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Palestine and the Heralds of Change

January 28, 2011

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Dear Palestinians, Honorary Palestinians, and Friends of Palestine,

I am writing you from Al Quds, where there is very little mobility or action on the streets in response to the recently published documents, which prove the extent of the Palestinian Authority’s collaboration with the Israeli government, and by default the Zionist movement in reducing Palestine into a statelette of Bantustans and ghettos. Not withstanding the proof of its willingness to dismiss the right of return, to sell off Al Quds (Jerusalem), to take part in undermining our rights (Goldstone), and to police the Palestinians on behalf of Israel. Many, too many in fact, dismissed the revelations as “Nothing New,” and that they serve no end but to undermine the PA, strengthen Hamas, and bla bla bla…the hogwash carries on. What those documents constitute is a proof that all which we knew or thought we knew or accused the PA of doing cannot be refuted. Regardless of how much Saeb Erekat and Mahmoud Abbas and their cronies, thugs and henchmen bray and bellow, the fact of the matter remains unchallenged and unchanged. They have compromised beyond their license, they have gotten us nothing in return, and they are simply and most certainly mediocre and incompetent to lead the Palestinians.

Add to incompetence corruption, duplicity, bureaucracy, nepotism, torture, totalitarianism and misrepresentation. That is what for the past 20 years, since the Madrid conference, a small clique of under-qualified men, hungry for power, managed the fate of the Palestinian people. Every competent negotiator, arbitrator and politician from Edward Said to Hanan Ashrawi were pushed aside, ignored, misinformed so that Arafat and his men could strike the deal that would rather best serve own personal interest than those of the Palestinians. What we have seen in the Palestine Papers and the ensuing result of their publication and analysis is but a mere glimpse into the extent of how indifferent and corrupt the Palestinian leadership has been since it’s illegitimate assumption of power.

Hamas; the beloved arch nemesis of the PA, the grand fear of Israel, and the rabid terrorist organisation which America’s heroic expedition of World Liberation will one day vanquish. Hamas was created, promoted, and nourished to become the religiously-tainted-fanatic antitheses of the Palestinians’ secular struggle for the liberation of Palestine. Israel made sure Hamas in its early stages, as a sprout from the Muslim Brotherhood (Al Ikhwan) in Egypt took root in the Palestinian struggle and social arena. Not a few years ago did Hamas publicly declare that it did not recognise the PLO as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. For Israel this was a mission accomplished. However, as unsettling as it might be I would agree once with Hamas. The PLO, which has been practically reduced to a fan club of the Oslo accords and serves only as a banner, all to easily, brandished by the PA whenever a shit-hitting-fan situation occurs (such as now) which seems to question the decisions of the PA. The PLO does not anymore in any way or form represent a minimum majority of the Palestinians in the Occupied Terretories, let alone the Palestinian people throughout the world.

The strength that so many fear has been granted to Hamas on a silver platter with the publication of such documents is not only an exaggeration, it is unnecessary. Hamas was more popular and more successful in the last elections more than four years ago. The fact that it was usurped by the Fateh and the PA, banished to Gaza or to PA jails in the West bank has done nothing more than bolster its ranks, increase its support and undermine all others. The Palestine Papers have indeed raised Hamas’ moral and kudos amongst the Palestinians. NOT because they are any better, but because the average hungry and wounded Palestinian in Gaza, the squalor-dwelling Palestinian refugee in Lebanon, and the threatened Palestinian in Al Quds, sees no other alternative. A religious leadership is as odious as a corrupt one. I am not in the least keen on a Hamas leadership, nor would I endorse it. After all, Hamas is a tool of the Zionist movement, and at heart regardless of their integrity they are a different form of suppression. All in all, Hamas has, nonetheless, played its part impeccably in winning over Palestinians. One is almost forced to respect them for their stance. I still cannot.

The alternatives, with the signing of the Oslo accords were either crushed or undermined. The grass roots organisations, which managed Palestinian society under total Israeli occupation and acted as the civil infrastructure that mobalised the Palestinians to revolt in the first Intifada were dismissed with the creation of the PA ministries and the importing of American and European NGOs (more accurately mercenaries trained to tame and break the Palestinians). Palestinian middle class soon after 1993 started to disappear. This happened in two forms; the first through Israeli systematic targeting of Palestinian economy and welfare that sustained a middle class, particularly in Jerusalem where Israel had direct control of Palestinian Jerusalemites, also through the control of goods, nature of businesses, work permits etc. Also by making life as unbearable as possible through the various means of subjugation, oppression and apartheid.

