Saturday, November 20, 2010

Obsessing about the Settlements

From The JPost, 16 November, by GIL TROY*:

Barack Obama and his followers talk constantly about “The Settlements.” Obsessing over this pretends the conflict began in 1967.

Israel remains more popular ...with most Americans – than the hysterical hand-wringing suggests.

Unfortunately, Ivy- League, ivory tower, left-leaning, New York Times-reading Jewish intellectuals are souring on Israel. Typically, these elites claim to represent more people than they do, although, unfortunately, they are in sync with the president of the United States.

Barack Obama and his egghead followers talk constantly about “The Settlements.” Reducing the complex Israeli-Palestinian conflict to any one dimension does violence to the truth.

Reducing the conflict to the settlements is an act of historical vandalism, defaming the memory of nearly 30,000 Israelis, very few of whom died in settlement-related violence – most of whom died because of the continuing Arab refusal to accept Israel’s existence.

Obsessing about the settlements blames Israel while absolving the Palestinians of responsibility. It is a form of liberal racism, condescendingly treating the Palestinians as if they are not accountable for their deeds and words. It ignores the fact that the delegitimization of Israel today does not stop at the settlements but attacks the essence of the Zionist project. It glides over the fact that Israel withdrew from 25 settlements in Gaza and Samaria in 2005, then endured thousands of rocket attacks and a Gaza takeover by Hamas, whose charter targets the entire Jewish state – and the Jewish people. It overlooks the fact that when Yasser Arafat led his people away from the Oslo negotiations back toward terror in 2000, Palestinians blew up Jerusalem buses, Tel Aviv felafel stands and Haifa cafes, treating all of Israel as a “settlement.”

Emphasizing the settlements pretends the conflict began in 1967, even though the PLO started in 1964, six Arab armies attacked the new state in May 1948 and the Arabs rejected the UN partition compromise in November 1947.

Emphasizing the settlements circumvents negotiation, caving in to Palestinian land claims, mindlessly embracing their one-sided narrative....

We also know that traditionally, when countries fight, the winner keeps the territory. I challenge my historian colleagues, asking them to name one example when a country won a defensive war then voluntarily returned the territory it conquered, if it had a prior claim to the land. The only answer is Israel, returning the Sinai to Egypt in 1979, relinquishing control under Oslo in 1994 and leaving Gaza in 2005...

...Fighting delegitimization is fighting for peace. Just as the Palestinians, and many Israeli and international NGOs, complain each time a Jew breaks ground outside the Green Line, Israel, the US and the entire pro-peace infrastructure must complain every time a Palestinian delegitimizes Israel, denies its right to exist or attacks the Jews. There must be zero tolerance for such language, which only discourages compromise.

...we need a coalition of conscience fight demonization from all sides and to work for peace, improvising a solution based on mutual accommodation rather than stubbornly and artificially freezing boundaries in one random historical moment or another.

*The writer is professor of history at McGill University and a research fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. He is the author of Why I Am A Zionist: Israel, Jewish Identity and the Challenges of Today and The Reagan Revolution: A Very Short Introduction.

Remember the 'Refuseniks' rough road to Israel

BOOK REVIEW from The Washington Post, Friday, November 19, 2010, Anne Applebaum:
The Epic Struggle to Save Soviet Jewry
By Gal Beckerman
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 598 pp. $US30
 ...the Soviet Jews ...most of whom had applied to emigrate to Israel and had been turned down: They were "refuseniks..."

...In the years that followed, the Soviet Union collapsed; the refuseniks left the U.S.S.R. and were forgotten.

In "When They Come for Us, We'll Be Gone," a fresh, surprising and exceedingly well-researched book, Gal Beckerman has retold their story. Or rather, he has retold two stories: that of the Soviet Jews who made their religion and their desire to emigrate to Israel into a protest movement, and that of the American Jews who championed their cause. Alternating chapters between Russia and the United States, Beckerman shows how the two groups developed in a strange symbiosis, even while knowing very little about each other.

Their relationship changed both groups profoundly. Beckerman believes, in fact, that advocacy for Soviet Jewry "taught American Jews how to lobby." Before the American Jewish community coalesced around the emigration issue, its leaders had been wary of transforming their money and numbers into political clout. The need to save Soviet Jews, he argues - not the need to support Israel - taught American Jews how to use the tools that are so familiar today, from "targeting local congresspeople to asserting influence on the Hill."

