by David Meir-Levi
2nd part of2
The PLO Discovers "Wars of National Liberation"
As early as 1964, Arafat had sent Abu Jihad (later the leader of the PLO's military operations) to
Arafat was particularly struck by Ho Chi Minh's success in mobilizing left-wing sympathizers in Europe and the
"Stop talking about annihilating
At the same time that he was getting advice from General Giap, Arafat was also being tutored by Muhammad Yazid, who had been minister of information in two Algerian wartime governments (1958-1962): wipe out the argument that Israel is a small state whose existence is threatened by the Arab states, or the reduction of the Palestinian problem to a question of refugees; instead, present the Palestinian struggle as a struggle for liberation like the others. Wipe out the impression that in the struggle between the Palestinians and the Zionists, the Zionist is the underdog. Now it is the Arab who is oppressed and victimized in his existence because he is not only facing the Zionists but also world imperialism.
To make sure that they followed this advice, the KGB put Arafat and his adjutants into the hands of a master of propaganda: Nicolai Ceausescu, president-for-life of
For the next few years, Ceausescu hosted Arafat frequently and gave him lessons on how to apply the advice of Giap, Yazid, and others in the Soviet orbit. Arafat's personal "handler," Ion Mihai Pacepa, the head of the Romanian military intelligence, had to work hard on his sometimes unruly protֳ©gֳ©. Pacepa later recorded a number of sessions during which Arafat railed against Ceausescu's injunctions that the PLO should present itself as a people's revolutionary army striving to right wrongs and free the oppressed: he wanted only to obliterate
Although Arafat was pioneering the use of skyjacking during this time and setting off a wave of copycat airborne terrorism, he discovered that even the flimsiest and most transparent excuses sufficed for the western media to exonerate him and blame Israel for its retaliatory or preventive attacks, and to accept his insistence that he was a statesman who could not control the terrorists he was in fact orchestrating.
But while Arafat was finally absorbing and applying the lessons he learned from his Romanian and North Vietnamese hosts and handlers, as Pacepa describes it in Red Horizons, the Soviets still questioned his dependability. So, with Pacepa's help, they created a highly specialized "insurance policy." Using the good offices of the Romanian ambassador to
Whether or not Arafat's homosexuality was the key to the Soviets' control over him, it is clear that by the early 1970s the PLO had joined the ranks of other socialist anti-colonial "liberation" movements, both in its culture and in its politics; and had reframed its terror war as a "people's war" similar to those of the other Marxist-Leninist terrorist guerrillas in China, Cuba, and Vietnam. Thanks to input from Ceausescu, General Giap, and the Algerians, Arafat gradually saw the wisdom of jettisoning his fulminations about "throwing the Jews into the sea," and in its place he developed the images of the "illegal occupation" and "Palestinian national self-determination," both of which lent his terrorism the mantle of a legitimate people's resistance. Of course, there was one ingredient missing in this imaginative reconfiguration of the struggle: There had never been a "Palestinian people," or a "Palestinian nation," or a sovereign state known as "
Their descendants were still living on the shores of the
Throughout all subsequent history, the name designated only a vague geographical entity. There was never a nation of "
During the British Mandate period (1922-1948), the Arabs of the area had their own designation for the region: Balad esh-Sham (the country, or province, of
During the nineteen years from Israel's victory in 1948 to Israel's victory in the Six-Day war, all that remained of the territory initially set aside for the Arabs of British Mandatory Palestine under the conditions of the UN partition was the West Bank, under illegal Jordanian sovereignty, and the Gaza Strip, under illegal Egyptian rule. Never during these nineteen years did any Arab leader anywhere in the world argue for the right of national self-determination for the Arabs of these territories. Even Yassir Arafat, from his earliest terrorist days until 1967, used the term "Palestinians" only to refer to the Arabs who lived under, or had fled from, Israeli sovereignty; and the term "Palestine" only to refer to Israel in its pre-1967 borders.
In the PLO's original founding Charter (or Covenant), Article 24 states: "this Organization does not exercise any regional sovereignty over the west Bank in the
For Arafat, "
However, in response to the Six-Day war and Arafat's mentoring by the Soviets and their allies, the PLO revised its Charter on July 17, 1968, to remove the language of Article 24, thereby newly asserting a "Palestinian" claim of sovereignty to the
Part of the reframing of the conflict, along with adopting the identity of an "oppressed people" and "victim of colonialism," then, was the creation, ex nihilo, of "historic Palestine" and the ancient "Palestinian people" who had lived in their "homeland" from "time immemorial," who could trace their "heritage" back to the Canaanites, who were forced from their homeland by the Zionists, and who had the inalienable right granted by international law and universal justice to use terror to reclaim their national identity and political self-determination.
That this was a political confection was, perhaps inadvertently, revealed to the West by Zahir Muhse'in, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, in a 1977 interview with the Amsterdam-based newspaper Trouw:
"The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of
Arafat himself asserted the same principle on many occasions. In his authorized biography he says, "The Palestinian people have no national identity. I, Yasir Arafat, man of destiny, will give them that identity through conflict with
But even these admissions -- that the concept of a "Palestinian people" and a "Palestinian homeland" were invented for political purposes to justify and legitimize terrorism and genocide -- could not stem the enthusiasm of western leaders. Within the space of a few years, the Middle East conflict with
Despite the changing imagery, however, one thing remained constant. From his earliest days, Arafat was clear that the PLO's aim was "not to impose our will on [
David Meir-Levi is an American-born Israeli, currently living in
"This is a chapter from David Meir-Levi's new book, History Upside Down: The Roots of Palestinian Fascism and the Myth of Israeli Aggression ((Encounter Press, December, 2007). The Terrorism Awareness Project previous printed his history of the 'right-wing"' influence on Islamic extremism, The Nazi Roots of Palestinian Nationalism and Islamic Jihad. Taken together (with his entire book), these chapters show that Islamofascism is a political, not merely a religious force; and the potent and deadly offspring of the totalitarian ideologies of the past."
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.