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January 1999 
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ARAFAT'S GAZA :

Palestinians feel loathing and contempt
"I feel sold out...." "I hate them..."

MER - Washington - 18 December 1997:

Just a few weeks ago when Madeleine Albright made her first swing through the Middle East, CBS News' veteran correspondent Bob Simon broadcast an unusually candid report from Gaza. Network anchor Dan Rather actually introduced the report saying it was "from their point-of-view", from the point-of-view of the Palestinians themselves, though Simon himself gave no such emphasis and appeared to be simply doing his job telling the world what are the popular sentiments in Gaza today, just three years after Arafat's takeover in Gaza.

Here is the transcript of this CBS report:

CBS News Anchorman Dan Rather:

Four years after the late Yitzhak Rabin shook hands with Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn, Israel and the PLO are closer to war than peace, and Palestinians are more angry and desperate than ever. CBS News correspondent Bob Simon looks at the conflict from theirpoint-of-view on assignment in Gaza:

Bob Simon: Remember that bright summer day when Yasser Arafat suddenly popped up in Gaza. No one here will ever forget it.

"I feel that my heart is jumping. I feel that there are drums in my heart, because this is Arafat." Said Mrs. Sobo.

Arafat pops up all over the place now and the primal big brother smiling down on his trip, but Mrs. Sobo is not smiling back. Those drums in her heart have stopped beating.

"I feel sold out... He is finished."

Mrs. Sobo's husband, Fati, wasn't here to greet Arafat in '94. He was on a Fulbright fellowship in the United States, but he cheered from afar. Fati has been arrested 23 times by the Israelis. Well he's back in the same jail now, except this time the guards are Palestinians.

On June 21, professor Sobo presented his final exam to students on community problems. One of the questions: Analyze the corruption in parts of the Palestinian Authority. Ten days later he was arrested. No charges, but no mystery. The professor has asked the wrong question. It turns out to be his own final exam, and he failed.

But Arafat and his men succeeded in bringing the good life to Gaza, villas and beach clubs and affluence the Strip have never known. The trouble is they brought for themselves. The only trickle down to the refugee camp has been the sewage which never stops. "How do you feel when you see the people from Tunis who came here three years ago living very well?"

"I hate them," he said. "I don't look at them, they don't look at me. They don't want to know there are poor people in Gaza."

Like thousands of others, Raid Abdul Hadi's only hope now is to win this year's American Green Card Lottery, the only ticket out of this place.

If Arafat isn't dividing the pie, it is the Israelis who are keeping it small. All these men used to work in Israel, but with peace came closures. Four years ago sixty thousands Gazans worked in Israel everyday. But the number now is zero. This is a good news for Abdul Aziz Rantisi, leader of the political wing of Hamas, the Islamic organization whose military wing is blowing up Israelis with increasing regularity. "Is Hamas stronger now than it was when Arafat and the Palestinian Authority came in?"

"Hamas day after day getting more supporters," Rantisi said.

This view is confirmed on the street.

"Hamas is the solution." And Hamas' solution is bombing. And every time there is a bombing, the Israelis tighten the screw which deepens the desperation, drives more people to Hamas and give birth to more bombers.

When Secretary Albright started planning her first trip here a couple of months ago it was to breathe new life into the peace process. Now there is an equally urgent and more daunting task. It's to stop a war.


 

 

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