It's an unexpected thesis, and completely convincing. Beckerman shows that the movement did not arise out of the blue but was rather the product of the events of the 1960s:
  • Jewish participation in civil rights marches,
  • the Adolf Eichmann war crimes trial,
  • the Broadway debut of "Fiddler on the Roof" and
  • the Six Day War...
  • there was Israeli input, too. A special department of the Mossad offered seed money to the first lobbying groups and even had a couple of paid agents....
The growing self-consciousness of the Soviet Jews also had its roots in this particular historical moment:
  • the political thaw that followed Stalin's death,
  • the growth of the Soviet human rights movement,
  • the institutionalization of Soviet anti-Semitism.
Beckerman tells the stories of several Soviet Jewish activists, more than one of whom were radicalized by the public denunciations of Israel that followed the Six Day War. Having not thought of themselves as particularly Jewish before, they were offended by the language used about Israel and Jews who had, to the delight of many, successfully repelled the Soviet-backed Arab states once again.

Over time, both groups taught themselves to help each other. Like the rest of the dissident movement, activist Soviet Jews learned how to document the repression used against them and to get their reports out of the country. American Jews learned, in turn, how to beam these facts back into the U.S.S.R. on Radio Liberty, as well as how to present them to Congress, the news media and the White House. For years they pounded away at the advocates of realpolitik - Nixon and Kissinger among them - who wanted U.S.-Soviet relations to focus on arms and trade, not human rights.

In 1974, they won. That was the year that saw the passage of the Jackson-Vanik amendment, legislation that linked Soviet trade deals to Jewish emigration. Sponsored by Sen. Henry "Scoop" Jackson, a non-Jewish politician who had made this issue his own, it forced the White House to establish links between human rights violations and wider diplomatic issues. After the amendment passed, U.S.-Soviet relations were never the same...
After the collapse of the U.S.S.R. in 1991, the movement disappeared, a happy victim of its own success. In the subsequent decade, some 1 million Jews emigrated from the Soviet Union to Israel. Beckerman wants to ensure that the story of this epic struggle isn't forgotten...

Phosphorous bombs fired from Gaza

From Ynet News, 19 November 2010:

Palestinian sources reported that the Air Force bombed two targets in the Gaza Strip Friday afternoon, after four phosphorous bombs were launched into Israel along with three mortar shells...

The Middle East problem 5 minutes...

From Prager University, October 24, 2010:

Why is the Middle East Problem so intractable? Dennis Prager, nationally syndicated talk show host and best-selling author, answers that question in this thought-provoking video course.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Romania's ambivalence to its Holocaust past is undermined by new evidence

From Time Magazine, Friday, Nov. 12, 2010, by Rupert Wolfe Murray:

One day in 1941, Vasile Enache was tending his cows in the forest of Vulturi, near the city of Iasi, 260 miles (420 km) northeast of Bucharest, when he heard people sobbing. He went to investigate and saw hundreds of civilians being marched through the forest by Romanian army soldiers. Enache didn't know it at the time, but he was witnessing part of Romania's "Iasi pogrom," which resulted in the deaths of an estimated 14,000 Jews.

For almost 70 years, successive Romanian governments have downplayed the nation's role in the Holocaust. But now a suspected mass grave has been found in the Vulturi forest, and some are hoping that the discovery will help Romania face up to one of the darkest periods in its history. (See pictures of Auschwitz after 65 years.)

Rumors about a mass grave in the Vulturi forest had been circulating for years; when a similar grave was found near Iasi in 1945, it led to a trial that ended with several top military commanders being sentenced to jail. After persuading Enache to show him the exact location of the Vulturi grave, local historian Adrian Cioflinca organized a team of people from Romania's Elie Wiesel National Institute for Studying the Holocaust to start excavating the site last month. They uncovered the remains of 16 bodies — including the skeletons of children, a lady's shoe and Romanian-army bullets from 1939 — but have since called a halt to the dig while they wait for rabbis to bless the site.

