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Palestinians’ Hard Choice: An Interview With Sari Nusseibeh

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Posted on May 3, 2007
Nusseibeh
bcm.bc.edu

By Jon Wiener

Sari Nusseibeh [right], a leading Palestinian intellectual and political figure, is a long-time advocate of a two-state solution and was the PLO’s chief representative in Jerusalem in 2001 and 2002.  He is now president of Al Quds University, the only Arab university in Jerusalem.  His memoir, “Once Upon a Country: A Palestinian Life,” was published in April by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.  I spoke with Nusseibeh April 30 in Los Angeles.

Jon Wiener:  What did the 2006 July War in Lebanon look like to you in Jerusalem?

Sari Nusseibeh:  It was totally crazy, an example of how wars can sometimes be totally useless.  In that war, the stated objective was to recover two Israeli soldiers who had been kidnapped by the other side, and today those two soldiers are still in custody.  The entire Lebanese people paid a very high price in the destruction and devastation of their country and their capital, and for nothing.

Wiener:  The Israelis did not win this war.  Would you say Hezbollah won the war?

Nusseibeh:  Hezbollah does say it won the war, but I would say both sides lost.  Because you have to look not only at the political party or leadership that’s carrying out the war; you have to look beyond that at the country itself and the people themselves.  And if you look at the people of Lebanon, I believe the war has pushed them back generations.  Destroyed their lives and livelihoods, their infrastructure.  I think it’s a war where two sides have lost.

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Wiener:  What effect did the July War have on Palestinians?  I’ve heard that the most popular figure among Palestinians is the head of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah.  Is that true?

Nusseibeh: At the time the war was on, that was true.  Every time he came out on the TV screens he was always smiling and talking gently and always escaping the attempts by the Israeli army to take him out.  Every time the Israelis said they had managed to kill him, he would appear a day or two later.  So he really captured the hearts of the Palestinians and perhaps of the Arabs more generally—as a beaten people, as a people who have been constantly beaten in wars. He personified for them the ability to stand up to Israeli military might.  But perhaps since then things have changed.

Wiener:  The Israelis say “our soldiers were kidnapped by terrorists who crossed a recognized international boundary, 3,000 rockets were fired at our civilians, hundreds of thousands of our civilians were driven from their homes into shelters, what were we supposed to do?  Of course we had to respond.”

Nusseibeh:  You are describing events during the war, but those have to be separated from what happened at the beginning.  What happened at the beginning was two Israeli soldiers were taken prisoner by Hezbollah.  The very first step was Israel’s insistence that it should go to war to retrieve the two prisoners.  That was the first mistake.  Then other mistakes followed.  Clearly they were not prepared for and did not expect such intensive opposition and resistance from the other side.  It was totally unexpected. 

Wiener:  Some analysts say we have to see that war as a proxy war between the U.S. and Iran.  Do you agree?

Nusseibeh:  It was a proxy war between people who take positions very hastily and think they can quickly destroy the other side, not giving any respect for how strong they might be. 

Wiener:  Your book “Once Upon a Country” ends with the elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council in early 2006, that shocking moment when Hamas won a lot more seats than Fatah.  The Israeli right argued that this election proved peace with the Palestinians was impossible.  What’s your understanding of the outcome of those elections?

Nusseibeh:  That argument is very far from reality, in my opinion.  We know for example that these elections took place a year after the presidential elections following the death of Arafat.  In those elections, Abu Mazen was elected by a majority of the Palestinians.  Everybody, including the Palestinians, assumed that this vote was a vote for peace.  Abu Mazen, even in the time of Arafat, was the man of peace, the man who embodied the Oslo process.  But a whole year passed with Abu Mazen as president when the people who elected him did not see any tangible progress towards peace.  So there was a lot of frustration.  That’s the first point you need to understand.

Second is that when the elections were finally held and Hamas won, there was a problem with the people in Fatah who did not get together.  They did not run as a single party.  That wasted votes.  That was another reason why Hamas won.  If you added up the votes of all the different Fatah people who ran, I think you would find Hamas did not win a majority,

Wiener:  If we are listing the missed opportunities, certainly the Israeli failure following death of Arafat was one.  There is also the Israeli pullout from Gaza.  It seemed at one point that that might be the prelude to a broad pullout from the West Bank.  That didn’t happen.  The Israelis blamed the Palestinian Authority for failing to disarm terrorist groups in Gaza, which has remained a base for attacks on southern Israel.  What went wrong with the Gaza pullout?

