Annan Lays Wreath at Arafat’s Grave

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s decision to lay a wreath on the grave of the terrorist mass murderer Yasir Arafat, while on his way to the dedication of a Holocaust museum in Israel no less, has sparked considerable controversy.

Annan’s Bow at Arafat’s Grave Sparks Outrage in City (New York Sun)

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s decision to lay a wreath at the grave of Yasser Arafat while on his way to the dedication of a Holocaust museum in Israel is infuriating New York politicians and Jewish leaders, some of whom are labeling Mr. Annan’s gesture “outrageous,” “grotesque,” and an example of “mindless incompetence.” The secretary-general joined world leaders in Israel on Tuesday to commemorate the opening of a new Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. His visit Monday to Mr. Arafat’s grave rankled some representatives of the United Nations’ host city, who said Mr. Annan had damaged the world body’s already poor public image and may have further imperiled U.N. plans to expand into neighboring parts of Turtle Bay.


A spokesman for Mr. Annan, Fred Eckhard, responded to the Sun yesterday: “Kofi Annan is secretary-general of an organization made up of all nations, and so he could not be in the region without also paying a call on the new president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. Arafat’s grave lies within the compound of the president’s residence, and the secretary-general, like every international visitor to the residence, paid his respects at Arafat’s resting place.”

The executive vice chairman of the New York-based Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, Malcolm Hoenlein, however, questioned the need for the diplomatic community to honor a figure Palestinians themselves are trying to forget. “I find it troubling when people elevate the status of a terrorist, especially at a time when the Palestinian people have put him behind them. There’s no yearning for the good old days. People are still angry about the corruption and the raping of the country in terms of economic exploitation. You can go without laying a wreath,” Mr. Hoenlein said.

It rather boggles the mind. This is just one more example that Annan, and the U.N.’s permanent secretariat in general, is so concerned about presenting an image of moral equivalence as to miss the big picture.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Steve says:

    James is there anyway of getting rid of Annan? It strikes me that one way to raise the image of the U.N. in the world is for this guy to be fired for being a complete doorknob. It would at least be a start…but can he be fired?

  2. James Joyner says:

    Presumably, the Security Council could call for his ouster at any time and, if the General Assembly goes along, he’d be out. It ain’t gonna happen, though. It’s really only a handful of countries that think the guy’s a clown.

  3. Steve says:

    Well that’s too bad as he strikes me as being a clown. But thanks for the information.