France's Reaction to Arafat's Death

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This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," Nov. 11, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

Watch "The O'Reilly Factor" weeknights at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET and listen to the "Radio Factor!"

BILL O'REILLY, HOST: "Personal story" segment tonight, as you know, THE FACTOR is boycotting France. Bumper stickers are available on And we're doing that because we believe the French government is soft on terrorism.

Jacques Chirac (search) is all broken up about the death of Yasser Arafat (search). And as you may know, the French government did a whole bunch of business with Saddam Hussein (search).

Joining us now from Seattle is Jean-Jacques de Mesterton (search), a consultant who worked on Jacques Chirac's presidential campaign in 1981.

All right, let's deal with Arafat. And it's funny, you know, Chirac has gone out of his way to praise Arafat, visited with him in Belgium. And he ignored Ayad Allawi (search) when Allawi was there at the same time. What's the deal here?

JEAN-JACQUES DE MESTERTON, FMR. CHIRAC CAMPAIGN WORKER: You know, it's really worrisome. I mean, obviously the French president is pandering to a very large Muslim population on his territory. Six million strong. 10 percent of the French population itself.

So it's obviously good politics to look bereaved over Arafat's passing. And of course, the French were very keen to have him there on their territory to take care of him. It is worrisome in so many ways, only because after all, Arafat was not a good man. What Arafat was is an important man, a significant man in so many ways, but Arafat was not a good man.

We can't forget that he was given a chance to accomplish great things in 2000 at the end of President Clinton's term when he was shuttle- diplomacying away there, if, indeed, that is a term, and I've got to tell you, in all honesty, he was given 99 percent of his wildest dreams for a Palestinian state...

O'REILLY: Sure. Everybody knows.

DE MESTERTON: ... and still they turned it down, and the Palestinian people are suffering for it still.

O'REILLY: Every single day. But more troubling than that is that the Israelis have documents signed by Arafat that he paid suicide bombers and their families to kill kids and on and on and on.

But Chirac — you believe his motivation here, because he has a long history of supporting Arafat — way back to when you were working on his campaign, he was pro Arafat, right?

DE MESTERTON: Yes, he's liked Arafat for a long time, and really it shows this kind of weird duality in the French character, that they've always been in favor of the Palestinian struggle, they've believed that the Palestinians ought to have a homeland, and, of course, all of us believe the Palestinians ought to have a homeland.

But it ought not to be based on the killing of elderly people and children women on buses in Tel Aviv and other places. It ought to be based on a proper process. The president has a historic opportunity here. I'm glad Arafat is aside so that something new may come along...

O'REILLY: Yes, I hope so.

DE MESTERTON: ... and provide some hope for the Palestinians.

O'REILLY: All right. So you believe that Chirac — it was simply a matter of him pandering to French Arabs in a political way? That's what it was all about?

DE MESTERTON: There's no doubt that it was about that, Bill. But, let's face it, the European Union has, I mean, contributed considerable resources to the Palestinians for many years. And, in many ways, let's face it, it is also a resistance to whatever America is doing or not doing to further the Middle East peace process.


DE MESTERTON: I resent it. I want to see America — without America, there is no Middle East peace process.

O'REILLY: Now do you believe the rumors that...

DE MESTERTON: Now we have a chance.

O'REILLY: Do you believe the rumors that Arafat stole hundreds of millions of dollars and squirreled away...

DE MESTERTON: Absolutely.


DE MESTERTON: Oh, Bill, of course I do. Of course, he did. He stole an absolute fortune. He's padded his bank accounts to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars and maybe well over a billion dollars. Of course, his wife...

O'REILLY: Well, his widow...

DE MESTERTON: ... lived in palatial splendor in Paris.

O'REILLY: Right. His widow, Sula, right, lives in Paris?


O'REILLY: What is it, $10,000 a day she spends on...

DE MESTERTON: Yes. I mean, you know, it's a rough life, but it's great if you can get it.

O'REILLY: Yes. Well, I've never understood the fascination with that man.

Now on Saddam...

DE MESTERTON: Neither have I.

O'REILLY: ... we're in the middle of...

DE MESTERTON: Neither have I. Remember that Abu Daoud who was the mastermind of the 1972 terrorist attacks in Munich actually admitted in his memoirs of a Palestinian terrorist, which was published in 1999, Bill — he admitted that Fatah, which is Arafat's wing of the PLO, was behind the 1972 attacks in Munich that left 11 Israeli athletes dead.


DE MESTERTON: It's shocking.

O'REILLY: Well, I don't think there's any question the legacy of Arafat is going to be terrorist. I only have a minute left. We know the Arab — we know the oil-for-food scandal — you know, the U.N. is blocking it, though. I — last time we had you on, I asked you: Do you think it's going to lift up and touch Chirac at the end?

DE MESTERTON: Oh, heck yes. Of course it will because...

O'REILLY: You think so?

DE MESTERTON: ... after all, the president of France is immune from prosecution because of a number of odd measures taken while he's been president. He's immune from prosecution whilst he is in, but there have been many scandals in Paris and other places where municipal workers have been used to do all sorts of things, and so there are many scandals while Chirac has been president of France...

O'REILLY: Yes. It will be really interesting to see...

DE MESTERTON: ... and I guarantee you it's going to come back at him.

O'REILLY: Yes, at the end of the rainbow, whether Chirac's name surfaces in all of these bribe deals.

Mr. De Mesterton, thanks very much. We appreciate it.

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