Arafat's Ugly Legacy

(New York Daily News) Zev Chafets - Arafat realized early that Arab dictators would pay to keep the Palestinian issue alive because it gave them an all-purpose diversion from the disaster they were wreaking on their own societies. He became custodian of the Palestinian grievance for everyone from Egypt's Nasser to the Saudi royal family, from Libya's Khadafi to Saddam Hussein. Taking on Israel put Arafat in the big leagues. He became a hero to the Soviet bloc and, later, to European "progressives" who never really have seen the need for a Jewish state. Arafat has dominated Palestinian political life for decades for the simplest of reasons: He has always had the most guns. Who will replace Arafat? Western diplomats almost certainly will seize on one Abu or another as their designated statesman. But eventually this figurehead will run up against the local reality that Arafat fostered: The majority of Palestinians do not want peace if it requires a compromise with Israel.

2004-11-04 00:00:00

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