The great leader of Palestine, Yasser Arafat, is dead. This unique man, whose withered body was interned on the Eve of Eid el Fitr in a coffin with the holy soil of Jerusalem in the midst of his ruined fortress, was a symbol of struggle for Palestinian dignity. He will be forever remembered as a young warrior who broke the teeth of Jewish arrogance in the battle of Karameh, in 1968, when his fedayyin resisted the irresistible force of Israel and caused its first ever defeat. He will be remembered as a friend of Leila Haled, the man with a gun who blew up enemy airplanes and spoke at the UN. He will be listed among other warrior-saints of the century next to Che Guevara and Chapaev.
He will be remembered also for his last stand, for the last three dreadful years he had spent in besieged Mukata as Sumud personified, as example of unconditional clinging of a native man to his soil.
He did not ran away when Israel bombed and strafed Mukata, he did not ran away when the Jews discussed daily how should they kill him, he did not ran away during the hard years of Intifada – he stayed with his people to the bitter end. Eventually he was granted glorious martyrdom as one of thousands Palestinians martyred in the bloody war, together with Abdelkader el Husseini, Sheikh Ahmad Yassin and other leaders and warriors.
Even his errors were errors of a good man. He believed that the enemy will abide by an agreement, he believed that the superpower will enforce the treaty they guaranteed, he believed in a possibility of carving out two states in his beloved Palestine. He submitted to endless humiliations, agreed to endless concessions to the insatiable adversary, but he never surrendered the Noble Sanctuary of Haram al Sharif, never gave up the right of return of his people to Jaffa and Haifa.
His death of a martyr is also death of the Two-states-solution, of a Palestinian-state-alongside-Jewish-state mantra. Now we should concentrate our efforts in the only possible direction – creation of one democratic state for all in the whole of the Holy Land from the River to the Sea. We call for immediate release of Marwan Barghouthi from the Israeli captivity, together with thousands other prisoners-of-war. We call for general elections with participation of all inhabitants of historic Palestine, native Palestinians and Ashkenazi, Oriental and Russian immigrants, on basis of full equality. We call to inter the mortal remains of Arafat the Martyr in al Aqsa Mosque, next to Abdelkader al Husseini, as a guardian of the Holy Mountain. We shall redeem you, Arafat!
My Russian friend and a great modern writer Alexander Prochanov wrote these ringing lines about the great fallen leader a few years ago, when the Intifada just began. They are still suitable today:
ARAFAT AS THE LEADER OF PALESTINIANS AND OF RUSSIANS
By Alexander Prochanov,
Zavtra weekly No: 42(359) Date: 17-10-2000
The great nations whose haughty stalk shook the earth, who changed the world, revolted, populated new continents, conceived new religions, now are staring drowsily at their shepherds, who brought them into the sty of the new world order, drip dross from a table of America into their manger, pour the Circe’s potion of IMF, titillate them by a distant sight of the synthetic heifer of the American dream. A nation that dares to kick and pull the chain is flogged by electronic scourges of CNN; its skin pierced by sharp Tomahawks. The Russians forgot Pushkin’s poems and Stalin’s victories; Latin America does not recollect Bolivar, Sandino and Che Guevara.
But in one spot, a space ray burned through the dead encapsulating shell of the planet. This space ray, as God’s finger, points to the people of Palestine. Wherever the ray reaches the earth, wherever it shines over Gaza, Jerusalem and Hebron, History Alive is re-created before our eyes. As in the days of the prophets, the people of the Holy Land pray, shoot, bleed, sing the songs of struggle, face the Jewish tanks, tear off their steely caterpillars with bare hands, stops up with their bodies the flaming gun mouths, demonstrate to the fuzzy emasculated world the meaning of words Freedom, Country, God.
Israel is doomed. She is disgusting to the Arabs, French, Englishmen, even to herself. Red- hot Intifada is the fiery river, in which another myth of the 20th century melts and sinks to the bottom — the Zionist idea. According to designs of Herzl and Zhabotinsky, a small geopolitical monstrosity was created on the Arab lands. They have imposed on America and Germany the annual tribute of five billions dollars. They pour napalm on the mosques and transform the whole nations into homeless survivors and refugees. They brainwash the whole world with their ‘ashes of Auschwitz’.
On the place of Israel, the Arabs will plant many fig trees and Lebanese cedars; they will create a National Park called The Jewish National Home: it will be the home of the large and pretty Hebrew-speaking parrot.
Yasser Arafat is the last national leader of the turn-of-the-millennium. The Great Palestinian was reared by his people professing the faith of freedom; he erased the division between Sacred and Mundane together with distinction between Life and Death. God came to His people incarnated as the wise, fearless, tireless, incorruptible leader. He closes eyes to the fallen fedai, embraces the orphan, wipes tears of widow, departs from burning Beirut with his warriors, enters the Beast’s lair in Camp David, reads the incinerated Koran in Sabra and Shatila, kisses the hot earth of his native Palestine, walks with his olive branch and the Kalashnikov gun into the immortality of history.
“Tell me, the branch of Palestine: where did you grow, where you have blossomed…” – asked the poet. It would reply: “I grew in the Garden of Eden of our Lord the God. Of my strong wood, the handgrip and the stock of the machinegun are made. My fiery leaves, like the drops of a Molotov cocktail, fly on the armor of the Israeli tanks. My blossom decorates the bullet-perforated banner of PLO. My fruits are sweet for the heroes and martyrs, sweet as Freedom… “