WRITTEN BY ANTOINE RAFFOUL
It was reported recently that the S Daniel Abraham Centre for Middle East Peace hosted the Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas for dinner in Washington DC, on June 9 2010. The head of this Centre is Robert Wexler, a former Florida Congressman and a staunch supporter of Israeli government policies. He was a leading defender of the 2008 Israeli invasion of Gaza and of the recent Israeli assault on the ‘Free Gaza’ Flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza.
In attendance at this dinner were some of the most powerful Jewish leaders in the United States who work feverishly for the Zionist Agenda which promotes and preserves Israel as a Jewish State thus condoning the illegal occupation of Historic Palestine.
Guests at this dinner included the Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; the Executive Director and the President of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC); the National Chairman of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL); the CEO & Executive Vice President of UJA Federation (United Jewish Appeal); the President of the Israel Policy Forum; and other American Jewish community leaders and foreign policy scholars.
Mahmoud Abbas, whose mandate as President of the PA expired in July 2009, was invited to answer unscripted questions ‘on the record’ put to him by his hosts and their guests to which he responded ‘on the record’ on behalf of all Palestinians: those who elected him and those who did not. Those who were killed by the Israeli military machine and those who await that fate.
Whilst we support dialogue and debate between friend and foe, we reject compromise on Palestinian rights. Dialogue is a two-way street and not a dead end road at the end of which you are simply answering questions thrown at you as if in an interrogation zone.
We highlight some of the statements made by the President of the PA at that dinner and later to the press. Our comments follow each:
“I would never deny [the] Jewish right to the land of Israel”
This statement gives it all away and grants Israel the undisputed right to historic Palestine thus denying its indigenous Palestinians their fundamental right to self-determination. It also excluded the possibility of the rightful Return of Palestinian refugees to their homes from which they have been cruelly expelled many times since 1948.
“I am the first [Palestinian leader] maybe who recognized Israel. I led the negotiations in Oslo and I convinced many of my leadership to recognize Israel. … Nobody denies the Jewish history in the Middle East”.
Mahmoud Abbas may have expressed that position as an individual Palestinian, but cannot do so now on behalf of all Palestinians without a referendum. What must come first is the recognition by an occupying power, Israel, of Palestinian right to freedom from occupation and colonisation.
“You know that from the year 2000 to 2005 we had a period of Intifada. That period destroyed everything that had been built earlier. …When I ran for the Presidency I raised the slogan, ‘No violence against Israel. No armed struggle against Israel.”
It would have been more appropriate to explain to those present that an inalienable right of the occupied is the right to fight and defend himself against the occupier. The Palestinian people were happily and peacefully living in their Palestine before they were ethnically cleansed in 1948, a process which continues up to this day. No people in the world gained any right by simply taking it on both cheeks while the world looks on with indifference.
“I agree with you that Israelis are in need of security. They should be provided with security. When we suggested for a third party [security force] to be located in our territories it is because we want the Israelis to feel that they are secure in their country.”
Israel does not need security. It needs democracy. It has the 4th largest army on the planet supported by the largest and most powerful nation on earth. All of this power poised against an occupied people. It is the Palestinians who yearn for security from attacks, protection from night raids, safety for their families, peaceful access to their farmland, the right to live in their homes just like any other people, and a democratic system run by democratically elected representatives to fight on their behalf for their dignity, their rights and for their freedom.
That should have been the agenda at that dinner, Mr Abbas. For this, we ask you to retract your first statement about “Jewish Rights to the Land of Israel” and to support the right of return of all refugees from the Diaspora to their Palestine to rejoin their families and to enable them to live in peace and harmony with all other peoples who came into Palestine whether by day or by night. There is room for all of us.
This Petition is an appeal to act now.