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The finger on the invisible hand

Americans react to Arafat’s death with confusion, chair still missing

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Up until he reportedly went into a coma on Nov. 4th, Yasser Arafat was pretty much off the map for most Americans. Yes, they were aware of this plucky 75 years young resistance fighter in the larger context of the region they call the Middle East, but many details were lost, such as what side Arafat was fighting for. Part time nude model and football player Eddy Speeler was one of those confused. “Well, he had that sort of funky headband thing, you know,” Eddy commented. “So, I kinda figured he wasn’t with the Israelis. On the other hand, the Middle East is hot, so it’s probably good to keep your head covered and drink lots of liquids.”

the Middle East is hot, so it’s probably good to keep your head covered

Most people were even sure what to call Arafat. He was born born Muhammad Abd al-Rahman ar-Rauf al-Qudwah al-Husayni and was also known as Abu Ammar. When you add in “Yasser Arafat” that’s ten names.

To add to this confusion, accurate information about Arafat’s condition seemed impossible to find. In a survey of major news services, 16% proclaimed that Arafat was awake, 37% maintained he was in a coma, 24% claimed he was in a deep coma, 13% thought he was dead, 2% were sure he was dead, 7% were undecided and 1% fell into the “other” category. The big loser here was of course the Paris Business Review which listed Arafat as “on vacation”.

the Paris Business Review listed Arafat as “on vacation”

Not everyone was so confused. “I don’t know why everyone makes such a big deal about this guy. This is the man that single handedly invented the suicide bomber*,” instantly replied Wittle Macomb, service attendant and avid collector. While many Americans consider Arafat a terrorist, he has actually been awarded the Nobel Peace prize. Wittle, however, did not consider this a great achievement, “So did Gorbachev and Gorbachev was a slimy Cat Stevens loving commie.”

With the Middle East Roadmap for Peace being a Road to Nowhere, eyes turn to who will be Arafat’s successor while the funeral plans are still being made. Farouk Kaddoumi, who currently leads the Palestinian nationalist Fatah movement, seems ready to duke it out with Mahmoud Abbas, Arafat’s successor of the PLO. While both men claim to want peace, Kaddoumi claims that Abbas moved Arafat’s good chair to his office on the day that the coma was announced, and Abbas refuses to respond to allegations until Kaddoumi returns Arafat’s silver letter opener and an autographed picture of Madonna, both of which Arafat kept in his upper left hand desk drawer. It is feared that this new rift in the Palestinian leadership will eventually come to blows in the parking lot. Meanwhile, the tension builds as Israeli officials have announced that unless Arafat’s office is returned to the same condition as when he left for the hospital, military options would be considered.

*Editors Note: Although Mr. Macomb seemed very sure of this remark, the earliest recorded suicide bombing was performed in the Crusades by the Knights Templar.

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