Nusseibeh:  We have to go back to the beginning—and look not just at what happened after the Israeli pullout.  At the time, [Ariel] Sharon himself argued that this unilateral pullout was a step toward ending the occupation throughout the territories.  But Palestinians argued at the time that the unilateral nature of this pullout would enable some groups to claim that the Israelis were leaving only because of the rockets and the fighting on the Hamas side.  What was required at the time was a mutual agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians. 

As soon as the Israelis withdrew, the Hamas people in Gaza declared military victory, the same way Hezbollah declared military victory when Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon.  They said “we pushed them out with our guns, and this shows we should go on fighting on the West Bank.”  What happened was the growing strength for the military wing in Gaza, leading to the situation we find today.  The moral, I believe, is that any step toward peace in the region must be mutual, must be reciprocal, must be agreed upon by the two sides.  You cannot make peace unilaterally, the way you can make war unilaterally.  You can only make peace bilaterally.

Wiener:  In your book “Once Upon a Country” your account of the 1948 war is different from the prevailing history in Israel and the U.S.  Our understanding here is that six Arab armies attacked the new state of Israel after it declared independence in 1948.  The neighboring Arab states rejected a U.N. partition plan that would have created a Palestinian state alongside Israel.  You don’t mention this invasion in your book.

Nusseibeh:  The fact is that these armies attacked.  The question is, what was the reason?  Why did they attack?  Was it that they attacked because they rejected the partition plan, or because some or most of them wanted to grab as much territory as possible, given the fact of the partition plan?  One Israeli historian, Benny Morris, claims that the Arab armies went in mostly in a land grab, to get as much land for themselves as possible.  I’m not sure, but it seems that people assumed Israel was going to have part of this land, and the question on the part of the Arab governments was whether this land was going to be given to the Palestinians to establish their own state, or whether we should step in and appropriate the land for ourselves.  This was primarily the motivation for their entry into the country at that time.

Certainly the Palestinians rejected the partition plan.  There is no doubt that they were very angry at the partition plan and did not wish for Israel to be created at the time.  It took them a long time until they came around to seeing that they had to accept this partition plan, and that perhaps the future can be better for themselves if a peace is worked out with the Israelis.

Wiener:  The biggest obstacle in any peace settlement, according to the Israelis, is the Palestinian claim of a right of return.  In 1948 your mother’s family was expelled from land that had been theirs for generations.  What do you tell your Palestinian comrades about the right of return?

Nusseibeh:  This is the most painful part of a compromise that has to be made between Israelis and Palestinians.  We have to think not only of the past but also of the future.  I’ve been accused of arguing that we don’t have a right of return.  That is false.  I think we have a right of return.  But we have other rights as well.  We have a right to freedom.  We have a right to independence.  We have a right to create a new future.  And very often in life the implementation of one right conflicts with the ability to implement another.  You have to make a choice.  In this case, I’ve been arguing with my peers, my colleagues, my people, that we must choose, and that, morally speaking, the best choice is to opt for the right to freedom, the right to independence, and the right to a new future.

Wiener:  You were an important figure in the first intifada, 1987-1991, which relied on massive civil disobedience.  The second intifada began in 2000 after Sharon’s provocative visit to the Temple Mount—that is the intifada of the suicide bombers. How do you explain the difference between the two?

Nusseibeh:  The first intifada was an explosion of frustration.  The challenge at the time was, can we turn this explosion into something with a political objective?  There were three elements that helped into making that explosion into a political act.  One was the existence of leadership.  We had that—it was called the Unified Leadership of the Uprising.  Second, it had a vision—the vision was, we want to lead all of this movement toward negotiations with Israel to create a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.  Third, that intifada also had a day-by-day, month-by-month strategy to bring us to that conclusion.  That strategy was primarily civil disobedience, and that is primarily how I was involved in the intifada.  We succeeded in the sense that we finally were able to bring the two peoples closer to realizing that two-state solution was the only feasible solution, and indeed we got negotiations between the two parties.

With this latter explosion of violence, which began in 2000, I refuse to call this an intifada, because it had neither a leadership, nor a vision, nor a plan.  It was simply—in my opinion—a crazy expression of frustration and anger, totally useless, chaotic and certainly counterproductive, involving acts of violence and of terrorism that only brought ruin to the Palestinian people and to our achievements.

