Yasser Arafat’s dead…
Yasser Arafat’s dead. This will be heralded as good news by most peace-loving folks, except of course those same Palestinians that cheered the 9/11 attacks.

Let us look now at the praise he’s getting from people. First of all, note that President Bush did not actually praise the man himself, thankfully.

The death of Yasser Arafat is a significant moment in Palestinian history. We express our condolences to the Palestinian people. For the Palestinian people, we hope that the future will bring peace and the fulfillment of their aspirations for an independent, democratic Palestine that is at peace with its neighbors.

Yes it is significant, in a positive way frankly. But let’s take a look at how other governments and the news media are referring to him. As you read this, just remember that Arafat has been the terrorist’s terrorist for at least 30 years, and consider how you’d feel if these words were spoken of another terrorist who hasn’t been working as long; Osama bin Laden.

The first paragraph of the linked AP story says this:

Yasser Arafat, who triumphantly forced his people’s plight into the world spotlight but failed to achieve his lifelong quest for Palestinian statehood, died Thursday at age 75.

Imagine the lead for OBLs demise; “Osama bin Laden, who triumphantly forced his faction’s demands into the world spotlight but failed to achieve his lifelong quest for the demise of the United States, died Thursday at age 52.” You’d choke on those words for OBL. His “quest” has involved the worst terrorist attacks on our soil ever. Yet Arafat’s goons have been killing Israelis at a serious clip and his terrorism is simply part of a “quest”. How poetic…and utterly foolish. He could have realized his “quest” virtually in full during the Clinton administration, but he walked away from it. A Palestinian state would remove his power and influence. Given his actions, he most certainly did not want that.

None other than French President Jacques Chirac called Arafat a “man of courage and conviction”. Is walking away from the peace table courageous? Does killing innocent people make you a man of conviction? Make the case if you want, but just get ready to eulogize bin Laden in the same way.

How about the German government?

“Yasser Arafat’s life stands for the varied and tragic history of the Palestinian people and the Middle East as a whole.” German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said. “In it were reflected many people’s hopes for peace, but time and again also their disappointments and setbacks.”

More tempered remarks, yes, but let’s rewrite this for a second. “Osama bin Laden’s life stands for the varied and tragic history of the Muslim people and the Middle East as a whole. In it were reflected many Muslims’ hopes for peace and sharia law, but time and again also their disappointments and setbacks.” What a setback for OBL when we booted the Taliban out of Afghanistan. What a disappointment that women can go to school and vote. If someone spoke this about bin Laden, you’d be horrified at reading them, but for Arafat even these “tempered” comments are considered worthy of a worse man. How does this make sense?

Jeff Jacoby has some good observations on the news media’s fawning over Arafat.

Derek Brown wrote in The Guardian that Arafat’s “undisputed courage as a guerrilla leader” was exceeded only “by his extraordinary courage” as a peace negotiator. But it is an odd kind of courage that expresses itself in shooting unarmed victims — or in signing peace accords and then flagrantly violating their terms.

Courage to walk away from 95% of what he wanted to turn back to violence? That’s not an act of courage, it’s a desperate attempt to continue to hold on to influence and power. Jacoby continues:

Another commentator, columnist Gwynne Dyer, asked, “So what did Arafat do right?” The answer: He drew worldwide attention to the Palestinian cause, “for the most part by successful acts of terror.” In other words, butchering innocent human beings was “right,” since it served an ulterior political motive. No doubt that thought brings daily comfort to all those who were forced to bury a child, parent, or spouse because of Arafat’s “successful” terrorism.

And again imagine this kind of praise heaped upon Osama bin Laden, who achieved exactly the same thing. Before 9/11, how many Americans even knew his name? So then, was 9/11 the “right” thing to do?

Some journalists couldn’t wait for Arafat’s actual death to begin weeping for him. Take the BBC’s Barbara Plett, who burst into tears on the day he was airlifted out of the West Bank. “When the helicopter carrying the frail old man rose above his ruined compound,” Plett reported from Ramallah, “I started to cry.” Normal people don’t weep for brutal murderers, but Plett made it clear that her empathy for Arafat — whom she praised as “a symbol of Palestinian unity, steadfastness, and resistance” — was heartfelt:

“I remember well when the Israelis re-conquered the West Bank more than two years ago, how they drove their tanks and bulldozers into Mr. Arafat’s headquarters, trapping him in a few rooms, and throwing a military curtain around Ramallah. I remember how Palestinians admired his refusal to flee under fire. They told me: `Our leader is sharing our pain, we are all under the same siege.’ And so was I.” Such is the state of journalism at the BBC, whose reporters do not seem to have any trouble reporting, dry-eyed, on the plight of Arafat’s victims. (That is, when they mention them — which Plett’s teary bon voyage to Arafat did not.)

Imagine a BBC reporter weeping for what might have happened to OBL during the Tora Bora bombing? Preposterous, you might think. And yet they weep for a terrorist worse than him. Maybe it’s because Arafat didn’t do his dirty work on American soil (or British soil, in the case of this BBC writer). That shouldn’t matter, but apparently it does to Ms. Plett.

The death of Yasser Arafat should have been met with just as much joy as the death of Osama bin Laden will. (Well, I hope it will, but now I’m not so sure.) The fact that he was the de facto head of a political group should not mitigate that. He had no intention of acting in their best interests as he demonstrated time and time again. Every olive branch held out front was made of plastic, and the gun behind his back was cocked. And yet the press and “Old Europe” can’t help but hold him up as some sort of philanthropist.

To the mainstream media, I have a suggestion. Start writing your eulogies for Osama bin Laden. It should be easy; you’ve already written the template today. But it’s nothing to be proud of.

UPDATE: Former President Jimmy Carter has weighed in on Arafat. He called the terrorist “a powerful human symbol and a forceful advocate” and that he provided “indispensable leadership to a revolutionary movement”. Hey Osama, sign this guy up to speak at your funeral.

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