Speaking ill of the dead

I was taught when I was younger to never speak ill of the dead – by people who were quite happy to blame Adolf Hitler for World War 2.

Of course you couldn’t say anything about that while Adolf was alive if you lived in Germany – the Gestapo was not known for it’s sense of humor. A similar situation existed in the Soviet Union where saying anything that wasn’t positive about Josef Stalin was a great way to get a night time visit from the NKVD.

The recently dead include Yasar Arafat, terrorist, statesman, and quite probably thief.

All considered it’s the “Thief” part that would bother me the most.

Yasar Arafat was a terrorist – he admitted and was even proud of it. The Palestinian Authority, basis of what may be a Palestinian state was founded in part on terror, as were the Republic of Ireland, Israel, The United States of America, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Socialist China, Cuba, and others. In other words Yasar Arafat has a lot of company.

If a terrorist is successful he/she often becomes a statesman. George Washington is only one example of this.

It’s the “THIEF” part that really bothers me. Many Palestinians live in abject poverty, despite the huge amounts of money donated by people around the world to support them. Interestingly many of Yasar Arafat’s closest advisers are now rich. Arafat himself is estimated to have left a 3 Billion dollar fortune.

Now “terrorist” is an unpaid job. Statesman doesn’t pay well. If there really is 3 Billion US dollars in Arafat’s personal fortune, the only way he could have accumulated it is by theft. And his advisers are in the same situation – there’s no legal way they could accumulate a lot of money either…

Just think of what the Palestinian Authority could do with that amount of money – improved water supplies, improved sewers (and other infrastructure). Part of what has been driving the Intifada has been to horrible living conditions in Palestine, as compared to the conditions in Israel.

If Arafat was a thief the Palestinian Authority is in a desperate bind. It would be impossible to hide a theft of that magnitude, however they need the symbol of Arafat as a leader, otherwise their own legitimacy may be called into question.

And of course there are the families of the suicide bombers – if they were to learn that their children were sent to die by a cynical leadership, which was interested more in it’s own wealth than anything else, there could be an explosion of unrest.

At present the Palestinian Leadership appears to have adopted delaying tactics. If they can quiet down the undercurrents of resentment, and build a nationwide consensus before the large scale thefts become public, they have a chance to hold things together. If they can’t, Palestine may tear itself apart, as those who feel they are Arafat’s victims try to destroy those who were his friends.