After the death of Yasser Arafat
, I'm not sure what is in store for the future of the Palestinian people or the hope for their own country. This letter
from Anglican Bishop Riah in Jerusalem about Mordechai Vanunu's arrest early this morning is very disturbing evidence that the state of Israel is gearing up for some power plays. While not directly connected to Arafat's death, such actions point to a larger, systemic attitude of aggression that is frightening in light of a lack of cohesive Palestinian leadership. Whether we want to admit it or not, Arafat held together, in tension granted, many dissident groups within Palestine itself. Now that his leadership is gone, what will happen to the brittle cohesion those groups (Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad
, etc.) had? I do not know, but I foresee a rough road ahead. Each of those groups will be vying for political and military power, of that there is no doubt. Most of them would not accept Arafat's moderate stance on many of the issues surrounding a Palestinian state or the State of Israel, but respected him enough not to openly defy him too often. They no longer have that restriction. It also seems clear to me that the state of Israel would be more than willing to take advantage of that confusion and internal dissidence in order to consolidate their gains and assert more direct control over the Palestinian territories. If violence breaks out, either against Israel or among Palestinians, Israel will likely respond in kind (if not overkill, as has been their custom) and that will only breed more unrest and distrust. If Arab culture would allow its people to unite behind a female, Hanan Ashrawi
would be an excellent candidate for interim leadership. She is skilled in history, diplomacy, and moderation, but alas, she is a woman in a culture that does not, by and large, accept overt female leadership. It is my hope and prayer that there will be little to no violence. It is my hope and prayer that the State of Israel will not once again overstep its bounds. It is my hope and prayer that the Palestinian people can have a homeland to call their own once again. It is my hope and prayer that they can be united under solid leadership. Arafat held a lot of those hopes together, even if he did not move them forward. What will happen now? I do not know. Part of me is afraid. Part of me is excited. Pray for the peace of Palestine and Israel.