Established in 1964 with the goal of "liberating Palestine in its entirety," the Palestinian Liberation Organization has for years been fronted by one of its most outspoken and notorious members, Yasser Arafat. Born and raised in Cairo, Arafat has undergone a radical transformation from a fugitive terrorist leader to a passionate and respected advocate for the creation of a Palestinian homeland. Then why did Arafat reject a plan for Palestinian statehood in 2000, after crusading for this long-standing ideal for close to forty years? Was it a bargaining ploy, or a reflection of a deeper reluctance on the part of the Palestinian leadership to genuinely commit itself to peace with Israel?
Offering the first comprehensive account of the collapse of the most promising peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, historian Efraim Karsh argues that Arafat is less interested with the liberation of the West Bank and Gaza, or even with the establishment of a Palestinian state, than with the PLO's historic goal of Israel's destruction. Karsh details Arafat's efforts since the historic Oslo Peace accords in building an extensive terrorist infrastructure, his failure to disarm the extremist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and the Palestinian Authority's systematic efforts to indoctrinate hate and contempt for the Israeli people through rumor and religious zealotry. The result is a level of violence unmatched in scope and intensity since 1948, a Palestinian campaign of terror that has included suicide bombings, drive-by shootings, stabbings, lynchings, and stonings, and has resulted in thousands of casualties.
Arafat has irrevocably altered the Middle East's political landscape, and while his place in history has yet to be written, the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict will always be Arafat's War.
Author: Efraim Karsh