Palestinian journalist responds to US talk show host who called Arafat "another Adolph Hitler"

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA (20 November 2004) -- A Palestinian journalist based in the West Bank on Friday responded forcefully to a hate-filled article by an American talk show presenter who called Yasser Arafat "another Adolph Hitler who was trying to finish what Hitler started."

Mark Williams, writing in the Sacramento Union, on 12 November, called Arafat a "sociopath reptile's terrorist," "a big dog" and "head of a conglomeration of Islamic terrorist organizations" who was trying to finish what Hitler started.

Responding to the screed, Khalid Amayreh, an American-educated journalist, wrote a column, titled "Just who is the Terrorist" which was published in the paper on 18 November.

The following are excerpts from the article:

" Mark Williams' manifestly hateful screed "Finishing What Hitler Started" (Nov. 12) exceeded all boundaries of decency and civility. Which merits an appropriate response, not so much because I believe hate and racism (such Islamophobia and anti-Semitism) are a legitimate viewpoint, but rather because I think the readers of the Sacramento Union deserve to know the truth about Yasser Arafat, not from a rabid, though famous, Jewish extremist, but rather from a Palestinian critic (and occasional victim) of Yasser Arafat's rule.

"True, Yasser Arafat was not an icon of moral excellence but to compare Yasser Arafat with Adolph Hitler is, in my opinion, nothing short of a linguistic adultery.

"How could any serious person, with any modicum of intellectual honesty, call a helpless and desperate man, who in the last 1000 days of his life was a prisoner in his own living room, an Adolph Hitler?

"How could any honest person accuse a nearly decimated people who spend half of their time languishing under sinister military curfews and the other half lining in long queues at ubiquitous Israeli army roadblocks (manned by trigger-happy soldiers) of seeking to finish what Hitler started?

"Even before the inception of the current intifada, Arafat couldn't leave Gaza or the West Bank without an Israeli permit. Indeed, Arafat's every move and action was coordinated with Israel, often in humiliating manner.

"In light, how a man as such be compared to Hitler, the Nazi beast who occupied and destroyed the bulk of Europe and caused the death of tens of millions of people?

"To be sure, Arafat was not a Mahatma Gandhi. But, most certainly, he was no more of a terrorist than David Ben Gurion, Golda Meir, Moshe Dayan, Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Rabin, Yitzhak Shamir, Shimon Peres, and, not the least, Ariel Sharon?

"These Israeli leaders lived all their lives as terrorists.

"Wasn't Yitzhak Rabin arrested by the British and imprisoned in the Rafah camp in the early 1940s?

"Wasn't Yitzhak Shamir arrested as a terrorist and exiled by the British to a prison camp in Eritrea?

"Was not Menachem Begin branded as a terrorist, with a prize on his head, after blowing up the King David hotel in Jerusalem with a hundred civilians killed, in 1947? And as we all know, the four became Prime Ministers of Israel.

"And Sharon, the "hero" of the Sabra and Shatilla massacres of 1982? Well, it is a great shame that this wild beast remains at large. It is also lamentable that in this age of the Internet and satellite television there are people who still are not aware of the man's real nature…and others who would even give him the benefit of the doubt.

"Doesn't this amount to an indictment of our time?"

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