Palestine after Arafat

Boris Johnston was in Israel/Palestine last week. He was already contemplating the legacy of Yasser Arafat, in the wake of the bomb in Carmel market in Tel Aviv set off by one of the youngest suicide bombers in the history of the conflict, Amar al-Far.

After visiting the site of the bomb, he went to see the now demolished house of the bomber (a routine to discourage others), and then to Arafat’s compound:

“For a final verdict on the motives of Amar al-Far, the teenage suicide from Nablus, I went to Arafat’s compound in Nablus. ‘I think he must do that,’ said a guard who showed me round. ‘They killed his father, they destroy his home. What else can he do? The Israelis destroy everything. They kill old men, women, children. What can we do? We can only stay and wait. Look at this,’ he kept saying, pointing to a kind of sculpture park of vehicles, flattened by Israeli tanks in 2002, ‘look at this. What would you do? What can a man do?’ he said, smacking his brow with his palm; and after a while I’m afraid I grew impatient, and wanted to suggest to him that since the damage had been done more than two years ago, it was time to clear it up”.

“But that would be to miss the essence of Arafat’s approach, which is always to be a martyr. It is meant to be a sad but necessary fact of life that terrorists graduate to the role of statesman: Kenyatta, Begin, McGuinness, and so on — all have made the transition. The most glaring and pathetic global exception has been Yasser Arafat”.

An echo perhaps of Harris’ thesis of good and bad authority?

He finishes:

“It was his tragedy that — as he revealed in 2000 — he had no ambition to make that transition from terrorist martyr to grown-up politician. It was the Palestinians’ tragedy that he represented their aspirations for so long. His death comes too late for thousands who have died in the intifada, most of them Palestinians. But his imminent departure brings hope: that Israel will be demographically obliged to renew the Barak offer, and that the Palestinians will find a statesman with the wisdom and authority to accept it”.

  • mickhall

    If the views expressed by Johnson were those held by him alone, I would not have bothered to post but sadly they are not, such arrogant nonsense can be heard from right across the political spectrum in the UK and Ireland. Take his last sentence,

    “But his imminent departure brings hope: that Israel will be demographically obliged to renew the Barak offer, and that the Palestinians will find a statesman with the wisdom and authority to accept it”.

    In Johnson’s eyes the victims of the oppressor becomes the villain, because they have refused to bow their heads and accept their subjugation and occupation and be thankful for the scraps thrown to them from their masters table. In 1967 Israel invaded and occupied the entire territory of the West bank and Gaza, they have held onto to it, apart from the odd fast shoe shuffle which the international community have been fool enough to applaud, despite countless UN resolutions and the overwhelming majority of the worlds disapproval. This occupation along with the violence that flared when the Israeli State was first established has led to millions of Palestinian refugees, who are scattered around the world. Barak offered Arafat approx 80% of the occupied territory back excluding the Palestinian capital East Jerusalem, plus he demanded of Arafat that he sign away the right of return to the millions of Palestinian refugees. To understand the sheer hypocrisy of Barak offer, one only has remind oneself of the right to Israeli citizenship of all Jews, no matter where they live or indeed if they or there families have ever set foot in Israel. Barak and his US backers where demanding that Arafat accept that the millions of his fellow country-people who had been driven abroad by force of arms would become permanently stateless. Only a cowardly Quisling would do such a thing and for all Arafats faults he was not this. I might add only the most shameful politician or journalist would demand of him or any political leader that they do so.

    All I can say the English were very lucky in 1939 that Mr Johnson was not as he is to day, an MP, former front bench politician and leading journalist, as his willingness to compromise to people who occupy others lands may well have led him to compromise to the Nazis back then. Or is he the type who only expects Arabs to sell their birthrights.

  • monkey

    I am a bit confused about this part:

    “For a final verdict on the motives of Amar al-Far, the teenage suicide from Nablus, I went to Arafat’s compound in Nablus. ‘I think he must do that,’ said a guard who showed me round. ‘They killed his father, they destroy his home. What else can he do?

    Didn’t Israelis destroy his home *after* he blew himself up?

    mickhall,

    In 1967 Israel invaded and occupied the entire territory of the West bank and Gaza, they have held onto to it

    Ofcourse they held on to it! You don’t give back a piece of strategic land to the enemy that does not recognize your right to exist and has a history of attacking you. Let’s remember something here. Jordan attacked Israel in 1967 (Egypt imposed a blockade and amassed trooped, Israel pre emptively attacks Egypt, Jordan decides that its a good time to finish off Israel by starting a 2nd front).
    Jordan finally recognized resolution 242 in 1987 (and thus Israel’s right to exist) and that same year renounced all claim to West Bank. Oslo took place in 1993 – 6 years later.

  • monkey

    Also, on this point:

    …to compromise to people who occupy others lands may well have led him to compromise to the Nazis back then.

    The world “compromised” just fine when Jordan gobbled up the West Bank in 1948. Any demonstrations against the Jordanian occupation of Palestine at the time? If you want to make the Nazi analogy, why not look at the way Europe has been appeasing the Islamists. It took a 9/11 for Europe and the world to start taking terrorists seriously. Was no biggie while it took place in Israel.

  • James

    At least the mufti took the day off.

    Smile and back away slowly ….. slowly….