ADL: Arafat's Legacy is Terrorism and Failed Leadership
New York, NY, November 10, 2004 … Yasir Arafat's legacy "is one of terrorism and failed leadership," said Abraham H. Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), on learning of Arafat's death. "Instead of building a state for the Palestinian people, he focused on ways to destroy the Jewish state of Israel."
The following is Mr. Foxman's statement:
Yasir Arafat's legacy is one of terrorism and failed leadership. Instead of building a state for the Palestinian people, he focused on ways to destroy the Jewish state of Israel.
His death brings to a close a disastrous tenure of leadership for Israelis, Palestinians and Jews. While some will celebrate his accomplishments as a galvanizing force in the quest for Palestinian nationhood, Arafat's real legacy was that of a terrorist who repeatedly failed his people, leading the Palestinians down a path to self-destruction instead of the road to peace. Even in death, Chairman Arafat has let his people down, having made no clear plans for succession and having left a people divided between those who truly wish for peace, and those who want to destroy the State of Israel. Whether his death will result in a new and more positive approach by Palestinian leadership will depend on the rise of a new leadership committed to ending terrorism and reconciliation with Israel.
There will undoubtedly be many eulogies and tributes focusing on Arafat's accomplishments. Such eulogies should not and cannot whitewash Arafat's responsibility for the death of thousands of Israelis, Jews, Palestinians, and others, and his lifelong commitment to the use of terrorism to further his political goals. Successive Israeli and American governments have recognized that Arafat's leadership has been an impediment in the pursuit of Israeli-Palestinian peace and reconciliation.
With his founding of Fatah in the late 1950's, his rise to the chairmanship of the Palestinian Liberation Organization in 1969, Arafat made the destruction of the State of Israel the goal of the Palestinian national movement, and terrorism the primary means to achieve this goal. He made the hijackings of planes and ships, hostage-takings of nursery schools, the brutal execution of Olympic athletes, and the senseless killing of ordinary people engaged in everyday activities a regular, deadly and immediate reality around the world.
While Arafat assumed the mantle of statesman and denounced the use of terrorism and officially recognized the State of Israel as part of the 1993 Oslo Accords, he continued in his final years to permit and encourage terrorism and violence against Israelis and Jews. He did nothing to prevent suicide bombings in Israeli cities despite his claims to be Israel's peace partner. After turning his back on negotiations with Israel at the 2000 Camp David Summit, Arafat gave a "green light" to the outbreak of violence and terrorism that has continued to this day.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.