Letter: Quote is a forgery

By The Daily Illini

Trying to defend the indefensible Chairman Arafat, Joseph Danavi manages only to bounce from rhetorical trap to rhetorical trap. It’s not pretty.

He attacks Ariel Sharon with a quote in which Sharon allegedly vowed to burn Palestinian children. Unfortunately for Danavi, this quote is a demonstrated forgery. Regular DI readers may even recall that, about a year ago, a DI columnist dredged up the exact same fake quote and published it in her column, only to learn later that she’d been duped. To her credit, she apologized in print for passing the slander along. Will Danavi now do the same?

Chairman Arafat was particularly abhorred internationally for his penchant for doublespeak. Sure, he “accepted” Israel, as Danavi notes – but at the same time he also said it should be destroyed. Sure, he condemned suicide bombings against Israeli school buses, blues clubs, pizza joints and shopping malls – while funding them.

And, sure, he said he wanted an independent, viable, contiguous Palestinian state side by side with Israel – but in 2000 he infamously rejected an offer of exactly that.

And how did he explain to the Palestinian people why he rejected their state in 2000? Characteristically, he lied to them. In the words of Dennis Ross, the chief U.S. negotiator, who was there with Arafat, Barak, and Clinton and knows exactly what was on the table, “To this day, Arafat has never honestly admitted what was offered to the Palestinians. … Arafat continues to hide behind the canard that he was offered [only to] Bantustans.”

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I’d like to say something nice about how Arafat represented the aspirations of the Palestinian people, but in the end he offered only symbolic victories and all-too-real defeats. Of all the tragedies to befall the Palestinians, surely one of the greatest is to suffer 40 years of Yasser Arafat’s “leadership.”

David Gehrig

University employee