Roger L. Simon

Watching Yasser

I don’t know about the rest of you, but Sheryl and I were transfixed last night, watching the helicopter departure of Yasser Arafat from Ramallah on CNN. Despite the unrelenting anti-Israeli commentary of their “Chief International Correspondent” Christiane Amanpour, it was great theatre. (Note to Christiane: Even many Palestinian officials are now admitting the Al Aqsa Intifada was a tragic mistake for their people. That was Arafat’s doing, not Israel’s.)

Will Yasser return? Who knows? But I suspect, even though some worry the Palestinian caudillo is once again playing possum, this is the end of an era. We are beginning the next chapter in the endless Arab-Israeli conflict. Who knows what that will bring? With the election, events in Iraq and departure of Arafat all on top of each other, my head is swimming. It’s a difficult time to be a fiction writer. The inventions of history are far more fascinating than anything any one human could conceive.