Sharon's funerals and Arafat's
The probability is small that Sharon will die during his tenure as prime minister of
Israel. He may then be honored with a state funeral. It is certain that he will not
receive the expression of respect from the whole world in a measure close to the
almost universal respect given internationally to the memory of Arafat. It is very
doubtful that a silence of one minute will be observed at the United Nation, as
it has been for Arafat
This deserves attention. Arafat was not a recognized head of state. There was no
international obligation to honor the dead man to the extent he has been. He was
neither a head of state de jure nor a head of state de facto. He was not the head of
a government in exile. At most, he was the Chairman of an authority, the Palestinian
authority. In reality, he was not even that. He was a prisoner in a part of a building.
The respect and the honor he received internationally, and which was no less than
that given to a head of state, must have been given to him in a different quality.
It is clear that he had other merits. The man honored so much at his death was
perceived as personifying his people. And in order to be able to personify
his people, he must have had exceptional qualities. In honoring him the whole world
was honoring the individual, and the people he personified.
Olaf Palm died assassinated while being the prime minister of Sweden. He was honored
in his death as the exceptional individual he was, as the prime minister he was, and as the
victim of assassination. Still, he was not perceived as personifying his people.
In a given sense, Arafat can be compared to Charles de Gaule who personified the French
people while France was occupied by Germany. Arafat can also be compared to Jeanne
d'Arc, who mobilized the energies of the French people resisting the English invasion.
Arafat was respected not only for personifying the Palestinian people, but for having been
able to personify his people.
And this man, now universally honored and respected, had been treated with such injustice,
disrespect and inhumanity by the Israeli authorities. It is clear therefore that all that respect
and honor given posthumously to Arafat, represent that much condemnation of Israel, that much
disrespect and dishonor for Israel.
It is therefore clear that, by refusing to Arafat the burial in Jerusalem, Israel puts itself
on the ban of the world public opinion. This applies to Bush who supported Israel in its
treatment of Arafat.
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