Yassur Arafat was born quite a long time ago in a country far away. His even more famous Arab headscarf was born four years later and it and the young Arafat would become inseparable, except for a short period during his stay in Lebanon when he and his headscarf, Bul (short for Abdullah) fell out. During this period Arafat was often seen wearing a green combat hat of the sort often favoured by Fidel Castro. Many thought this was a statement of brotherhood to all international revolutionaries but the truth was that he wore the hat because he was a huge fan of Woody Allen – ironically given the New York funnyman’s Jewish blood – and had been obsessively re-watching Allen’s film Bananas on an early Betamax VCR.
Arafat spent much of his younger years moving from group to group in his quest for a direction for his struggle for a free Palestine. He joined the People’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (Official) but later left in favour of the Popular People’s Front for the Palestine Liberation (Official), then the Popular Palestine Liberation Front, the Front for the Popular Liberation of Palestine and then a brief stint in the Beirut Girl Scouts before forming the Popular Palestine Liberation Organisation. A few years later the ‘popular’ term was dropped since it was obviously more of an acquired taste to many people and thus Arafat found himself leading the modern PLO. Bul, his headscarf returned to him and eventually they would become the head of state – and the headscarf of state – of the piece of scrubland and refugee camps that Israel grudgingly gave to them.
His final two years were spent cooped up in his compound, basically a prisoner of the Israelis in his own headquarters. Arafat (the Yassur name came from his father who was a huge fan of Slim Pickens and this was how Pickens’ southern accent enunciated the phrase ‘yes, sir’, hence ‘Yassur’) refused to be downtrodden by this increasingly harsh treatment by the Israelis who continued to point out he was doing nothing to stop terrorist outrages while bombing refugee camps to stop ‘aggression’. Using his enforced interment for good Arafat turned his hand to interior design and was constantly remodelling and re-decorating the PLO government buildings, enthused by viewing Changing Rooms on the BBC World Service. He leaves a power vacuum in the PLO, a large collection of Changing Rooms and Woody Allen DVDs and a signed photograph of Lawrence Llewellyn Bowen.