Ding Dong the Wicked Witch is Dead (now with update!)
So, OK, now that I'm back in Israel I suppose I should say something about Israeli politics and Arafat.
On Monday, I went to the makolet (local grocery), and Shabi was in the best mood I'd ever seen him in. He was literally singing while ringing up purchases and organizing shelves. I was thinking that he must have an amazing new girlfriend, but no, his lightheartedness was because Arafat was going to die any minute. He could barely control his happiness. He was so happy that it spilled over to me. I became happy because it's hard to be around someone in such a profoundly good mood and not share it!
Now, I don't know Shabi's history. It could be that he and his family and friends have a much more personal relationship with Palestinian terrorism than I do. Far be it from me to judge someone else's reaction to the demise of a terrorist who may have been directly responsible for the death of people Shabi knew and loved.
But in general, I think there's something gauche about being that ecstatic over Arafat's death.
Oh, please don't misunderstand. I think Arafat was a lying, manipulative, evil, murderous, embezzling sneak and a cheat who betrayed Israel AND his own people. Hundreds of millions of dollars of humanitarian aid that he took from them . . . . the support for terrorism coming from one side of his mouth while he spoke of peace with the other . . . he was a disgusting specimen of human DNA. He deserves every ounce of hatred and contempt that is sent his way.
As one friend said to me, "it's sad to think that someone lived his life such that no one is really sorry to see him go." Technically she was wrong: Allison Kaplan Sommer has several posts about the BBC reporters who are sad to see him go. But my friend's basic point stands.
Over at Biur Chametz, our friend Zman Biur has an interesting roundup of rabbinical opinions about how, why, and to what extent Jews should or may rejoice at Arafat's death. I recommend going there to read it.
But my conclusion is different from Zman's. Given that very few of us are on such a spiritual level that we'd be celebrating out of "love and gratitude to God" (and, note that we have not witnessed a miracle - Arafat died of natural causes in old age - hardly a sign that God is about to deliver us from evil . . . ) I think the appropriate reaction at this time is not rejoicing, but rather grim satisfaction.
I'm sure that if there are large-scale celebrations in Jerusalem or other areas, the media will be happy to report on it. I wonder who will watch that footage and think "Those Israelis are just as unsympathetic, inhumane, and unclassy as the Palestinians are" and who will think "Well sure they are rejoicing, Arafat was a murderer, and the Israelis are the only ones who seem to understand that!"
Question: Has anyone seen any obits that say straight out that while Arafat may have been famous and somewhat powerful, he was a lowlife? Please send links. I'm tired of all the ones that say "everyone knew who he was, and he had this unrealized dream of a Palestinian state, blah blah blah, that's the best we can say about him, and we won't bother listing the worst we could say, if we wanted to."
Arafat finally dead. May his memory be cursed. And may his death bring about new opportunities for real peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and new opportunities for the Palestinians, as a nation, to conduct themselves in constructive ways. And may the Israelis and Palestinians both take advantage of those opportunities.
We shall see!
Do you speak Spanish? Can you translate this blog post, which links to mine?
Thanks to Dov Bear for linking to this post, and your kind words. I appreciate it. (I love Dov Bear's blog, by the way! It's smart and sassy. Check it out! I'll add it soon to my blogroll.)
Thanks to Delphine's Ocean for the link and kind words. And no, I don't think you are anti-Israel at all, but I urge you to reserve your compassion for people who are more likely to deserve it. I think at Arafat's death we should neither party nor shed a tear, but rather breathe a sigh of relief, perhaps indulge in visions of the fiery pit he's probably in right now, and then move on to constructive things like peace talks.