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April 2000 - Return to Complete Index      MiddleEast.Org         4/03/00
News, Information & Analysis that Governments, Interest
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  Reality rather than Rhetoric

When we commented that the "Palestinian Intellectuals" in their recent Ha'aretz newspaper advertisement were doing much too little, much too late, in the wrong way and in the wrong place, we promised we'd have more to say to try to put all this in perspective.  Meanwhile, prompted by our initial commentary last month, the following article calling it like it really is came to us.

Now don't misunderstand.  We'd love to see Palestinian intellectuals step forward in a serious, sustained, and ongoing way to challenge this miserable and duplicitous "Peace Process".  But as with so many other things that go on in the Arab world far too often fiction is substituted for reality, nice image is supposed to compensate for actual impotence, astute criticism is branded as traitorous, and meaningless gestures and organizations are used to co-opt attention and divert energies.

Whatever, if and when something serious and sustained and courageous does happen, it won't be a one-time thing that lacks any strategy and follow-up; nor will it just be published in a Hebrew newspaper; nor will it omit condemnation of the Arafat and the other client-regimes that are in fact primarily responsible for the terrible state of affairs; not will it contain the names of such hypocritical and cravenly self-serving types like Hisham Sharabi, George Abed, Hanan Ashrawi, and Samih Farsoun for everything they now touch is badly tainted after so many years of wasting so much money, squandering so much time, and incestuously rewarding each other for their failures.

We're well aware that speaking up forthrightly, that naming names, that calling it like it really is, causes confusion, doubt and suspicion for some.  And we're well aware that telling the things various groups and interests don't want told and work so hard to keep quiet creates furious attempts to defame the messenger and change the subject.

But if we're serious about the issues and determined enough to want to really do something about them then truthful information and hard-headed serious-minded analysis are prerequisites.  Hence MER...hence this article....hence the many hundreds of articles now available and searchable by keyword and name at the MER Website -- http://www.MiddleEast.Org/search.htm


                    by Rageb Damian

In Arabic there is a saying: The Mountain gave birth to a mouse, which refers to a great effort that takes time and eventually produces little or no results.  The metaphor came to me the other day as I read about the petition signed by dozens of Palestinian “Intellectuals” and published in the Israeli daily “Haaretz” calling the Oslo Peace process unfair to the Palestinian side. It
emphasized the fact that Oslo has failed to produce any results for the Palestinians and warned of dire consequences if Palestinian demands for statehood were not met.

What the Petition failed to mention is that the Palestinian Leadership (Arafat and Company), unscathed by the silence and timidity of these “Intellectuals” and supported of course by the Triad of the US, Israel, and the Arab regimes, is the reason why we have the Oslo process in the first place.  And that Oslo would have never happened had the Palestinian leadership not capitulated to becoming Israel’s policeman in the West Bank and Gaza.  The Palestinian Authority simply assumed Israel’s Occupation goals of keeping the Palestinians oppressed while the Colonization of the West Bank continues.  Worse still, the multitude of the police forces independently administered by Arafat, in addition of course to his cronies and “ministers”, have been responsible for terrible human rights abuses, embezzlement of funds, crack down on freedom of speech, etc.

Enter our “Intellectuals”.  Most of those people can be considered detached from their people and living in a world of their own.  They are well educated, many graduates and/or professors of/at Western universities.  Although they would emphasize their “independence”, a great majority of them have direct or indirect connections to the Palestinian ruling elite, the ruling former feudal
land-owning families of Palestine and the better-off Palestinians, as well as to the PA.  Out of fear of punishment from Arafat’s people, loss of their prestige, and not being invited to the dining halls of the elite, these Intellectuals have remained largely silent over the years.  Instead they have echoed and improvised a sophisticated phrasing of the PLO/PA rhetoric of deception against their own people.

Criticism of the PLO lavish spending, squandering of the money and embezzlement in the seventies was not be made in public since “we need to maintain National Unity, we are in a war”.  Criticism of the PLO’s failing tactics was left to small circles of critics who later lost hope and fled in disgust.  Criticism of the PLO’s failure to build bridges with the real friends of the Palestinians was suppressed in the name of “Arafat knows what he is doing, he is a smart man.”  Criticism of the PA oppression and outright capitulation and participation in the RAPE of its own people was “premature, since what can be done? That is necessary in the process of building a state” and “Corruption is everywhere, we are working on it though” but “We should not hang our dirty laundry for the world to see.”  Excuses go on forever.

Most Palestinians I know have lost hope in a better future for them as a people, and went on to worry themselves with the hassles of daily life, family, and making a living.  As one articulate Palestinian  told me a few years ago, after the PA takeover: “Arafat has stolen our Dreams”.

Nothing could be truer.  After years of giving and sacrificing precious blood for the purpose of Independence and Freedom, we now find ourselves controlled by our own ugly self, a manifestation of all the wickedness and evil that we tried to ignore in our society: our backwardness, our self-enclosure, our fear of the unfamiliar and the new, our feudal, clannish societal structures. We find ourselves under the mercy of an entity that calls itself the Palestinian National Authority.  This time around, the boots kicking us are not Ottoman, British, Jordanian, Egyptian, nor Israeli, they are Palestinian (and paid for by our former worst enemies!).  We find ourselves under an octopus bureaucracy that answered to one man, Arafat, and as badly managed as the former PLO.

After all this, Palestinian “Intellectuals” still refuse to say the obvious or better still, do something about it.  The busy themselves with giving lectures in halls to which they themselves are invited.  This goes on all year round.  Annual conventions, luncheons, and conferences, its all the same:  Talk, talk, talk.  And nearly always just to each other! They are always telling us about the illegitimacy of the Palestinian dispossession by Israel, the unfairness of occupation, and the sorrow state of our Arab world.  They never tire.  As for criticizing the PLO/PA, it is always an indirect criticism against no one in particular.   The crooks remain unidentified. To be sure, public criticism is not exactly a popular practice in the Middle East today.  Everyday anybody who dares open up his/her mouth about the ruling regimes is shown within days the dungeons and the torture chambers of the military states of the Middle East.

But when you have some who live and teach/work in the West, who reside in democratic societies that defend free speech, what is the excuse?  When in a place like the US a group of individuals can organize and reach out to the media, why not take advantage of that?  Why continue acting and self-censoring like one is living under the regimes of the Middle East?  Why can’t a group of these “Intellectuals” sign a petition exposing the truth about the Arafat and other Arab dictatorships and publish it in a reputable, far-reaching newspaper like the Washington Post or the New York Times?  Why can’t they go on speaking tours to universities and tell the students about the reality of the ME conflict with all its complexity?  Instead, however, we find these people involved with pathetic Arab regimes-aligned Arab American organizations and acting like the entertainers for unknowing crowds.

This tragic farce has gone on for years, and I have little doubt that it will go on for a few more.  The “Intellectuals” remain insolent from what needs to be done to better the Palestinian situation.  They flee the sinking Palestinian Titanic and extricate themselves from the responsibility and the sin of silence all this time.  The conference room warriors still don’t know where to shoot.

The author can be reached at RAGEB@MiddleEast.Org

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