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The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO)

By James Donahue

There appears to be primary motivations behind the modern terrorist movements. They involve revenge, ethnic cleansing, religious differences, differences in political ideologies and conflicts over land ownership. Some of these issues overlap as multiple complex driving forces behind some terrorist groups.

All involve intense hatred driven into the minds of active terrorists, sometimes dating back for generations.

The latter appears to be among the motivational causes of the rise in terrorist activity now imprisoning the Middle East. There has been a strange and unexplainable animus between the Arabs and the Jews even though they all are descendants of the family of Abraham, if the Old Testament stories of Abraham’s life can be believed.

As the story is told, the Jewish race dates back to the children of Abraham and his wife, Sarah, and his wife’s servant, Hagar. Because Sarah was aging, Abraham became so anxious to father a son that he took Hagar to his bed and they produced the bastard son, Isaac. Isaac went on to be the origin of the Arab race. Then Sarah delivered Ishmael, who went on to parent the Jewish race.

These people grew up sharing the lands of the Middle East. As events developed, the children of Ishmael became the ancestors of Moses, who, through alleged personal meetings with God in the mountains, delivered the laws and the message that the Jews were God’s "chosen people." Thus emerged the Jewish religion.

The descendants of Isaac were influenced by the prophet Mohammad, who taught nearly the same message. But from this experience evolved the Moslem religion.

In the midst of all of this emerged Jesus, yet another prophet who attempted to correct the direction some of the Jewish leaders were taking the Hebrew people. His teachings were misconstrued, recorded mostly in letters by Paul to various churches founded in the area. And from this evolved the third great religion; Christianity.

Followers of all three faiths have been at odds with one another for centuries.

The Jews, now known as the Israelis, eventually became scattered all over the world, many of them in Europe, while the Arab people remained primarily fixed in the Middle East. Over time, their land was known as Palestine and they were the Palestinians. When Hitler and Stalin rose to power in Germany and Russia, both leaders launched a campaign against the Jews. They seemed to have an incessant drive to cleanse the world of the Israeli people. This forced the Jews to flee back to Palestine, a place they considered their homeland.

Thus the nation of Israel was born as the Jews literally snatched the land of Palestine from the mostly nomadic Arabs and declared it for their own. And from this emerged the roots of contemporary terrorism.

When all of this was happening, Palestine was a British colony. This created a complication in the mix that was like a boiling pot in the heart of the lands held sacred by all three religious groups. Before there was an Israel, the Jewish settlers fought for their right to live on the land against both British and Arab natives. The Jews resorted to guerilla-type terrorist attacks. The British withdrew and the Palestinians formed the first official terrorist group, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) under the leadership of Yasser Arafat in 1964.

The PLO’s attempt to annihilate the Israeli people led to the Six Day War in 1967. The Israelis not only won the war but seized Palestinian lands on the west bank of the Jordan River and the Gaza Strip near the Sinai Peninsula.

This victory for Israel was viewed by Christians in the United States and Europe as Bible prophecy coming true. The Old Testament Books of Amos, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Leviticus and Deuteronomy all contain prophetic messages about the dispersion of the Hebrew people after their capture by Babylon in 536 B.C. and their eventual return to become a great nation, even more powerful than the first one. Some say Ezekiel even established the year that Israel would become a nation once again. Thus the United States, predominately a Christian nation, became a political ally to Israel. This turned the terrorist Islamic groups against not only Israel but the United States.

The PLO has since been nearly replaced by Hizballah and Hamas, two Islamic fundamentalist terror groups that have been more fanatical in their attacks. They were the ones that began the suicide bombing attacks, not only against Israel but against U.S. military bases.

In 1983 a Hizballah suicide bomber drove a truck filled with explosives into U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. The attack left over 200 marines dead and many more wounded.

While he lived, Arafat was the primary voice for the Palestinian people in what became an ongoing conflict with Israel. He was involved in peace talks in 1991, 1993 and 2000 and consequently won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994. As chairman of the PLO and President of the paramilitary group Fatah, Arafat was opposed to Israel's existence early on, but later modified his position and accepted the United Nation's plan for peace in the region.

Arafat thus became a controversial figure in the Middle East. As Hamas and Hizballah were rising to power, Arafat was confined to his Ramallah compound for over two years by the Israeli Army. Arafat became mysteriously ill and died in November, 2004.