Friday, July 08, 2005

A Wall Called Arafat: How to Honor a Real Obstacle

A group of businessmen in El Salvador, looking to honor the deceased Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, dedicated a park in his memory in San Salvador last month. Turns out, much of the El Salvadoran population, including President Tony Saca, descend from Palestinians who emigrated to the South American state in the late 1800s.

The park runs along a street called Jerusalem, where the businessmen installed a life-size bust of the PLO founder - a reference to their dream of a Palestinian state with a capital in Israel's holy city.

"We are making a monument to the maximum leader of the struggle for the liberation of Palestine," explained John Nasser, one of the businessmen involved in the project.

Nasser may consider Arafat a maximum leader, but then, he lives in El Salvador, not the Palestinian territories. Had he lived in Jenin or Ramallah, odds are he would be like most Palestinians: unemployed, impoverished, and angry with the Palestinian government and its leaders for creating a corrupt and ineffective regime.

Honoring Arafat with a park is like marking last year's tsunami with a pool party. The two things simply don't fit together. Arafat remained a terrorist until his dying breaths. In the end, he was considered incapable of making peace with Israel. In fact, many believe he was the real obstacle.

That's why you don't honor Arafat with a park. You honor him by acknowledging his contribution to the region. No one did more to force Israel to build a security barrier around the West Bank. It was the barrier no one wanted, not the government, the opposition, nor the people. But after three years of non-stop terror it became clear that Arafat had no intention of stopping the violence. After much debate, the government ordered a barrier between Israel and the Palestinians.

That wall is Arafat's real legacy, and it should bear his name as a sign of honor. It captures everything he gave his people, the sum total of forty years as their leader.

There is the Allenby Bridge, the Begin Highway, and now, the Arafat Wall. May this legacy endure for generations.


At 12:40 PM, Blogger MC Aryeh said...

You did it! Fantastic piece. Best line: "Honoring Arafat with a park is like marking last year's tsunami with a pool party." Classic!


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