Arafat: "We are not Red Indians"

The last few lines of this interview with Yasser Arafat, apparently the last before he was hospitalized, seem to capture his character well. He stubbornly refuses to accept any mistakes whatsoever, yet does make the moving point that by opting for active resistance the Palestinians avoided politicide:

He uncoiled a little, sagging back in his chair. He drank his soup from the lip of the bowl, Arab-style.


Did he make any mistakes?


"No."


Did he make any tactical mistakes?


He peered through the steam of his soup.


"No."


What did he achieve?


"We have made the Palestinian case the biggest problem in the world," he said, with a grin. "Look at the Hague ruling on the wall. One hundred and thirty countries supported us at the General Assembly. One hundred and seven years after the [founding Zionist] Basel Conference, 90 years after the Sykes-Picot Agreement, Israel has failed to wipe us out. We are here, in Palestine, facing them. We are not red Indians."
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.