Arafat’s legacy will live on [Archives:2004/791/Viewpoint]

November 18 2004

Yasser Arafat's demise will certainly have a negative impact on many millions of people around the world because he represented a symbol of hope for freedom and liberation.
He stood by his people for so long and even refused to marry and bring children because he had a cause to fight for.
A close friend of his is the current Palestinian ambassador to Sanaa, Dr. Khalid El-Sheikh, who had revealed that Arafat was so occupied with his work to the level that made him work for more than 18 hours daily. This cannot come from any ordinary man. He must have had a case and a strong case to fight and dedicate his life for.
Hence, I find myself obliged to express my sincere gratitude to this leader for the years he spent to help find a state for his people. He may have not succeeded, but he definitely has set up an example for other Palestinians to follow.
Furthermore, he was also a symbol for uniting Palestinians under one leadership and flag. The numerous attempts exceeding 40 in number, to assassinate him show the degree of influence this man has in running the affairs of his country. Some believe that his loss will only serve the current Israeli administration so as to pressurize Palestinians to give greater concessions.
It is said that true hero's are not valued unless they are gone. I fear that this may apply to President Arafat as well, because in his absence there is fear that there could be internal conflict and chaos in the Palestinian territories.
Nevertheless, it is now the opportunity of Palestinians to show the world that they are strong enough to act decisively in maintaining unity and preserving the stability and peace they enjoyed during Arafat's rule.
It is now the obligation of the international community to work hard to help Palestinians gather around a new leadership that is legitimate and resolute. This can only happen through transparent and free elections to help bring legitimacy to the upcoming government.
In my opinion, such an election should include all factions, including Islamic ones. It is up to the People of Palestine to decide what kind of leadership they want and whether they prefer dialogue or armed struggle. Only then will all factions agree on the course to be taken and not fall into internal disputes.
Meanwhile, all we can now do as Arabs is to support our Palestinian brothers by offering advise, consultation, and moral support for them to emerge out of this critical situation stronger and more determined than ever to achieve an independent and free state of their own, the dream that their leader tried to materialize all his life.
Then we would all conclude that Arafat's legacy has lived on, and will become immortal till the end of time.
May God have mercy on Arafat's soul.