On March 6th an article appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the headline “Israel Arafat street sign dropped after Netanyahu anger“.
The story is summarised in the article’s opening paragraphs:
“An Israeli Arab town has dropped the name of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat from one of its streets after Israel’s prime minister objected.
The village of Jatt, in the north of the country, removed the sign, officials said.
On Saturday [sic – actually Sunday] Benjamin Netanyahu said streets in Israel could not be “named after murderers of Israelis and Jews”.”
Readers were not informed that the local council had not obtained the required approval from the Ministry of the Interior for the street name.
The BBC’s article goes on:
“Many Palestinians see Arafat as an icon in their fight for a state but many Israelis view him as a terrorist.”
Yet again we see that the BBC promotes the ‘one man’s terrorist’ cliché, failing to distinguish between means and ends. As has been noted here on previous occasions, in 2009 the philosopher William Vallicella wrote:
“Suppose a Palestinian Arab jihadi straps on an explosive belt and detonates himself in a Tel Aviv pizza parlor. He is objectively a terrorist: he kills and maims noncombatants in furtherance of a political agenda which includes freedom from Israeli occupation. The fact that he is a freedom fighter does not make him any less a terrorist. Freedom is his end, but terror is his means. It is nonsense to say that he is a terrorist to Israelis and their supporters and a freedom fighter to Palestinians and their supporters. He is objectively both. It is not a matter of ‘perception’ or point of view or which side one is on.”
By promoting the notion that Arafat can be seen either as a terrorist or as “an icon”, the BBC continues to propagate a misleading, inaccurate and inherently flawed approach to the subject of terrorism.
Later on in the article readers are told that:
“Arafat led the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) for 35 years. The movement was sworn to Israel’s destruction and carried out many deadly attacks.
Arafat later renounced violence and won the Nobel peace prize jointly with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres in 1994 for agreeing Israel-Palestinian peace accords.
However many Israelis held him responsible for attacks by Palestinian militants from areas under his control during the second Palestinian intifada (uprising) which began in 2000.” [emphasis added]
With Arafat’s planning and financing of the second Intifada being a topic long avoided by the BBC (and one which, not coincidentally, contradicts the corporation’s chosen narrative on the subject), it is hardly surprising to see it framed as an “Israel says” issue. However, not only Israelis know that Arafat instigated the violence: numerous Palestinian figures – including Arafat’s wife – have also said the same.
“Yasser Arafat had made a decision to launch the Intifada. Immediately after the failure of the Camp David [negotiations], I met him in Paris upon his return, in July 2001 [sic]. Camp David has failed, and he said to me: “You should remain in Paris.” I asked him why, and he said: “Because I am going to start an Intifada. They want me to betray the Palestinian cause. They want me to give up on our principles, and I will not do so.” [Suha Arafat, Dubai TV, December 2012]
“He [Arafat] said: “You have to leave Palestine, because I want to carry out an Intifada, and I’m not prepared to shield myself behind my wife and little girl.” Everyone said: “Suha abandoned him,” but I didn’t abandon him. He ordered me to leave him because he had already decided to carry out an Intifada after the Oslo Accords and after the failure of Camp David [July 2000].”” [Suha Arafat, PA TV, November 2011]
“[Arafat] saw that repeating the first Intifada in new forms, would bring the necessary popular, international, and Arab pressure upon Israel, because it was already impossible to continue denying our right in Jerusalem and the right of the refugees, which are the two main topics [of conflict].” [Nabil Shaath, PA TV, November 2011]
“Whoever thinks that the Intifada started because of the hated Sharon’s visit to Al-Aqsa Mosque is mistaken. That was only the straw breaking the Palestinian people’s patience. This Intifada was already planned since [Arafat] the President returned from the recent talks at Camp David [July 2000].” [Imad Faluji, December 2000]