the Disillusioned kid: Arafat Is Dead, Long Live Palestine!
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Thursday, November 11, 2004

Arafat Is Dead, Long Live Palestine!

Perhaps unusually, I find myself lost for words and so instead, I'll point you in the direction of Ramzy Baroud's powerful piece in the Palestine Chronicle.

In the article, Baroud notes that we must not indulge in misrepresenting the Palestinian struggle by reducing it to the legacy of one man," while this is undoubtedly true, it is clear that the choice of his successor will have major ramifications. Fellow blogger 'Lenin' opines, "My money is on Marwan Barghouti to succeed him, barring some internal fixing shenanigans." I have felt for sometime that Barghouti would be the logical successor to Arafat, but 'Lenin' neglects to mention the major obstacle to his assuming the leadership of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, that for the foreseeable future he will continue to rot in an Israeli prison. In lieu of Barghouti, the PLO have elected former Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas as their new chief, meaning he is likely to be the new Palestinian leader, at least for the timebeing.

Anybody thinking that Arafat's death will end the Palestinian struggle, is sorely mistaken. Huge numbers took to the streets to mourn the death of a man they see as a symbol of their struggle. Some of them burned Israeli and American flags, while others turned to violence, throwing stones at Israeli cars and soldiers who responded with tear gas and rubber-coated bullets (a far less humane weapon than the name might suggest). Additionally, the Al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigade, a militant group with links to Arafat's Fatah movement and responsible for several suicide bombings within Israel, has changed its name to the Martyr Yasser Arafat Brigade.

Arafat's death might actually lead to a major increase in violence. He has been instrumental in holding the Palestinian Authority together. If his death leads to the organisation being weakened this will help not only the Israelis, but also Islamic extremist groups in the Territories, most notably Hamas. None of this is inevitable, however.

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