The Arab world is enormous and complex. In today's world of terrorism and radical groups, it's important not to lump all Arabs or all Muslims into one mound of extremism.
The death of Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, is not the passing of another guy with a cloth on his head -- Arafat spent his whole life sacrificing and fighting for justice for a people without a country.
Palestinians are the largest nation of people without a nation-state. They are among the most highly-educated refugees in the world. Arafat, himself, was educated as an engineer in Egypt before leaving his safe and comfortable world behind to fight for the rights of his people.
While Israel has a right to a homeland, Palestinians have been designated to the barren regions of the West Bank and Gaza Strip -- millions of people forced on to what are the size of two small American Indian reservations. After relentless attacks, cities like Ramallah are nothing but rubble.
Few can excuse the radical militant Palestinian groups who have used suicide bombings to kill innocent Israeli citizens, yet Israel's Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, in his career as an agent with Mosad (Israeli CIA) and as defense minister in the 1980s, has ordered the killing of hundreds of thousands of innocent Palestinian people. Sharon ordered the bombings of two Palestinian refugee camps in 1982 that killed thousands of women and children. As prime minister, he continues the pillaging.
Ironically, the Palestinian people seek exactly what Jews were looking for when the state of Israel was created -- an identity and a homeland -- a nation with a nation-state.
Peace rallies drawing thousands of people in Israel show that many Israelis are in favor of a compromise, yet Israeli leaders aggravate the situation by permitting Israelis to build settlements on what remains of Palestinian-occupied land.
Israel is a sophisticated country that has historically received a great deal of economic support from the U.S. They have the money and weaponry to demolish what remains of Palestine, but are cognizant that they are surrounded by countries sympathetic to the Palestinian people.
All one has to do is watch CNN and see the devastation of what little infrastructure was in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to know that things have never been worse for the Palestinian people. And now they have lost the man who made their struggle known to the world.
It's evident to me that the Bush administration's attempts to guide a peace process have been anemic at best and Sharon has undone any progress accomplished in the last decade.
People may see Arafat as a terrorist, but in my view, Ariel Sharon is no better, and until Israel has new leadership, peace will never come to the region.