by Rabbi Chaim Richman:
The Talmud teaches: “The righteous are called ‘alive,’ even in death. But the wicked are dead even while they are alive.” This unique perspective lends a new understanding to events of the past week. Yasser Arafat, the godfather of terrorism, is dead. The death announcement that was read in the chamber of the Palestinian Council proclaimed: “His pure spirit was returned to its source.”
The Chairman was clinically dead for the past week. Reports of his brain-death, and speculation as to his subsequent burial, began on the eve of the Sabbath, a time when the Jewish people were preoccupied with the theme of burial. For on this Sabbath we read the Torah portion of Genesis 23, which tells of Abraham’s acquisition of the Machpelah Cave, and the burial of Sarah.
But as no official diagnosis of his ailment was ever released, and scant reports conflicted with rumors, speculation abounded as to whether he was dead or alive. For a man who caused the sure and certain death of thousands, here is a great irony: there was never any question as to the death of his victims. But the Talmudic statement gives us pause…was he ever really alive? For what does it mean, to be called ‘alive?’
It was reported on Thursday morning that “his heart stopped beating at 4:30.” The statement struck the reader as odd. He had a heart? It beat?
Yasser Arafat was the father of terrorism as we know it. He is the man who created the modern-day institutions of airplane hijacking, car bombs, and hostage-taking; the man who ordered the massacre of school children and Olympic athletes; the man who turned the wide-scale murder of Jews throughout the world into a legitimate form of political expression. As Knesset member Aryeh Eldad observed today, “the only difference between Yasser Arafat and Adolf Hitler is in the technology and numbers involved.”
As Arafat lay dying, one BBC correspondent was even moved to tears as she described how the “frail old man” was airlifted out of his compound. Yesterday, once his demise was officially declared, many countries released statements of sympathy and condolences for the arch terrorist who personally looted millions – by some counts, billions – of dollars in aid that was intended for his suffering people. France’s Jacques Chirac, of course, was “deeply pained by the passing of his friend,” the man who called for Jihad against the Jewish people, Jihad to liberate Jerusalem. China said he was “an outstanding leader.” Russia pointed out that he “dedicated his life to a just cause.”
Alas, gone is the outstanding, just man, the pure spirit who masterminded and bankrolled countless terrorist attacks for 40 years; from the Munich Olympics Massacre, Maalot School Massacre, and Costal Road Massacre of the seventies, to hundreds of other acts of terrorism, leaving thousands dead, all the way up to the shootings and suicide bombings of our day, including a 16 year old boy who blew himself up in Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market during Arafat’s final days. The Vatican was moved to declare that he was “a leader of great charisma.”
Make no mistake about this Nobel peace prize winner. World leaders laud and lionize him, applaud his courage and mourn his passing, but we say “this is the day that the L-rd has made; let us be glad, and rejoice in it!” (Psalms 118:24).
“Alas, the bitterness of death approaches.” Those words were spoken by Agag, King of Amalek, brought in chains before the prophet Samuel. The time had come for Samuel to correct the mistake of King Saul’s misplaced mercy. “Just as your sword made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women!” And Samuel severed Agag before the L-rd in Gilgal.
Samuel the prophet, realizing how wonderful Agag’s death would be, did not wait or deliberate. He slashed Agag to ribbons, “before the L-rd.”
The death of Yasser Arafat is wonderful; the world is a cleaner, brighter, more beautiful place. “Oh violated daughter of Babylon, praiseworthy is he who repays you according to the manner that you treated us. Praiseworthy is he who will clutch and dash your infants against the rock” (Psalms 137:9). The passing of this evil fiend makes it easier to breathe on this planet. The Palestinians plan on burying him in a stone coffin, thus we need not worry that he will become part of our earth. The physical remnant of his monstrosity will remain outside the cycle of life.
