Tag Archives: Fatah

Palestinian Struggles for Rights and a Political End-Game

The status quo in Palestine & Israel is an interminable nightmare for Palestinians living under military occupation for 70+ years, and a shameful failure of the human rights framework adopted and promoted during that same time.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt

The Israeli declaration of independence in May 1948 was the Palestinians’ Nakba (disaster, catastrophe).

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (December 1948) was (is?) the world’s beacon of hope, an aspiration for a better life for every person.


Our failure (the international community’s failure) to secure a just and lasting resolution in Palestine & Israel cannot be swept under the rug and forgotten. It’s an indictment upon all of us.

Sam Bahour, a Palestinian American living in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank, captured a succinct history of the military occupation and the current struggle when he spoke with his daughter. (He shares that beginning at 18:50).

How does the unbearable status quo change?

In reality, the status quo is bearable to Israel and that government has no incentive to change it.

In reality, the international human rights regime is impotent and won’t change the status quo.

In reality, the U.S. is a hindrance, not a facilitator, to ending the status quo.

In reality, the Palestinian political leaders (Palestinian Authority, Hamas, Fatah) have proven themselves to be incapable of rising to the challenge and have not earned the respect and recognition from the Palestinian people they purport to represent.

There are individuals within Palestine and Israel who are asking and answering that question: how does the unbearable status quo change?

Jeff Halper, an American Jew who has lived most of his adult life in Israel, thinks the two state solution is no longer feasible. He and his compatriots are currently traveling around the world to build support for the One Democratic State program.

Sam Bahour frames the question differently. It’s not a matter of two states or one state, but a matter of political and individual rights in either case. What Sam fears is that more time will be lost (time measured in decades) as people and governments negotiate territorial jurisdictions while the rights of Palestinians continue to take a back-seat in those discussions. Sam writes:

We must get political. Civil society must build the necessary alliances to bring Palestinian rights to the forefront of the international agenda on Israeli-Palestinian conflict resolution. Today, we have no choice but to accept the apartheid one-state reality that we are living in now, and keep the two-state door open, while simultaneously bringing the issue of rights to the forefront of our demands. Our strongest ally is international civil society, but we cannot stop at civil society; it would be stopping short of affecting change. Instead we must leverage the widespread support of civil society in all corners of the world to get states to act, politically and otherwise, to support our just and internationally aligned struggle for freedom and independence.

In May 2016, Mr. Bahour spelled out the dangers and opportunities available to the Palestinian civil society in changing the status quo.  (The paper is available here.) I hope the next generation of Palestinian leaders (whoever and wherever they may be) will read the paper.

In this paper, I will argue that a rights-based approach is the most conducive one to the current Palestinian national agenda and that a political end-game cannot be open-ended. Moreover, I will also argue that the struggle for national self-determination cannot come at the expense of the struggle for rights – and vice versa. I view these two processes as simultaneous dynamics: one process focuses on the rights of the individual (political, human and civil rights), while the second focuses on the rights of the nation (national rights, specifically self-determination). My argument is based on the mutuality of these two processes: the ‘individual’ sphere centered on rights, and the ‘national’ sphere focused on independence.


Filed under Israel, Nakba, Occupation, People, Politics, Uncategorized, United Nations, Video

Palestinians at the cafe talking about their future

Al-hamdulillah!  A discussion amongst Palestinians in a Cafe in Ramallah in the Occupied West Bank was filmed in August 2012. Their conversation ranged from the divide between Fatah and Hamas, about the “peace process” and Israel’s Occupation, and their future.  British political journalist, Mahdi Hasan, moderates.

Mehdi Hasan, British political journalist

Mehdi Hasan, British political journalist

If you’re a Zionist, you should watch this 47-minute video to hear what these Palestinians think about the future because it’s YOUR future too.

If you’re a member of the U.S. Congress, you need to listen to these Palestinians describe the important issues that obstruct any future peace in the region.

If you’re an “activist” looking for justice for Palestinians, you might pick up some nuances that help your work.

If you think you know the future and what the Palestinians want, think again and watch this video.

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Filed under Gaza, Hamas, Israel, Occupation, People, Politics, Video

Voting in Palestine

Today I joined about 35 friends in Albuquerque and we fanned out across District 2 knocking on doors of potential voters.

We talked about the upcoming municipal election on October 8. We urged voters to support our candidate (Isaac Benton), we answered questions about what Benton has accomplished in his 8 years as city councilor, and we explained where they could vote early.

I’m really jazzed by the positive feedback we got from so many households! This person-to-person contact is what makes local politics work in America. The opposition may have more $$ —- a PAC has given our opponent $80,000 —- but Ike has the volunteers with feet on the ground in every neighborhood. That’s what counts!

Candidate Benton's campaign signs have been stolen out of people's yards.

