Thursday, November 11, 2004

To Bury the Rais and Not to Praise Him

I find myself in the odd situation of not knowing what to say about the somewhat anticlimactic death of Yasser Arafat. I think its ghoulish to celebrate the death of anyone, except perhaps the worst of monsters, and Arafat was, ultimately, little more than a thug and an assassin; certainly he was no Hitler or Stalin. He caused a plethora of pain and death in his life, although, ultimately, he probably brought more destruction and misery on his own people than he ever did on us. I am tempted to indulge in the sentiments of a film I once saw by a Russian-Jewish refugee in which a prisoner in one of Stalin's prison camps, upon hearing of the supreme leader's death, proclaims under his breath, "Haman is dead." But Arafat was no Haman, he was just another minstrel of violence,both physical and rhetorical, who was grandly horrendous or grandly tragic only in his inability to get beyond his negation of Jewish nationhood and make the leap into some kind of co-existence; but he certainly wasn't alone in that, and perhaps he hurt us most severely only to the extent that he disappointed our hopes that the war of negation that Arab society has waged against us for half a century might, at last, be over. The only thing I cautiously celebrate is the small possibility that the death of the minstrel may also mean the death of his only tragedy, and there may be, at last, some still, small light at the end of the tunnel.