Abu Ammar is dying. As this text is written, a lifetime of struggle must be passing through his mind, as the machines take control over his fading existence. He might be thinking how much he wanted to visit the beaches of Tunisia once more, or how he’ll never get the chance to be on the Daily Show with that Jon Stewart who cracks him up. And I can only imagine he regrets the way things have gone over the past years.
Some people in power have tried (successfully) to marginalize him in these last years, while his people live in despair, and the Berlin Wall part 2 is built, he himself has been trapped in a legendary “compound” for over two years. They’ve tried to say he is responsible. They’ve tried to re-write history and call his people’s struggle a terrorist movement. When a bombing occurs, they blame him for not magically stopping it. If they could, they’d go into the Nobel records and erase his name from the co-peace prize he received with Rabin, and Peres. (then again, so would I, to take away Kissinger’s)
It is almost as if his death is a victory for those who have been burying him for years. Ironic that the junior world leader who has baptized him as irrelevant has been re-elected. A leader who has less than 4 years experience with world affairs compared to a man who was born without a country and has been on the international scene since the late 50’s.
Was he a saint? Probably not. Did he encourage or allow violence amongst his people? He fought in a civil war, so yes. Did he live a comfortable life while his people lived in misery? Possibly, like most leaders.
But was he loved? -most certainly. Did he actively contribute to the Oslo Accords, and other peace negotiations- clearly. Is he one of the most recognized and talked about cats in the history of the middle east (or the world) – YES.
And for that reason this is my blog tribute to the man. Love him or hate him, none of us really knew the man. All we knew was what media tells us, mixed with testimony from those who experienced first hand the complexities of the region’s situation. I’m saddened by his death, if indeed he passes in the coming hours or days. I believe, after a lifetime of war, death, watching all the suffering – on both sides- he had the wisdom and the will to negociate a lasting peace. I realize many will disagree… others will get angry and shout curses. But these are my thoughts as a lowly world citizen. And so I raise my glass, and bid farewell, to one of the classic faces in world history – ARAFAT.
Today’s Sounds: Sveriges Radio – Swedish Public Radio playing Faith No More