Last updated on: 4/23/2008 1:40:00 PM PST

Will Arafat be remembered for advancing the interests of the Palestinian People?

PRO (yes)

Jacques Chirac, former French President, was quoted in a Nov. 11, 2004 CNN online article titled "Leaders Mark Arafat's Passing":

"With him disappears a man of courage and conviction who for 40 years has incarnated the Palestinians' fight for recognition of their national rights."

Nov. 11, 2004 - Jacques Chirac 

Saeb Erekat, PhD, Palestinian Cabinet Minister, was quoted in a Nov. 11, 2004 BBC News article titled "Arafat's Death: Global Reaction in Quotes":

"Arafat's legacy will be the one, the leader, the president who united the Palestinian people, the leader who kept the Palestinian national identity from extinction, the man who initiated the peace of the brave, the man who united the Palestinian people and it's his legacy of peace."

Nov. 11, 2004 - Saeb Erekat, PhD 

Hosni Mubarak, Egyptian President, was quoted in a Nov. 11, 2004 BBC News article titled "Arafat's Death: Global Reaction in Quotes":

"At dawn, we lost President Yasser Arafat, who we knew as a defender of justice, as a man who strove towards peace, and resisted occupation, and as a man who looked for international legitimacy. History will judge him as a brave man who defended his people and I have total confidence in the people succeeding him in power."

Nov. 11, 2004 - Hosni Mubarak  

Michael Tarazi, PhD, Legal Adviser to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), was quoted in a Nov. 11, 2004 Christian Science Monitor article titled "Yasser Arafat's Legacy":

"Arafat brought us [Palestinians] back from the brink of national extinction. Israel's strategy was to disperse the Palestinians and make the problem go away, but Arafat made sure our rights are always on the agenda."

Nov. 11, 2004 - Michael Tarazi, PhD 

CON (no)

Thomas L. Friedman, MA, foreign affairs columnist for the New York Times, in a Nov. 14, 2004 commentary titled "Arafat Voids," wrote:

"You will pardon me if I don't join in the insipid chorus about how Arafat's great achievement was the way he represented the 'aspirations' for statehood of the Palestinian people and, through terrorism and resistance, put the Palestinian cause on the world map.

Excuse me, but Yasir Arafat put the Palestinian cause on the world map in 1974, when he was invited to address the U.N. General Assembly. What did he do with all that attention after that? Very little."

Nov. 14, 2004 - Thomas L. Friedman, MPhil 

Michael Lerner, PhD, founder of TIKKUN Magazine, in a Nov. 14, 2004 SF Independent Media commentary titled "Why Arafat Failed," wrote:

"The dichotomy between his public pronouncements in English in which he affirmed peace and his pronouncements in Arabic in which he reaffirmed the need for struggle and Jihad..., his unwillingness to confront the Palestinian fantasy of a 'right of return...' his inability to embrace non-violence in principle... his failure to use the Camp David negotiations with Barak in 2000 in a constructive way to articulate clearly what would be the terms that Palestinians would accept as 'enough,' his failure to whole-heartedly embrace the Geneva Accord even when it was negotiated by his lieutenant Yassir Abed Rabbo with former Israeli Minister of Justice Yossi Beilin -- all of these were ways in which Arafat was a monumental mis-leader of his people, pulling them into dead-ends that perpetuated their suffering."

Nov. 14, 2004 - Michael Lerner, PhD 

James Phillips, MALD, Research Fellow in Middle Eastern affairs at The Heritage Foundation, in a Nov. 9, 2004 commentary titled "Yasser Arafat's Disasterous Legacy," wrote:

"Under Arafat’s leadership the Palestinian Authority became corrupt, unaccountable, and dedicated to protecting Arafat’s interests, rather than those of the Palestinian people. His refusal to end terrorism has poisoned the peace negotiations, led Israel to re-occupy Palestinian areas and close its borders to Palestinian workers, and crippled the Palestinian economy. Palestinian parents have been horrified to find their children brainwashed into becoming suicide bombers and cannon fodder for Arafat’s revolutionary pipedreams."

Nov. 9, 2004 - James A. Phillips, MALD