Thursday, November 11, 2004
A Wasted Life

Palestinian Liberation Organization Chairman, and the President of the Palestinian Authority, Yasir Arafat, has died.

It is an end to a very colorful, and active life. But, truth be told, his legacy will not be seen, decades from now, as a positive one, that of a struggle to liberate his people, that of straining to uplift them. It will be seen as a chequered one - it will always be marred with the charges that he was just a merciless terrorist leader, who, in the end, did not do all that he did for the sake of his people, but for his own good. For, he does not leave behind a Palestine that could proudly talk about its struggle for liberation, that could look forward to a brighter future, free from the clutches of another nation. He rather leaves behind a society tattered by internal strife, where every leader is, following the Father of the Nation, afraid that any compromise he might make would lead to his death.

Contrast that with the former partners of Arafat in the peace negotiations - be it Rabin, Perez or Barak - they all put their lives on the line too (and Rabin actually did lose his). They showed that courage is needed to lead a country from darkness to hope. Their nation had much to lose in terms of territory, and all that accompanies a partition of the land you have come to consider your country. Arafat's nation had much to gain - the birth of a country that is her own was on cards. But he threw it all away because he was afraid they would dump him if he were to make any compromise or even call a truce.

What courage he showed in fighting the Israelis, he could not show in leading his own people in their destiny. These last years, when he could have done much to put the bloody mess that Palestine today is, he was busy clinging on to power. He was not willing to let other leaders on his side like Abu Mazen or Ahmed Qurei do what should really have been his work.

His shameful lack of courage in this last decade of his life will always mar all the courage he showed when he challenged everyone from that podium of the United Nations. History will never believe that was real bravery.

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