In response to my October 7 post, Shielding Yasser (in which I wondered about the motives of international volunteers who stationed themselves at Arafat’s compound in Ramallah after the suicide mass murder of 20 Israelis in Haifa), I’ve just received the following comment from Mark Lipczynski:
Hi there. As someone who was with Elaine in the compound (although we never vowed to shield Arafat with our lives) perhaps I could assist your ‘masochistic’ efforts to understand our motives.
As we told the media, repeatedly, as a group we were not there to signal support for Arafat, but rather the principal of self-determination.
It is our belief that only Palestinians have the right to choose who their leader should be, and nobody else has the right to interfere with that.
We also believe that if Arafat were removed this would result in the Mother and Father of all uprisings in the West Bank and Gaza. Imagine the third Intifada even before the second one has ended. All hell would be let loose and many people, on both sides, would die. This is something we wanted to prevent.
You may disagree with these motives, but they were, and are, sincerely held.
I suspect Mr. Lipczynski is exaggerating the degree of even-handed concern among the volunteers for Israelis and Palestinians. Although I remain unconvinced by his response, I appreciate it.
Those interested in a contrary view of the International Solidarity Movement– which sends volunteers to act as shields in the West Bank and Gaza– should check out the ISM Central blog.