Wiener:  Does the recent electoral success of Hamas make you worried that you might have to live in an Islamic fundamentalist state?  What do you see as the future of Islamic fundamentalism among the Palestinians?

Nusseibeh:  There are two parts to this question.  The first part concerns what kind of state I would wish to live in.  When I have resisted occupation, calling for an independent Palestinian state, I really need a state that will respect my rights as an individual.  Will respect my freedoms, will be a lawful state where there’s equality, freedom of opinion.  I do not believe a rigid Islamic fundamentalist state would provide me with this, so it’s not the state that I have fought for, and certainly not the one I would want to live in.

But behind the fundamentalism, behind Hamas and its ideology, are the people, and it’s easy to reach out to the people.  You can never change the ideology itself.  The question is how big or small it is going to be in the general landscape.  I think it can be limited by reaching out to people, providing them with hope, with progress, with the ability to provide a better life for themselves and their families in the future.

 

 

 


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By Inherit The Wind, May 13, 2007 at 7:33 pm Link to this comment
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” No, I want to take away the “right” of Jewish people living in Israel to live in a Jewish supremacist state, just like I wanted to take away the “right” of Afrikkaners to live in an Afrikkaner supremacy state. I don’t want to take away Israel’s right to self-determination, but I do want Israeli self-determination to INCLUDE both Jews and non-Jews. I’m all for “The national self-determination of the Israeli people”, but I’m against “national self-determination for Jewish people”, because no ethnic group has that right. The whole world, except of course Jews, understands this.”

Let me see if I have this straight: If you are a Jew “the whole world” understands you aren’t entitled to self-determination.

But if you are a Moslem, you are entitled to “national self-determination for Islamic people” which is exercised in almost every nation in the Middle East.

Why is one denied, but the other tolerated?  The only difference in ethnic supremacy is that in Israel it’s far more benign.  Non-Jews vote, serve in the Knesset (or did) and differed only in the Right to Return Law.  But in the Moslem nations, most don’t allow other religions even those rights.  Why so hostile to one “sinner” but not the others, committing the same sin?

TW, I actually think most of the world wants Israel and Palestine to live side by side in peace, and only a few want to force Israel to cease to exist, to be replaced by Palestine.

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By Tony Wicher, May 13, 2007 at 3:36 pm Link to this comment

Reply to #69607 by Inherit The Wind on 5/12 at 4:20 pm

TW:
Silly means ignoring obvious facts, like the fact that Israel, like it or not, is a nation, recognized by most of the nations of the world.  You want to take away Israel’s right to self-determination.

No, I want to take away the “right” of Jewish people living in Israel to live in a Jewish supremacist state, just like I wanted to take away the “right” of Afrikkaners to live in an Afrikkaner supremacy state. I don’t want to take away Israel’s right to self-determination, but I do want Israeli self-determination to INCLUDE both Jews and non-Jews. I’m all for “The national self-determination of the Israeli people”, but I’m against “national self-determination for Jewish people”, because no ethnic group has that right. The whole world, except of course Jews, understands this.

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By Inherit The Wind, May 12, 2007 at 5:20 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

TW:
Silly means ignoring obvious facts, like the fact that Israel, like it or not, is a nation, recognized by most of the nations of the world.  You want to take away Israel’s right to self-determination. 

You don’t see that that’s NOT the same thing as defining borders, defining interactions between Israelis and Palestinians, trade relations, water rights and police rights.

Sure, the settlers would be forced to leave the West Bank and move back into Israel proper. Tough $#!t on them. They are religious fanatics as bad as the Islamic terrorists.  I’ll bet as many Israelis hate those settlers as Palestinians do because they make trouble for no good reason.

So clear the settlers out, and let Israel have fair, defendable borders.  Good fences make good neighbors…But walls are a sign of desperation.

There’s lots of ways to have 2 nations live side by side peacefully—62 years of Europe, a couple of hundred years between the US and Canada, lots of nations in South America.

What’s so tough about 2 nations living side by side and engaging in commerce?

But one nation is a silly (and dangerous idea).

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By Tony Wicher, May 12, 2007 at 1:49 pm Link to this comment

Reply to #69471 by Inherit The Wind on 5/11 at 7:46 pm
I wish you would address my points, instead of just calling me silly and reiterating your statements.

