Saturday, November 10, 2012

Arafat…Should his death be commemorated?

Tomorrow is November, 11th, 2012. It will be the eighth remembrance of Arafat's death/murder. Thousands of Palestinians will commemorate his death: they will go out on rallies, speak of him in the radios, at schools and universities; the Palestinian streets will be buzzing with Arafat's name. Should we make the day of his death a memorable day? Was he a president that deserves to live on in the hearts of the people?

Of course, each person is entitled to their own opinion, thus I would like to state mine. Starting off we cannot speak ill of the dead, so this will be respectful criticism. Let us start off with the positive aspects of Arafat's life and character.

 Arafat did work hard when he was a university student in Egypt to establish a movement to defend Palestine. I, myself, am not a big fan of Fateh at the moment, but it was impressive how Arafat had united people from different political groups into one movement for Palestine. The same movement had people from the Marxist left wingers and people from the Muslim Brotherhood! To convince two people with extremely different views to work together for one cause is a great achievement in itself. Another thing I had admired about Arafat was his simple lifestyle. For a president to wear his army uniform and kuffiye instead of flaunting expensive suits is probably one of the main things that made people feel close to him. In his headquarters he mostly ate what many Palestinians eat in their own homes; nothing too luxurious. He visited the injured and the families of martyrs and he kissed the cheeks of the children of Palestine.

Nobody is perfect. Therefore, we cannot idolize a human being. Things happen. Oslo happened. We lost lots of the land, and our right to it. Arafat received a Nobel Peace Prize after the Oslo agreement. Palestinians did not receive much. We were entitled to areas A and B, where B is controlled by Israeli military. Area A is not any better, for the military can enter whenever it feels the need to. And the military did spend a long time in areas A during the second Intifada, so where is the independent Palestinian state in that?

You cannot give away what you do not own. Arafat gave away what he did not own. He did it for the peace process, but it did not achieve peace. He did it for the two-state solution, but we are still an occupied state.

I will not curse Arafat, yet I will not blindly take him as an idol. There are positive things we have learned from him, but he is not God's shadow. I was wearing a kuffiye today; not as a symbol of belonging to a political party, but as a Palestinian (who would also like to stay warm in the winter). A teacher from school told me to wear it tomorrow to school in memory of Arafat's death. I replied "Toz fe Arafat" which roughly translates as "To hell with Arafat". We should not disrespect the dead, so I take that back.
I will not wear the kuffiye.