“Didn’t Arafat win that?”

The worst man ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize

There have been many controversial awards in Nobel history, but Yasser Arafat’s 1994 award is right up there

By March 31, 2012, 9:51 pm

When I told people I was writing a history of the Nobel Peace Prize, they had a common reaction: “Didn’t Arafat win that?” (I am speaking primarily of Americans.) He did win it, yes, in 1994. For some, that’s all you need to know about the Nobel Peace Prize.

Elena Bonner, the widow of Andrei Sakharov, said that she could not “understand or accept” the fact that her late husband and Yasser Arafat shared membership “in the club of Nobel laureates.”

It’s well to remember, though, that Arafat did not win the prize by himself. He won it in concert with two Israeli statesmen: the prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, and the foreign minister, Shimon Peres. They were happy to go to Oslo to share the prize with Arafat, or at least willing to do so.

And one of them, the foreign minister, went so far as to say in his Nobel lecture that Arafat’s share in the prize was “fitting.”


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