What is a “nation”? Does this word define an ethnic group, or does it refer to the citizens of a country, that is, people born and/or living in a certain geographical area? Take the United States, or France, or any other modern democracy. What makes one an American? The fact that one was born and grew up in the United States. It does not matter if one is white or black, Jew or Arab, atheist or believer. This country and all real democracies are “melting pots” where all ethnic groups mix and intermarry. If “nation” refers to an ethnic group, then the United States is not a nation. It is a country.
If on the other hand the United States is called a nation, then the definition of “nation” cannot involve ethnicity. What is ethnicity? It is cultural ancestry. What makes one a “Jew”? Having been born and raised in that culture, and identification with he traditions of that culture. It does not matter in what country one was born. A Jew can be born anywhere.

One of the essential features of democracy is that citizenship is based on geography, not on cultural ancestry. A country that bases citizenship on cultural ancestry is not a democracy. A government which enforces a rule of citizenship based on cultural ancestry is a racist government. There is no other word for it. In the modern world, Israel is the only such country. Israelis cannot see this because they can only think of themselves as victims, but it is as plain as day to the rest of the world. Jewish supremacy is the very essence of Jewish nationalism. Germany once based its citizenship on German nationalism, but they lost the war. There remains only Israel as the shining example of this form of government.

The “two states” that you call for will not be two democracies living in peace side by side. They will be two racist states living in perpetual conflict side by side. Moreover, a two-state solution means ethnic cleansing. Please address this point, if you are serious about this discussion: what is the point of drawing a border and having two states, “Israel” and “Palestine” if the population is going to continue to be commingled? Jewish settlers living in what would then be “Palestine” will have to move, won’t they? Palestinians hate their guts with a purple passion right now, and you can hardly blame them. Without IDF protection, Palestinians will kill them all. The settlers are not wrong about that. Similarly, all the Arabs living in what would then be Israel (now laughably called “citizens” although they do not have the real political power that defines a real citizen) would be transferred to the Palestinian state where they could really be citizens. Such a transfer of population based on ethnicity is called ethnic cleansing. As long as there must be a Jewish state, there must be ethnic cleansing, whether there is one state or two. And whether there is one state or two, such ethnic cleansing means civil war.

(continued below)

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By Tony Wicher, May 12, 2007 at 1:47 pm Link to this comment

Reply to #69471 by Inherit The Wind on 5/11 at 7:46 pm (continued from above)

Now you say “That fundamental assumption of yours, to force Israel to accept it, is what makes the plan silly. Silly: Obviously doomed to fail.”

Of all the things you have said so far, I suppose I would have to call this the silliest. I think everybody understands that the Israelis and Palestinians need the world’s help to make peace. It is obviously in the interest of the rest of the world to intervene, because this conflict is a destablilzing threat to the whole world. That is why I call for a real peace initiative by the United States, which will oppose Israeli apartheid while guaranteeing Israeli security if Israel will agree in principle to end it and accept non-Jews as full citizens.

It is only such acceptance as fellow citizens that will ever end the enmity between Israelis and Palestinians. This will not happen by first ethnically cleansing them into separate states. It will only end by their learning to live together in the same country. Outside help is required. Israel could not exist without U.S. help. Current U.S. policy is enabling Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians. This policy must change to one that will make it clear to the Israelis that their current course cannot continue.

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By lilmamzer, May 12, 2007 at 10:32 am Link to this comment

Mr. Nusseibeh repeatedly makes his point that the Jewish state is illegitimate. In this regard, he is in line with Hamas, Fatah, and the majority of the Pal Arab polity. That is why the Pal Arabs rejected the UN partition plan, and they haven’t changed since. Self determination applies equally to Jews as well as any other nation. I don’t believe Nusseibeh really accepts this fact. Neither do most Israeli Jews who can’t be cajoled or intimidated into commiting national suicide to create YET ANOTHER failed Arab / Muslim state.

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By Inherit The Wind, May 11, 2007 at 8:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Sorry TW, but it is a silly plan.

First let them learn to live in peace side by side as two nations. Then, and only then, if BOTH want it, they can merge into one nation.  That’s true self-determination.

Isn’t self-determination an important component of freedom? Shouldn’t both nations equally have that right? Why do only the Palestinians get the right to self-determination and the Israelis don’t? 

