Thursday, November 11, 2004

A time to rejoice? - II

Chayyei Sarah comments on my post about whether or not to celebrate Arafat's death. Thanks, Sarah, for the thoughtful remarks. I'd like to respond to a few of them.

Given that very few of us are on such a spiritual level that we'd be celebrating out of "love and gratitude to God"

I don't think thanking God requires such a high spiritual level. Thanking God for mundane pleasures is a central everyday Jewish practice. We do it when we eat and when we buy new things. Surely we can thank him for (finally) ending the life of an oppressor?

(and, note that we have not witnessed a miracle - Arafat died of natural causes in old age - hardly a sign that God is about to deliver us from evil . . . )

I'm not aware that praising God requires us to have witnessed a miracle. On the contrary. We need only to have experienced his benevolence. For that matter, no miracles were involved in the Purim story, and we have an entire festival about it.

I think the appropriate reaction at this time is not rejoicing, but rather grim satisfaction.

Clearly one can feel joyful without rejoicing. I don't think we need to feel grim, though.

I wonder who will watch that footage and think...

I don't know what people will think. I do know that we can't let the stately respect of a massive formal funeral procession be Arafat's last public impression.

Question: Has anyone seen any obits that say straight out that while Arafat may have been famous and somewhat powerful, he was a lowlife?

Tom Gross mentions one today:

In the Times of India, for example, Lalita Panicker wrote last week that Arafat's record "has been disastrous."

"It is cause for celebration for the Palestinians," she wrote, as he lay near death in a Paris hospital, that he "will never again control their destiny."

"Dressed in ridiculous battle fatigues," she went on, " he has demonstrated that he neither wants nor can he deliver peace. Arafat's lasting and most pernicious legacy is that he has contributed to completely changing the Palestinian psyche. The Palestinians were once the most secular, tolerant, and educated people in the Arab world. Today, Palestinian classrooms have become the hotbeds of recruitment for jihad... As a result, an entire younger generation has grown up on a diet of hate and fanaticism."

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