The luckless Palestinians marked the fourth death anniversary of Yasser Arafat on November 11. In conditions never experienced before. The crippling blockade of Gaza imposed since November 5, have made the impoverished Palestinians go without food as UN has suspended food distribution to 750,000 people. The area is without electricity and crossings remain closed, cutting off Palestinians from outer world. Israel has continued its indiscriminate air raids, along with the blockade of Gaza. Fifteen Palestinians have been killed during last week without a murmur from international community. Muslim world has also maintained a deafening silence, to their eternal shame. Yasser Arafat's struggle spanning 40 years failed to bear fruit, but it was more a failure of the international conscience and perfidy of his friends than his leadership. He pursued an armed struggle for three decades but having recognised its futility, he opted for, a peaceful resolution. The Oslo Accords were signed in 1993, through the mediation of the US, but it also failed to bring the cherished goal due to Israel's intransigence. Despite these reverses and heavy odds against which Arafat had to contend, he placed the dispossessed and besieged Palestinians at par with Israel. Intifada I and II brought Israel to the stark choice of either land or peace and had the Arabs extended due support to the Palestinians or exerted their pressure on the US, the sacrifices would not have been futile. Arafat died as a frustrated man, but not as a failed leader. The greatness of a leader is not measured in terms of success alone but in his commitment to the cause and determination to persevere in his objectives. On this score Arafat would rank among the great leaders of the last century. During his life, his policies drew criticism, even cynicism both from friends and foes alike. But the decline and disarray that the Palestinians have suffered since his death, as illustrated in the factional fights between Hamas and Fatah deadly silence of international community on Israels escalating cycle of death and destruction visiting the helpless Palestinians in Gaza reveals how critical was his presence to keep the Palestinians united. The Palestinian struggle is unique and different from others as explained by Arafat, himself. "Many people think that the cause of Palestine resembles that of Vietnam, Algeria or even South Africa. But although there is a resemblance in some aspects, there is something entirely unique about our cause. What we have been and still are, confronted with is not merely foreign invasion, occupation and even settlement. All this has been experienced by other countries. But no other country has been confronted with a plan to liquidate its national identity, as has happened in the case of Palestine, nor confronted a plan to empty a country of its people as has happened in the case of Palestinian people. It goes beyond anything previously recorded in modern history." There is no denying that Arafat made a monumental mistakes that cost his people dearly, such as support to Saddam during the Gulf war, which not only forfeited him the support of the Arabs but also resulted in the expulsion of almost half a million Palestinian workers from the Persian Gulf states. His refusal to accept the Clinton inspired Camp David peace plan in the twilight of his presidency in 2000 was yet another misjudgement. History would recall the failings and shortcomings of Arafat, but its verdict would be charitable. No leader was poised against such formidable odds and yet did not compromise on principles and continued till his last breath the struggle in pursuit of a homeland for his people. Arafat's struggle for the return of the occupied territories and establishing the Palestinian state did not succeed. But the tenacity and sincerity with which he persevered in his struggle has secured him the noblest niche in the history of the armed struggles against oppression and subjugation. He will remain the beacon of light for succeeding Palestinian generations. Today Palestinians are friendless and isolated. There is no silver lining on the horizon. British Foreign Secretary Miliband has perceptibly sketched the Palestinian frustration and helplessness. "Palestinians, feel cheated and abused. The grandiose peace promise is a scam. That talks are a screen to cover continued settlement expansion, home demolition, land confiscation and the daily indignities of occupation. They talk with Israel but fear they are being robbed of that which they are supposed to be talking about. Palestinian people are losing faith in a fair settlement. They are tiring of the conflict. But they are also tiring, faster, of efforts to resolve it, a condition that is far worse." According to Peace Now, Israel has built 122 settlements. In addition, it says more than 100 settlement outposts have been erected in the West Bank. Some 270,000 people live in these settlements and outposts, in addition to 180,000 who live in Jewish neighbourhoods Israel has built in East Jerusalem since capturing it in the 1967 Mideast war and annexing it. Today Israel controls 59 percent of the West Bank, 23 percent of it is under Israeli military control, and only 18 percent under the control of Palestinian Authority. The change in US leadership with Obama emerging as the new leader offers little comfort to the Palestinians. Statistics show that 87 percent of the Jews in the US voted for him. His choice of a Zionist as his chief of staff is a pointer in the direction. Obama during the election campaign also promised that he will recognise Al-Quds as Israel's capital. The Palestinians without a leader have lost their voice in the international forum. Potential leaders like Barghouti are in prison along with 10,000 other prisoners. Their dream of an independent Palestinian state has no hope of realisation in the near future. Indeed, if the Israeli plans to marginalise Palestinians as a factor in global politics succeed they might became an extinct species like the American Indians. The writer is a former ambassador