Politics

Geraldo: The George Washington of ridiculous

Geraldo: The George Washington of ridiculous

As the Weekly Standard first noted, President Barack Obama gave an impassioned speech in Ramallah, imploring all sides to find a way to peace — under a rather large banner of terrorist Yassir Arafat. Peculiar, yes. Few people have rushed to the president’s defense, but these days producers have the extraordinary ability to find someone who’ll say anything to be on television.

Ladies and gentleman, Geraldo Rivera.

Noah Rothman lays out the conversation. Appearing on Fox and Friends, Geraldo frames his comments as  dispassionate analysis of the former Palestinian militant/terrorist/what-have-you leader, but he gives himself away with some profoundly dumb comments.

For starters, Geraldo lays this on the hosts: “Arafat is generally regarded as the George Washington of the Palestinian people.”

Generally regarded? Generally? The adverb? In most cases? Usually?

In March of 1978, twelve Fatah terrorists, acting on the blessing of the George Washington of the Palestinian people, landed on a beach near Tel Aviv with Kalashnikov rifles, mortars and explosives. They immediately shot an American journalist named Gail Rubin, before walking up to a four-lane highway and murdering 38 civilians, 13 of them children, and wounding another 71. This event is still celebrated in the West Bank so perhaps it’s the Boston Tea Party of the Palestinian movement. Someone should ask Geraldo.

Of course, Arafat was responsible for hundreds of comparable attempts at mass murder– some less successful than other. There was, under the blessing of the George Washington of the Palestinian people, the murder of 11 of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. In the 1970s, there was also SwissAir flight 330, a PLO bombing that killed 47 people. There was a school bus attacked with a bazooka that killed another nine children. And so on … You know the story.

There was also, under the leadership of the George Washington of the Palestinian people, not only the murder of the American citizen Rubin, but the American ambassador to Sudan and the American citizen Leon Klinghoffer – as well, as others.

And of course, Arafat brought his own people suffering and death.

But Arafat, went on to explain Rivera, is “a very complex man. Yes, I think it is fair to say he’s the father of modern terrorism, but I hasten to note that Menachem Begin, one of the founding Prime Ministers of Israel, also had the same label back in 1946 when he blew up the King David hotel.”

He hastens to note.

Menachem Begin, to begin with, isn’t one of the founding Prime Ministers of Israel.

But the mythology of a terrorist attack on the King David Hotel in 1946 is a standard card pulled by critics of Israel in an attempt to concoct some moral equivalence where there is none. To begin with the King David Hotel was headquarters of the British military command and the British Criminal Investigation Division during a revolt aimed at soldiers, not civilians. Here is the Jewish Virtual Library take on the event, but there is plenty of reading you can do elsewhere:

Irgun leader Menachem Begin stressed his desire to avoid civilian casualties. In fact, the plan was to warn the British so they would evacuate the building before it was blown up. Three telephone calls were placed, one to the hotel, another to the French Consulate, and a third to the Palestine Post, warning that explosives in the King David Hotel would soon be detonated.

But let’s concede it’s true. Begin bombed a military target that that also house civilians. I’d point out that in the age of carpet bombing and atomic bombs what might have been acceptable warfare in 1940s was no longer acceptable in 1970s – and it’s certainly not acceptable today. But even if this one example were historically accurate, an event denounced by the Jewish establishment in 1946, how does that make the  hundreds of PLO attacks (and thousands of attempts)  any less mortally repugnant? Why do you hasten to add? And even if Menachem Begin was a terrorist, what does that have to do with George Washington or Barack Obama?

I guess what I’m really trying to figure out is this: Why does anyone put Geraldo Rivera on television anymore?

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