Coverage of Arafat’s Death Noteworthy by pendragon David Whelan Yassir Arafat has died of unknown causes in a French hospital and there is great hope that his death will remove one of the many obstacles in achieving peace in the Middle East. The news coverage was interesting, both from how it was handled to what was said.
I was up watching late local news when one of the channels broke in with a special report that Arafat had finally been officially pronounced dead. There had, of course, been significant speculation in preceding days about whether he was dead, and what had killed him. Much was discussed about his recent career, and little said about his earlier, more violent history.
I don’t really have any axe to grind about the PLO between its inception and its decline as a terrorist organization. Pick a point in time, and you have plenty of other murderers organized for any number of reasons. Depending upon where you live and who wins, any particular group may end up described as martyrs, insurgents, patriots or terrorists. The decline of PLO is leaving a nice vaccuum for Jewish extremists, and I’m sure they’ll make a bloody mark before too much time elapses.
The failure to discuss the violent history, though, of the Olympic killings and the other bombings carried out by his accomplices, as well as by Hamas and al Fatah in more recent years, seems short-sighted. I cannot tell if the media does not wish to discuss them, believing he somehow atoned for those acts, or if they just weren’t sufficiently recent that an audience fed on 30 second bits of information could concentrate.
I also wondered whether this type of revisionism would be seen when Gerry Adams dies. Like Arafat, he has been closely aligned – although he denies being a member – with the Irish Republican Army. For all practical purposes, he has ended up in a similar if less destructive role as the political mouthpiece for murderers. He’s got plenty of company among the Orangemen, of course. I’m not sure if Ian Paisley is sufficiently notorious to be in the same league but there are plenty of others. Or look elsewhere, to ETA in Spain, where their leaders have recently offered a peace plan – from jail!! I suppose you have to admire their guts, although their leverage isn’t so great!
There’s nothing against redemption and improving one’s place in history. There appears to be an inclination to “forget” the past in reporting on the activities of these leaders. Perhaps Osama Bin Laden hopes to live as long as Arafat, and become as generously viewed by the world.