Arafat loved watching 'Tom and Jerry'

Late Palestinian leader taught his 3-year old daughter how to use gun

Late Palestinian leader was fond of watching the famous TV cartoon programme Tom and Jerry but did not like listening to music, his widow has said.

Arafat, who was better known as Abu Ammar, was also teaching his daughter how to use a gun when she was three years old, Suha Arafat told the London-based Saudi Arabic language daily Sharqalawsat.

While at home, Arafat had always taken off his famous military fatigues and the traditional Palestinian headgear Koffiya and wore sport clothes, she said.

“He never tried to cook,” she told the paper at her house in Malta, where she has lived since her husband died seven years ago.

“When he was at home, he used put sport clothes on, stretch his legs and watch television…he used to watch Egyptian movies and Tom and Jerry…I had not seen him listening to music but he used to read much when he was in bed.”

Suha, who married Arafat in 1989, described the guerrilla leader as an “incredibly patient and good man”, adding that he also liked joking.

“But sometimes I used to see him sat with Zahwa (Arafat’s daughter) and teaching her how to use the gun although she was only three years old…I used to get very angry but he was telling me to stay out of it and was saying that teaching her how to use a gun was better than teaching her dancing,” she said.

“I learned many things from Abu Ammar….his patience had no limits….when he was supposed to wake up at a certain time, you would see him jumping out of bed dead on time once the door is knocked…but he was not sleeping much and used to have sleeping pills before going to bed…his brain was like a bee hive and even those sleeping pills could not help him.”

Suha rebuffed what she described as rumors that she is paid $50,000 a month by the Palestinian Authority, saying she gets only $12,000.

“They pay me $12,000, which is Abu Ammar’s pension as the head of the PLO and Fatah movement…the reports that I get $50,000 a months are mere baseless and bad rumours…I receive this sum at the start of every month and my house rent is also paid by the Palestinian Authority.”

Suha said she had never felt lonely while married to Arafat although he was travelling frequently and dismissed claims that she abandoned the guerrilla leader when he was in Gaza during Israel’s attack on the strip.

“Many people said Suha abandoned Abu Ammar during the attack on Gaza and went to Paris….but what they don’t know was that Abu Ammar asked me to leave Gaza so no one will say he sought a woman’s protection…Abu Ammar had always provided protection to me and I had never felt lonely while married to him…I regret every moment I spent away from him,” she said.

“Abu Ammar was a husband and a friend…he was a father not only for Zahwa but the Palestinian people…what is why they had called him Khityar (the old man)…on his death’s anniversary I am flooded by contacts from all those who are still faithful to his memory and his kindness…in this respect, I would like to mention the Saudis and say that they are real kings in their faithfulness, sincerity and morality….this is not a compliment…when one is a king in morality and ethics, this is much more important than the post or title itself…I would like here to mention King Abdullah, late crown prince sultan and late King Fahd and all their wives, daughters and sisters…they are all friends of mine…we never forget Saudi Arabia’s role in helping the Palestinian people as it has always compensated us when we are neglected by other nations.”

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