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The Legacy of President Arafat

A letter to grassroots international from the democracy and workers’ rights center (dwrc)

Dearest friends at Grassroots International,

This is a moment of deep sadness, sadness at the loss of a symbol of the Palestinian struggle for the right to have a State like all nations and peoples around the world, and also sadness because Palestinians do not have the right to choose where their body will be buried in their homeland.

This is a time when difficult questions have to be addressed by Palestinians and Israelis, now that President Arafat is gone and we are left with his legacy, because all of us were critical of his leadership and we all held him responsible to various extents for the current political and social situation.

First, the majority of the Israeli people and all its leaders, and part of the Palestinian people and its leaders, accused President Arafat to be the one obstacle to peace. Now that our President has passed away, we are asking ourselves: what are the Israelis going to do? What can Israelis and Americans offer the new Palestinian leadership to revive a true hope of peace?

Second, regarding the Palestinian internal situation, we accused President Arafat of protecting corrupted people, a corruption that increased after Oslo and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority. We blamed on him the failure to build institutions and the weakening of civil society organizations, especially trade unions. What policies and strategies will the new Palestinian leaders adopt to solve these problems and to meet the expectations of their people?

Indeed, our situation became more difficult than ever, internally but also externally after the re-election of President Bush.

With you, our friends and comrades, with your friendship, solidarity and support, we will continue to struggle for a better future for the Palestinian and Israeli people and for two States for two peoples.

We pledge to continue our struggle for democracy and human rights, for social justice and equality.

We would like to thank all of you for your kind words and thoughts, and for sharing our sorrow.

Sincerely yours,

Hasan Barghouthi

General Director

Democarcy and Workers Rights Center