Now 86, Enache is a bit wobbly on his legs, but his eyes are still clear blue, and his memory of what happened that day in 1941 is fresh. He describes how he was grabbed by a couple of Romanian soldiers who said, "You are a Jew! Come with us." They arrived at a series of deep graves where the civilians were made to sit down, 10 at a time, and then shot. Others were ordered into the grave to arrange the bodies so more victims could be thrown in. The killings continued all day, but Enache managed to convince his captors that he was a local, an Orthodox Christian, and when this was confirmed by the local forester, he was released. (See pictures of Adolf Hitler's rise to power.)

The Vulturi forester who saved Enache died in 1945, but his daughter still lives nearby. Sitting in her kitchen, Lucia Baltaru describes what she remembers from 1941, when she was 6 years old. "We used to go and play at the grave," she says. "There was a thin layer of soil over the grave, and when we played, the bodies would move around. I think there are thousands of bodies buried there."

The site is currently sealed off by the Romanian police, who are guarding the bones and artifacts still on the site, and both journalists and the public are forbidden access. Outside the forest, an old couple had walked up from a nearby village to look at the grave. Ioan Aftanase was 7 years old in 1941 and vividly remembers columns of civilians being marched through the village. "They were in a terrible state," he says. "They were obviously hungry and thirsty and were being marched to their deaths. It was a terrible thing to do." During Romania's communist regime, it was dangerous to talk about the country's role in the Holocaust, and as a result, says Aftanase, "the young people today in the village have no idea about what happened in this forest." (See a brief history of World War II movies.)

Elie Wiesel, a Romanian-born survivor of Auschwitz, has described Romania's approach to the Holocaust as "ambivalent." Anti-Semitism was virulent in the country from the mid–19th century to the end of World War II. In 2004, President Ion Iliescu apologized for Romania's role in the Holocaust, saying in a speech before the International Commission for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania, "The Holocaust was one of those serious historical issues which was avoided both during the communist period and after 1990."

According to the 1930 Census, there were 759,000 Jews in Romania before World War II. Historians estimate that 280,000 to 380,000 were killed by Romanian forces during the war, mainly in the areas of Moldova and Ukraine they occupied as part of the German thrust into the Soviet Union. Today there are fewer than 10,000 Jews living in Romania.

The communist regime, which was in power in Romania from 1945 to 1989, developed a strong nationalistic streak which, according to Holocaust historian Radu Ioanid, "tried to dilute or completely deny the responsibility of Romanians in the slaughter of the Jews, placing all the blame on the Germans." The education system has changed little since the fall of communism, and many Romanians still believe that their country's role in the Holocaust was minimal. (See a TIME cover story on the Holocaust.)

This ambivalence is reflected in the Romanian media coverage of the latest mass-grave discovery. The country's main private TV channels are skeptical, basing their reports on a statement by the chief prosecutor in Iasi, Cornelia Prisacaru, who said, "At this moment we don't know if these are civilian or military bodies. Or could they be Russian or German soldiers? The front line was in that area during World War II. We can't confirm that they are Jews." But such comments make no sense to the investigators who found so many civilian items in the grave — or to Vasile Enache, who still remembers being dragged off to the killing ground on the assumption that he was a Jew.

See if German diplomats were complicit in the Holocaust.
See why a new Hitler exhibit caused a stir in Germany.

Palestinians Say No to Negotiations

From TIP, Nov. 16, 2010:

•Refusal comes ahead of Israeli govt. vote on U.S. offer
•Israeli PM pushing for freeze as gesture to restart negotiations
•PLO Executive Committee member pushes for unilateral statehood

Secretary Clinton with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
(Photo: U.S. State Dept.)

Jerusalem, Nov. 16 - Palestinian officials said they won’t return to peace talks with Israel even if the country agrees to a three-month construction freeze the United States is pursuing as part of a package of incentives to revive the negotiations.

The Palestinians said they would only go back to the table if Israel imposes a comprehensive freeze.

"If (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu stops the settlements, we will go back to direct negotiations," said Saeb Erekat, chief negotiator for the Palestinian Authority. A spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas echoed Erekat’s sentiment.

Meanwhile, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee said in a statement that Palestinian leaders shouldn’t negotiate and instead push for unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state via the United Nations.

The latest round of Israeli-Palestinian talks began Sept. 2 but ended a few weeks later when Abbas walked away because Israel wouldn’t extend its voluntary 10-month construction moratorium. The Palestinian precondition for a freeze in order to continue the talks was a first since the two sides began negotiating 16 years ago.

