How you see Yasir Arafat, a Palestinian, who died at 75 today in a Paris military hospital, largely depends on which spectacle you are wearing on. For Israelis and some of their western allies, he is merely a terrorist, and for Palestinians and their Arab brothers, he is a father-like figure who gave up his life for the greater cause. I think, for people like me who have nothing to give or take with Israel-Palestinian conflict, at least directly, Yasir Arafat is a fearless and one of the greatest leader of 20the century who miserably failed to land the jet safely that he was piloting.
As the New York Times firmly declares in its front-page headline today, Arafat “forced his people’s plight into the world spotlight.” Arafat became the symbol of Palestinian nationalism. He was, in a true sense, a world-class leader. That might be, partly, because of the magnitude of the Israel-Palestinian problem and it’s impact throughout the world. People from around the world, I am sure, have intense interest to learn how the events are unfolding or will unfold in West Asia or Middle East, as the mighty westerns prefer to call the region.
That is why I am listening a continuing coverage of his death in BBC World Service for the fourth consecutive hour. Still, I am not tired with the news though the information that is pouring in is pretty much the same. I have been listening the name Yasir Arafat since the days of my childhood when I used to tune in to Radio Nepal news bulletins. Names like Arafat, Israel, Palestinian, West Bank, Gaza Strip would dominate almost all international news bulletins. I offer my deep condolences to the Palestinian people. May Arafat’s soul lies in peace.
Yesterday, I read an Op-Ed piece in Kantipur by Angaraj Timilsina about Arafat and how Nepal can learn from his life. Though they may look like two side of a coin, there is difference between leading an insurgency and a nation. Yes, I agree with Timilsina. Arafat could not do the later as our leaders like Girija Prasad Koirala and other. Mandela, however, did just that with an illustrious manner. He was free of greed, power hunger, corrupt mindset, and was driven by the will to achieve greater national goal. People say Arafat could not control the corruption in Palestinian Authority, did not delegate power to his subordinates.
Here too, Girija Prasad Koirala, at the age of 80, five years older than the late Arafat, is still eying for the Nepali Congress Presidency. Surya Bahadur Thapa is trying to open a new political party. To sum up, almost all leaders are running after power. We do not have a Statesman. We lack a dynamic and versatile leadership. Yes, what we can learn from Arafat is his courageous leadership, his determination to achieve Palestinian nationhood, his aspiration of freedom. We should throw away the corruption and lust for power. Don’t you think that Mandela, even after resigning from the post of South African President, is a powerful personality?
2 Comments »
1. I am not a great follower of world politics but yet I respect Yasser Arafat for his devotion and dedication. His death, indeed, is a loss to the world. It would be difficult to find any other people fighting for the rights of the people so hard and so long – I can only remember Nelson Madela as greater.
While talking about Arafat, one should always remember the 1990 Gulf War. He supported, I find it difficult to believe, Saddam Hussein, who captured Kuwait. The one who was fighting for his nation should have also remembered the cause of Kuwaities. That one particular thing was the cause that stopped Arafat from being as great as Mandela.
May his soul rest on peace.
Comment by Ujjwal — 11/11/2004 @ 4:41 pm
2. Yes Dinesh, I wholeheartedly agree with you as well as the scholar Angaraj that Arafat was a failure in handling his beleagured occupied territories but at the same time a great revolutionary.With his death, a saga in palestinian struggle or Intifada has come to an end.He must be regarded as a great leader of our times.
Comment by deepak — 11/12/2004 @ 2:48 pm