Israel Report

May 2001         

[Yasser Arafat: Lives] High on the Hog

May 3, 2001
By Sarah Honig

According to persistent reports, the Palestinians' most meaningful move to date towards normalcy was inviting European croupiers and blackjack dealers back to Jericho's casino, where they were gainfully employed through last September.

It seems they weren't the only ones to take a loss.

When Arafat and his henchmen unleashed hostilities, they also inadvertently hit their own pocketbooks. Some of Arafat's top lieutenants are said to have deep personal stakes in the gambling joint, which netted an estimated $700,000 daily while Israelis were welcome to lose loose cash there.

PA hotshots sorely miss the bountiful proceeds.

It's no accident the first locale where they felt impelled to turn off the ostensibly uncontrollable "popular uprising" was the casino's.

These freedom fighters are nobody's fools. They like their nests feathered and palms greased. A little graft can get anyone's tax debts erased in the PA. The revolutionaries have turned favors into lucrative sidelines. They level spurious accusations against persons of relative means and then drop the charges as soon as the bribe is remitted.

It's not easy to be a Palestinian under the thumb of Arafat's altruists. Woe to anyone who tries to protest or, for that matter, who fails to profusely praise. Journalists were jailed and tortured because they dared quote "President" Arafat below the page 1 fold rather than in the lead. They weren't duly respectful of the boss.

He too enjoys the lifestyle of the rich and famous. No luxury is spared this globetrotter, including private plane and financial stashes far and near (as near as Tel Aviv). Yet a damning exposé of Arafat's personal corruption was for now shelved by the Foreign Ministry. Presumably Shimon Peres believes it's expedient to let the world continue regarding Arafat as the unshaven, beleaguered hero.

To accentuate the above image, Arafat sought to parley with Ehud Barak while toting a revolver in his holster. Bill Clinton vetoed the gun, remarking that "Camp David isn't Rio Bravo."

But credulous-cum-cynical foreigners prefer to see Arafat as a resistance leader and liberator, while Israeli post-Zionist leftists and "New Historians" sadistically delight in equating him to our own pre-state underground commanders.

Though the analogy is invalid by any yardstick, it becomes downright slanderous when personal ethics are considered.

Even those most mesmerized by the Gaza sharpie and most antagonistic to the likes of Avraham Stern ("Yair") cannot be so disingenuous as to overlook the differences.

Yair was a hunted man with nowhere to call home. He wandered through back alleys, carrying a folding cot and a briefcase whose most valuable contents were... his poetry manuscripts!

His last shelter - where the British eventually murdered him in February 1942 - was the tiny rooftop laundry room in Tel Aviv's 8 Mizrahi Street, which Lehi activists Tova and Moshe Svorai converted into a 3.80 x 4.00 meter bed-sitter. The walls were damp and the cold bone-chilling. They couldn't afford heating. This was their private hideout for a mere two days, before Moshe brought Yair there, explaining that he needs somewhere to sleep.

The trundle drawer under the couch was transformed into an extra guest bed with several pillows substituting for a mattress.

There was only a single knife in the makeshift kitchen until Yair returned from one of his midnight sorties with three more knives. Tova was overwhelmed by the generosity.

No joshing. Cutlery was luxury.

Self-denial was a way of life. There simply wasn't enough to eat. The underground member who managed to have a portion of felafel a day was considered well-off, Tova recalls in her memoirs.

One time she laid on a feast for a belated anniversary celebration. They had fries, three frankfurters and beer. "This was our most extravagant meal, so different from our regular fare," she recounted.

Yair lived out of his suitcase. He had one coat, one suit and no corner of his own. But rather than worry about his own welfare, he felt guilty for intruding. If he chanced upon his hosts kissing, he turned his back and pretended not to see. Later all three would break into a nervous, embarrassed laughter.

For a while the couple's toddler daughter also shared the cramped quarters. The formidable chief of the "Stern Gang" sang to her, played hide-and-seek and gave the two-year-old piggyback rides.

Tova describes him as "keenly distressed by the terrorist stigma ascribed him and his loyalists. But there was no money for countering malicious propaganda. There was no money for basic needs."

Yair's mind, however, "was never on his own needs. He stressed that our allegiance wasn't to him. We mustn't blindly follow a leader, but be true to ideals. 'Leaders come and go,' he said. He had premonitions of death and didn't want us to give up after his demise," Moshe adds.

"Yair knew every Lehi member personally, and tried to make sure they had something to live on and that their families were assisted. Few of us could earn wages then, but those fighters with any meager income shared it with the others. Perhaps the philosopher and poet in Yair gave rise to his interest in each underground soldier. He related to us with such humility, gentleness and affection. His attitude wasn't remotely imperious or artificial," according to Tova.

He was the ideal idealist.

How unlike Arafat - who not only hasn't endured anything approaching Yair's privation and self-sacrifice, but mercilessly exploited his own people ever since Peres & Co. imported him from Tunis. Arafat was never out to contract peace to secure them a decent existence. He needs their misery to rake in funds from sympathetic philanthropists and extort enough Israeli concessions to offset temporary losses.

Arafat needs his subjects subjugated, servile and suffering. His aim isn't to set them free but to brainwash their children into martyrdom and turn their young into extras in his mass funeral productions.

And, when possible, this "grassroots insurrection" spectacular will be bankrolled with the help of Israeli high-rollers. All the while Arafat will go on living high on the hog.

Very high.

©2001 - Jerusalem Post

[IMRA note: After decades of service, providing Jerusalem Post readers an understanding and appreciation of the significance of events in the news, Sarah Honig was fired this week by The Jerusalem Post.

Jerusalem Post Fires Sarah Honig!!!

Yesterday, Thursday, 3 May 2001, Sarah Honig, the most popular and most veteran writer for the Jerusalem Post for the past 33 years, received the following registered letter:
Please accept this letter as notice of our intention to dismiss you as of today, due to a general strategic reorganization in our firm. As per the collective agreement you are kindly asked to cease work immediately....

Wishing you much success in the future,

Jeff Barak (editor)
Tom Rose (publisher)
This signifies a major step of the paper in appeasing the Israeli Left just when this sector is starting to recognize the deep failure of their wishful thinking that lead to the Oslo agreements, the building up of terrorist Yassir Arafat and the unleashing of thousands of his murderers against Israel and her people.

We strongly urge you all to wire to the editor and publisher of the Jerusalem Post and to tell them that this is a terrible mistake, and will lead to supporters of the paper to leave it.

Here is the contact information:

Tom Rose: e-mail:
fax: 972-2-538-78-62

Jeff Barak: e-mail:
fax: 972-2-537-65-53

Fax number of the Jerusalem Post: 972-2-538-9527

Sarah Honig: e-mail:

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