The Palestinian refusal this week comes even before a vote by the Israeli government to approve the U.S. offer. Netanyahu presented the U.S. package to his cabinet Saturday (Nov. 13); the government is expected to vote on it Wednesday (Nov. 17).

Netanyahu, who has been pushing his government to approve the offer, said Monday (Nov. 15), “We are trying to resume negotiations with our Palestinian neighbors and promote peace accords with the rest of the Arab countries.”

Defense Minister Ehud Barak too spoke in favor of the U.S. offer at a gathering in Paris.

Netanyahu met with his seven senior cabinet ministers on Saturday to try to push through the U.S. offer, which includes 20 F-35 fighter jets worth $3 billion and other advanced weaponry as a security measure in exchange for an extension of Israel’s housing moratorium.

The prime minister urged approval of the incentive package as an important gesture towards the Palestinians and a critical step towards creating a two-state solution for the Israelis and the Palestinians. The formula proposed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addresses Israel's security concerns in the region while fighting Israel's de-legitimization.

Netanyahu and Clinton met Nov. 11 for seven hours to restart peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Washington asked Israel to immediately freeze building in the West Bank and discuss the future borders of a Palestinian state.

Netanyahu has received strong criticism and negative portrayal as "weak" in the Israeli media for trying to pass the formula, according to Israel Radio.

The U.S. administration will ask Congress to approve the incentive package in exchange for the building freeze.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Seeking academic integrity

From Ynet News, 10 November 2010, by Martin Sherman:

“Had such professional misconduct occurred in the natural or physical sciences there would have doubtless been serious consequences: e.g. the collapse of a bridge following phony engineering calculations… Yet it would seem that when it comes to the social sciences or the humanities… the researcher can escape punishment for the worst kind of malpractice.” Prof. Efraim Karsh in "Fabricating Israeli History"
The furor over allegations of post/anti-Zionist bias in the Israeli academe refuses to subside.

Last week a heated debate on the topic was held in the Knesset's Education Committee with the participation of Education Minister Gideon Saar. Clearly the charges as to deliberate ideological imbalance were not directed at the faculties of the natural or exact sciences but focused on the social sciences and the humanities.

... representatives of the institutes of higher learning rejected the accusations of intentional exclusion of pro-Zionist perspectives, opposed any discussion of the issue, and questioned the very legitimacy of debate on the subject, warning that it constituted a grave threat to academic freedom which could undermine democratic governance in the country. As to bias in the appointment of faculty, and in promotion criteria, they endeavored to reassure the participants that these were based solely on academic achievement and professional excellence.

However their protestations raised at least two trenchant questions.

First, With regard to academic freedom and its limitations: As early as 1919, the US Supreme Court handed down a seminal ruling that false statements which could inflict harm on others were not protected as "free speech" under the Constitution....

Surely few would contest that the very raison d'etre of academic freedom is to facilitate the pursuit of truth and not the propagation of falsehoods. For example, it is highly implausible that a geography professor would win the support of his colleagues were he to promote a theory that the earth is flat....
...How about the claims that Israel is an "apartheid state", implementing a policy of racial discrimination like that of South Africa, alleged proven by the different legal systems applied to Israeli citizens - whether Jewish or not - and to Palestinians without Israeli citizenship? After all, any informed observer must be aware that this disparity is not rooted in any doctrine of racial superiority, but in exigencies of security.

There is an enormous difference between legitimate disagreement on the prudence and/or efficacy of measures taken to defend one's civilian population, and the baseless accusation that a country - in which non-Jews are elected to parliament, appointed to senior positions in the judiciary and the diplomatic corps, and serve as ministers in the government - is in any way similar to the apartheid-era South Africa.

So if academic freedom does not apply to theories of a flat earth and non-existence of gravity, why should it be invoked to cover equally ridiculous social theories?

Real-time reality check
...In the field of social science and the humanities, it is rare that an opportunity presents itself to allow a theory to be subjected to an almost real-time reality check. Fortunately the political developments in recent decades have afforded just such an opportunity.
With the commencement of the "peace process", the virtually entire cadre of social scientists and their colleagues in the humanities endorsed a policy previously eschewed by all Israeli government; a policy whose major thrust was wide-scale withdrawal from Judea, Samaria and Gaza and the establishment of a Palestinian state on the evacuated areas. Policy papers were written, research conducted, articles published, public declarations of support signed, all expressing professional optimism as to the rosy future this bold new vision heralded for the region. There was hardly a dissenting voice to be heard.

