"die another day"
Barry Rubin in the Sydney Morning Herald on Arafat:
Terrorism is an effective tool for mobilising people if they are willing to overlook the moral issues and rejoice in the deaths of other ethnic groups. Terrorism had been used many times before in history, but not really as a populist revolutionary tool for building a movement. Arafat proved how politically profitable a terrorist strategy could be.
He showed terrorism could be carried out without paying a price for it. For years Western politicians have warned of the terrible punishment awaiting terrorists. In fact, few of those who killed under Arafat's command were jailed, and many of them were sprung from jail by further attacks, hostage-taking or political deals. Arafat proved that being a terrorist was much less riskier than it seemed.
He made the Palestinian cause a central concern of the world through terrorism, propaganda, courting sympathy, threatening to unleash the wrath of the Arab and Muslim worlds, and ensuring that the conflict would not go away.
He showed how much can be achieved through intransigence, the power of saying no, and the constructive use of weakness. When Arafat refused to make peace or stop terrorism he showed how he could make his adversaries and bystanders give him more concessions.
Arafat played a big role in the contemporary renewal of anti-Semitism to its high traditional level. By constantly portraying Israel and, albeit more subtly, Jews as evil, Arafat returned this stereotype to international acceptance.
Equally, he succeeded in spreading anti-Americanism globally. While it is easy to attribute Arafat's hostility to the United States to its support for Israel, it was in fact part of his revolutionary ideology from the beginning, going back to the early 1960s, long before the US even gave any aid to Israel.
Perhaps the single most powerful wider political effect of Arafat was his contribution to maintaining the status quo in the Middle East. By fomenting terrorism and anti-Western sentiment, and especially by refusing to make peace in 2000, Arafat helped destroy the incipient trend towards moderation in the Arab world. He gave Arab dictators the perfect rationale to crack down. With the Arab-Israeli conflict continuing, Arab rulers could explain that reform was a Western trick and democracy an unaffordable luxury.
Arafat has been catastrophic for Israel, which has lost hundreds of lives to terrorism after taking risks and making concessions for peace, and for the Palestinians, who might long have enjoyed peace and an independent state under a more moderate leadership. That is a tragedy.