to a terrorist organization. He denied the legitimacy of the Israeli court, insisting he was not a criminal but an elected politician; he was a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. He has denied founding Al-Aqsa but has hailed some operations by the group, which has also attacked Israeli military targets. The group claimed him as their leader, not helping his denials.
Barghouti and Mandela are products of their native lands.
Barghouti has never been exiled or been compromised by questionable links with
political figures outside the state. Amin Al-Husseini — a mulla and friend of
Hitler and Ahmed Shuquairi who worked for the Egyptian Ministry of the Interior
could not claim that. Arafat was born in
the strongest points in Barghouti’s favor is that, born in the post-partition
generation, he has always called for a two-state system. Arafat for 30 years of
his career called for the elimination of
“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner,” said Mandela; but it could just as easily be Barghouti.
Comparisons may be odious, but if they were not effective,
then the lessons of history would teach us nothing. By electing Barghouti, the
Palestinian people may create an iconic president. This will force the major
From Yahoo News – Opinions
ARAFAT'S DEATH BRIDGES NO GAPS IN POLARIZED PERSPECTIVES
By Georgie Anne Geyer
His broken and failing mortal
body was welcomed in
The American response looked quite different. President Bush (news - web sites), who never liked the difficult, indecisive, sclerotic Palestinian leader, was civil in wishing the Palestinians well, but only barely. Speaking in Washington with an ever-worshipful Tony Blair (news - web sites), the American president gave no indication that he would finally fulfill his promise to the British prime minister to use American power to help force an Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Why these extreme differences of
policy and perception between
First, on the spiritual and
Anwar Sadat, who originally supported the Nazis in World War II, eventually became the world's most respected voice of peace; Jomo Kenyatta, the Mau-Mau terrorist in the colonial war against the British, later was accepted by the world as leader of an independent Kenya; the wise Sultan of Oman co-opted the leaders of a Marxist movement fighting him and made them his leading cabinet members.
But there is little understanding in the Bush administration that life is an evolving experience, a moving river that can carry one to different destinations. Rather, the "W" vision is that good and evil are set in man, and the person is doomed to be that forever. That is behind the Bush idea that all insurgents must be destroyed, pure and simple.
Today, the Americans question
the Europeans' principles of evolutionary change, of seeing Arafat as the
leader, albeit flawed, of the Palestinians, and of working with
The Europeans, for their part, question the American principles of employing unlimited force to gain suzerainty in Iraq (news - web sites), of seeing other nations as cultureless pieces on a cynical chessboard, and of refusing to distinguish between "good dictators" in Libya, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan and "bad dictators" in Syria and Iran.
The European position is that most evil in the world is situational, the result of historical dislocation and injustice. The American position is that some men and women are evil incarnate and thus must be destroyed.
Also, the European position on
Europe today is a work in
progress, fluid and ready for responsible change;
The Israeli/Palestinian struggle, then, is caught between these two interpretations of man's mind and soul.
These counter ideas and counter
convictions on human change also are emerging over
So is the death of Yasser Arafat
likely to bring forth real change in the ongoing tragedy that haunts the
When President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair met this week, the American leader still made no promises to the Brit. Journalists in London were immediately saying, "Hey, Tony, where's the beef?"