However, beyond the confines of the "ivory tower," many expressed their concern, warning that the noble vision was in fact a dangerous fantasy. Then came bitter reality. And alas ...the forecasts of the academic experts and the learned scholars, [were shown to be] totally baseless.

Now imagine that a group of civil engineering professors were to endorse a new revolutionary system for the construction of bridges, ...[and] all the bridges actually built by this method collapsed catastrophically, causing widespread loss of life and limb.  ...surely their work would not be branded as reflecting "excellence" is the case with those who endorsed the failed Oslowian "architecture" of the peace process.

The Israeli academic establishment needs to muster much intellectual integrity to scrutinize what is taking place under its alleged auspices: the propagation of baseless allegations which fly in the face of both fact and logic; misleading research whose grounding in reality is at best tenuous; almost total exclusion of faculty members who foretold the calamitous failure of the "peace process," relative to a glut of those who did not….

The Israeli academia must indeed engage in some searing soul-searching without delay. In fact, if those responsible for its future do not initiate such a process, others will soon impose it on them.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Nazis Were Given ‘Safe Haven’ in US

WASHINGTON — A secret history of the United States government’s Nazi-hunting operation concludes that American intelligence officials created a “safe haven” in the United States for Nazis and their collaborators after World War II...
The 600-page report, which the Justice Department has tried to keep secret for four years, provides new evidence about more than two dozen of the most notorious Nazi cases of the last three decades...

The report catalogs both the successes and failures of the band of lawyers, historians and investigators at the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations, which was created in 1979 to deport Nazis.
Perhaps the report’s most damning disclosures come in assessing the Central Intelligence Agency’s involvement with Nazi émigrés. Scholars and previous government reports had acknowledged the C.I.A.’s use of Nazis for postwar intelligence purposes. But this report goes further in documenting the level of American complicity and deception in such operations.

The Justice Department report, describing what it calls “the government’s collaboration with persecutors,” says that O.S.I investigators learned that some of the Nazis “were indeed knowingly granted entry” to the United States, even though government officials were aware of their pasts.
“America, which prided itself on being a safe haven for the persecuted, became — in some small measure — a safe haven for persecutors as well...”
The report also documents divisions within the government over the effort and the legal pitfalls in relying on testimony from Holocaust survivors that was decades old. The report also concluded that the number of Nazis who made it into the United States was almost certainly much smaller than 10,000, the figure widely cited by government officials.

The Justice Department has resisted making the report public since 2006. Under the threat of a lawsuit, it turned over a heavily redacted version last month to a private research group, the National Security Archive, but even then many of the most legally and diplomatically sensitive portions were omitted. A complete version was obtained by The New York Times.

The Justice Department said the report, the product of six years of work, was never formally completed and did not represent its official findings. It cited “numerous factual errors and omissions,” but declined to say what they were.

More than 300 Nazi persecutors have been deported, stripped of citizenship or blocked from entering the United States since the creation of the O.S.I., which was merged with another unit this year.

In chronicling the cases of Nazis who were aided by American intelligence officials, the report cites help that C.I.A. officials provided in 1954 to Otto Von Bolschwing, an associate of Adolf Eichmann who had helped develop the initial plans “to purge Germany of the Jews” and who later worked for the C.I.A. in the United States. In a chain of memos, C.I.A. officials debated what to do if Von Bolschwing were confronted about his past — whether to deny any Nazi affiliation or “explain it away on the basis of extenuating circumstances,” the report said.

The Justice Department, after learning of Von Bolschwing’s Nazi ties, sought to deport him in 1981. He died that year at age 72.

The report also examines the case of Arthur L. Rudolph, a Nazi scientist who ran the Mittelwerk munitions factory. He was brought to the United States in 1945 for his rocket-making expertise under Operation Paperclip, an American program that recruited scientists who had worked in Nazi Germany. (Rudolph has been honored by NASA and is credited as the father of the Saturn V rocket.)

The report cites a 1949 memo from the Justice Department’s No. 2 official urging immigration officers to let Rudolph back in the country after a stay in Mexico, saying that a failure to do so “would be to the detriment of the national interest.”

