[Allan Topol / AllanTopol.Com]
Lightning paced thriller writer
of International Intrigue
National Bestselling Author

No Dignity In Death
by Allan Topol, [IMAGE]2004


Photo Courtesy: Julie Zitin
[Allan Topol / AllanTopol.Com] Yasser Arafat has for years been a huge impediment to Middle Eastern peace. As long as he maintained his grip on the wheel for the Palestinians, there could be no progress in the direction of peace or even improvement of relations with Israel.

Even worse, with each passing year that Arafat controlled the Palestinian governmental bodies, his people suffered. Their standard of living has plunged. Poverty has increased. And yet he stubbornly carried on the Intifada, using teenagers as suicide bombers to kill innocent civilians.

The Israelis have reached agreements and understandings with both Egypt and Jordan, which have been mutually beneficial. Spurred on by President Clinton, the Israelis were nudged into the starting gate at Camp David four years ago. Yasser Arafat torpedoed the negotiations. Then he launched the Intifada.

During these four years of misery for the Palestinians, various of their leaders, including then Prime Minister, Mahmoud Abbas, have tried to commence constructive negotiations with Israel, have tried to reorganize the Palestinians security forces, and have tried to end the widespread corruption in the Palestinian’s ruling structure. Each time Arafat has pulled out the rug from under his colleagues. His behavior has been so egregious that President Bush would have nothing to do with Arafat.

Arafat has never been part of the solution to the Israel Palestinian conflict. He has consistently been part of the problem.

It is perhaps fitting that Arafat’s death should end up being something between a Greek tragedy and French force. Complete with a wailing wife (or widow, depending upon his status when you read this), a chorus in the wings (ordinary Palestinian people on the West Bank and Gaza) and hospital room doors being opened and slammed. It’s as if Sophocles and Dan Ackroyd collaborated on the plot.

The responsible Palestinian leadership, including Abbas and Ahmed Qurei, the current Prime Minister, are exasperated and worried. Unable to gain any hard information about Arafat’s health, they decided to fly to Paris to get a first hand view. One can only feel sorry for them. They don’t want to act unseemly in deposing a dying leader, but the business of government must continue.

Chirac, the French government, and medical sources, wanted to be helpful and constructive. Instead, they have ended up as an unwilling arbitrator, between the Palestinian leadership and emotional Suha, Arafat’s wife of fourteen years, who is thirty-four years younger and has lived without him in Paris for the last four years,

Using French privacy laws, Suha has controlled access to the comatose Arafat. Perhaps love enters into it, but as with most death bed scenes, power and money play a commanding role.

Yes, money. I don’t want to speak unkindly of the dead or nearly dead, but Suha has been living regally on funds siphoned by Arafat from the PLO’s coffers and forwarded to Paris. Those payments won’t continue.

At the end of the day, a single person is the cause of all this confusion and confrontation. It is Arafat himself.

Arafat knew before he left Ramallah that he might be dying. In this situation, any responsible leader, anyone who truly cared for his people, would have presided over an orderly transfer of power. Instead, he left behind a vacuum which may lead to a civil war.

Arafat’s life was chaos and contradiction. His death is devoid of dignity. His legacy is misery and humiliation for the Palestinians. Unfortunately, the people suffer for the sins of their leaders.

In the words of former Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban, Arafat has never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity. During his long rule, no progress has been made in improving the lives of the Palestinian people. The peace agreement offered at Camp David would have done that, but Arafat rejected it. Meantime, his family and cronies have lived lavishly. Millions have been concealed in secret accounts.

It’s difficult to speak unkindly about someone at the end of his days, who is hooked up to a life support machine. But Arafat’s condition doesn’t change his record.

One can only hope that with Arafat’s reluctant exit from the Middle Eastern stage, a new day will dawn. That others capable of acting to improve the situation of the Palestinians through negotiations will emerge. The Palestinian people deserve better.