death of an enemy

  1. 413 Posts.
    Death of an Enemy
    by Michelle Nevada
    Nov 11, '04

    It is not a sense of happiness I feel at the news of Yasser Arafat's death, it is relief. However, this relief is tempered with trepidation. What will this death mean for Israel, we can't know. It might be really good, it might be really bad, only G-d knows. So, whether we dance in the streets and throw a party, or quietly contemplate our future may depend greatly upon what we believe will happen in response to his death.

    Many of the Arabs in Israel also might be wondering whether to celebrate. It may be argued that Yasser Arafat was one of the worst things to happen to the Arabs, especially in his waning years, when he seemed more interested in personal aggrandizement than in "his people." Millions, if not billions, of dollars in funds that were supposed to go to improving the conditions of Arabs living in Palestinian controlled areas were, instead, spent on beautiful homes, cars and allowances for Arafat's wife and Arafat's cronies. Graft, mismanagement, and outright criminal behavior became commonplace.

    He turned down the greatest offer that Israel ever made regarding making a "homeland" for the Arabs in the land of Israel. Instead, he launched a deadly intifada that not only killed and maimed Israelis, but it had an even greater impact upon Arabs, destroying families and communities and compounding their misery with increasing levels of economic and physical deprivation.

    So, who will celebrate, who will mourn and who will quietly wait?

    I, for one, will wait. I am too cautious about what Arafat's death might mean. Much of my fear of celebration stems from the fact that Arafat's failure to name a definite successor may lead to a power vacuum that may be filled any number of ways; and I am not hopeful regarding the direction the Arabs may follow and what that will mean for Israel.

    I know the hope many foster in their hearts. They want to believe that a new leader will emerge who will be legitimate and significant enough to lead these Arabs into a real government. There is hope that the Arabs will decide to give some legitimate power to their leaders and actually begin to act in a civilized and democratic fashion. I doubt it, though. There are too many interests that would not be served by this end. Sure, the US and Europe would be thrilled to see this happen, so that is exactly why it will not and cannot happen.

    Unfortunately, many in the Palestinian movements have built their identity not on a positive definition of themselves - i.e., "I am this." - but on a negative definition - i.e., "I am not that." Therefore, the identity of many of these groups depends on doing the opposite of whatever Israel or any democratic nation might suggest. This type of oppositional behavior, even in the face of logical and reasonable arguments to create a legitimate government, may win out, simply because of the level of hatred that has been fostered under years of anti-democratic, anti-Western, anti-Israel educational, social and religious pressures. But, being "anti" this and "anti" that does not equal "pro" Arab, Islam or Palestinian.

    Even though many people think that Arabs are automatically opposed to any democratic, Western or Israeli concepts, they are not. These are learned behaviors. As evidence, I offer thousands of years of co-existence between Jews and Arabs in many countries in the world, in addition to the existence of democratic systems in many majority Muslim countries such as Turkey.

    Unfortunately, the learned hatred of many of the Arabs may become an insurmountable obstacle to any future legitimate, democratic governmental system in those areas currently controlled by the Palestinian Authority. I am more likely to believe that there will be a continuation of the current lack of substance and direction from the Palestinian Authority, with the addition of dangerous terrorist elements. Already, Hamas has been asking for a "coalition" government to rule those areas controlled by the PA, which leads me to believe that we might be in for a continuation of terrorist activity in and around Israel, combined with the dangerous influence of countries such as Iran, Syria and Lebanon in the governing of the Arab people.

    We have already seen Iran's influence forwarded in the form of the launching of a drone over Israeli territory, and we may see much more overt activities from surrounding countries as well, as they bounce against the border of Israel like hungry dogs. Unfortunately, it seems, the future of the Arabs who call themselves "Palestinians" may have been sold from one master to another, without any intervening freedom.

    Perhaps this death will lead to some clarity of vision for the Israeli government, however. One thing about Arafat is that he was a master of deception and capitulation. I doubt those who wish to seize power once Arafat is interred will be able to hold back their intentions, and that within a very short time, they will show their true colors. When they do, I am hoping that those in the Israeli government who have, thus far, donned their rose-colored glasses when looking toward Ramallah, will finally have to toss them aside and face the glaring truth of what many of the Arabs want: the elimination of Israel and Jews from the Middle East.

    G-d willing, this vision will not come too late.
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