The Atlantic, a monthly news journal printed in the
The reason I have decided to post an entry on this article is because I consider it to have provided me with a rare insight into the operations of not only Arafat's regime, but most (or all) the regimes and Zu'ama that exist in the region. As such, it is relevant to
In an interview with Mr. David Samuels (the author of the article), Munib al Masri, one of Yasir Arafat's oldest friends, and one of the leading financiers of the Palestinian National Movement said the following
"With three hundred, four hundred million dollars we could have built
in ten years. Waste, waste, waste. I flew over the West Bank in a helicopter with Arafat at the beginning of Palestine , and I told him how easy we could make five, six, seven towns here; we could absorb a lot of people here; and have the right of return for the refugees. If you have good intentions and you say you want to reach a solution, we could do it. I said, if you have money and water, it could be comparable to Oslo , this piece of land." Israel
Masri's eyes mist over. "Abu Ammar, yes. He's a simple man. He slept on a simple bed. He doesn't want any houses. He doesn't want anything...."
That last sentence really caught my attention. Arafat, according to Masri's recollection, appeared to be clueless and simply uninterested in policies pertaining to the development and wellbeing of his "constituents." As we all know, it appears that one of the only things Arafat was really good at was maintaining his grip on power. The following is another excerpt on exactly how the "Palestinian Hero" went about accomplishing that noble cause:
A secret report prepared by an official Palestinian Authority committee headed by Arafat's cousin concluded that in 1996 alone, $326 million, or 43% of the state budget, had been embezzled, and that another $94 million, or 12.5% of the budget, went to the president's office, where it was spent at Arafat's personal discretion. An additional 35% of the budget went to pay for the security services, leaving a total of $73 million, or 9.5% of the budget, to be spent on the needs of the population of West Bank and
Of course, Mr. Arafat didn't just feed his Court. He needed to appeal to the masses as well. How could he do that when he basically spent 90.5% of his budget to maintain his grip on power and only 9.5% on his people through the PA? Personal charity of course! While the institutions of the Palestinian state were rotting with only a fraction of the budget they needed to operate on (I wonder whether 9.5% could even pay salaries, never mind fund any services), the institution of Yasser Arafat was flourishing!
His people accepted his [faults] because he was their father.... He paid for their weddings and their funerals. It was part of this paternal pose that no Palestinian who asked him for money went away empty-handed. When he visited cities, he was followed by an aide with a Samsonite briefcase stuffed with bundles of cash, which he distributed to the people who lined up to beg for money. Ordinary Palestinians placed classified advertisements in the newspaper asking Arafat for money. Others wrote him letters....
This ridiculous personalization of politics is merely one example of a broader trend that exists throughout the region. Just look at
It appears that people in
However, the "Paternal Father" system is so attractive because it allows people get at least a semblance of the services that they would receive from a welfare state, and remain in the same frame of mind they were in three to four hundred years ago. Why change their entire way of thinking and the way they live their lives to get welfare and other services from a state, when they can get similar services from a Za'im who only askes for their loyalty?