With Arafat perhaps dead or very close, we can expect a gush of media outpouring about the contributions of this great Nobel Peace Prize winner. Since Latter-day Saints tend to be intensely interested in Israel and the conflicts with its enemies, I would suggest that we turn to more reliable sources than the pro-Arafat media to appreciate Arafat’s role in the modern world. His work as a radical terrorist and a supporter of terrorists makes him a criminal who both Muslims and non-Muslims should condemn (and many Muslims do). Consider the article by Ion Mihai Pacepa, “The Arafat I Know,” published in The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 10, 2002.
Those who actually know Arafat may be interested to find that he is a far cry from his depiction in the American media, and much more accurately represented in the Book of Mormon description of Gadianton robber operations. The Gadiantons had the audacity to demand to be taken seriously as the legitimate representatives of the people over them they had seized power. They made impressive sounding but hollow claims in their quest for power, and readily found dupes among the Nephites (kingmen and order of Nehors types) who supported them internally. They used terror and assassination as tools to gain power. They worked with secret combinations and allied themselves with traitors and wicked people at all levels. They applied external military pressure coupled with internal intrigues in achieving their political objectives. I think it would be worthwhile to study modern terrorism in terms of Book of Mormon teachings about the dangers of secret combinations, and to consider how men like Arafat fit into the depictions therein.
Joseph Smith could not possibly have fabricated the amazingly accurate and precise descriptions of the political workings of secret combinations based on his limited education. Most Americans are still totally oblivious to such things. But Arafat’s rise to power and the role he and others have played in this century is marvelously paralleled by Book of Mormon elements that were compiled and preserved for our day.
As Yasser Arafat leaves this mortal realm to receive his eternal reward (my forecast: sorry, no virgins!), I join the thousands of victims of Arafat’s terror in remembering him.