“… The corruption within the Palestinian Authority… is not widespread.”
“… Should something happen to Arafat, it would be a disaster of national proportions.”
“… Palestinians are not afraid to loudly voice their sharp criticism.”

Uri Avneri, Israeli writer

Washington — One of the reasons the real Israeli left is so demoralized and confused — and has so tragically abdicated to the deceptive left of the Israeli Labor Party better known as “Peace Now” — is the untrustworthiness of many of its key personalities.

Uri Avneri is one of these persons. And as amazing as it might seem in view of the realities of the Arafat regime, the quotes above are translated from a Hebrew column Avneri recently published.

After a start in the Israeli terrorist right-wing underground, Avneri, now in his mid-70s, was one of the first Israelis to begin meeting with the PLO. During the Israeli invasion of Beirut in 1982, Avneri was one of the first Israeli journalists to interview Yasser Arafat.

The basic problem for Avneri has been that the more people have come to know him over the years, the more they have realized how little he could be trusted or believed.

For years Avneri made his money publishing an Israeli equivalent of the National Inquirer — a tabloid, gossip, sex publication that was the first and only of its kind in Israel and sold well. Then when he had had enough of scandal-mongering journalism, the supposedly committed leftist sold his publication to Israeli right- wingers considerably enriching himself in the process. Some even began to wonder if Avneri hadn’t been a kind of mole all along.

Whatever the reasons and motivations for Avneri’s dealings, with this kind of personal background it certainly becomes easier to understand why Avneri gets along so well with Arafat and with the corrupt, self-aggrandizing officials of the “Palestinian Authority”.

Avneri has tried to organize a number of what he has said were pro-Palestinian movements. But non of these have ever had any substantial following in Israel. And his latest ploy, rumored to be funded by Arafat, to boycott products produced by Israeli settlers in the territories, is said to have instead given Israeli right-wingers the very list they need to purchase more of those products.

In recent years Avneri’s efforts have deteriorated to the point where he now seems to border on being little more than a propagandist for Arafat and what in the end is Israel’s armed and funded PA, a puppet regime primarily responsible for policing the “autonomous” Palestinian areas with ever-growing CIA and Shin bet “assistance”.

Avneri writes, among so many other out and out deceptions, that much open debate and democracy has been fostered by the PA! It seems not to matter to him that the best journalists in the world, David Hirst and Robert Fisk among them, have been reporting in detail, story after story, precisely the opposite. It seems not to matter to him that professors and journalists have been arrested and literally tortured by Avneri’s new friends. It seems not to matter to him that one of the leading Palestinian human rights organizations issued a report — ironically about the same time Avneri’s article was published — specifically condemning Arafat for creating the infrastructure of a “Police State” and that Palestinians are looking on in horror and fear.

And yet Avneri continues: “What is most instructive is the fact of the debate itself (among the Palestinians); even high- ranking (PA) officials are not afraid to loudly voice their sharp criticism.”

Whether it is old age, lack of information, nostalgia for the days of his old salacious tabloid, or something more sinister, who can know for sure. Whatever, Avneri’s long history of scandal-mongering and personal aggrandizement seem to be playing themselves out in new ways. And in the end he seems to have done more to discredit the badly confused, divided, and demoralized Israeli left than to lead it.