The Arafat Problem

NYT has an editorial on what it terms “The Arafat Problem” [RSS]

It’s been the misfortune of the Palestinian people to be stuck with Yasir Arafat as their founding father, a leader who has failed to make the transition from romantic revolutionary to statesman. All he seems capable of offering Palestinians now is a communal form of the martyrdom he seems to covet. Mr. Arafat should accept his limitations and retire as president of the Palestinian Authority.

They’ll get no argument from me on that point. Unfortunately, the rest of the column is based on the premise, for which I’ve seen no evidence, that the Palestinian people yearn for peace with Israel and would promply elect a decent leader if only given the chance. Sadly, all signs point to Arafat’s successor being more, not less, extremist.

FILED UNDER: Middle East, Terrorism, , , , ,
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. dw says:

    I came to the conclusion that Israel wants Arafat out, since he’s the only thing left that acts as a safety valve on all-out war, no matter flimsy that valve is. Arafat goes, Hamas steps into the void, and all pretense of peace goes with it. Israel can send in the army and obliterate Gaza.

    OTOH, Hamas may be the best group to reason with. They’re smart people who are functioning as community builders and organizers. They’re running the schools since Sharon shut them down. (Of course, the core curriculum is “Death to Israel.”) They have a lot of grassroots support, and they lack Arafat’s political entrenchment.

  2. pennywit says:

    Strictly speaking from a hypothetical level, seeing Hamas in charge would be very interesting. If I remember my dimestore Machiavelli correctly, Hamas would likely splinter into several subgroups once it comes to power. What would those groups be like?

  3. dw says:

    What would those groups be like? Read up on the Real IRA and the Provisional IRA and compare them to the actual IRA. Small, radical splinter groups floating outside the mainstream of the movement.