The board of directors of the Holocaust Memorial Museum will welcome Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat for a statesman’s visit. The invitation comes after the museum’s board of directors initially rejected Arafat’s request. In the aftermath of waves of criticism from the public, as well as from high-level U.S. government officials, the board reversed its decision. It was the right move. Arafat should be allowed to visit the museum as a statesman.
Some argue Arafat should not step foot inside the museum dedicated to remembering one of humanity’s greatest sins because he has the blood of innocent victims on his hands. While Arafat’s past as either terrorist or freedom fighter, depending on one’s perspective, does indeed contain bloodshed, the past must be put aside. It is time to consider the future.
Generations of Jews and Palestinians hold countless grievances against one another. Both have felt abandoned by the world. The present is darkened by the shadows of the past – but by welcoming Arafat, even for a symbolic gesture, the future of relations between Arabs and Jews may inch toward peace.
This article appeared in the January 22, 1998 issue of the Hatchet.