A tide has turned once again in the affairs of men, a chance to break the oil curse that haunts our most ancient lands. The old man of the desert has passed on to another oasis - ironically on Armistice Day.
Yasser Arafat's much-rumored demise became truth early Thursday in Paris, city of lights. His last days were murky, as was much of his life.Yet he was given in the end, that rarest of gifts, a death serene and not by the sword. The challenge of the leadership of the Palestinian peoples is second only to the gravity of seeing a leading actor on the stage pass, his hour done, his role ended - the lion in winter is now no more.
The fact that his biography on wikipedia is disputed is apposite, given that much of his life was spent in dispute and Muhammad Abd al-Rahman ar-Rauf al-Qudwah al-Husayni had a colorful, variegated, violent, hated yet loved time. He was part of another era almost, one where dark deeds were done dirt cheap, one where absolute friends were constant enemies, and one where to love one's country might have been deemed a crime.
His people are hard-headed, wronged, and hurt. Yet they have often harmed their cause. And the man who could have made a difference, perhaps indeed did, is now as silent as the dunes of the desert. He was after all, not the Mahdi, nor a Leto Atreides.
It is to be hoped that the people of Palestine can indeed build their castles, and move on past this moment in history once the mourning is over, and that the hot-headedness of his people is not a cause for further pain and suffering - there has been too much of that already.