Thursday, December 15, 2005

Arafat's grave

I've been living in Ramallah for more than three months and I didn't visit the city's most popular -- perhaps only -- tourist attraction until last week: Arafat's grave. Two American friends were visiting, which was reason enough for us all to go to the gravesite, which is something of a pilgrimage destination for Palestinians from the West Bank and abroad. It is open from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. and attracts 2,000 visitors a day, according to the guards outside.

The founder of the Palestinian nationalist movement and its standard bearer for nearly a half-century is still referred to as "the leader" by the Palestinian guards outside the compound where he lived, worked and is buried. The moqata, as it is known, has been mostly patched and rebuilt since Israeli tanks and soldiers famously kept Arafat under seige on and off for the last four years of his life. His tombstone is draped with a Palestinian flag and encased in a large glass box. Four men from one of the many branches of the national police that Arafat created stand watch over the site.

Nearby is a hole, freshly dug, which is the beginnings of a mausoleum and memorial to the former president of the Palestinian National Authority and chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization. One of the guards told us that he will remain in Ramallah only temporarily, until the political situation will permit him to be buried in Jerusalem, according to his wishes. Insha'allah, I replied. If God wills it.


Blogger simplearab said...

Do you really think God wants the father of terrorism buried in the holy city of Jerusalem? This man murdered babies, men and woman in cold blood. I think you have spen too much time in the Gaza sun.

11:09 AM  

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