Yasir Arafat is a Good Guy
Jude Wanniski
May 6, 2002


Memo To: Sen. Fred Thompson [R TN]
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: What’s Your Problem?

We have both been reading about Yasir Arafat in the news over the last 35 or more years, so if we have been paying attention, we know as much about him as we can ever know. He represents Palestinians who have been getting the shaft from the Israelis for decades. So how is it that so many Senators like you have decided he is a bad guy, maybe a “terrorist,” someone who “cannot be trusted to keep his word,” and worse? It has gotten to be such conventional wisdom that reporters no longer bother to ask you folks to enumerate the problems you have with him. When did he lie to you? When did he break his word? Yes, there is a report now being published by the Ariel Sharon government that Arafat had the brass to be appropriating funds for people who work for him that might have been used to finance suicide bombers and buy arms from friends in Iran. In context, it was Arafat who was the object of the wrath of Sharon, who ordered the Israeli army and air force to destroy the Palestinian infrastructure in accordance with his longtime plan to drive the Palestinians out of the region entirely.

You’ve always seemed a fair-minded Senator to me, Fred, but I think in this case you are being carried along by the wave of propaganda that makes almost all of you forget that it is Yasir Arafat who represents those Palestinians who want a state that exists side by side in peace and security with Israel. He is the peacemaker, who has always had his hands full with Palestinian “extremists” who want to push the Israelis into the sea. And why are they “extreme”? It is because they understand that the Likud Loonies of Israel have never wanted a Palestinian state and have been chipping away at it ever since the 1967 war, which you may recall Israel began with a pre-emptive strike against Egypt. The reason you are not “fair-minded” in this instance, is that you see everything from the Israeli perspective. When U.S. Senators are “briefed,” they are briefed by folks in the Pentagon or CIA whose careers depend upon going with the flow from the Israeli Lobby. I’m not suggesting you get briefed from the Islamic Lobby, if you could find one, but that you recognize the game plan of the Er’etz Israelis going back to 1948, when they were unhappy the United Nations gave them only half of what they thought they were entitled to.

There are Republicans in Congress who make no bones about wanting to kick all the Palestinians out of the West Bank and Gaza. As a lifelong supporter of Israel, I frankly would support any measure the Palestinians would be able to accept in peace negotiations. But after 54 years of watching Israel grab the best pieces of land in the West Bank and Gaza for their settlers – the oases with fertile land and water – the Palestinians are clearly fed up with the peace process to date. I’m even surprised there is so much support for Arafat among them, when he has allowed himself to be snookered time and again by the “Greater Israel” advocates.

Watch and see, while Sharon visits Washington this week and meets with the President and his friends in Congress. He will make every effort to demonize Arafat for “forcing him” to destroy what little the Palestinians have. I wish you will not fall for that, waiting on line to kiss his behind. The right-wing nuts in the GOP who view Palestinians as a subhuman race and Islam as a fake religion are already in line, their lips puckered. But if you really want to help Israeli Jews find a way to avoid a century of bloodbaths, you will stand back and review the bidding. With the poor cards he has been dealt, as far as I can tell Arafat has done the best he can.