Issued by New Jersey Solidarity - Activists for the Liberation of Palestine
November 2004

New Jersey Solidarity - Activists for the Liberation of Palestine mourns the death of a leader, President Yasser Arafat (Abu Ammar). This is a great loss to the Palestinians and to all fighting for the Palestinian cause and the Right of Return. We extend our deepest sympathy to the people of Palestine. Arafat, who was confined to his Ramallah Headquarters for nearly 3 years, was rushed to Paris on October 29 suffering from a mysterious illness. Arafat was seen as one of Palestine's great symbols. The national liberation struggle must continue and will continue until all Palestinians have the right to return home.

Yasser Arafat's positions may not have represented all Palestinians but his role in bringing international recognition to the Palestinian struggle was crucial. Other Palestinian national leaders that have gained wide support among the Palestinian national movement have, like Arafat, been rejected as criminal or illegitimate as part of Israel's US-supported effort to deny Palestinians the right to choose their own leadership, as part of their war of elimination against the Palestinian people. Leader after leader has been assassinated in an attempt to control and dictate the national leadership of the Palestinian people. From Abu Jihad to Ghassan Kanafani to Abu Ali Mustafa to Sheikh Yassin and Abdelaziz al-Rantissi to continuous attacks upon Arafat himself, the leaders of the Palestinian people have come under a relentless assault running parallel to that upon the national movement in its entirety and the Palestinian people as a whole.

This effort has served a purpose beyond preventing strong national leadership from emerging within the Palestinian national movement. The competition between Israel and its American groupies to most harshly reject Arafat has also served to justify Israel's maintenance of illegal settlements and outposts in the West Bank, by supplying them with a scapegoat for the rising violence and their refusal to comply with international law regarding those settlements and the shameful Apartheid Wall, and their refusal to allow Palestinian refugees their right to return.

Arafat's power has now been delegated to other Palestinian Authority officials who served in his administration, and the official Israeli and American position of hope is that one of these leaders may be the appropriate vehicle through which to impose a settlement on the Palestinians. But whatever "acceptable partner for peace" Israel is looking for, someone who is willing to concede enough of the Palestinians' rights to satisfy Israel, will not be supported by the Palestinian people themselves. Ultimately, despite the representative role of Arafat and other leaders, the Palestinian revolution has always been and will continue to be a movement by the people. That movement can and will continue with strength and national unity across all sectors of the Palestinian people, inside and outside Palestine, a national unity that will continue to pursue resistance and struggle until Palestine is free and all Palestinian refugees can return home.

Palestinians now seek a unified national leadership that will defend their rights to live in their homeland with basic undeniable human rights, including the right to participate in the democratic process of a government that represents them and the right of return to the lands from which they were expelled.

The new Palestinian leadership can and must be fully representative of all segments of the Palestinian people, inside Palestine and in the diaspora, of the positions of the Palestinian people themselves on the so-called "peace process" without conceding to the US's continual insistence that the new Palestinian leadership water down the message of the struggle for rights. The fact that the US has chosen to send a low-level delegate to the state funeral in Cairo demonstrates clearly to the Palestinians how low on the list of priorities they, their national tragedies, and their struggle for equal rights, justice and liberation are on the American foreign policy agenda. We demand that the U.S. government and the Zionist regime cease any and all attempts to interfere in the national leadership of the Palestinian people, and we further demand that both not seek to use the passing of Arafat as an excuse for further crimes against the Palestinian people.

Today, around the world, people of conscience stand side by side with the Palestinian people in a commitment to unity, justice, liberation, self-determination and return, in remembering President Arafat and in commitment to the continuing struggle.

Bil Ruh... Bil Dam... Nafdeeky Ya Felasteen!
With our souls... with our blood... we will sacrifice for you, Palestine!

Tawra hatta al-nasr!
Revolution until victory!

Arafat's life consists of key events provided by

August 4, 1929: Born in Cairo, Egypt, fifth child of Palestinian merchant Abdel Raouf al-Qudwa al-Husseini.

1949: Forms Palestinian Students' League.

January 1, 1965: Forms Fatah guerrilla movement, which becomes core group of Palestine Liberation Organization; two days later attempts first attack on Israel.

March 21, 1968: Israeli army attack on PLO base in Jordan; thousands join PLO.

February 4, 1969: Takes over PLO chairmanship

November 13, 1974: Addresses U.N. General Assembly.

October 1, 1985: Survives Israeli air raid on PLO headquarters in Tunis, Tunisia.

November 15, 1988: Declaration of independent Palestinian state.

Augusg 2, 1990: Supports Iraq in Gulf War.

November 1991: Secretly marries 28-year-old secretary, Suha Tawil; daughter Zahwa born in 1995 in Paris.

September 13, 1993: Signs Israel-PLO accord on Palestinian autonomy negotiated in Oslo, Norway; shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on White House lawn.

July 1, 1994: Returns from exile, setting foot on Palestinian soil for first time in 26 years.

December 10, 1994: Wins Nobel Peace Prize with Rabin and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres.

November 9, 1995: Makes first visit to Israel in secret trip to offer condolences to widow of assassinated Rabin.

January 20, 1996: Elected president of Palestinian Authority in first Palestinian elections.

October 23, 1998: Takes part in Israeli and Palestinian meeting at Wye River, Md., agree on interim land-for-peace deal on West Bank.

July 11, 2000: Sequestered with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak for nine days by President Clinton at "Camp David II"; summit fails.

December 3, 2001: Effectively confined in West Bank town of Ramallah after Israel destroys his helicopters.

March 29, 2002: Declared "enemy" by Israeli Cabinet.

April 2, 2002: Says would rather die than leave West Bank in response to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's offer of permanent exile.

October 29, 2004: Leaves Israeli-besieged West Bank headquarters for first time in nearly three years for treatment at military hospital near Paris.

November 11, 2004: Arafat dies at age 75.