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 May 2000 - Return to Complete Index    MiddleEast.Org         5/17/00
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      Finally...real, organized, and supported Civil Disobedience?

MID-EAST REALITIES - www.MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 5/17/2000:

Feisal Husseini is not much of a leader and if it were not for his namesake, family wealth, and Arafat's endorsement, he would be seen as the weak and misguided figure so many who know him personally believe him to be.  Even so, Husseini has gained a following over the years as the Jerusalem Palestinian you go meet at Orient House if you happen to be visiting and want to show some support for the Palestinians and the "peace process".  And he has been sent for years now by the Arafat regime, with Israeli blessings, around the world to promote the "peace process"; though he's not very impressive or convincing.

Husseini has functioned over the years as a kind of middle-of-the road sometimes collaborator.  Unlike Dr. Haidar Abdul Shafi who realized he had been terribly used and that the "peace process" was a disaster for the Palestinians, Husseini, who was a member of the negotiating delegation chaired by Abdul Shafi, has played along and refused to admit the errors of his ways.  It is during the years that Husseini has claimed to speak for the Palestinians in Jerusalem that so much of the city has been taken over by the Israelis and Palestinian fortunes have dwindled so badly.

At times, however, Husseini attempts to portray himself as something other than what he most of the time seems to be.  He makes nationalist statements on an increasing basis it seems, balancing his precarious situation as an Israeli-annointed VIP, an Arafat crony, and the scion of a once-proud Jerusalem Palestinian family.  It's a tough role to play, maybe an impossible one -- that much also needs saying.  And for the moment let's just say that the judgement just how bad a job Husseini has done is mixed for some.

Meanwhile, what's of interest at the moment is that Husseini is now saying that the
Palestinians are going to do what they should have done 20 and 30 years ago...
that they are going to stop cooperating with their occupiers and finally pursue civil disobedience in a sustained and serious way "no matter what happens".

Always in the past such statements have been little more than bluster and widely recognized as little but attempts to portray themselves in front of their people as dignified leaders while behind the scenes attending Israeli parties and benefiting from Israeli privileges.  But even so, if this time they are actually serious, and if they have both the guts and the ability to pull something of this kind off, its long overdue and should be strongly supported regardless of all the past mistakes, inadequacies, and deceptions that have come from Husseini and his little circle of  Palestinian elite centered in Jerusalem and Ramallah.

It's this lack of credibility knowing who the players are that makes it so hard to get very enthusiastic about what is yet to come.  Always in the past the Palestinian "leadership" has uttered one thing, done another.  Always in the past the Palestinian elite has pretended one thing in meetings with foreigners, then done another in their meetings with the Israelis.  Always in the past the Palestinian leadership, Husseini definitely among them, has worked with the Israelis to prevent "civil disobedience" in the first place and to "contain" and "end" it when it occurred.  And always in the past, as Husseini traveled here and there and met with one Israeli friend after another, things have gotten worse for the Palestinians no matter how many "negotiations" were arranged, concessions were made, and hopes were expressed.  And so, it's highly questionable whether the Palestinian society as currently organized and under the boot of the Israeli-brought-in "Palestinian Authority" -- as well as the Israeli Army and the CIA -- has the internal cohesion and ability to organize and sustain the kind of thing Husseini's words suggest.  And it's highly unlikely Husseini could lead the Palestinian masses anywhere after so many years of his aristocratic life-style and neglecting them.

Conclusion:  Husseini is trying to make himself look good and being told he is putting  some pressure on the Americans and the Israelis by such statements.  If he were really serious he'd be saying much less in public, and traveling to far fewer foreign countries, and instead visiting some of the refugee camps he hasn't been to in many many years.  So, let's not get mislead by the rhetoric that comes from either the Barak folks or the Arafat ones.

But even so, an important idea can still be discussed on its merits and potential.
As for what Hussein has now specifically said, here's what an Israeli news source with close ties to the Israeli settlers reported earlier this week:

(Ed. note: "Yesha" is the hebrew word used to mean Judea and Samaria -- the
occupied territories -- where the Israeli settlements are mostly located).

"Leading PLO official Feisal Husseini confirmed yesterday that not only will the Palestinian Authority declare a state "on all its lands" on September 13, but that the next day, the Palestinians living in refugee camps will "march" towards Israeli cities and villages.  So reports the Lebanese Foundation for Peace.  Husseini admitted that violence during such a march would be likely, and that it could lead to a Palestinian 'conquest' of Jewish towns in Yesha:  'The Palestinians will be prepared for a confrontation.  If the Israelis intercept the marches or cut the roads, the Palestinians will cut the roads connecting Israel to the Jewish settlements in the Palestinian areas, no matter what happens.'"

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