That fundamental assumption of yours, to force Israel to accept it, is what makes the plan silly.

Silly: Obviously doomed to fail.

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By Tony Wicher, May 11, 2007 at 3:35 pm Link to this comment

Reply to #69320 by Inherit The Wind on 5/11 at 4:12 am
(Unregistered commenter)

[Mr. Nusseibah offers a peaceful, rational solution that doesn’t require Israel’s capitulation, nor does it require Palestinians to give up their dignity.

He, while being somewhat (but only partially) an apologist for some of the grosser Palestinian actions, still looks for a way to the ONLY important goal: For both Palestinians and Israelis to be able to live their lives in peace.

For this I expect poor Mr. Nusseibah to be martyred, as the attacks here on him indicate, both from Arabs and their fellow-travellers and from Israel supporters. They ALL hate him. Why?

Both sides are much at fault. The recent attacks by Hezbollah were atrocious, but the Israeli response in Lebanon was equally atrocious.  And the Israelis are about the toss out Barack because of it.

If you are going to make peace, you HAVE to make peace with your enemies.  Isn’t that obvious?  And there’s only 3 ways to do it:
1) Side A conquers Side B and slaughters them. (traditional model)
2) Side A conquers Side B and rebuilds them (Marshall Plan model)
3) Side A and Side B, unable to conquer each other, negotiate a peace settlement, allowing BOTH to live in peace. (“blessed are the peacemakers” model).

Clearly Israel is not about to slaughter all the Palestinians.  Clearly the Palestinians will never conquer Israel, nor will Israel give in to Mr. Wicher’s silly plan.  Only 3) will work.

Curiously, that’s what Mr. Nusseibah proposes.  As I said, I expect some fanatical sonuvabitch to kill him as a result.]

===================================================

My reply to this:

Dear IHW:

I was going along just fine with you, agreeing with every word until I got to the part about “Mr. Wicher’s silly plan” for one democratic state in the area. I do agree most strongly with you that the only thing that matters is that the people living in the area should be able to live their lives in peace.  This was my suggestion for your Option (3) - the “blessed are the peacemakers” model. I am trying to be a peacemaker. The bottom line is that Jews and non-Jews live in the area, and they have to learn to live together. This can only be done on the basis of full equality of all people and freedom of religion. Is that so silly? The people of the area are intermingled. Is partition really a viable solution for peace? How much sense does it make to draw a line on the map marking the border, creating two states, and then presumably having all the Jewish people currently in the non-Jewish area move to the Jewish state, and all the non-Jewish people move to the non-Jewish state? Is this the way to peace? I doubt it. These people have to learn how to live in the same country together. Saying that Jewish people “will not allow this” is unfortunately not acceptable. Pressures must be brought to bear, by the United States together with the United Nations, to end the apartheid system which is the very essence of a “Jewish state”. But it must be done in a way that really addresses valid Israeli security concerns, without validating the paranoid fears of many Jews that the whole world is out to get them.

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By Inherit The Wind, May 11, 2007 at 5:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Nusseibah offers a peaceful, rational solution that doesn’t require Israel’s capitulation, nor does it require Palestinians to give up their dignity.

He, while being somewhat (but only partially) an apologist for some of the grosser Palestinian actions, still looks for a way to the ONLY important goal: For both Palestinians and Israelis to be able to live their lives in peace.

For this I expect poor Mr. Nusseibah to be martyred, as the attacks here on him indicate, both from Arabs and their fellow-travellers and from Israel supporters. They ALL hate him. Why?

Both sides are much at fault. The recent attacks by Hezbollah were atrocious, but the Israeli response in Lebanon was equally atrocious.  And the Israelis are about the toss out Barack because of it.

If you are going to make peace, you HAVE to make peace with your enemies.  Isn’t that obvious?  And there’s only 3 ways to do it:
1) Side A conquers Side B and slaughters them. (traditional model)
2) Side A conquers Side B and rebuilds them (Marshall Plan model)
3) Side A and Side B, unable to conquer each other, negotiate a peace settlement, allowing BOTH to live in peace. (“blessed are the peacemakers” model).

Clearly Israel is not about to slaughter all the Palestinians.  Clearly the Palestinians will never conquer Israel, nor will Israel give in to Mr. Wicher’s silly plan.  Only 3) will work.

