by Robert Fisk
So the death of Yasser Arafat is a great new opportunity for the
Palestinians, is it? The man who personified the Palestinian struggle - "Mr
Palestine" - is dead. So things can only get better for the Palestinians.
Death means democracy. Death means statehood. That the final demise of the
corrupt old guerrilla leader should be a sign of optimism demonstrates just
how catastrophic the conflict in the Middle East has now become. It's a bit
like Fallujah. The more we destroy it, the crueler we are, the brighter the
chances of Iraqi democracy. The more successful we are, the worse things are
going to get. That's what George Bush said on Friday: that violence will
increase as Iraqi elections grow closer - a total mind warp since the more
violent Iraq becomes, the less the chances of any election ever being held.
Note how Bush could not even bring himself to mention Arafat's name. It's
the same old agenda. The Palestinians have to have a democracy. They have to
prove themselves; they - not the Israelis - have to show that they are a
worthy "negotiating partner". And any new leader - the colorless Ahmad
Qureia or the equally colorless and undemocratic Abu Mazen - must "control
his own people". That was what Arafat failed to do even though he thought
his job was to represent his own people, which is what democracy is supposed
to be all about.
It's worth noting how this narrative has been written. The Israelis, with
their continued occupation, their continued illegal construction of colonies
for Jews and Jews only on Arab land, their air strikes and helicopter
executions and live-fire shooting at stone-throwing children, are not part
of this equation. They are just innocently waiting to find a new
"negotiating partner" now that Arafat is in his grave. . . .
Akiva Eldar, "Sharon's Bantustans
Are Far From Copenhagen's Hope," Haaretz, November 14, 2004
Donald Macintyre, "Jailed Fatah leader will be 'kingmaker' in Arafat succession,"
Independent, May 13, 2003
Hassan M. Fattah, "Faulting U.S., Report Urges Arab Lands to Democratize," New York
Times, April 6, 2005
Robert Fisk, "In
Middle Eastern elections, no one bats an eyelid when the leader gets 110 per
cent of the vote," Independent, April 6, 2005
Patrick J. Buchanan, "What Does 'Democracy' Mean - Over There?," Antiwar.com, May 2, 2005
Robert Fisk, "Telling it like it isn't,"
Los Angeles Times, December 27, 2005