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No More Arafats?
Saturday, 24 January 2009 07:37
by Tom Chartier

Aside from a second Holocaust, what does Israel fear most? Is it Hamas Rockets? Hezbollah? Iran? Syria? Anti-Semitism? Hoards of Arabs overrunning the Jewish National Homeland?

It’s a good question that I cannot really answer. Possibly, many Israelis can’t actually answer it beyond the term “security.” As far as the Israeli ruling elite is concerned, I suggest one fear is a second Yasser Arafat.

Many people consider Yasser Arafat to have been nothing more than a murderous terrorist. Others view him as a great man. I’m not sure either opinion comes close to reality.

What Arafat was without question was an actual leader of the Palestinians in their quest for their own state. Competent Palestinian leaders have been in short supply over the past century. Arafat made numerous miscalculations and mistakes. That makes it hard to classify him as “competent.” However, he was the best the Palestinians have had in the past 100 years or so. As such, Arafat was the biggest threat to the Zionist agenda.

Another Yasser Arafat is the last thing the ruling Israeli elite wants to see.

Should an actual Palestinian leader emerge again and unify the Palestinians in their resistance to Israeli oppression a whole new tub of hummus would be opened. Ariel Sharon’s master plan of grabbing the West Bank and making a “pastrami sandwich” out of the Palestinians would be jeopardized. The political peace process might have to be removed from the formaldehyde. Real concessions might have to be made and most horrifying of all, another Israeli Prime Minister might have to shake hands in public with another Palestinian “terrorist.” How humiliating.

Shaking hands with Yasser Arafat cost Yitzhak Rabin his life… at the hands of a radical Zionist Israeli.

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Acceptable to the Israeli leadership are puppets, impotent yes men and harmless buffoons. During the British Mandate Palestine era, the British recognized the Zionist leadership as the only national and political entity. The majority of the population, Palestinian Arabs, had no formal leadership. As a diversion and to placate the Arabs, the British created the title of mufti filastin al-akbar, The Grand Mufti of Palestine. In this impressive sounding but meaningless position the British installed the young, inexperienced and naïve Hajj Amin al-Husayni. Al-Husayni served his British masters well in keeping Palestinian nationalism at bay for many years. However, even The Grand Mufti tired of having his strings pulled by the mid 1930s.

The Palestinians were effectively cut off from any say in their own land.

Today, roughly 70 years later, officially, Palestinian leadership is in the hands of another dubious puppet, Mahmoud Abbas of the self-serving Fatah party. Fatah (wish means victory) was originally Yasser Arafat’s resistance organization. Now it seems little more than a kowtowing private club of Stateless Palestinian elites more concerned with the easy life for themselves, rather than the people they are supposed to represent. Well, who can blame them? It’s better than standing in the hot sun at checkpoints all day.

It’s no wonder Hamas won a majority of seats in the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections. The compliant Abbas had lost status and influence with his own people, whom he does not actually represent.

As we have seen, Hamas was never given a chance to turn away from their violent tactics and enter into the world of legitimate politics. The US and Israel could not abide this. Therefore Hamas was quickly shut out.

This was a huge blunder by the Israeli and US decision makers. Hamas cannot be defeated through blockades, sieges or military incursions. The only way to deal with them effectively is politically. Had Hamas been recognized as the democratically elected party they are, they would have been placed in a situation requiring them to behave like one.

I see two possible results had Hamas been given a chance.

One; Hamas would have continued its aggressive methods in which case Israel might have been justified in military retaliation with a degree of International support. The U.S. and Israeli could have spewed out a lot of “I told you so” rhetoric. However, the concept of bringing “democracy” to the Middle East would have been tainted even worse than it already has been.

Or two; some actual progress towards some form of peace agreement and Palestinian statehood might have been made. Israeli might… and I do mean might… have had to abandon the Peace Process Scam. It certainly would have been more difficult to keep up appearances.

Alas, peace does not appear to be what the Israelis are seriously interested in. Ethnic cleansing and land grabbing seems to be the real goal. The dream of “Greater Israel” is alive and well. Jabotinsky forbid that another Israeli Prime Minister might shake hands with another Palestinian political leader.

Was Israel’s war on Gaza something beyond stopping Hamas rocket fire? Despite the (temporary?) ceasefire I doubt that goal will be achieved in the long run. With Israeli elections due in February, it seems likely to have been more political than strategic. All the top contenders for Prime Minister wish to appear tough on “terror” and strong on “security.” Were 1,250 Palestinians murdered for votes? Or were they also murdered to prevent the rise of another Yasser Arafat.

If nothing else, Israel’s three-week war on Gaza was at best idiotic, aside from criminal. I’m not alone in that assessment. Rather than weaken Hamas, the effect can only add incentive to Palestinian resistance to the Israeli occupation. The Israeli bombardment of Gaza is one step closer to creating an environment for a second Yasser Arafat, possibly a man like Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal shall emerge from the Gaza rubble much stronger.
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