I could have my own disparaging complaints about Yasser Arafat, particularly his administration's performance, even if it was/is under the savage restrictions of an occupying army. However, there are facts one can not disagree with. 1 - He is the elected leader of the Palestinian people and even if another election was held today, he'd most likely win it by a large margin. 2 - Even before being elected, he has been the voice and undeniable leader of Palestinian struggle for decades. 3 - He really pisses the right wing Israelis as well as the NeoCons and their friends off, so he must be doing something right.
Here's the latest example; Asharq al-Awsat newspaper is reported to have published Arafat's comments regarding the issue of "suicide bombers", in particular his condemnation of such tactics. He is quoted as saying "we oppose violence against Palestinian and Israeli civilians". Sounds pretty straight, clear and to the point, right? Well, not to the right-wing extremists. South Africa's News24.com suggests in a report that he then specified what he meant by civilians by adding "The struggle against occupation is legitimate and I mean 'soldiers of the occupation'. It is inadmissible to kill a child or a woman in a restaurant or a cafe," concluding or suggesting that only women and children are exempted by Arafat.
This has caused many in the far right ends of political spectrum to rejoice to the point of suggesting "Yasser Arafat both endorses suicide bombers ... and supervises them." and then "Show us how it's done, Yasser: Blow yourself up." What amazing violent imagery from those supposedly advocating peace and peaceful solutions.
Of course nothing can be further from the truth and anyone familiar with the middle-eastern cultures and the language used to separate "civilians" and "innocents" from the rest could easily understand the reference to "children and women", so common in the region. But that wouldn't satisfy or endorse their view of the world, so it is decided to try to use the opportunity and his comments to discredit Arafat.
The attack on Arafat is not new. He has always been the target of very same groups and ideologies. Now, with the urgent need to diminish Palestinian demands in a new attempt at peace, nothing would be more useful to them than to weaken the Palestinian leadership. This includes suggestion of an exaggerated discrepancy between Arafat's views with his Prime Minister and others, ridicule of world leaders who recognize him as the legitimate leaders of Palestinians, possible attempts on his life, and just plain calling for his removal.
Meanwhile, Israeli government declares to the world that it has accepted and approved the "road map" proposed as the basis for a final resolution to the prime conflict of the region, while showing other intentions. Here are some comments by prominent members of the government as reported by Haaretz.com about the road map. You decide if they have actually accepted it's terms, or really only accepted an imaginary version of their own:
"Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said that he would vote to approve the road map, despite his belief that the plan is dangerous and bad for Israel. He explained that he would be voting in favor of a complete range of understandings with the Americans, and that his "yes" vote would not actually be an expression of support for the road map itself." and then "(Education Minister Limor) Livnat also proposed that the government's formal acceptance of the road map be subject to several conditions. Livnat's proposal stipulated that "Israel agrees to accept the steps defined in the map, but states that there will be no compromise on the right of return, there will be no withdrawal to the 1967 borders, there will be no concession on Jerusalem, and there will be no agreement on a Palestinian state before the bases of terror are completely uprooted."
As long as such criminal two-faced hypocrites are leading the occupation of Palestinian land, the hearts and minds of many in the rest of the world is with Yasser Arafat and his people. Stay strong Abu Ammar.