Candidate Benton’s campaign signs have been stolen out of people’s yards.

I wonder how elections work in Palestine. Hamas won the last elections held there in January 2006, to the great consternation of Israel and the United States. Former President Jimmy Carter observed the election and declared it was free and fair. See his report here. But that makes no difference to the “only democracy in the Middle East” (Israel). Palestinians in Gaza must be punished for electing the “wrong” party, hence the blockade going on 6 years now.

Ismail Haniyeh (Hamas)

Ismail Haniyeh (Hamas)

A number of Palestinians I spoke with in Gaza shared with me that they want another election. A Hamas representative said elections will be held when the Israel-US siege is lifted. It’s patently unfair to hold elections now, he said, while Hamas is under siege too. Voters should not be coerced by outside forces to support or oppose any political party. That makes plenty of sense to me.

Earlier this year, Palestinians were lining up to register to vote in case a ballot might materialize sometime in the future, but no one is holding their breath.

Hamas isn’t the only party to overstay its welcome. In the West Bank, the term of Fatah’s President Abbas ended in January 2009.

Mahmoud Abbas (Palestinian Authority)

Mahmoud Abbas (Palestinian Authority)

Arguably, neither Abbas in the West Bank nor Haniyeh in Gaza have any legitimacy to represent the Palestinians but the US and Israel act as if Abbas has a mandate to negotiate a peace agreement. Won’t they be surprised when the deal (if there is a deal) blows up in their faces?

I think Netanyahu and Obama should be focused on ending the siege and assisting the Palestinians to hold free and fair elections, instead of meeting in conference rooms to hammer out a peace agreement. They’ve conveniently gotten the cart before the horse.

One of these days they’ll figure it out.


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Filed under Elections, Gaza, Hamas, Politics

Demonization as foreign policy

The Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University may not have a course entitled “Demonization as foreign policy” . . . but it should.

The unsuspecting public may be duped, and the mainstream press may not have the energy to investigate the stories they’re fed, but it’s becoming clearer to me every day that “WE” are being deliberately manipulated.

* WE = you, me and the average consumer of news.  It may also include members of Congress who are ill-informed about international policy, and gullible elected officials who don’t ask the tough questions.

Before I visited the Gaza Strip (September 2012 – May 2013) I considered myself an intelligent American who had a fair knowledge (perhaps better than the average person) about the current events in the Middle East. I knew about the division between Fatah and Hamas. I knew that my government supports Fatah in the West Bank and labels Hamas a FTO = “foreign terrorist organization.” I knew about the Egyptian authorities collaborating with Israel to keep a tight grip on Palestinians’ movement in and out of the Gaza Strip.

But I’ve learned much, much more in the past year. The biggest lesson I learned was to ask “Why?” more often. The answers I found convinced me that the real substance of foreign policy occurs out of public view with agendas that are outside of public debate.

  • Why are the Egyptian media and military leaders blaming Hamas and Palestinians in Gaza for the current unrest in the Sinai and Cairo?

Clearly, a deliberate strategy of demonization is underway.  Palestinian-American Ramzy Baroud shares a very personal experience of how this demonization worked 20 years ago and continues today with a vengeance. He writes:

The odd thing is that Hamas’s biggest campaign during Morsi’s 12-months in power was for Egypt to replace the tunnels it actively destroyed with a free trade zone that gave Palestinians an economic lifeline to brave the siege. Little was achieved then, and nearly 80 percent of the tunnels are now destroyed.

A model of development proposed for the new international trade zone between Gaza and Egypt, designed by students at Islamic University of Gaza.

A model of development proposed for the new international trade zone between Gaza and Egypt, designed by students at the Islamic University of Gaza.

I’ve been concerned about how Hamas can prove a negative. How does it prove to the world that it’s not involved or provoking the increased violence in the Sinai? It’s difficult to prove a negative, see here.

Now Hamas has disclosed documents that link Fatah and Abbas with the “news” coming out of Egypt.

The documents also list Abbas’s accomplices in this shameful campaign, including Tayeb Abdel Rahim and various security agencies in Ramallah. The evidence is in the form of letters to news sources containing false information purporting to link Hamas to the latest events in Egypt and interfering in Egyptian affairs. One of the letters is addressed to Jihad Harazin, the official in charge of media in the Palestinian Embassy in Cairo. “Based on the recommendation of security agencies led by Abbas, a new department has been formed to contribute information to the media industry,” it informed Harazin. “Among the goals of this department is to develop ways to embarrass Hamas and link the group to the events in Egypt.”

Is the western media capable of asking the tough questions and looking behind the curtain? If not, then “WE” need to be asking “WHY?”

Alice in Wonderland looking behind the curtain.

Alice in Wonderland looking behind the curtain.

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Filed under Egypt, Gaza, Hamas, Media, People