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No friend
Arafat switched alliances depending on which way the wind blew

Ghassem Namazi
November 17, 2004

I usually would rather not spend time on issues that are not related to Iran. After all, Iran is where I believe should be our focus, not the Palestinian cause. There are four hundred million rich Arabs that could very well defend the Palestinian cause, politically and financially.
However, after reading a couple of articles on this Website with praise for Yasser Arafat and his leadership; I felt someone needed to provide some balance to this view.

As a child, I did not know much about Mr. Arafat. I first saw him on TV during his visit to Iran after the revolution. Mr. Arafat had gone to Iran when an invitation was extended to him by the revolutionary Iranian government. Yasser Arafat boasted how the Iranian revolution had changed the balance in the Middle East.

It is ultimately up to the Palestinian people to judge Arafat's leadership qualities. However, in my view history will not judge Mr. Arafat as kindly as some Iranians may think. Mr. Arafat made a large number of strategic mistakes that directly resulted in Palestinians never finding a voice in much of the world, including the entire Moslem population.

Arafat was not a friend of anyone and switched alliances depending on which way the wind blew. In the Iranian revolution, Mr. Arafat had found not only a new source of moral support, but also a wealthy country that was willing to donate billions of dollars to the Palestinian cause. Indeed, Mr. Arafat received hundreds of millions of dollars during his first visits to Tehran. Despite this he threw his support for Saddam Hussein when we were invaded by Iraq.

Kuwait had been a big defender of the Palestinian cause, supporting a large number of their immigrants. Again, Mr. Arafat made a huge miscalculation by supporting Saddam when his army invaded Kuwait. And I don't have to tell everyone about Arafat's close relationship with Uganda's Idi Amin! The list goes on. Eventually the Arab and Moslem leaders around the world realized that there is little hope for the Palestinian cause under Arafat's leadership.

Anwar Sadat was smartest of them all. Saddat knew that peaceful coexistence with the Jewish state was the ultimate answer. He ended up getting back all the territories he had lost to Israel. What did Arafat do? He declared that Sadat should be assassinated. Moamar Qaddafi gave up on Arafat a few years ago by declaring that Libyans are actually Africans, not Arabs.

A quick review of nationalist movements after the second war indicates that non violent movements are clearly the answer to acquiring independence. Revolutions in India, South Africa, Eastern Europe were all led by visionary leaders. On the other hand, violent movements in Iran, Algeria, China, many parts of Africa and Palestine have all been tragically bloody and unsuccessful. South Africa was by far a more daunting task than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Mr. Arafat was never totally committed to a peaceful settlement of conflicts with Israel. I believe had Arafat chosen to be a Gandhi or Martin Luther King, there is a good chance that the Palestinian people would have a homeland now. No matter what the cause, today's world does not accept a leader condoning the actions of a bunch of brain-washed teenagers blowing up themselves in buses or restaurants full of civilians.

Even in our homeland, Palestinian support among the Iranian people has all but vanished. In my view with the passing of Arafat, Palestinians may be closer than ever to settle their differences with Israel. This will largely depend on whether the new leadership has learned the lessons of Arafat.

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Ghassem Namazi



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My Uncle, Napoleon
A Comic Novel
by Iraj Pezeshkad
translated by Dick Davis

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