The Legacy of the Black September Revolt, Five Decades On

September 17, 2020 | Alberto Miguel Fernandez
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In September of 1970, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), then led by Yasir Arafat, launched a violent rebellion against the Jordanian monarchy, which was not quelled completely until the following summer. Examining the many lasting effects of the revolt for both Israel and the region, Alberto Miguel Fernandez writes:

After its Jordanian defeat, the PLO would move to Lebanon, where a few years later it would play a key role in igniting the Lebanese Civil War and triggering Syrian military intervention and then decades of occupation in Lebanon. . . . Meanwhile, the “cause of Palestine” would be the flag of convenience and bloody shirt for every rogue and genocidal maniac in the region—Assad father and son, Saddam Hussein, Moammar Qaddafi, Ayatollahs Khomeini and Khamenei, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and others.

The Palestinian leadership would use and be used by all of them. Hafez Assad (using his Lebanese and Palestinian proxies) would kill more Palestinians during the “War of the Camps” in Lebanon in 1985-1988 than were killed by the Lebanese forces at Sabra and Shatila. The PLO itself would support Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait, and even send fighters to Uganda in 1979 to try to prevent Idi Amin from falling to Tanzanian forces.

For the corrupt and feckless Palestinian political leadership, and for a host of Western pundits and think tankers who have made a lucrative career on the “process,” recent events have come like a bucket of ice-cold water. It is not that Palestine is not important, but that rather than falsely and dishonestly placing it on some sort of artificial pedestal, an increasing number of states in the region are seeing it as one of many issues, and for most players not the most pressing one.

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