The other form of middle class destruction was carried out by the PA, perhaps unwittingly, but all the same effectively. That was indirectly when Arafat re-established the tribe/clan system, where an individual would rely more upon the collective physical strength of his family and their influence rather than a police force, which would, in turn, guarantee his rights as a civilian. Before Oslo, the Hamuleh (clan, or extended family) had no bearing upon the individuals life except for a few ceremonial and traditional aspects, Israel occupied the 1967 territories and it’s treatment of Palestinians was more or less uniformly oppressive and the Hamuleh had no bearing whatsoever except as mentioned above. Once Arafat took seat in his newly formed principality, in order to maintain himself as the ultimate figure and father of the nation, he re-instated the outdated family system that was well and truly dead before his arrival. If a man got into a brawl with another, the families would sort the trouble amongst themselves. The more rowdy, thuggish, criminal and violent your family, the stronger and safer you are. This not only created a hierarchy of incompetent tribal lords within the PA, it gave rise to nepotism, corruption and skewed justice. Further it drastically undermined the individual in terms of creativity, development, independence and productivity. Senile family members, illiterate patriarchs with no qualifications or merit took the forefront of each family and stunted the already ailing Palestinian society. Individuals capable of contributing to the welfare of the nation were completely undermined, not to mention the reversal of the role of women in society. Coupled with the Iranian revolution and the system Arafat developed, women, who occupied a substantial role in the struggle against the occupation and in the civil and social Palestinian sphere saw their position crumble into virtual nothingness.

In addition to this, almost all forms of economic or business endeavors set up by Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza were targeted by the PA. The PA had a finger in every pie, and often the pie went sour because of that finger. The PA did not act as a totalitarian government, ironically that would have been easy to topple. No they functioned like the mob, intimidating through administrative penalisation, physical threats, accusations of collaborating with the Israelis-which eventually lead to mob killings, etc. On the other hand, Hamas, who were not yet elected, operated a welfare system that took care of refugees and the under privileged, and those not affiliated with the PA. Of course that had its own religious taint and political agenda. All other factions, from the communist to the liberal were too minute or weak to inspire change. Those who saw no hopes or chances of prosperity and were able to leave, indeed left, the mass of those who remained either crumbled into poverty or turned to religion. The few sane that remained are too few to make a substantial change for lack of leadership and motivation.

Along came the second Intifada and doubled the direness of the situation. Nothing came out of the second Intifada except the Wall, more Colonies, More military Checkpoints and a stronger Hamas and a more ruthless and right leaning Israel. The PA, under the leadership of Arafat, who was now promenading into the realm of senility, did nothing to make use of the situation. Instead the revolt fizzled out, Israel expanded its realities on the ground and Arafat-all too late-was finally out of the picture. Now we are left with his disciples, as cunning and corrupt as he was, but not as charismatic or charming.

As I stand now on the precipice of a new era of politics and discourse heralded by the publications of the Palestine Papers and the social and political change taking place in the Arab world, I struggle to see hope for Palestinians, with Israel from one corner brandishing its weapons, Hamas refusing the realities, Fateh maintaining it’s duplicitous lies, and the people utterly exhausted. But there is hope. If the Palestine Papers is what it takes to mobalise the Palestinians, then so be it. Be it a small group of young students in London demanding representation, or a gathering of friends in Gaza demanding change; the message is clear ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. We the third, and now fourth, generation of The Nakba are nauseated from the dull slogans, the boring talk and the inevitable concessions. We are horrified by the slaughter of our people, their expulsion, and continuous ethnic cleansing. No more can we stand and watch power-hungry politicians, religious zealots, and a criminal Israel turn our future into an aimless field game that the American and British practice their military and espionage tactics on!

We DEMAND full representation, unequivocal rights and unwavering justice. We see our future in a one state: the Historical Palestine. The unquestionable right of return, and equality for all citizens. The Mechanisms may vary, the methods may differ, but that is what we want, that is what we need, but most importantly that is what we deserve as human beings worthy of justice and entitled to their rights to exist freely.

Yours truly,
OmarJoseph Nasser-Khoury

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