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Respecting the enemy

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Respecting the enemy

Postby brother » Thu Nov 18, 2004 1:23 pm

Respecting the enemy
Turkish Daily News: 11/17/2004

By Gunduz Aktan

TDN- Arafat is dead. The Palestinian nation is mourning the loss of their leader. It is natural for a nation to grieve a leader that had achieved his or her objectives. The funerals of Ataturk, Mahatma Gandhi and Winston Churchill were magnificent. However, Arafat, despite being a leader that failed to fulfill his goals, was paid homage by all Muslim nations, including the non-Arab ones, in a sincere gesture of love. No one wanted to remember his mistakes, weaknesses or defeats. Arafat's fight, which still continues, was the issue that really mattered.

Besides Algiers, the Arab world did not gain their independence through national struggles. Palestine represented the Arabic national struggle. The Arab world felt its national identity through the Palestinian people, believing they were waging a struggle not only against Israel, but also against the United States. Hoping one day Israel would be destroyed -- and at least to keep this hope alive -- they made Palestinian refugees live in camps. The Arabs maybe never really wanted the Palestinian problem resolved.

Maybe that was why no Arab country openly supported the agreement reached towards the end of former U.S. President Bill Clinton's term between former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat. What else can the fact that the decision to resolve the status of Jerusalem, which is significant for the entire Muslim world, was, in fact, left to Arafat to resolve.

Actually, the negotiations belatedly started by Clinton should have been continued but new President George W. Bush ignored the issue. Ariel Sharon's raid on the Al Aqsa Mosque, together with thousands of militants, triggered the second Intifada. Instead of the throwing of rocks that was the norm in the first one, this time the Palestinians resorted to arms and suicide bombers that targeted civilians. The broad military operations carried out by the Israeli military resulted in the intensification of the fighting that resulted in some 3,000 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis losing their lives.

When living in Israel became intolerable, Sharon started building a wall, while announcing he would not recognize Arafat as a party in any negotiations. The United States blamed the Palestinian Authority and its lack of democracy for the fighting. Despite Arafat delegating some of his powers, there was no progress made during the terms of Mahmoud Abbas' and Qurey's prime ministership.

After Arafat's death, both Israel and the United States said that a new era had started. The Israeli justice minister said he welcomed the fact the world was rid of Arafat.

Actually, Arafat's funeral shows that we don't have the luxury of picking our enemy. Israelis not liking Arafat is understandable. However, the most important thing is whether his people love him or not. Israel and the United States should have respected the feelings of the Palestinian people more. It wasn't hard to do what Shimon Perez had done. This was the first step in turning Arafat's death in to a "historic" opportunity.

The United States should have shown the same sensitivity in Fallujah. It is impossible for us to sympathize with murderers who kill Turkish drivers. We fear that the Sunni resistance may lead to a break-up of Iraq. However, if a city where 50,000 civilians are known to reside is bombed during Ramadan on the holy Kadir night, one realizes that the United States doesn't even have the minimum of respect towards its enemies. This will also justify the arguments made by those who doubt the U.S. pledge to bring democracy to Iraq.

On a small hill in the middle of Budapest behind the Parliament building there is a small inscription in stone. It first marks the place where the last Ottoman governor of the city was murdered, and adds, "He was a valiant enemy."

I guess you understand what I am trying to say.
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