Photo: Reuters
‘Pope Arafat’ no longer with us
Photo: Reuters
Palestinian religion
‘Palestinianism’ has become a religion for many
What has happened to the Palestinians since the death of Yasser Arafat almost a year ago?


This was a year in which the sun set on the "religion of Palestinianism" in the world consciousness upon the death of its high priest.


The Palestinian issue is more than political or historical. Strange as it may seem, it has become a type of religion for many around the world, including some righteous fools here in Israel.


Religion in the sense that one must accept it totally, with no reservations.


This religion had its own violent, scheduled rituals, sacrifices, prayers ("right of return", "Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem"), and seasonal ceremonies featuring the high priest himself.


It was replete with paradoxes and conflicts: For instance, the Arab world admired them, despite the fact that many Arabs despise the Palestinians themselves.


So, too, many in the West admired the Palestinians, without ever meeting even one actual Palestinian.


This religion gained popularity not because of admiration for the Palestinians, but rather because of opposition to Israel. Support for Arafat was a fig leaf for hatred of the Jews.


Unquestioned pope


Yasser Arafat was the unquestioned pope of Palestinianism, and his many supporters came in legions to anoint him.


As the ultimate victim in the eyes of the world he became a god promising freedom, struggle for the oppressed, and liberation - while his supporters never bothered to validate the facts.


Essentially, Arafat's personality contributed the greatest contribution to world interest in the Palestinian problem and media coverage of it.


His image was so colorful and well-known around the world that it became a national asset for the Palestinians, essentially their only national asset.


But this asset disappeared last year. The high priest died, and the Palestinian issue began to melt away. The Palestinians ceased being "news."


From victim to war barons


Arafat was always careful to maintain a victim's image. Without him, the Palestinians have lost their standing as victims, the source of the legitimacy of Palestinianism.


They became regional "war barons", murderous gangs, Hamas and Jihad - and Mahmoud Abbas, the polar opposite of Arafat: No body language, shuns theatrics, and therefore fails to attract media.


Arafat was a priest. Abbas is a follower. Arafat was a mythological figure. Abbas just isn't.


Justice, not compromise


Like with any religion, Palestinianism is total and uncompromising. It speaks of "justice" and "rights", not of compromise and accepting the other.


Therefore, as long as the Palestinians speak about "justice", it means they continue to refuse to critically examine their religion even after the death of the high priest, and there is no place for Israel and its current residents.


All that is left for Israel opposite the Palestinians are unilateral measures, to distance itself and to protect itself from them and the religion of revolt they have created.


Their, and our, tragedy is that the Palestinians have no control over the religion they created, but rather, it controls them.


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