Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian leadership never really intended to reach a two-state solution, says London-based professor Efraim Karsh in his recently released Arafat's War: The Man and His Battle for Israeli Conquest (Grove Press, October 2003). All along, Arafat and his associates have been openly stating their "phased strategy" for Israel's destruction; we have been too blinded by hopes for peace to hear what they said.
Arafat's War offers an authoritative and provocative portrait of one of the most controversial leaders of the 20th century, and along the way proves the adage, "Once a terrorist, always a terrorist." For this is the real Arafat exposed, with his relentless crusade for the destruction of Israel.
The book, offering in parallel a biography of the Egyptian-born "Palestinian" leader and a comprehensive account of the collapse of the Oslo peace process, is meticulously documented, referring extensively to Palestinian leaders and media as its sources. The nearly 30 pages of notes at the book's end could possibly have been more effective if they were presented alongside Karsh's compulsively readable and well-researched work.
Presenting an account of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and peace process in chronological order, the book explores how the Palestinians under Arafat's leadership refused to renounce their eventual goal of Israel's destruction, how they bolstered their terrorist infrastructure and glorified the armed struggle, and created a hate and contempt for Israeli people.
Was Yasser Arafat ever serious about peace? "For Arafat... the Oslo process has always been a strategic means not to a two-state solution... but to the substitution of a Palestinian state for that of Israel," Karsh says. Acting on the PLO's 1974 "phased strategy," Arafat endeavored to take whatever territory was surrendered by Israel, and then use it as a springboard for further territorial gains until achieving the "complete liberation of Palestine."
Why did Arafat reject Israel's peace offer at Camp David? "Arafat could not, and would not" accept the end of the conflict, Karsh says. "There was absolutely no way for Arafat to peacefully sign away the conflict without attaining the destruction of the State of Israel, through its withdrawal to indefensible borders and its flooding with millions of Palestinian refugees in accordance with the 'right of return.'"
Exposed and documented for the reader is Arafat's duplicity, how he tells the international audience in English one thing, and then says something altogether different in Arabic to his supporters. Arafat condemns the Dolphinarium suicide bombing only due to European pressure, but sends a letter to the bomber's family praising the "heroic martyrdom operation." Arafat blames another suicide bombing on then-IDF chief of staff Shaul Mofaz and tells UN envoy Terje Roed-Larson that the Mossad ordered the Karine A weapons shipment, which was actually bound for Hizbullah in Lebanon and not to Arafat's Palestinian forces.
Arafat's War is distinguished from other writings on the topic, says Daniel Pipes, author of Militant Islam Reaches America and director of the Middle East Forum, because Karsh's "sprightly, fact-filled and insightful review of the Palestinian leader's life presents him as he really is: 'a bloodthirsty terrorist with no respect for human lives, impervious to his own people's needs and aspirations, and absolutely committed to Israel's destruction.'" This book will help the reader "understand the Arab war against Israel," Pipes writes.
Efraim Karsh is professor and head of Mediterranean Studies at King's College, University of London, and is the author of several books, including Saddam Hussein: A Political Biography and Empires of the Sand: The Struggle for Mastery in the Middle East 1789-1923.
This article original appeared on Israel Insider.
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