Charles Krauthammer

     It is for this reason that, while Arafat's death does open a first chance for peace since he took over the Palestinian movement four decades ago, that chance remains remote. Why? Because the revolution continues. Arafat made sure it would survive him. He created Palestinian nationalism and shaped it in a revolutionary mold that will take years, perhaps decades, to undo.

     It is a legacy in two parts: means and ends. The means? Violence. Arafat invented modern terrorism: airplane hijackings, kidnappings, and the spectacular mass murder, like the Olympic massacre of 1972. Others had tried it. Arafat perfected it. He turned terror into a brilliantly successful political instrument, a vehicle to international recognition and respect. The man who murdered more innocent Jews than anyone since Hitler died an international hero. The president of France bowed to his casket. The secretary-general ordered UN flags to fly at half-staff.

     Arafat also bequeathed a legacy of ends: uncompromising irridentist ends. He didn't just reject any settlement that would leave Israel intact, thereby setting a precedent that any successor dare not violate. He also raised a new generation to ensure that rejection. Deploying every instrument of propaganda -- television, radio, newspapers and, most importantly, schools and summer camps for children -- his Palestinian Authority fed his people a diet of such virulent anti-Semitism and denial of the Jewish connection with the land that no successor will even be in position to contemplate breaking Arafat's rejectionist precedent.

     Arafat's most cherished achievement was to so poison the well that the revolution -- until total victory -- continues long after he is gone. As soon as he died, the most murderous terrorist wing of his Fatah movement, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, changed its name to the Yasser Arafat Martyrs Brigades.

     They understood their master. Which is why the prospects for peace upon his death are far more distant than the naifs (who got him wrong all through his life) now insist. Arafat's legacy -- the romanticization of violence, the rejection of Israel, the indoctrination of a new generation in intolerance and hatred -- will require a long time to undo. It will require years, perhaps even generations. It will require brave new Palestinian leaders who are the very antithesis of Yasser Arafat.


Charles Krauthammer

Charles Krauthammer is a 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner, 1984 National Magazine Award winner, and a columnist for The Washington Post since 1985.

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