Unfortunately, Israel has always emphasized that the entire problem is Arafat. Now that the witch is dead, enormous pressure will be brought upon Israel to begin new negotiations with the fresh leadership, for doubtless a “window of opportunity” has now been opened. But this, too, is a myth, for the problem was not Arafat, the problem is the Palestinians. The palpable hatred and violence that emanates from little children, that is seen and felt daily, is not something that was ordered by Arafat. It is something that comes naturally, and it is fueled by Islam.
Arafat’s wife Suha, who had not been seen by her husband’s side for three years, but who suddenly remembered her wifely duties, had final authority over his official death, according to French law. But she had every reason to postpone pulling the plug – that is, until she straightened out the finances and made sure of her money. Here are only several facts from a long and detailed list: In the year 2000, the World Monetary Fund reported that 897.6 million dollars disappeared from the Palestinian Treasury and benefited companies that Arafat controlled. Arafat returned only 119 million. This was in addition to 900 million dollars that was transferred from the Palestinian Authority into private bank accounts between 1995-2000. And according to a CBS report, Arafat transferred more than 300 million dollars to a private bank account in Switzerland.
According to plan, the murderer will be buried inside his compound in Ramallah, within a stone coffin, not a wooden one. Palestinian officials say this is because the Ramallah burial place will be only temporary; they plan on re-interring him at a later date on the Temple Mount. Apparently, at some point towards the last phase of the wicked Arafat’s state of death commonly referred to as his “life,” he expressed a desire to be buried on the Temple Mount. “The final resting place will be the Al Aqsa Mosque,” said Palestinian Cabinet Minister Saeb Erekat. “One of these days, we will have a Palestinian state, and President Arafat will be laid to rest in Jerusalem.”
For years, the Egyptian-born terrorist toiled to market the myth he created – that he was born in Jerusalem. But Arafat’s Jerusalem connection is no less a lie than the legend of Moslem connection with the site of the Holy Temple, a fable that the Palestinians take great pains to propagate and manipulate for political gains: it was reported today that ten bags of earth – holy soil – were removed from the Temple Mount, to be placed in Arafat’s burial place. This is a further fulfillment of the verse, “…Destroy! Destroy! to its very foundation” (Psalms 137:7).
In a rare show of sanity, Israel has refused the request to bury Arafat on the Temple Mount. Justice Minister Tommy Lapid, a man who doesn’t usually have anything reasonable to say, put it succinctly: “Jerusalem is a place where Jewish kings are buried, not Arab terrorists.”
Washington took exception to Lapid’s statement, and objected. But would America consider burying Bin Laden in Arlington National Cemetery?
Regarding Israel’s refusal to bury Arafat on the Temple Mount, the Mufti last week stated that “Jerusalem is a Moslem city, and the Wakf decides what happens on the Temple Mount, according to Islamic law. What we do is none of Israel’s business.”
But the great irony of this lie is that it was foretold by the sages of Israel. For although G-d bequeathed the entire Land of Israel to the Jewish people, our sages observe that there are three distinct locations which the other nations can never claim do not belong to Israel. Regarding these locations, the Bible actually testifies that a financial transaction took place, and these locations were purchased. They are the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and the Tomb of Joseph in Nablus.
And the greatest irony is that the Temple Mount is the place that the G-d of Israel chose to manifest Himself to all humanity…the Mountain of the L-rd. The Holy Temple brings about the spiritual reconciliation of G-d and man and the revelation of the Divine Presence. When the Shechina dwells within the Temple, the face of mankind shines.
The monster we called Arafat tarnished that face and blackened it like no one else in recent times. Our sages teach that the altar of the Holy Temple atones for man; Arafat erected the pagan altar of Molech and brought the cult of death into high fashion. He dedicated his life to the destruction of G-d’s people. By doing so he declared war on the G-d of Israel Himself. The blood he shed cries out to that same G-d from the soil of Israel and from all over the world: “So may all your enemies be destroyed, O L-rd! And let those who love Him be like the powerfully rising sun” (Judges 5:31).
Rabbi Chaim Richman