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    Home / College Guide / When Rebels Lose Their Charm
     Posted on Tuesday, April 23 @ 18:58:39 PDT

    If Arafat had accepted Barak's proposal, it would have laid the groundwork for the Palestinians to have their own state. A Palestinian state would have meant drastic changes for Arafat, who would have had to actually lead his people rather than just act as their spokesman against Israel. Arafat would have to acknowledge state problems, such as the failing Palestinian economy, and provide solutions instead of scapegoats. He could no longer be a rebel. It is time for the Palestinian people to understand that there is no hope in Yasser Arafat. If they want a chance at peace and prosperity and self-determination, it will come through non-violent protests, not through young people walking into a marketplace and blowing themselves up. As in the Billy Joel song "Angry Young Man," the once "angry young man" Yasser Arafat will "go to his grave as an angry old man." The Palestinian youth generation needs to be cultivated so they can voice their people's grievances in a clear and rational manner. Regardless of what side of the fence one stands on in this issue, one thing is clear: Suicide bombings will never lead to peace and prosperity. Someone who will not do his best to stop them is no kind of leader at all.

    It spoke wonders that Arafat rejected the deal. Mainly, it showed he was not ready for the responsibility leadership would bring, a responsibility which, if he failed at it, could lower his esteem in the eyes of the Palestinians. So instead, Arafat continued to operate the way in which he was most comfortable. He condemned suicide bombers only when he was forced to. He issued statements in the Western press speaking of the need for peace, yet on January 26 of this year, he could be seen on Gaza Palestine Satellite Channel Television chanting "jihad, jihad, jihad." This month, Arafat's wife, safe at her home in Paris, said that if her daughters were sons, she would be proud to watch them take their own life for the Palestinian cause. While some may say suicide bombings are in retaliation for Israeli oppression, think of how they help Arafat. Suicide bombings make their point through explosions, not words. Those who blow themselves up, who could one day have the potential to lead a non-violent movement, never get the opportunity to grow into leaders because they are dead. If the suicide bomber had not taken his or her life, he or she might have seen a compromise to bring peace and offer an alternative to Arafat.

    Instead, Arafat remains secure in his role as head of the PLO because there is no challenge. Compare suicide bombings to a non-violent campaign like the Civil Rights Movement, in which Martin Luther King used peaceful protest against the oppression of the segregationist South. As a result, large measures of change were implemented. Plus, the youth leaders of the movement got experience that would help them lead in larger forums as they continued to grow. Many of the youth leaders entered politics and now fight to implement more widespread change within the limits of the system. Non-violent protest can work. Just look at two events that happened over the last week. First, pro-Palestinian students boycotted classes and staged a protest on the steps of Low Library. They got to have their say; those who chose to listen did, and those who didn't were free to ignore it. Second, there was another large pro-Palestinian march in Washington, DC this weekend. None of the protesters got out of hand, got arrested, or blew themselves up on the National Mall. The leaders of the protest were able to articulate their anger and act on it in a rational way. Whereas suicide bombings can turn people off, non-violent protest created a forum for listening.

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