Curiously, that’s what Mr. Nusseibah proposes.  As I said, I expect some fanatical sonuvabitch to kill him as a result.

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By Charles Barton, May 10, 2007 at 4:32 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is a totally amazing interview.  In 1948 the Palestinians and the Jordanian Army beseiged the Jewish community in Jerusalem.  Yet Nusseibeh makes the incredible claim that the Israelis drove him from his home.  The truth is that the Nusseibeh along with the rest of the Palestinian elite took off for jordan before the first gun was fired, because thewy preferred to avoid the unplesantness of war.  Nusseibeh failes to mention the Nazxi collaborator Mufti Amin al Husseini, despite his very negative effect on Palestinian fortunes in 1948.  He fails to mention that Arafat was the Mufti’s nephew, and his political heir. 

Nusseibeh tries to cover up the role that Arafat and the Palestinian leadership played in instigating violence in September 2000.  Nusseibeh also minimizes the seriousness of Hewzbollah’s agression against Israel last summer. 

Hezbollah a party in the Lebonese government staged an armed invasion of Israel, accompanied with rocket fire aginst Israeli towns.  While they were on Israeli soil, the Hezbollah fighters killed 8 Israelis, and kidnapped two more.  This was clearly a Lebonese act of war.  Since the end of last summer’s conflice Hexbollah has refrained from any warlike act against Israel.  The Israel responce to the Hezbollah invasion of Israel was sucessful then.  The leaders of Hezbollah will think long and hard before they ever seend an invading force into Israel sgain.

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By Tony Wicher, May 9, 2007 at 6:22 pm Link to this comment

Reply #68337 by Jaded Prole on 5/05 at 8:41 am

Hey, Jaded - that’s what I think! One democratic state from the river to the sea. The thing is, that means giving up the idea that Israel has to be a “Jewish state”. That is “inconceivable”, even though it means that those deemed non-Jews by he state of Israel cannot be citizens. Also, the “right of return” would involve assistance to those those living in refugee camps to resettle elsewhere in Israel, with the same kind of infrastructure, etc. equal to that now provided Jewish settlers. There could be generous assistence to Israel from the rest of the world - particularly the U.S. and Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia. Doesn’t this sound like a good idea?

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By Peter Rv, May 8, 2007 at 7:27 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Sari Nusseibeh sounds a typical Palestinian intellectual,always frightened he might look “unintellectual” to his western friends. He would like to defend his people and at the same time to be liked by those who who are perpetuating its slavery- clearly a mission impossible. But he tries and in the process he says rubbish.
Just take his “nobody won in Lebanon, everybody lost”. Well, not so, professor. Who won was Hezbollah who inflicted a most stinging defeat to the IDF by demonstrating clearly the end to its invincibility. Israel’s army showed its true face:
they were excellent in killing unarmed people, women and rock-throwing children, but when it came to facing determined fighters meeting them in hand to hand combat, they put their tails between their legs.
Overwhelming superiority in armament (compliment of the U.S.A. of ours)didn’t help. Could it be that that the old spirit of Arab military glory is about to awaken? Could it be that jewish chutspah finally released Salahdin’s genii from the bottle?
Nusseibeh couldn’t be more wrong in stating that Arabs aren’t impressed (“any longer”) with this feat.
When one keeps looking himself in the mirror, one has a blurred view of what is happening elsewhere.
I would suggest that, after Lebanon, Arabs have much clearer view of the situation than Israelis.

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By jeremy, May 7, 2007 at 12:57 pm Link to this comment

It never ceases to amaze me the amount of blather about this topic that appears on this website. So much of it is slanted and incaccurate, at best it is horribly misinformed.

The second “intifada” as it is called, was not started by Sharon’s temple mount visit, for example, a commonly used bit of misinformation from the Palestinian propaganda machine.

In fact, this was a calculated plan on the part of Arafat that was executed as a response to the failure of the Camp David accords. On September 27, 2000, the day before Sharon’s famous visit, Sgt. David Biri, 19, of Jerusalem, was fatally wounded near Netzarim in the Gaza Strip in the explosion of a roadside bomb. The next day in the West Bank city of Kalkilya, a Palestinian police officer working with Israeli police on a joint patrol opened fire and killed his Israeli counterpart. Those events both occured before the visit.

With blaring innacuracies like this, of which I am sure many more can be found upon close examination, how can anybody give any credence to this interviewer or this author?

