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Arafat Visit to Museum Scrapped

January 17, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A State Department effort to have Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat visit the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum next week was scrapped after American Jewish groups objected, The Washington Post said Saturday.

Quoting museum sources that it did not identify further, the Post said members of the American Jewish community had told museum director Walter Reich that Arafat was ``Hitler incarnate″ and should not be welcomed.

Arafat is scheduled to meet here next Thursday with President Clinton as part of a U.S. effort to revitalize peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel. Clinton also will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next week.

Arafat’s visit to the Holocaust Museum was suggested by U.S. deputy special Mideast envoy Aaron Miller and his superior, Dennis Ross, the Post said. Both State Department officials serve on the panel that functions as the museum’s board of directors.

But the Palestinain leader canceled his visit to the museum after Reich and Miles Lerman, a concentration camp survivor and chairman of the Holocaust Memorial Council, said Arafat would not be welcomed as a head of state.

``We believe the museum should not get involved in a political dispute where half of the people are for something and half are against it,″ Lerman said.

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