Arab media: “Arafat should go”

July 20, 2004

* Some European liberal media turn against Arafat.
* Arafat's last defenders: The Guardian and the BBC.


1. Arabic Media (July 19, 2004)
2. Arafat's last defenders
3. Some Liberal European papers: Arafat should go
4. The full facts

[Note by Tom Gross]

Today, after years of criticizing Ariel Sharon and George W. Bush for suggesting that Yasser Arafat was an obstacle to the furtherance of Israeli-Palestinian peace, several Arab and traditionally anti-Israel European newspapers have in effect aligned themselves with the Sharon/Bush position. (By contrast, some among the Israeli and European left continue to support or apologize for Arafat.)



(July 19, 2004)

Ahmed Al-Jarallah (Arab Times - Kuwait): "Mr Arafat should quit his position because he is the head of a corrupt authority. There is no point for him to remain in politics... He has destroyed Palestine. He has led it to terrorism, death and a hopeless situation... All Arab leaders know this fact. It won't be possible for us to gain from the Middle East road map for peace if this man remains in power."

"... Mr Arafat and other members of the PA are not willing partners in the Middle East peace process. On the contrary, they have become a burden..."

Editorial (Daily Star - Lebanon): "Mr Arafat increasingly lacks credibility and legitimacy... He has brought Palestine to its knees by relying on symbolism rather than bringing about results."

Editorial (Al-Hayat al-Jadeeda): "What's needed is a bloodless coup by Yasser Arafat against Yasser Arafat if he really wants to avoid a bloody overthrow by others."

Abd-al Bari Atwan (Al-Quds Al-Araby - London): "What is happening in Gaza is a healthy phenomenon because it is a revolution against corruption and the corrupt, and a rebellion against any plot to sabotage the reform process. This is a warning not only to Mr Arafat... but to all Arab regimes which subjugate their people by turning a deaf ear to their calls for comprehensive change."

Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London, Saudi-owned): "In the Palestinian Authority there are 12 security apparatuses. Arafat has appointed his cronies heads of some of the apparatuses, has set himself at their head, and transformed his headquarters into the joint operations room of all the security apparatuses... Arafat employs day-to-day tactics with no strategy, and thinks it important to appear in control of everything. This mentality has caused the missing of a rare opportunity, which former prime minister Abu Mazen tried to exploit. Prior to that, other opportunities were missed... Arafat hangs onto his post, even though he knows that his heading the leadership is truly an obstacle to the Palestinian enterprise. The greatest service Arafat can do for the Palestinians is to submit his resignation."

Ahmed Qurei, Palestinian prime minister: "Enough, enough. Put the people's interest first... Oh brother Abu Amr [Yasser Arafat], it is time to put the right person in the right place."



Analysts and staff commentators on BBC World Service, and writers for The Guardian newspaper (London) are still defending Yasser Arafat. Historians will no doubt compare them to those in the West who defended Stalin until the bitter end.

As recently as Saturday (July 17, 2004), The Guardian's main comment piece had a huge banner headline "Don't blame Arafat". (The piece also blamed Israel for the Iraq war, and said Israel "wanted the Intifada". Guardian writers have yet to state that the Jews "wanted the Holocaust," but they are heading in that direction.)

Today, the Guardian editorial failed to call on Arafat to resign and said it would be: "alarming... if [his government] falls apart."

(The Guardian claims to have the most readers on line of any newspaper in the world. It says its website had 9 million unique users in June. According to the Guardian was the world's most popular news source on Google News for the first six months of 2004.)



However, some European Union liberal-leaning newspapers have now adopted the Sharon/Bush position that Arafat should go.

The Financial Times, whose editorials have long been anti-Israel and pro-Arafat, today (July 20, 2004) calls on Arafat to resign. The FT writes: "Mr Arafat should stand aside and let a new leadership emerge. Although he has spent his career preventing any rival from emerging, even he should be able to read the writing on the walls of Gaza... For Mr Arafat to carry on as now portends only more chaos and misery for his own people."



Here is an example of the way the BBC reports news (July 20, 2004).

These two headlines refer to the same story, Israel's targeted strike last night.

The BBC simply states: "Israel bombs Palestinian refugee camp."

Other media: "Israel Bombs Alleged Palestinian Safe House Tied To Killing Of Americans. A spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees said the targeted house was used by one of its leaders. The Popular Resistance Committees was behind the bomb attack in which three Americans were killed last October."

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.