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July 25, 2004
History Repeats Itself In Palestine

Yasser Arafat faces even more questions in his reign as Palestinian dictator, as a Palestinian legislative analysis shows that the cement for the Israeli security wall came from Palestinian sources. Arafat himself saw the contracts even as he called for demonstrations against the construction:

Palestinian businessmen have made millions of pounds supplying cement for Israel's "security barrier" in the full knowledge of Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader and one of the wall's most vocal critics. A damning report by Palestinian legislators, which has been seen by the Telegraph, concludes that Mr Arafat did nothing to stop the deals although he publicly condemned the structure as a "crime against humanity".

The report contains testimony that the cement originated with the Egyptians, who sold it at a discount to the Palestinians in order to help rebuild the homes of those displaced by Israeli demolitions of terrorists' houses. Instead of making use of the cement, the Palestinian businessmen instead war-profiteered themselves into millions of dollars by selling the cement to the Israelis, inflating their profits with huge mark-ups. These companies realized millions of dollars through the redirection of the cement even while their fellow Palestinians protested the construction of the wall to the global community.

And what of Yasser Arafat? Well, while he urged his people onto the streets to demonstrate against the wall, he personally reviewed the contracts and made sure that plenty of those profits went to the well-connected in his administration:

According to the report, on November 9 last year a letter was sent to Mr Arafat by the Palestinian Authority comptroller, revealing that open-ended import licences for the cement had been signed by Maher al-Masri, the economy minister. ... The letter was allegedly received and seen by Mr Arafat on the same day that he urged people to demonstrate on the first international "Day against the Wall". According to Mr Khreishe, Mr Arafat took no action to stop further imports, which continued for another five months. ...

One of the report's three authors, Hassan Khreishe - an independent legislator and long-term critic of Mr Arafat - last night called for the Palestinian cabinet to resign. "Wealthy Palestinians with connections at the highest levels have been making millions helping Israel build this wall while Arafat and the Palestinian Authority have been urging people to fight against it," said Mr Khreishe, a council member from the West Bank city of Tulkarm.

One cannot help but be reminded of how Jewish refugees established themselves in the Holy Land in the first place. What is now known as Israel used to be a vast wasteland, where nothing much grew and land was next to worthless. In the late 19th and early 20th century, Zionists from America and Europe began buying up this seemingly pointless real estate from Arab landowners, who charged far more than the land was worth. The Arabs thought that the Jews were insane, but that didn't keep the Arabs from exploiting them ... or so they thought.

Using a form of Western communism, the Jews formed kibbutzes (farming communes) and established modern irrigation systems and spent decades turning the once-arid land back into a fertile base for a revitalized Jewish homeland. Where nothing but sand and a few oases barely existed, the Jews of Palestine built cities such as Tel Aviv -- even while the Arabs perpetrated genocide in places like Hebron, where a community of 20,000 Jews were either killed or driven out in the 1920s. Once the Ottoman Empire collapsed, the British governed the Palestinian Mandate until 1947, when the United Nations recognized the Jewish homeland as the sovereign state of Israel.

Now we see that the Palestinians have once again sold the means of establishing Israel to the Israelis, this time literally building their security wall to prevent any further terrorist attacks on Israeli citizens. Can one come up with any historical precedent for a people so self-defeating and self-contradictory as the Palestinians?

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 25, 2004 6:28 PM

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