By Dallas Darling
If Yasser Arafat, former co-founder of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), died from a lethal radioactive substance known as polonium, not only was it a clear case of political assassination by means of nuclear terrorism, but when he came bearing an olive branch and offered peace to Israel he only got poison.
After many years of leading the struggle for Palestinian statehood, in 1974 PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat addressed the United Nations saying: "Today I come bearing an olive branch in one hand, and the freedom fighter's gun in the other. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand. I repeat, do not let the olive branch fall from my hand."
Sadly, the olive branch of peace had already fallen from both Arafat's and Arab-Palestinian's hands in 1917. The British government and Balfour Declaration would eventually honor Zionist claims to create a new nation, Israel, but betray the promises of Palestinian self-determination and an independent confederation of Arab states.
More toxic betrayals followed when Jewish settlers seized Palestinian lands and when international resolutions for Palestinian statehood, like the White Paper, were ignored. Like other members of his generation, Arafat was deeply impacted when one-million Palestinians lost their homes when a Jewish-Israeli state was established in 1947.
Hence, Palestine was partitioned by the U.N. A new Jewish-Israeli state now controlled 55 percent of Palestinian territory. (Jews represented only one-third of the population and owned only 6 percent of the land.) The Israeli state was quickly recognized by Britain and the U.S. mainly for imperial interests and to counter Russia.
In 1954 and out of desperation, Arafat persuaded some Palestinians the time had come to launch an armed struggle against Israel, regarded as a colonial power. The PLO (Fatah) also asserted itself as an independent organization focused on Palestinian nationalism and culture. For many, the PLO was attempting to merely fulfill broken promises.
For trying to regain their lands, establish a state, and maintain a sense of national and cultural identity, Palestinians were intercepted and imprisoned, some tortured and killed. The PLO viewed the Israeli army as the occupier of lands that legitimately belonged to them. Toxic Israeli military incursions into Palestinian refugee camps left hundreds dead.
Due to several military conflicts between Israel (backed by U.S. military and economic aid) and surrounding Arab neighbors, Israeli forces eventually seized 20,000 square miles of Palestinian land. Later, the West Bank and Gaza Strip would also be dominated by Israel. Meanwhile, one-million Palestinians continued to live and exist as refugees.
The U.N. Security Council even adopted a resolution emphasizing the "inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war" and called for the "withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in recent conflicts." But Israel ignored this resolution. It also maintained its venomous view that Palestine was "a land without people."
But still, Arafat and the PLO came bearing an olive branch and peace. After suffering years of discrimination, the confiscation of their lands, and the building of Jewish settlements in the heart of Arab-Palestinian communities and on holy sites, a nonviolent Intifadah campaign was started which demonstrated the will of the PLO and Arafat.
And even though Arafat's and the Palestinian's demands for the return of their occupied territories and the creation of a Palestinian state remained elusive, in 1993 the Palestinian National Authority (PLO) compromised even more, allowing Israeli settlements to expand and giving more "security control" to the Israeli military.
The Oslo Peace Accords weakened the Palestinian National Authorities control of the West Bank. It granted Israel exclusive rights to legislate, judge and execute policy. Palestinian exiles would have no "right of return" to the land of their birth, something that was supposed to be implemented in a 1948 U.N. decision.
For compromising and recognizing an Israeli state, Arafat was a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize with Yitzhak Rabin. (Rabin was later assassinated by a noxious Jewish fanatic.) Such arrangements constituted a severe apartheid system against Palestinians. It also left many issues unresolved, like Palestinian statehood and self-determination.
Yasser Arafat died in 2004 after being airlifted there for treatment from his Ramallah Headquarters. (Recall during his final months in Ramallah he was besieged by Israeli Defense Forces and the electricity, even water, was cut off.) His body will be exhumed to test hair, including personal belongings. Many have suspected Israel of poisoning him.
According to Al-Jazeera, the Yasser Arafat Foundation, and Yasser Arafat's nephew, there is undisputable evidence that Israeli intelligence and military officials poisoned the late Yasser Arafat with polonium, a highly lethal poison. Evidently, traces of the nuclear toxin were recently found on his clothing and other personal items.
In a world that substitutes war for peace, falsehood for truth, and apartheid for freedom, perpetrators are often made to be seen as victims. Israel was never a victim, unlike Palestinians. Arafat also said, "Those who call us terrorists wish to prevent world public opinion from discovering the truth about us and from seeing the justice on our faces."
Furthermore, "They seek to bide the terrorism and tyranny of their acts, and our own posture of self-defense...The difference between the revolutionary and the terrorist lies in the reason for which each fights. For whoever stands by a just cause and fights for the freedom of liberation of his land from the invaders...cannot possibly be called terrorist."
In trying to achieve Palestinian statehood, Arafat finally stressed political diplomacy over guerilla tactics and military conflict. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Israel. He also accepted Israel's right to exist. In return, has Israel acknowledge the right of Palestinians to exist and thrive and to practice their own self-determination?
Poisons and toxics can come in many forms. Not only can they be chemical in nature, but they can be spread through a state's retaliatory politics and economics, an uncompromising religion, and even a vengeful, unforgiving history. Palestinians and Arafat, with dreams of an independent Palestinian state, have been poisoned to death.
From a political and economic perspective, then, Both Arafat and Palestinians came offering olive branches of peace but only got injustice, an injustice that has been pure poison.
- Dallas Darling is the author several books, including: Politics 501: An A-Z Reading on Conscientious Political Thought and Action. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit: wn.com//dallasdarling.