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Yasser Arafat

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Yasser Arafat

Yasser Arafat  was head of the Fateh and the Palestine Liberation Organization, and eventually President ("Rais") of the Palestinian National Authority . He was born  Rahman Abdel-Raouf Arafat al-Qudwa al-Husseini on August 4 or August 24, 1929 in Cairo and died in Paris on November 11, 2004. His father was  Abdul al Qudwa (or Kidwa). His mother was Hamida Khalifa Al-Husseini, one of the many cousins of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin El Husseini. Arafat's mother died when he was five years old, and he supposedly spent the next four years of his life with his uncle in Jerusalem. The family subsequently moved to Jerusalem, and then to Gaza,  where Abdul Al-Qudwa eventually became active in Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan) politics and was involved with the Mufti's group as well. Al-Qudwa acted as liaison for German submarines who dropped arms for the Palestinian Arabs in Gaza.

Yasser Arafat began his career in the struggle for Palestine in 1948, as part of the organization of the Grand Mufti Haj Amin al Hussayni in Gaza. He took the name Arafat after the Muslim holy place of that name. Later, as a student in Cairo, he was coopted by Gamal Abdul Nasser to run the Palestinian student union. Soon after graduating, he moved to Kuwait, where he founded the Fatah with a group of friends. His nom de guerre was "Abu Amar." After the defeat of the Arabs in the 6 Day War of 1967, Arafat rose to the top of Palestinian Arab leadership. Fateh's victory over Israeli forces at the battle of Karameh turned Arafat into a hero and propelled him to the chairmanship of the PLO,  replacing Ahmed Sukhairi. Though Arafat denied involvement in terrorism, he was apparently personally responsible for directing the murder of US diplomats Cleo Noel and George Curtis and Belgian Guy Eid on March 2, 1973 in Khartoum (see  here).

Arafat gained legitimacy for the PLO however, which was recognized by the UN as the sole representative of the Palestinian people, and eventually he launched the PLO on a political course, announcing recognition of Israel in the The Oslo Declaration of Principles  and beginning the peace process with Israel, for which he was awarded the Nobel prize in 1994, along with Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres.

For a detailed biography of Yasser Arafat, see Yasser Arafat - Biography.

Synonyms and alternate spellings: 

Further Information:   Yasser Arafat - Biography

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Encyclopedia of the Middle East

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Spelling - Spelling of words in Middle-Eastern languages is often arbitrary. There may be many variants of the same name or word such as Hezbollah, Hizbolla, Hisbolla or Husayn and Hussein. There are some conventions for converting words from Semitic languages such as Arabic and Hebrew There are numerous variant renderings of the same Arabic or Hebrew words, such as "Hizbollah," "Hisbulla" etc. It is not possible to find exact equivalents for several letters. 

Pronunciation - Arabic and Hebrew vowels are pronounced differently than in English. "o" is very short. The "a" is usually pronounced like the "a" in market, sometimes as the "a" in "Arafat."  The " 'A " is guttural.  " 'H "- the 'het ('Hirbeh, 'Hebron, 'Hisbollah') designates a sound somewhat similar to the ch in "loch" in Scots pronunciation, but made by touching the back of your tongue to the roof of your mouth. The CH should be pronounced like Loch, a more assertive consonant than 'het.

The "Gh" combination, and sometimes the "G," designate a deep guttural sound that Westerners may hear approximately as "r." The "r" sound is always formed with the back of the tongue, and is not like the English "r."

More information: Hebrew, Arabic

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Yasser Arafat