That son-of-a-bitch Arafat is cold meat. This guy is at least as guilty as anyone else of creating Islamist terrorism. Arafat started his terrorist attacks on Israel before the Six-Day War and the Israeli occupation even happened. That's how he made his name, murdering Israeli civilians; he was better at it than any of his competitors for leadership. His thugs were trained in Soviet satellites Algeria and Syria, and he took money from the Soviets in exchange for his services. He learned everything he knew about political organization from the pro-Nazi Mufti of Jerusalem and the Algerian FLN: Rule Number One is to accuse all your people who don't support you of "collaborationism" and kill them. He was responsible for the attempted PLO takeover of Jordan which ended in a bloodbath in 1970, for the murder of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972, for the wave of airplane hijackings that rocked the world in the early '70s, and for the thousands of terrorist attacks upon Israel.
Arafat never wanted peace. Proof of this is that he turned doen the Camp David accords of 2000, when Ehud Barak gave him the best offer that the Palestinians are going to get from any Israeli prime minister. He wanted only one thing: the destruction of Israel. That and power and wealth: there are various reports going around of the size of his bank accounts, ranging from several hundred million dollars up to five billion. (Forbes estimates his worth as between $1 and 3 billion.) Way too much of this cash came from the pockets of the European Union's taxpayers.
Meanwhile, Europe has been rocked this week by instability. French forces have gone into action in Ivory Coast in an attempt to stop the conflict between the thoroughly offensive government and the bloody, cruel terrorist insurgents. Among other things, they destroyed the government air force on the ground. La Vanguardia has been quick to go with the Quai d'Orsay's version of reality: the United States is locked in a struggle with France over leadership in Francophone Africa, and is trying to replace France's influence with its own. Therefore the US is supporting the mostly Christian southern government against the mostly Moslem northern rebels. I personally really don't think the US has a dog in this fight. I think this is French paranoia.
Naturally, there has been a total of zero France-bashing demonstrations on the streets of Barcelona saying "No to the war!"
There has been serious conflict in Holland since last week's murder of controversial filmmaker Theo van Gogh by an Islamist radical. Eight mosques and four churches have been torched by different mobs, whether nativist or Islamist. Holland is trying to deal with the idea that they have a significant population of immigrants that does not share the goals of Dutch society, no matter how well they have been treated by the tolerant and generous Dutch government and the moderate and generally reasonable Dutch people. (Note: Holland is a member of the Coalition in Iraq, along with Norway and Denmark. That's right, the liberal North Europeans are in it with the Yanks, Brits, and Aussies.)
Meanwhile, in Belgium, the supreme court has declared the country's largest political party, the Vlaams Blok, illegal on the ground that it is racist. The Vlaams Blok is a far-right Flemish nationalist party which, among other lovely ideas, calls for the expulsion of all immigrants from Belgium. Anyway, of course, all the VB is giong to do is change its name and they'll be right back in business. They're also going to change their platform; from now on they will only call for the expulsion of immigrants who don't agree with them politically.
Here in Spain, there are two different stinks brewing. One of them is how badly Zap has pissed off the Americans. It seems that the combination of Zap's pulling Spanish troops out of Iraq, which was bad enough, and then Zap's call for everyone else to follow Spain's lead and pull out too, which put Zap into the position of leader of the anti-American Old European backlash, have the White House so pissed off that it's going to be a long four years for Spain. Zap also managed to personally offend the American ambassador, George Argyros, with his juvenile behavior at a couple of symbolic public acts. So, probably in order to make a point, José María Aznar (apparently an actual personal friend of Bush) has received a good bit of positive publicity on his recent trip to the US. He got a personal meeting with Bush, a spot for an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, and a speaking appearance at Georgetown University. Nice photo ops. They also announced that the King and Queen are going to visit Bush at the ranch in Texas sometime this month; I suppose they're making it clear that the problem isn't Spain, it's Zap. (Note to anti-monarchists: This is one of the things the King is useful for. One of his jobs is international feel-good ambassador for Spain and he does it very well.) Zap still hasn't had his phone call to Bush returned; the Vangua mentions that the leaders of El Salvador, Georgia, Denmark, and Romania have recently received personal calls from Bush.
The other one is this absolutely insane debate going on about "the unity of the Catalan language". I don't know all the details; the political maneuvering is both too complex and too stupid to figure out. It seems that the European Union constitution will not make Catalan an official language of the UE, so the Cataloonies have announced that they're going to vote no on the whole constitution because of this one little thing. You morons. The European Union is good for Spain, Catalonia, and Barcelona. Meanwhile, the Spanish government recognizes both Catalan and Valencian as different languages, and so the Constitution will be translated separately into both of them. Now, this is ridiculous. Catalan and Valencian are different dialects of the same language according to the basic linguistic definition: can the speakers of the two forms carry on a natural conversation?, and parts of Catalonia (Lérida province and southern Tarragona province) speak something that's more similar to Valencian than to Barcelona Catalan. The deal, though, is that Valencia does not like Barcelona any better than Barcelona likes Madrid. Valencia is very prickly about not being part of the Paísos Catalans, the Greater Catalonia dreamed of by some Cataloonies. They consider themselves to be Spanish first, Valencian second, and Catalan not at all. This leads them to make ridiculous statements about how Valencian is not Catalan. What I would do if I were the Cataloonies is say, OK, we're going to change the name of the language to Valencian. Here in Barcelona, from now on, we speak Valencian. Now can we agree it's the same thing?