There was no answer. And so the
Americans continue to hyperventilate that the "road to
From Foreign Policy Magazine
Think Again: Yasir Arafat
By Dennis B. Ross
In 1974, Yasir Arafat, chairman of the
“Arafat’s Goal Is a Lasting
Peace With the State of
doubt it. Throughout the
Unfortunately, such short-term
progress masked some disquieting signals about the Palestinian leader’s
intentions. Every agreement he made was limited and contained nothing he
regarded as irrevocable. He was not, in his eyes, required to surrender any
claims. Worse, notwithstanding his commitment to renounce violence, he has never
relinquished the terror card. Moreover, he is always quick to exaggerate his
achievements, even while maintaining an ongoing sense of grievance. During the
But from the start of the
To read more – go to
Yasser Arafat – Biography
After four years in
He did manage to get his degree
in 1956, worked briefly in
It was also in 1964 that the
Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) was established, under the sponsorship
of the Arab League, bringing together a number of groups all working to free
Arafat developed the PLO into a
state within the state of
His life was one of constant
travel, moving from country to country to promote the Palestinian cause, always
keeping his movements secret, as he did any details about his private life. Even
his marriage to Suha Tawil, a Palestinian half his age, was kept secret for some
fifteen months. She had already begun significant humanitarian activities at
home, especially for disabled children, but the prominent part she took in the
public events in
The period after the expulsion
The prospects for a peace
This agreement included provision
for the Palestinian elections, which took place in early 1996, and Arafat was
elected President of the Palestine Authority. Like other Arab regimes in the
area, however, Arafat's governing style tended to be more dictatorial than
democratic. When the right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu came to power
From Democracy Now
This past weekend, MIT linguistics
professor Noam Chomsky spoke at the 25th Anniversary of Coalition for Peace
Noam Chomsky, speaking at
the 25th Anniversary of Coalition for Peace Action in
NOAM CHOMSKY: I had a little time on the airplane and read this morning's Times and there is, as expected, a front page story that is in the weekend review by a very good reporter. It's about a highly significant topic, how to establish democracy -- or the president's messianic vision, as the Boston Globe calls it, my own newspaper. And it discusses a current example, which has had a huge amount of media commentary in the last couple days, the Palestinian issue, what happens after Arafat. The first paragraph says that the post-Arafat era will be the latest test of a quintessentially American article of faith, that elections provide legitimacy, even to the frailest institutions. Okay, that's our quintessential article of faith. Then it goes on, and we'll skip to the last paragraph. The last paragraph on the continuation page says there's a paradox. In the past, the Bush administration, and he could have added every previous one, resisted new national elections among Palestinians. The thought was that the elections would make Mr. Arafat look better, and give him a fresher mandate, and might have helped give credibility and authority to Hamas. So in other words, we have a quintessential commitment to democracy, but in the single example that is given we oppose democracy because the outcome might come out the wrong way. Well, there are some conclusions you can draw from that one example.
To read more go to - http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=04/11/15/1448219
From the New York Times
The Arafat Voids
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, OP-ED COLUMNIST
All I could think of when reading that headline was its double meaning. Yasir Arafat left a void of leadership, with no formal successor. But he also left a void of achievement. And it is that second void that really matters, considering that he led the Palestinian movement for some 40 years.
You will pardon me if I don't join in the insipid chorus about how Arafat's great achievement was the way he represented the "aspirations" for statehood of the Palestinian people and, through terrorism and resistance, put the Palestinian cause on the world map.
Excuse me, but Yasir Arafat put the Palestinian cause on the world map in 1974, when he was invited to address the U.N. General Assembly. What did he do with all that attention after that? Very little. There is a message in his life and his legacy for every world leader: If all you do is express the aspirations, but never produce the reality, then history will judge you very harshly. And any honest history of Yasir Arafat will judge him on his voids, not his visions.
Will we now see the emergence of a Palestinian leadership - a broad coalition from Hamas to Fatah - ready to take the collective decision to really reconcile with the Jews that Arafat was not ready to make on his own?
Will Arab leaders, like Crown
Prince Abdullah of
Ariel Sharon seems to have
already started to learn some of the lessons of Arafat's life. Mr. Sharon was
asked recently what made him change his mind, and risk his own life and
political career, to undertake a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from
In other words, sitting in the chair of the prime minister, he could suddenly see the long-term interests of the Israeli people in a different way.
Finally, what about President Bush? When it comes to the Arab-Israel question, he's had a little bit of Arafat disease himself. He's given some of the best speeches of any president on the Arab-Israel issue and delivered the most pathetic diplomacy I have ever seen.
This divide reflects the
paralyzing split in his administration between those who understand that
If only President Bush called in
Colin Powell and said: "Colin, neither of us have much to show by way of
diplomacy for the last four years. I want you to get on an airplane and go out
"As long as you're out there, I will not let Rummy or Cheney fire any more arrows into your back. So get going. It's time for you to stop sulking over at Foggy Bottom and time for me to make a psychological breakthrough with the Arab world that can also help us succeed in Iraq - by making it easier for Arabs and Muslims to stand with us. I don't want to see you back here until you've put our words into deeds."
Yasir Arafat preferred to die,
beloved by all his people, in a