Thursday, December 26, 2019

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If Arafat Were Alive Today He'd Be Horrified To Find Himself Entombed

by Marwan Barghouti
Credit: BDalim via Wikimedia Commons
Credit: BDalim via Wikimedia Commons
Kishon Prison, December 26 - Much has changed since our beloved Raïs passed away in 2004, some of which he would appreciate, and some of which he would decry. But perhaps the most important thing the legendary Yasser Arafat would notice if he were among the living today, and which would spark his unmitigated disapproval, is that he lies interred in Ramallah.

Abu Amar, as we often called him, came to personify the Palestinian national struggle; despite his bitter differences with leaders of other factions among our people, no one before or since could make a more convincing case for the last, and perhaps only, consensus figure among our leadership. If he lived and breathed now, he would certainly find discouraging the worsening divisions between, for example, Fatah and Hamas, and the fact that we stand nowhere appreciably closer to the hoped-for liberation of our homeland than when he departed this mortal coil. That, and the fact that he wouldn't be living and breathing for long under all that dirt and concrete.

Some might try to alert the Raïs to the momentous departure of Israel, settlers, soldiers, and all, from the entirety of the Gaza Strip in 2005, presaging, we all hoped, a similar development in the rest of Palestine. I contend he would remain unswayed by that observation, for three main reasons: no such retrenchment of Zionist settlements has followed - the opposite, they have only expanded in the decade-and-a-half since; Fatah lost its short-lived control of the Gaza Strip soon after, as irreconcilable rifts widened between the movement and Hamas; and his attention would be unable to focus on any supposed victories while entirely occupied by the dark, airless tomb in which he would find himself.

What would our larger-than-life, legendary leader say if he came back to life today? Would he marvel at the new town of Rawabi? Would he nod approvingly at the continued misery of those who dwell in refugee camps after four generations rather than admit the attempt to drive in the Jews into the sea in 1948 has failed? Would he criticize his political heirs' enriching themselves on funds provided for the benefit of ordinary Palestinians, when those leaders, after all, are just following his example? Would he see as wisdom or folly the continued refusal of any Palestinian leadership to outline a feasible, reasonable resolution to our conflict with Israel? In my assessment, he would panic at being entombed, and soon suffocate back to death.

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