I wrote: "We can't let the stately respect of a massive formal funeral procession be Arafat's last public impression."
I needn't have worried. Despite the best efforts of the French and Egyptian honor guards, Arafat's funeral in Ramallah was - how can I put this gently? - not particularly dignified. Crowds mobbing the helicopter, preventing the "dignitaries" from leaving; random gunfire from random places; spectators perched on electricity poles - as Jerusalem Post columnist Yosef Goell puts it, "These people deserve a state?"
I got a good laugh watching serious foreign reporters explain how Palestinian events are often "passionate", while clearly trying to suppress their shock and revulsion at the proceedings. Imagine how they would have reported on such goings-on at an Israeli funeral!
In retrospect, the media coverage of Arafat's passing wasn't as bad as it could have been. Sky News interviewed terror victims, and CNN and the New York Times reported extensively on Arafat's financial shenanigans. The optimistic media talk about how his death opens up an "opportunity for peace" just emphasized how little Arafat himself was a man of peace. He was not unambiguously honored and feted in death; far from it.
Update (Nov. 16): For a sense of how bad the media coverage really was - even though not as bad as it could have been - please read Tom Gross's column.
Overall, the weeks-long circus surrounding the man's death was particularly fitting. Arab commentators went so far as to say that he would have wanted it that way. Chaos was his modus operandi. No doubt he will leave plenty of it behind for us.
Now, about that party... it was a pretty sedate affair. No rowdy revelers, to say the least. About a dozen friends gathered Thursday night in Jerusalem for a nosh and a l'chaim, watching CNN with the sound turned down. CNN is surprisingly entertaining when accompanied by a contemporary Israeli rock soundtrack. We reminisced about the havoc this one cretin wreaked on the world, and on the Jews in particular. The world won't be the same without him.
We also read some appropriate passages from Tehilim: Psalm 129 and Psalm 94:1-7.