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The Palestinians

     Miles Seeley expresses sympathy for the Palestinians:
     I tend to forgive Palestinians their rhetoric and their scathing criticisms of almost everybody. They have been moved around, moved out, shoved around, used, abused, and ignored. I have known many of them personally and well, and think of some as among the best friends I have ever had. They are often well-educated and, if allowed to lead normal lives, would be found most interesting.
     But a vision remains in my mind: Jordan, 1967-68-69, the refugee camps, mud, tents and shacks, UN food handouts, total unemployment, little educational opportunities, nothing productive to do. This was a breeding ground for hate. I believe the intefadeh started here, and no wonder. King Hussein tried to help by telling them they could opt to be Jordanian citizens, but they wanted to remain Palestinians, most of them. They still do.
     It is a problem that has defied solution. Yasir Arafat had an apartment across the street from my house, and I would see him coming and going often. He would smile, wave, and greet me in English. The most radical Palestinian groups made house-to-house calls for donations. They were heavily armed and looked very menacing, but they were always smiling and polite with me. Such contradictions!

Ronald Hilton - 11/5/99