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Yassar Arafat 1929 - 2004

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Yassar Arafat, the leader of the Palestinian people, a man who spent his life trying to create a homeland for his people, has died. Living in exile, hunted for the tactics he used, confined for the last few years to a compound that was surrounded by the Israeli Defense Force is dead at 75. He was the face of the Palestinian struggle. The short guy with the black and white checkered scarf around his head, the guy that has been a thorn in the side of Israel for 40 years, the guy you saw on T.V. denouncing suicide bombings in English, but not in Arabic.

The Israeli government has branded him a terrorist (the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharron, admits that he himself was once a terrorist and killed British soldiers in his autobiography “Warrior Politician”) Israeli politicians call Arafat “a roadblock to peace” and declared that he was the number one reason there is no peace in the Holy land today.

Well, he’s dead now, no more “roadblock”. What will happen now?

Will the new PLO leadership sit down with the Israeli government and cut the deal Arafat had “blocked” for all these years?

Will the powers that be in Israeli claim that the new Palestinian leadership cannot be dealt with? As they have in the past?

Will a radical group take over the West Bank and Gaza forcing the IDF to move in even deeper?

Will the Palestinian people have a homeland? Will the Israelis have the Jewish State they desire?

The United States gives $3,000,000,000 a year to Israel. That’s billion dollars. 80% of it in military grants that Israel doesn’t have to pay pack. Israel has never paid any money back to the U.S. all loans to them have been forgiven before they have come due. What could your community do with just a portion of that money? A ton of that money goes to defending the citizens of Israel from suicide bombers and other horrible acts of terrorism. Think 9/11 was bad? Try not knowing if the coffeehouse you’re sitting in is going to get blown up today, or the bus you’re on is going to be destroyed before you can get off. This is everydaylife, all the time.

Try having a wall built around your town, with armed soldiers on it pointing M-16 rifles at you and not being able to get out. Try having your 15-minute walk to school turn into a 3-hour ordeal with two check points to go through. Check points where you get searched and felt up by men at gunpoint and you’re only a 13-year-old girl.

This is a historic moment in the region. Change will happen.

Will it be one state, two states?

Are these people stuck in an endless cycle of murder?

What do you think?

- RK Daley