(1) President Bush made an appropriately reserved statement on the Palestinian's passing this evening:
The death of Yasser Arafat is a significant moment in Palestinian history. We express our condolences to the Palestinian people. For the Palestinian people, we hope that the future will bring peace and the fulfillment of their aspirations for an independent, democratic Palestine that is at peace with its neighbors. During the period of transition that is ahead, we urge all in the region and throughout the world to join in helping make progress toward these goals and toward the ultimate goal of peace.
It is important that the U.S. government now not send anyone to the Arafat funeral.
(2) To understand Arafat's legacy, there is no better to place to start than the listings of Palestinian terrorist attacks in Israel since 1965 – or well before the Israelis took control of the West Bank and Gaza. Here is a listing of the some of the more prominent atrocities during Arafat's first decade of terrorism, first as the head of Fatah and then the PLO:
- Jan. 1, 1965: Fatah's first terror attack in Israel. (Other Palestinian armed groups had carried out many other terror attacks before this, however.)
- July 5, 1965: Fatah plant explosives at Mitzpe Massua, near Beit Guvrin; and on the railroad tracks to Jerusalem near Kafr Battir.
- 1965-67: A wave of Fatah bomb attacks target Israeli villages, water pipes, railroads. Homes are destroyed and Israelis are killed.
- Feb. 21, 1970: SwissAir flight 330, bound for Tel Aviv, is bombed by the PLO group PFLP in mid-flight, killing 47.
- May 21, 1970 PLO Shooting a Bazooka to the School bus of Moshav Avivim 10 kids plus 2 adult died, 24 wounded.
- Sept. 6, 1970: TWA, Pan Am, and BOAC airplanes are hijacked by the PLO.
- September 1970: The PLO attack Jordanian targets, then flee to Lebanon.
- Sept. 5, 1972: 11 Israeli athletes killed at the Munich Olympics by the PLO.
- March 1, 1973: Palestinian terrorists take over Saudi embassy in Khartoum and murder the United States' ambassador to Sudan, Cleo Noel and others.
- April 11, 1974: 18 residents of Kiryat Shmona in northern Israel are killed in their apartment building by the PLO who infiltrated from Lebanon.
- May 15, 1974: A school in Ma'alot is attacked by Palestinian terrorists who infiltrated from Lebanon. 26 Israelis, including many children, were killed.
(3) Arafat's hideous but successful life – who else has ridden the murder of children and holiday celebrants to a Nobel Peace Prize and a personal fortune – is worthy of a full-length documentary. For the moment, HonestReporting.com's one-minute version, "Arafat's Dark Legacy," is a good start. (November 10, 2004)
Nov. 15, 2004 update: Arafat's lived a lie and died a lie. Agence France Press reports today that the death certificate issued for him by municipal officials at Clamart, the suburb of Paris where he died on Nov. 11, records his place of birth as Jerusalem and not where it really was, Cairo. They did so on the basis of his livret de famille (family record book) produced by the French foreign ministry in 1996.
The French researchers tell an amusing story of discovery. They went to the University of Cairo and innocently asked for the registration of one Muhammad ‘Abd ar-Ra'uf ‘Arafat al-Qudwa al-Husayni at the School of Civil Engineering in 1956. This, Arafat's birth name means nothing to the Egyptian clerk, who "sits down behind a rickety wooden table, almost completely hidden by the pile of dusty files bound in black leather" and "blows off a layer of grime in a most professional way," then hands over the records. In a blue ink faded by time, the researchers find that their man, living at 24A Baron Empain Street, Heliopolis, "was born on August 4, 1929, in Cairo." With this information in hand, they dash over to the State Registry and find Arafat's actual birth certificate, which confirms the date and place.
Nov. 25, 2004 update: Adriana Stuijt, a South African journalist who edits "Uncensored South African News," notes that another terrorist acquired great wealth and a Nobel Peace Prize, as well as a secular sainthood, namely Nelson Mandela. "As a journalist," she writes, "I will never forget the many ‘necklacings' I witnessed, seeing black fellow-South Africans burned to death with petrol-filled tyres about their necks at the express orders of Nelson Mandela and his henchmen, just because these unfortunates had disobeyed the African National Congress."