Ask any Palestinian to identify the proverbial father is of their national movement and he/she will undoubtedly say, Yasser Arafat.
For many of us outside the Palestinian community in general and in the Jewish community in particular, we remember the founder of the Palestine Liberation Organization (aka: Fatah) as an unscrupulous, gun-toting terrorist. In point of fact, Palestinian nationalism was given life and in turn, world recognition by: hijacking planes, suicide bombings that continue to this day, hostage taking, murdering Israeli children at schools, nightclubs, pizza places; hijacking cruise ships, pushing old Jewish men in wheel chairs into the sea; murdering Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, murdering Israelis at a Passover Seder…..etc.
Most of Arafat’s victims were non-combatant, unarmed civilians.
No doubt, Palestinians and other critics of Israel would quickly respond to such a statement by pointing out that “one persons terrorist, is another persons freedom fighter.” Such people might also point out that prior to Israel officially becoming a state in May, 1948, there were terrorist acts committed by Jewish paramilitary organizations. And while we do not sanction violent terror acts by Jewish groups that may have killed unarmed Arab civilians, the objectives of groups like the Irgun, Haganah and Lehi, were not the cavalier destruction of human life. These organizations employed varied and yes, often violent tactics in fighting the British Mandate and providing an aggressive defense of the Yishuv, the Jewish population of Palestine. On the other hand, the primary objective of the PLO under Arafat from 1964 until the Oslo Accords were signed in 1992, was to terrorize and kill Jews and Israelis.
Yasser Arafat died in 2004. He is survived by his wife, Suha Arafat and daughter Zahwa. Shortly after her husband’s death, rumors abounded about the affluent lifestyle Suha was enjoying in France and Tunisia. How could the wife of a poor revolutionary acquire so much wealth? Is it possible that some of the financial aid earmarked for Fatah from Arab governments such as Saudi Arabia was somehow misappropriated to personal bank accounts?
The wife of the father of the future State of Palestine, never lived in the West Bank or Gaza where most of her husbands devoted followers reside. In fact, Suha quietly remarried in Tunisia in 2006.
This week, the world was reminded of the moral and ethical legacy of Yasser and Suha Arafat: An international arrest warrant has been issued for Suha Arafat by the government of Tunisia. The crimes outlined in the warrant took place in the 1980’s.
The arrest warrant charges Madam Arafat with committing various “administrative and financial violations” during her tenure as a trustee of the International School of Carthage in Tunisia. Put more succinctly, Suha is being accused of fixing the books and stealing money from the school.
This is all happening now because the recently disposed Tunisian dictator, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and his jet-setting glamorous wife Leila Ben Ali, were protecting their dear friend Suha from life’s little troubles. The arrest warrant was initially reported by the Algerian newspaper, El Khabar and has now been confirmed by an adviser to the Ministry of Justice of Tunis, el-Abidin Zin Kathim, who noted that if found guilty, Suha may face “up to ten years in prison.”
Yes, its true, George and Martha Washington were slave-owning aristocrats. But its doubtful that America’s founding father and his wife kept overseas bank accounts and didn’t care who they killed or stole from during their lifetime. Hopefully, the new State of Palestine will have a stronger moral compass than it’s founder.