Arafat dead

Yasser Arafat has died. He was 75.

You can read eulogies and condemnations elsewhere; I'm not going to write either. I offer only a few words that might help put what other people will be saying (good, bad, and preposterous) into perspective.

I do not think that Arafat was the great leader the Palestinians needed and still need; he could not get rid of the Israeli occupation and prevent the ghettoization the Palestinians now face; and he was a crook. Still, the amount of condemnation and hatred that have been heaped upon the man long ago went beyond all bounds of rationality and reality. Satan himself would have a difficult time earning the reputation Arafat had. People who did not hesitate to condemn Arafat and point their finger at him as the model "terrorist" would have better spent their time doing the same to Ariel Sharon, a person whose direct involvement in war crimes and mass murder are a clear part of the historical (as opposed to mythical) record and require none of the speculation, innuendo, and often complete fabrication that surrounded Arafat's personal history.

I do not know how the future will remember Arafat. However, two things seems clear. In the short term, Arafat's death will expose the scenario that postulated him as the devil preventing peace in the Middle East as the specious bullshit that it is. Second, and much longer term, history will vindicate his refusal to accept Barak's "generous offer" of a bantustan Palestine at the Camp David meetings. Just as Israeli historians can now admit that the state of Israel practiced deliberate ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians in 1948, we will see yet another admission - this time concerning the "generous offer" myth - when it is safe for Israel to do so.

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