In thinking about how to address Yasser Arafat’s departure and its meaning for the Middle East, friends of Israel would do well to follow the lead set by Israeli Prime Minister Sharon in the past week, when he ordered his ministers to maintain a dignified silence despite their dislike for the man. Arafat was an unabashed terrorist whose hands were stained with the blood of thousands, and few Jews will grieve for him. But he was also an iconic figure to the Palestinians, the people with whom Israelis must share their troubled land.
We understand that Arafat’s passage will open up new opportunities for Israel to strengthen its security and strive for new regional relationships. But we also understand that it represents a time of mourning for Israel’s neighbors, and for millions of Arabs and Muslims around the world. Analyzing the crimes past and the opportunities ahead is the right thing to do right now. Celebrating is not.