Newsletter : 4fax1101.txt
| Previous file
| Next file
Jerusalem Goes WiFi Monday
On 6 p.m. Monday Jerusalem will kick off its WiFi wireless Internet program with
stands, music and happenings into the night. The first phase of the program will provide
wireless Internet connectivity in the Safra Square, Ben-Yehuda Mall, and Nachlat Shiva
areas. The service will be free of charge for the first year. In coming months, additional
areas around the city will go live as well, providing easy Internet access to persons with
compatible laptops and palm devices.
A World Without Arafat
By VOA News, IsraelNationalNews.com & Ha'aretz
Israel's regular Sunday Cabinet meeting took place as usual, and the issues under
discussion would, under other circumstances, have been routine. What to do about Yasir
Arafat has been a common topic for a succession of Israeli governments. But the
particulars of this discussion were different, and focused on plans for burying the
Palestinian leader, who is undergoing a battery of tests in a Paris hospital for a
Ariel Sharon was reported to have told Cabinet ministers that, as long as he is prime
minister, he would never allow Arafat to be buried in Jerusalem. The Palestinian leader
has long expressed the desire to be buried at the site known to Muslims as Haram a-Sharif,
or Noble Sanctuary, and to Jews as the Temple Mount. "As long as I'm here - and I'm not
planning to leave any time soon - Arafat will not be buried in Jerusalem," Sharton said.
Several right-wing Knesset members said last week that Arafat must not be buried in
Jerusalem. MK Uri Ariel even said that "tens of thousands" of people would bodily prevent
such a burial.
Rumors continue to abound as to Arafat's true condition. CNN reported that he has
leukemia; others say he has a virus, and still others have raised different possibilities.
A London Arabic-language newspaper reported that doctors are investigating the
possibility that Arafat may have been poisoned. Most reports agree that he will never be
able to return to day-to-day control of the Palestinian Authority.
Arafat is said to be directly responsible for the deaths of thousands of Israeli
citizens, untold numbers of Arabs and more than 100 U.S. citizens, including two U.S.
diplomats. Sharon said in 1995, "I don't know anyone other than Arafat who has as much
civilian Jewish blood on his hands since the time of the Nazis." Binyamin Netanyahu, who
wrote a book on how to fight terrorism, has attributed the phenomenon of "terrorist plane
hijackings" to Arafat and his Fatah organization in the late 1960's, after which,
Netanyahu said, "it very quickly became an international plague."
Israeli security officials worry that a funeral procession through Jerusalem would
bring huge crowds, and create a situation that would be hard, if not impossible, to
control. In anticipation of his death, Israel is also making contingency plans for how to
handle the chaos that some predict will erupt, should various Palestinian factions begin
fighting over who should succeed the Palestinian leader. Many Israeli officials believe
Arafat is so ill that he would never return to power.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath said Arafat was "much better, more cheerful,
more lively and less tired." No Palestinian official has suggested anything other than
Arafat would recover, and would return to office. Nor have they admitted publicly that
they might be planning a path to follow, should Arafat die or be incapacitated. The
Palestinian leadership has met during the past few days to reassure Palestinians that
their institutions are functioning normally.
On Saturday, former Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas chaired a meeting of the PLO, and on
Sunday, current Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia chaired a meeting of the Palestine National
Security Council. On both occasions, reporters were invited to the session, and, on both
occasions, the chair normally occupied by Arafat was left vacant, seen as a sign that he
is expected to return.
Arafat is hospitalized in a Paris hospital, where he is expected to remain for several
weeks or until he dies. Senior Palestinian Authority sources said Arafat has lost some of
his mental capacities and cannot function. Some doubt that he will be capable of resuming
his position as PA leader, even if his health recovers to some extent.
The reports that Arafat's mental state may have deteriorated are worrying Palestinian
leaders at home far more than his physical health. Reports say that after his collapse
last Wednesday, Arafat lost his mental functioning. In some cases he did not recognize
people who came to visit him.
Diplomatic sources said last week he even had trouble recognizing Abu Mazen and Abu Ala
who and in some cases his speech was incoherent and confused, but there is no clear
opinion on whether such lapses might be permanent or temporary. However, there are grave
doubts as to whether, even after a relative recovery, he will be able to make decisions or
give orders or even to understand what is happening around him, sources said.
Background / Arafat the Wizard, Arafat the Goat
For Palestinians, Yasir Arafat has for decades been the grand sorcerer and inescapable
symbol of a virtual nation, effortlessly conjuring myth and humiliation, re-invention and
religious fervor, military trappings and human need into an entity in which he was, for
all intents and purposes, the state. Acutely tuned to the longings and goals - some
realistic, others self-defeating - of the people he championed - Arafat was all things to
all Palestinians, the only leader that Palestine has ever really had.
As Israel's political quarantine of Arafat took concrete form in the shabby ruins of
the Muqata, his bombed-out Ramallah headquarters, his image as the living martyr, the
tortured saint resonated with new clarity in refugee camps and blockaded towns. In a form
of Dorian Gray in reverse, marchers carried younger and younger pictures of Arafat, as his
months in captivity turned to years.
"We are nothing without him," a Gaza woman told a local television reporter as Arafat
boarded a helicopter Friday for the first leg of a flight to Paris for emergency medical
treatment. "No one is capable of filling the roles of the Re'is," said Palestinian
official Sufyan Abu Zaydeh Sunday, referring to Arafat by his title of president. "The
concept of 'Who will replace him,' simply does not exist."
For the Israelis, even those he charmed and befriended during the Oslo years, an equal
and opposite consensus has been forged with respect to Arafat. If some Palestinians
believe that he has achieved much of what Palestine has become in 40 years, many dovish
Israelis see his actions over the past four as having squandered those gains, rendering
him, in effect, a remarkable failure.
In the end, Arafat has become, for Israelis, the butt of scorn, of bottomless
vituperation, even of leftist jokes. So united have Israelis of all stripes become in
their antipathy toward Arafat, that even as he lay near death, headlines in major
newspapers were flippant, comedians - who might well have respected him prior to the
intifada - merciless. "ON HIS WAY OUT," crowed the enormous front-page headline in Yediot
Achronot, Israel's largest-circulation daily - a play on words fully referring as much to
Arafat's apparent one foot in the grave, as to the evacuation to France.
Later in the day, comedians not noted for right-wing leanings held a full-out roast for
Arafat on the Mishak Machur comedy program on Israel Channel Two television. "It's not
cancer that he has - it's AIDS," said one, to the delighted applause and laughter of a
studio audience. "You can't screw five million people for so long and wind up with just
cancer - it's AIDS."
(All material on these web pages is © 2001-2012
by Electronic World Communications, Inc.)