Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Arafat, the Leader I Knew

Thirteen years ago, I published my first article in a major US newspaper, San Diego Union Tribune. It was unwittingly published on the same day news came out of Paris that Yasser Arafat had passed away. The article wasn’t meant to be a eulogy but to introduce Arafat and his cause to readers who rarely read a Palestinian view point in the Zionist controlled US media.

The article was of the first time I had met Yasser Arafat in February of 1973. In the early morning hours of the previous night, I was jolted from my sleep by the rattle of guns and thunderous booms. Israeli commandos landed at the sea shores of a defenseless sleepy Palestinian refugee camp in north Lebanon. The Israeli military target was a vacant community clinic, but for a lonely sleeping unarmed night guard.

The public health center serving the poor was just meters from our home. The building structure was blown up over the unarmed guard. Israeli media spin which was reported by BBC, described the raid on the clinic in Nahr el Bared refugee camp as a preemptive strike against a military target.

The next day and while I played with other children on the small dirt road, two speeding jeeps headed in our direction. The vehicles swerved toward the heap of concrete, brakes squealed, tires skidded and dust billowed in the air.

The back doors flung wide open before the car stopped completely. Two men jumped out of the vehicle and ran along its side. A short man dressed in his trademark Kufiah, emerged from the swirling dusts hovering over the jeep.

We immediately recognized him as the leader of Fatah organization, Abu Ammar, as he was commonly known. I, along with other kids gathered around him to shake his hand. He was very gracious, and in no time, a large crowd from the neighborhood started to congregate and to chant “We sacrifice our blood and soul for Abu Ammar.” Abu Ammar led another chant, “We sacrifice our blood and soul for Palestine.”

He was very young at the time, and full of energy, unlike the last public photo of the feeble old man embarking on the helicopter for his trip to a Paris hospital. He died less than two weeks later.

Arafat lived a life of contradictions. Under his leadership, group of Palestinian intellectuals acquiesced to abandon their conflicting ideologies to form a national movement for the liberation of Palestine.  He is credited with conceiving an ingenious simple idea called: National Liberation. This philosophy gave birth to a powerful political and military organization, harakat Fatah.

Shortly thereafter, Fatah seized leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Inspired by the same National Liberation philosophy, the PLO grew more independent and like Che Guevara beret, Arafat’s Kufia became a new symbol for revolution.

Subsequently, Arafat addressed the U.N. General Assembly in 1974 and for the first time, the world had a chance to hear directly from the leader of Palestine. Following his U.N. visit, more nations recognized and established PLO offices in their capitals than have recognized the state of Israel.

Arafat led the Palestinians with strong hand and was unwilling to share power. To the chagrin of many Palestinians and Arab governments alike, Arafat accentuated Palestinian nationalism over pan Arabism and secularism over religion.

Irrespective of whether one would agree or disagree with Arafat during the many tumultuous years of his leadership to the PLO, and later the Palestinian Authority, Arafat became an icon of his people’s struggle for statehood.

On the thirteenth anniversary of his death, Arafat shall be remembered as a master tactician who left short of liberating his people from a malicious occupation. Israel’s intransigence and confiscation of land for the benefit of Jewish-only colonies undermined the Oslo Agreement and stripped Arafat’s ability to transform the National Liberation philosophy into nation building.

Arafat’s strong leadership qualities left behind much more to be desired in Palestine, today.

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
Elliot Sperber
Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars
Chris Gilbert
In the Wake of Nepal’s Incomplete Revolution: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian 
Muhammad Othman
Let Us Bray
Gerry Brown
Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?
Rev. William Alberts
Judge Kavanaugh’s Defenders Doth Protest Too Much
Ralph Nader
Unmasking Phony Values Campaigns by the Corporatists
Victor Grossman
A Big Rally and a Bavarian Vote
James Bovard
Groped at the Airport: Congress Must End TSA’s Sexual Assaults on Women
Jeff Roby
Florida After Hurricane Michael: the Sad State of the Unheeded Planner
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Bradley Kaye
The Policy of Policing
Wim Laven
The Catholic Church Fails Sexual Abuse Victims
Kevin Cashman
One Year After Hurricane Maria: Employment in Puerto Rico is Down by 26,000
Dr. Hakim Young
Nonviolent Afghans Bring a Breath of Fresh Air
Karl Grossman
Irving Like vs. Big Nuke
Dan Corjescu
The New Politics of Climate Change
John Carter
The Plight of the Pyrenees: the Abandoned Guard Dogs of the West
Ted Rall
Brett Kavanaugh and the Politics of Emotion-Shaming
Graham Peebles
Sharing is Key to a New Economic and Democratic Order
Ed Rampell
The Advocates
Louis Proyect
The Education Business
David Yearsley
Shock-and-Awe Inside Oracle Arena
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail