Arafat And The Rhetoric Of Blame

A man who lives, not by what he loves but what he hates, is a sick man.  — Archibald Macleish

The horrendous events of this past week need to be put into context. If I had a nickel for every time I heard the words “Arafat is responsible for the violence in the region”, I would instantly retire. One would think that all parties live by the above quoted reference rather than reason. But the truth of the matter is more serious than adding up de- bating points between Palestinian and Israeli spokesmen.

Israelis and the media know that to simplify a conflict, it is often desirable to personalize it. Personify evil in the name and face of a leader. Qadaffi served this purpose in the eighties and of course Saddam Hussein was the nineties version of evil incarnate. Bin Laden is the poster boy for everything evil in the 21st Century.

So Israelis have a well-worn media plan with which they can make political hay. But we can ask with sobering reflection whether Arafat is actually responsible for everything that ails the region. If the answer is in the affirmative, then the solution is rather simple. If this is ACTUALLY the case, let me be the first Palestinian to say it…execute him now.

Israelis know where he is. To eliminate the responsible party is simple. One attack helicopter will do. Eliminate the responsible party, and the trouble goes away.

Who believes this? Rhetoric aside, everyone knows that even if Arafat was killed, the problem would still exist. And what is the problem? Occupation. Collective punishment and enslavement of over 3.5 million Palestinians living under oppressive conditions is the breeding grounds for violence.

Kill Arafat and the problem remains. Israel has bombed everywhere EXCEPT where Arafat is actually lurking. Why? They do not WANT to kill him. They want to keep him alive and lay the blame on a person instead of a situation. If Arafat was eliminated and the next suicide bomb went off, who would the Israelis blame? What would they say?

Make no mistake about it…Arafat’s days are numbered. He made a deal with the devil when he decided to become the defacto police force for an occupying power. He is caught between the hammer and the anvil. He is not a very good policeman and he certainly is not a very good leader for the Palestinian people.

The simplistic personification of the conflict is really a diversion. Don’t fall for it. If Arafat was dead tomorrow, millions of people would still be brutalized by Israeli Occupation…and as long as this is the case, there is no power on earth that can bring an end to the violence.

There can be no security for Israelis while they continue to occupy Palestinian lands. There can be no peace while there is a continued Occupation.

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