Why don’t people look deeper into these issues and try to seek out the truth themselves, instead of swallowing the banter of talking heads, most of whom clearly have an agenda?

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By Matt, May 6, 2007 at 9:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This guy is such a good little “reasonable” Arab, conceding at least half his human dignity to Israel without a complaint. But he doesn’t understand: Israel won’t let him keep even half of his humanity. That would be too “painful” for the saintly Chosen People to bear.

Besides: whatever the solution may be, I’m sick and tired of my government being shackled to Israel’s stupid, evil, racial-nationist project.

End this “special relationship” RIGHT NOW.

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By cann4ing, May 5, 2007 at 8:06 pm Link to this comment

I would have to take issue with the suggestion that the withdrawal from Gaza was ever intended as part of a broader withdrawal from the occupied territories, unilateral or otherwise.  Settlement activities in the West Bank proceeded apace even as the last Israeli settlers were being forcibly removed from Gaza, followed by the wall.

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By Forkboy, May 5, 2007 at 11:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I won’t comment on the merits of of either the questions or answers provided in the above article, but I would like to say that I have no small amount of sympathy for the Palestinians.  However, I need to clarify my sympathy.

I feel sorry for them because I believe they have been played for fools by much of the Arab world.  Direct conflict between Israel and any of the other Middle Eastern Arab nations isn’t really feasible and both sides understand this issue.  Instead, the Arab world has used the Palestinians for the purpose of being a thorn in the side of Israel.  The Arab world exports it’s hate, it’s money, it’s training and it’s arms to the Palestinians so that they might wage the ‘war’ that they themselves cannot or dare not.

The sooner the Palestinians wake up and realize how they are being taken advantage of the sooner they might realize that a real and lasting peace could be found with Israel and that both nations (and I fully support a Palestinian nation - just as I equally believe that Israel is doing wrong things in their relationship with the Palestinian people) would be best served by such.

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By Jaded Prole, May 5, 2007 at 9:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Though Nusseibeh is a long-time advocate of a two-state solution, I wonder what his position on a one-state solution is. It would solve the “right of return” problem if everyone in the post-apartheid country were equal citizens.

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By Fadel Abdallah, May 3, 2007 at 9:43 pm Link to this comment

I would withhold my final critical analysis and comments on Sari Nusseibeh’s views, as expressed in this interview, till I get enough time to read between the lines, and possibly read his memoir book. However, to start with, I would like to take issue with two points related to what he said about the first and second Intifadas.

About the 1st Intifada of 1987-1991, in which he was a part, he says that: (1) It had competent leadership; (2) It had a vision to negotiate with Israel to create a Palestinian State; (3) It had a day-by-day, month-by-month strategy to bring us to that conclusion. Further, he says, “We succeeded in the sense that we finally were able to bring the two people closer to realizing that two state solution was the only feasible solution.”

Here where I beg to take issue with these so-called three merits of the 1st Intifada. This statement reminds me of the other hollow statement by Bush when he went public to declare, “Mission accomplished” about Iraq. Four years of the 1st Intifada and sixteen more years after that, and the situation has gotten worse and the Palestinians got a FAT ZERO for this so-called peaceful and well-organized Intifadah for which Mr. Nusseibeh wants to take credit. I hope he would not have the audacity to blame Hamas for this dismal failure!

Furthermore, when talking about the 2nd Intifadah of 2000, he refers to it as “involving acts of violence and terrorism.” No Palestinian who is in the main stream would dare to single out the 2nd Intifadah as acts of violence and terrorism. If the word “terrorism” has to be mentioned in connection with what happened since 2000, it can only be called as “counter-terrorism” measures and reactions to the far more extreme and deadly Israeli state-sponsored terrorism. In fact, the second Intifada is a direct result of the failure of the methods and objectives of the first one.

As it stands now, I have to recall, with agreement, the Arabic proverb that says, “Nothing blunts iron except iron.” (La yafullu al-hadida illa al-hadid.) The unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gazza, the Israeli failure in the Lebanon war, and the American quagmire in Iraq are three testimonies to that; all of which go contrary to Nusseibe’s assertions about meeting state-sponsered terrorism with peaceful methods. Nusseibeh is either living in a world of fantasy and irrelevent idealism, or he decided to join the chorus of appeasment and defeatism.

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