Lunch With Arafat

Inside Al Sharpton’s Controversial Meeting With the Palestinian Leader

"Who is the leader you most admire?" Sharpton asked.

"Mao Tse-tung," Arafat replied briskly.

"Why Mao?"

"Because Mao Tse-tung is the only leader who fought four occupying forces, and beat them all—at a time when so many of his people were addicted to opium," Arafat explained. "He got them off opium and freed them from occupation. He was a phenomenal leader."

The discussion about Arafat's hero clearly energized him. He seemed to have bonded with Sharpton as they walked hand in hand toward the door leading to a flight of stairs. Arafat stopped briefly and showed Sharpton a picture of Jerusalem by night. He told Sharpton how he grew up in his uncle's house in Jerusalem and how he used to pray in the temples of the Old City.

"Look at this," Arafat said pointing to the photo. "I'm not anti-Israel."


pnoel@villagevoice.com

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