How Communists Helped a Terrorist Revise History
Yasser Arafat's life is a tale of a remarkable image makeover and an example of how history can be twisted to fit a terrorist's narrative. With the help of communists, Arafat became known as a legitimate statesman. The "Father of Modern Terrorism," whose goal was to destroy Israel, morphed into a Nobel Peace Prize winner who signed accords in the Rose Garden.
Before Arafat began to revise history, Israel was mostly regarded in the public eye as an underdog struggling for survival. When the United Nations presented partitioning Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state, the Jews said yes and the Arabs said no. The Arabs turned down statehood because statehood was also offered to the Jews. In 1948, five Arab countries attacked Israel, literally the minute modern-day Israel was born. Israel was attacked again by Arab nations in 1967 and 1973.
Arafat hated that the Arab promise to "throw Israel into the sea" failed, so he intensified his own efforts to destroy Israel. He realized, though, after Arab losses in conventional wars against Israel, that another tactic had to be employed more -- terrorism. Yet his big problem was that many Arabs leaders hated him. Since he couldn't garner their support for his Fatah terrorist organization, he needed support from the West. Yet when one's goal is to destroy Israel, the West, at least publicly, isn't prone to start rallying in favor.
Perhaps Arafat would have fallen into the dustbin of history if he hadn't gained the support of the Soviet KGB. Arafat's success in organizing and motivating terrorists caught the KGB's attention, which during the '60s was developing "liberation fronts" throughout third-world countries. With the KGB's help, Arafat became the leader of the PLO. He intensified his terrorist activity and became a pioneer in hijackings, kidnappings, and other modes of terrorizing civilians.
So why would world leaders like Nelson Mandela become mouthpieces for someone like Arafat? Because Arafat rebranded himself and his cause to destroy Israel into a humanitarian crisis. And the world fell for his trick.
The KGB knew that Arafat would never get the additional support he needed to destroy Israel if he kept saying that he wanted to destroy Israel. So they sent him to the "reform school" of the Romanian dictator Nicolai Ceauşescu, a master of propaganda.
According to David Meir-Levi in History Upside Down: The Roots of Palestinian Fascism and the Myth of Israeli Aggression, Arafat initially resisted being molded into a statesman that the West would receive:
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 Israel. Gradually, though, Ceausescu's lessons in Machiavellian statecraft sank in. Arafat developed propaganda tactics that would allow him to create the image of a homeless people oppressed by a colonial power.
While Arafat was being molded into a statesman that the West would openly embrace, he sent one of his top men in the PLO, Abu Jihad, to North Vietnam to study the strategy and tactics of Ho Chi Minh. Again, according to Meir-Levi:
Arafat was particularly struck by Ho Chi Minh's success in mobilizing left-wing sympathizers in Europe and the United States, where activists on American campuses, enthusiastically following the line of North Vietnamese operatives, had succeeded in reframing the Vietnam war from a Communist assault on the south to a struggle for national liberation.
While in North Vietnam, it was made clear to Abu Jihad by Ho's chief strategist, General Giap, that if Arafat wanted to gain support, he had to redefine the terms of his struggle. Meir-Levi gives a quote that is a bombshell in a nutshell:
General Giap said, "Stop talking about annihilating Israel and instead turn your terror war into a struggle for human rights. Then you will have the American people eating out of your hand."
Thus, the "Palestinian Cause" was born. Arafat manufactured a humanitarian crisis to detract attention from his goal to destroy Israel. And Arafat's bloodstained hands did indeed become a trough that the masses -- including American presidents, activists like Mandela, teachers, professors, Christians, and even some Jews -- ate from. World leaders pushed the terrorist turned humanitarian as a viable peace partner upon Israel, brushing aside the fact that Arafat admitted that his overtures for peace were mere Trojan horses.
Arafat's propaganda turned the underdog Israel, fighting for survival against Arabs since the day of its modern-day inception, into what the public would perceive as a brutal oppressor and occupier who employed Nazi-regime tactics against Palestinian Arabs.
Nelson Mandela furthered Arafat's narrative in 1990 when he said, "We do not regard the PLO as a terrorist organization. If one has to refer to any parties as a terrorist state, one might refer to the Israeli government because they are the people who are slaughtering defenseless and innocent Arabs in the occupied territories."
The public became enablers of Arafat's propaganda, too. Schoolteachers and college professors push Arafat's narrative by telling students that Israel is a bully and an apartheid state. Churches push Arafat's narrative by boycotting companies who invest in Israeli companies and boycotting Israeli products in protest of Israel's "brutal occupation, oppression, and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians." And even liberal Jews push Arafat's narrative by believing that Jews living in Judea and Samaria are mere "settlers occupying Arab land."
Each time world leaders and the public support the manufactured "Palestinian crisis," it lends legitimacy and justification to Arabs to continue their violence against Jews. For instance, it fed the justification of an Arab teenager who recently stabbed to death a Jewish teenage soldier while he slept on a bus. The New York Times furthered the justification by posting a picture -- not of the mother of the boy who was murdered, but of the mother of the killer, hoping to elicit empathy for the supposed victims of the Israeli occupation. Such media treatment fed the justification of two teenage Arab boys who cut through a fence surrounding a Jewish town and then cut the throats of a Jewish family. The media's minimal coverage portrayed the murdered family as settlers basically getting what they deserved.
The late Mandela called Arafat "one of the outstanding freedom fighters of this generation." Since Arafat was labeled a freedom-fighter by a public figure like Mandela, Arab terrorists label their actions nothing more than freedom-fighting, too.
Israel erects fences and roadblocks to prevent terrorists' infiltration and the slaughter of Jews. Yet Arafat duped the world into perceiving these security measures as instruments of oppression instead. Israel's self-defense is portrayed as aggression, when in reality, Israel tries to prevent civilian casualties during military operation against terrorists. Before the most recent IDF operation in Gaza, over 100,000 phone calls were made to Arab homes, and 2 million pamphlets were dropped into Gaza to warn of the impending military operation. Yet often, terrorists will not allow their families to leave and instead use them as human shields. These facts are disregarded, though, and Jews are portrayed as wanton killers.
Unfortunately, the prediction of a North Vietnam communist general of how easy it would be to dupe the masses came true. Arafat's propaganda is still believed and pushed by a gullible public who continues to aid and abet Arafat's real agenda -- to destroy Israel.