Justice Department investigators later found evidence that Rudolph was much more actively involved in exploiting slave laborers at Mittelwerk than he or American intelligence officials had acknowledged, the report says.

Some intelligence officials objected when the Justice Department sought to deport him in 1983, but the O.S.I. considered the deportation of someone of Rudolph’s prominence as an affirmation of “the depth of the government’s commitment to the Nazi prosecution program,” according to internal memos.

The Justice Department itself sometimes concealed what American officials knew about Nazis in this country, the report found.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Arafat's persistent mendacity and use of terrorism lives on...

From The Rubin report, by Barry Rubin, director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal:

Six years ago, on November 11, 2004, Yasir Arafat died. On that occasion, former President Bill Clinton explained why he wouldn’t attend Arafat’s funeral:
"I regret that in 2000 he missed the opportunity to bring [Palestine] into being….” Not Israel, but Arafat did so.
Today, the Arafat era’s lessons have been largely swept under the rug: his persistent mendacity, use of terrorism, cynical exploitation of an “underdog” posture to garner sympathy, and unfailing devotion to the dream of wiping Israel off the map. The placing of that last priority over creating a Palestinian state is why there is none today. Not Israeli policy, not settlements, but the preference for total victory over compromise.

...As the editorial in the London Times put it, he was the man who “threw away the best chance in a generation for an honorable settlement to the Middle East conflict.” In the New Yorker, David Remnick accurately wrote, “Rarely has a leader blundered more and left more ruin in his wake.”

Yet, too, perhaps, as never before in modern history, have so many relentlessly airbrushed away a leader’s career of faults and crimes. What was especially remarkable in so much of the coverage and discussion was the virtual erasure of a career in terrorism which had spanned forty years. There were no scenes of past carnage shown; no survivors or relatives of his victims interviewed. In political terms, his dedication to the elimination of another state and people, consistent use of terrorism, and rejection of peace were thrown down the memory hole of history.

The timeline for Arafat’s life prepared by both the BBC and the Associated Press omit any mention of terrorist attacks and skip the fatal year 2000 altogether. In its timeline the Associated Press only invokes the word terrorism to claim that Arafat had “renounced” it in 1988, though this had not prevented the PLO from committing scores of attacks—usually with Arafat’s blessing—thereafter.

Arabs, who knew him and his history better, were more critical. An article surveying Arab reaction in Cairo’s al-Ahram newspaper concluded that most Arab officials’ private reaction was one of “relief.”

They said he had been an obstacle to achieving peace “largely for the sake of his own glory” and called him a man “too self-centered to really care about the misfortunes of his own people.”

Not a single interviewee expressed a word of sorrow.

At the time of Arafat’s death his people still did not have a state, a functioning economy, or the most elementary security after following his leadership for thirty-five years. Much of that situation remains the same today.

Yet Arafat’s narrative had largely triumphed, certainly in persuading those who wanted to believe it that the movement he shaped and created was noble and sympathetic, a victim of other’s treatment rather than of its own policies.

Arafat was widely proclaimed a hero of national resistance for opposing an occupation that could have already ended on more than one occasion if he had chosen to achieve a negotiated peace. He was hailed as the victim in a war which he had begun and continued despite many opportunities to end the fighting. He was said to be striving only for a state when he had long invoked the idea that a separate state living peacefully alongside Israel was treason.

He was said to be popular and loved by his people even though—despite his considerable degree of real support—he stole so much from them and was ridiculed by them in private. In fact, Arafat’s performance in Palestinian public opinion polls had never been impressive. Even a British reporter who revered him admitted that Arafat didn’t have support from his people. “Foreign journalists,” she recounted, “seemed much more excited about Mr. Arafat's fate than anyone in Ramallah.”

At the time of his death he was more popular in France, where almost half the population saw Arafat as a great national hero, than among his own people. In a June 2004 poll, only 23.6 percent of Palestinians named him as the leader they most trusted.

...Since Arafat’s death, most of the leadership of Fatah and the PA has made clear their interpretation of Arafat’s legacy was the need to fight on for total victory, no matter how long it took or how much suffering or lives it cost. One Palestinian leader recalled that when, in 1993, he had reproached Arafat for signing the Oslo accords, Arafat replied that by making the agreement, “I am hammering the first nail in the Zionist coffin."

Actually, though, Arafat biggest achievement may have been hammering the last nail into the Palestinian coffin.