As we are living in an increasing malevolent world, even the death of a single individual is controversial.
This week, PLO/PA negotiator Saeb Erekat, from Jericho, died from Coronavirus. He had been in an Israeli hospital for a month; the 65-year-old succumbed after a tough fight.
I well remember in 1991, when President George H.W. Bush pressured the Israelis into sitting down at the table with the arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat. Erekat, then a young, brash Palestinian activist, wore a keffiyeh, the checkered scarf worn by the blood-soaked Arafat, as one of his symbols of “revolution.” Erekat sat there, smug, smirking at Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli negotiators. Erekat knew that his American handlers were on his side and so he felt emboldened.
From the left-wing Economist:
“It was 1991, and dozens of men were huddled around a long white table in Spain, clad in the formless dark suits that are de rigueur at diplomatic functions. Only one stood out: a bearded, bespectacled university professor, shoulders draped in a keffiyeh, the chequered scarf that has become a symbol of Palestinian nationalism. Saeb Erekat caused a stir at the Madrid conference, the first direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Binyamin Netanyahu, then a mere spokesman for the Israeli delegation, suggested that his dress was a ‘provocation’. But, for Mr Erekat, the summit would start a diplomatic process that became his life’s work.”
The Bush Sr. administration was, in my view, anti-Semitic. James Baker and others were notoriously anti-Israel. They forced Israel to negotiate with the terrorist group, under the delusion that “land for peace” would actually work. Instead, Israel endured 25 years of murder and harassment. The Bush team didn’t care, nor did subsequent presidents.
And yet, think about what happened to Erekat. He is what I call a terrorist in a suit. Just as lethal as homicide bombers, but far more subtle because he is invited to Washington events and he has a Ph.D. He was just as intense with his hatred for Jews as a member of Hamas.
Various news outlets behave as if the PA will be dealing with a new U.S. administration in January, but that is premature of course. Still, the typical jockeying for position among Palestinians to take over Erekat’s cushy diplomatic perks is going on in earnest.
Out of all this, though, I cannot stop thinking about the man. This I mean in terms of where he is now. I always think this way when an evil man or woman dies. Fresh out of his brashness and evil intentions, I wonder what first conscious thoughts Erekat had when he died.
This is why we shouldn’t dwell too much on the here-and-now in terms of justice here or there. Men like Erekat seem to wield a lot of power in life, and he was a menace for decades. But God’s justice flows when He wants it to flow. The Lord catches up with all men eventually, and for too many, it’s too late.
Much was made of Israel’s decision to treat Erekat. They have treated many Palestinians over the years, including active terrorists. Very honestly, I struggle with this, but most of my Israeli friends are unwavering in their commitment to preserve life, no matter whose life.
In 2017, I interviewed many Israeli medical personnel in Tel Aviv. To a man and woman, they said that their only priority upon receiving a critical patient was to save that patient’s life. They won’t budge from that.
Yet the Palestinians for decades have murdered Jews with abandon. The leadership has a collective reprobate mind. I’m not sure I could treat a terrorist.
But then that’s why the Lord doesn’t have me in the medical field.
Hard as it is sometimes, we should commit to pray for evil leaders while they are alive. As Saeb Erekat has learned, after that it’s too late.