Isabel Kershner and I do not exactly share the same politics on Israel. But she is an extraordinary and extraordinarily honest journalist. She has been the "Palestinian" correspondent of the Times for a while now, joining my good and admired friend Steven Erlanger (the head of its Jerusalem bureau) and Greg Myre in covering what may be the most emotionally laden beat in the world. She gets it.
On Sunday, January 8, it is raining hard at the Muqata, the former Ramallah headquarters—and now the burial place—of Yasir Arafat. The courtyard has become a building site. The Palestinian Authority (P.A.) is constructing a vast mausoleum and mosque around Arafat's tomb, which now stands on a muddy island, unreachable by the trickle of visitors. A short ride away, Arafat's old nemesis, Ariel Sharon, lies in a medically induced coma at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.
Jerusalem, Israel--The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, had planned on offering the usual complaints when he visited Prime Minister Ariel Sharon last week. There was the stalled road map, Israel's security fence, and the recently announced expansion of West Bank settlements close to the Green Line. But, before he arrived in Jerusalem, something happened that changed Lavrov's agenda: the massacre of Russian children by Chechen Islamist terrorists.
The Palestinian People: A History By Baruch Kimmerling and Joel S.
I am not one of those who believes democracy will come soon either to Iraq or to the entity to be called Palestine (when—and if—the Palestinians finally grasp that they cannot have both a state and a warrant to kill Israelis). There is no reason to believe either of these polities will succeed in the democratic experiment that has failed or, to be more precise, has not been seriously tried in the Arab world. But there are improvements short of democracy: police who are not routinely brutal, government that isn't routinely corrupt, and courts that are not satraps of politics.
Yasir Arafat is one of the great survival artists of his time, but he may have survived his own significance. He is, politically speaking, already living posthumously. He is a mere place-holder for a Palestinian politics that has not yet emerged. And he owes his marginalization, his historical impotence, not merely to the Israeli tanks that are surrounding him in Ramallah, in deserving recompense for his failure to bring to justice the Palestinian assassins of an Israeli Cabinet minister, and not merely to Ariel Sharon's long- standing grudge against him.