American Jews and Muslims reflect differently on the life and leadership of Yasir Arafat, but they agree that, following his death, a new era of leadership is needed to unify Palestinians and reinvigorate the peace process.
Arafat died in Paris November 11 at age 75. For nearly two weeks, he lay in a coma amid conflicting reports on his condition, a week after he collapsed at his Palestinian compound in Ramallah and was flown to France for treatment.
For many U.S. Muslims, the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian National Authority was the pioneer and icon of his people’s self-determination and independence during years of struggle and violence between Palestinians and Israelis. For American Jews, he represented violent opposition to Israel’s very existence, as well as broken promises of peace.