Zogby goes into a part of the history that is not usually talks about, namely he makes excuses for why Arafat wasn't a real leader like Mandela or Yeltsin. Not surprisingly, he blames the Israelis for giving Arafat a difficult situation.
"In contrast, what the Palestinian leader received as a result of his agreement with the Israelis were several tiny cantons of densely populated and largely underdeveloped areas of the West Bank and Gaza that remained surrounded by Israeli-controlled territories. Palestinians did not control their borders and were, therefore, unable to conduct normal commerce with the outside world. [More whining follows]"No one feels sorry for Arafat, Jim. Sorry. He worked his way up from the head thug in a gang of thugs to bullying his way into being granted control over a state. It's not like anybody forced him to become President of "Palestine," he actively sought that position for his entire political career. Furthermore, Arafat was perfectly aware that the area he was looking to lead was occupied by Israel at the time, it's not like it was a sudden revelation.
And of course, nowhere does Zogby mention Arafat's corruption. Not even once anywhere in the article. I imagine the Palestinian economy would have certainly benefited from the funds that Arafat kept for himself, but apparently Zogby isn't interested in actually telling the truth about that hero of the Arab world. After puffing up himself, Zogby makes some highly questionable claims about
"Within a year of the signing of their agreement with Israel, Israel denied most Palestinians access to Jerusalem and its surrounding areas. While attention is paid to the religious dimension of the city, Jerusalem was more than that. It was the Palestinian's metropol -- the hub of their commercial and cultural life. It was the center of the West Bank, housing the region's major employers, and its medical, educational, financial and social institutions. And so, when in 1994 Israel severed Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank it was as if the region had lost its heart."Jerusalem was absolutely not the "center of the West Bank" literally or figuratively. Not was it the "Palestinians' metropol," which isn't even a word. It wasn't the Palestinians' anything, Jerusalem is not theirs no matter how often Zogby and his friends try to make the claim that it is. And I might add that in 1994 Palestinian suicide bombings had already been underway for years, targeting civilians right in the heart of Jerusalem. Blowback sucks, doesn't it?
Anyway, Zoby proceeds to make some more excuses for Arafat while taking shots at Israel, betraying his true radical beliefs:
"In contrast, the best that Arafat could hope for and what he agreed to settle for was the right to establish an independent state on the 22 percent of Palestine that Israel had occupied in the aftermath of the 1967 war. That is what he believed he would get. But what he got instead was the "right" to establish a captive "provisional self-governing authority" on less than one-fifth of that 22 percent -- with limited rights to operate beyond those areas."Once again, we see a "moderate" Arab explaining that Israel's current borders also "belong to Palestine." Zogby is also rewriting history, even more than usual. Arafat signed the Oslo Accords which meant that he would become leader of that self-governing authority while negotiations were going on, with the expectations that they would lead to an independent state. Despite the fact that he jumped the gun by declaring that state in 1988, Israel followed through and offered him a state in 2000. Of course everyone except for James Zogby knows what happens next.
Zogby then criticizes Arafat for being too moderate and peaceful:
"There were, to be sure, profound errors made by the Palestinian leader -- not the least of which was the trust he placed in the agreements he signed."Before he whines some more:
"But the mistakes in judgment, the lack of strategic vision, and the reliance on violence do not, alone, explain the reasons for the Palestinian dilemma. Arafat was handed a bad situation over which he had little control and few tools at his disposal and told that he was expected to perform like Mandela and Yeltsin! He was, in reality, being set up to fail. To place the blame solely on his shoulders is either ignorant of reality or just downright cruel."Again: Arafat volunteered for his position, refused to give his job to anybody (aka was a dictator), and stole millions if not hundreds of millions of dollars from the Palestinian people he was supposed to be taking care of. But apparently history isn't an important concept on the Huffington Post.