Sometimes a public figure makes a statement that seems so very absurd, so way out there that it makes you wonder if maybe there is some truth in it. You know what I am talking about, declarations like Clinton's "I did not inhale" and OJ's "I am searching for Nicole's real killer".
Such was the case last week when Yasser Arafat stood in front of the Palestinian legislative council and admitted that he has been a bad boy, using as his excuse, "even Prophets make mistakes."
Go ahead, read that statement again slowly. You can't stop the question from just leaping into your mind: Does Arafat really believe that he is a Prophet of G-d? Let's face it, outside of the Bible or the movies, the only people I have ever seen claim they were true prophets were holding a sign and standing next to squeegee guys who try to clean my windows when I go over the Brooklyn Bridge.
On one hand there is at least some truth in what Arafat is saying. The Bible is full of prophets who erred. Yet, as far as I can see, Yasser's mistakes are a lot larger than that of the traditional biblical messengers. His slip-ups include things like commanding children to wear explosives, go on a bus and blow up other children on the way to school. I don't have a copy but you have to believe that Arafat's thirst for the murder of innocents are major no-no's in the official prophet handbook. And for extra measure, he is stealing billions of dollars money earmarked to go to Gaza and West Bank Arabs for food and medicine.
Lots of the EU financial aid is now living with "Mrs. Voice of G-d" far away from the people it was meant to help. Despite the opinions of those in the French government, Yasser Arafat's acts are not those of a "People's Choice Award" winning prophet. We are not talking about hitting a rock here.
Despite all these mistakes maybe Arafat's entire statement is true. What if he really is a deliverer of holy messages? The fact that he is so mistake prone may not be his fault. It could be that he just had lousy training. Just like any other professional prophets need training too. In biblical times, prophets learned at the feet of other messengers, for example Elisha learned from Elijah.
Who has Arafat had to learn from? He had to train somewhere. Couldn't have been Elijah, he's too busy going from bris to bris. You don't read in the paper about a lot of great prophets around, delivering messages from G-d. That's probably why Yasser has committed all of these crimes. He's not a bad guy, just a bad prophet. You know, this could be the key to peace in our time. If we correct his horrible training he might change his ways. I made it my quest to find out where Yasser was ordained.
At first I thought that he might have been self-trained. All of those years cooped up in that Ramallah compound; maybe Arafat got bored and wanted to change careers. He could have taken a correspondence class, like one of those matchbook "You can go to art school" deals. He could have stepped out from his office for a smoke and seen it right there on as he lit up. "Draw a picture of this little doggie and you too can be a messenger of G-d. Imagine the fun at parties as you rebuke your friends in ancient Aramaic." That even sounds like the kind of operation that would produce a murder-prone seer like the head of the PA.
The president of the matchbook company assured me that there are no "Be a Prophet" correspondence courses on matchbooks. They only offer correspondence courses for doggie drawing art schools and NY Times Middle East columnists.
Unfortunately there were no good leads left, but I could not give up. The only way to reverse Arafat's mistaken prophet training is to find its source. Matchbooks didn't pan out. I couldn't figure out where the Palestinian Messenger of G-d learned his trade. It was time to think outside of the box. To free up my mind and relax, I turned on a fantasy TV program, ABC News with Peter Jennings.
Reading some e-mails and only half listening, I heard a quote that sounded like something that Arafat would say. "The Israeli puppeteer travels to Washington, meets with the puppet in the White House and goes down Pennsylvania Avenue and meets with the puppets in Congress. The Israeli leader then brings back millions of dollars in aid to Israel." I looked up at the television, it was not Yasser the messenger or even a Palestinian, it was Ralph Nader, candidate for President of the US.
"Eureka! That's the answer" I screamed, " Ralph Nader must be the one". In an instant it all became obvious. Nader's book "Unsafe At Any Speed" reads like a traditional prophet's rebuke. Many of his follower's have a glassy-eyed look, kind of acting like they have "drank the Kool-aid." Nader's comments about Israel sound like the person who may have given our sorry Yasser his official voice of G-d decoder ring. After further reseach I heard on good authority, that Nader has a second book which is one of Arafat's favorites. It is called, "How To Be A Lousy Prophet While Looking Like You Haven't Shaved In Three Days".
Calls to Nader's office remain unanswered, but once he has been contacted and I can confirm Ralph Nader as the source of the mistakes made by France's favorite prophet, Yasser Arafat, a giant leap toward peace will have been made.
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© 2004, Jeff Dunetz