Probe into Arafat assassination a joke, but time to respect both narratives
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“After a two-year investigation, we conclude that Arafat is still dead” (James Whitworth)
This week, a blog titled The Elders of Ziyon reminded us of the investigation into the claim that Yasser Arafat was assassinated by the Israelis.
Such rumours, which surfaced two years ago, resulted in an operation to dig up the late Palestinian leader. Samples from his body were sent for tests — still, apparently, being carried out — at a Swiss laboratory. The aim was to answer, once and for all, the question: was there enough plutonium in Arafat’s body to kill him?
The blogger ridiculed the whole investigation, asking why we have not yet seen the results of the probe, given that they were supposed to have been published by mid-September.
In the same vein, I can predict, with 100 per cent certainty, the findings of the Swiss laboratory:
1. There was enough plutonium in Arafat’s body to kill him.
2. There was not enough plutonium in Arafat’s body to kill him.
3. Are you sure this is Arafat’s body?
4. Oops, we lost the results.
If the Palestinians were serious about investigating the past in order to learn some lessons for the future, they should have instead appointed a committee to answer the following questions: Was Arafat, in his later years, an asset for the Palestinian cause or, rather, a liability? And with his blend of diplomacy and terror, has he advanced the quest of the Palestinians for sovereignty or, rather, sabotaged it?
Quite frankly, however, we Israelis should also consider investigating our own conduct.
If in poll after poll, two out of every three Israelis say that they favour a two-state solution, how come we are now closer than ever to becoming a bi-national state, where the Jewish and democratic nature of Israel might be eroded, if not eliminated altogether?
But why indulge in investigations of the past at all when both Israelis and Palestinians should now be investing all their energies in building a peaceful future? In doing so, we might do ourselves a big favour if we start respecting the fact that the other side has a narrative of its own, in which it sincerely believes.
Respecting does not necessarily mean accepting. Yet it can pave the way for true reconciliation.